Summer Porch Party

Now in Season Summer 2017 Issue

Summer Porch Party

By Terese Allen | Photos By Jim Klousia 0

My home, nearly a century old, has small rooms, dark oak woodwork and multi-paned windows. “Cozy” is usually the first word people use to describe it. Cozy is good—in winter, that is—but during the sultry months, my husband JB and I practically live on the screened-in porch we added to the back of the house years ago. The breezy outdoor room is where we bring our computers to work in the morning coolness, where we hang laundry, where we sit just for the air-scented pleasure of it, and where we play with JB’s old farm animal toys with the neighbor kids. And it’s where we eat. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The best is dinner, when, with guests coming over, the porch turns into a party space. We flip on the overhead fan, pull the cocktail glasses out of the sideboard and open up the pedestal table to seat six or eight. JB mixes potables to chill in the freezer. I get slicing and dicing.

Menu planning comes easy, what with all the possibilities right now. Hosting a special meal with friends motivates me to pull out all the summer-produce stops, and even JB’s drinks incorporate ingredients from the garden and farmers market. It’s also the time of year when our community supported fishery (CSF) shares show up, so it’s a good bet that wild-caught salmon will be in the mix. With a sunny, Mediterranean focus and fresh herbs in or on everything, this meal will be both casual and celebratory.

Perfect for the back porch.


Kick off the gathering with this intense puree of heirloom tomatoes and high-harvest veggies. It's just the thing to sip as the sun begins to wane and guests gather 'round the grill.

These mussels are steamed on the grill in moments, then tossed in a flavorful sauce.

For this simple and flavorful salad, we recommend the award-winning Sartori Black Pepper BellaVitano.

For the main course we have grilled salmon, sustainably sourced from a community supported fishery like Sitka Salmon Shares or Kwee-Jack.

What's a summer party without potato salad? This one gets a Mediterranean twist with tarragon and capers.

No summer porch party is complete without a sweet yet light and refreshing dessert of summer berries.


Terese Allen has written scores of articles and books about Wisconsin’s food traditions and culinary culture, including the award-winning The Flavor of Wisconsin, The Flavor of Wisconsin for Kids, and Wisconsin Local Foods Journal. She is food editor for Organic Valley, president of the Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin (CHEW) and a longtime director of REAP Food Group, the cutting-edge food and sustainability organization based in Madison. She is hungry all the time.

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