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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's hot outside!!

Hot summer days in Georgia.  For someone who can't stand the heat, I certainly enjoyed hot yoga yesterday.  My exercise regime is worthy of an entirely different blog! So how do we cool off during these summer days.  The days of sitting on the porch swing, sipping lemonade appear to be returning to some neighborhoods.  That is so nice to see.  Since I don't have a front porch, or a porch swing, I try and find other ways to keep cool.

Fresh fruit:  I eat a lot of fresh fruit in the summer for breakfast. Watermelon is especially cooling for me. It is so good this time of year too.  I had some the other day that was so sweet it would rival any candy bar in existence.

Salad:

 Salad for lunch, salad for dinner. I enjoy, and actually crave a nice green salad with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, hearts of palm, and any and every kind of olive that exists.  If I have feta cheese, I add that too.  Recently, I have started added fresh parsley, lemon thyme, dill, basil and a touch of mint to give my salad a little variation (plus, I'm successfully growing all of these on my deck). Salad is one of my comfort foods. We had it for dinner every night when I was a child.  The variety may change from time to time, but my preferred salad dressing is still oil, vinegar, and lemon

Tuna salad:  I don't make tuna salad that often, but I do enjoy it.  Tuna is fish.  Any fish that I eat has to be loaded with lemon.  Sometimes I make tuna salad French style (Nicoise) with steamed green beans, potatoes, and olives.  Other times, the old fashioned "southern style" tuna salad with boiled egg, mayonnaise, celery, and tuna (I still add lemon to the chagrin of many southerners).  I also add chopped dill pickles or chopped olives in lieu of the sweet relish.

Curry Chicken Salad:  Spice is good for cooling off during the summer.  I enjoy curry salad with double the amount of curry called for in most recipes.  Apples, celery, almonds, and grapes add to the mix nicely.  Yes, I manage to sneak some lemon in with the honey mustard.

Shrimp Salad:  Grill a few shrimp, toss them on a bed of salad greens and instant meal.

Salmon or Red Snapper cooked on the grill is a summer favorite too.

Ice coffee:  I enjoy my hot tea or coffee in the morning no matter the temperature.  During the hot afternoon, I may have some ice coffee with milk and sugar.  It's different and something I certainly don't drink during the winter.

Ice cream:  I'm a purist.... bring on the vanilla!  I do try other flavors too, but all of them are vanilla based.  I can't remember the last time I had a milk shake, so vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit will work nicely.

Sorbet:  For this sweet treat, bring on the zing!! I like the Zesty Lemon sorbet as well as mango sorbet.  Top either of these with fresh blueberries, blackberries, and almonds for a really healthy treat.

Spa water:  My own blend of cucumber, lemon, mint, honey.  I may add orange slices too.

Water! Water! Water!  Probably the most important thing one can drink to stay cool.  I'm lucky as I do enjoy the taste of water.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Strawberries

Even though I recently wrote about strawberries, I feel like I just had to write again!  Being friends with many people on facebook has given me the opportunity to learn about new places in the area.  My friends know that I am a "foodie" and enjoy all kinds of food.  Today, I visited Iranian and Russian grocery stores.  Anyway, one of my friends was telling me about a farm about 15 miles from my house that has strawberries, squash, cabbage, and other kinds of produce for sale.  I went to their website and discovered that they were having a Strawberry Festival!! Only 15 miles away?  How could I NOT go to a strawberry festival.  This was their first festival and it was limited to only children picking the fresh berries (even children at heart like me)..  They have ordered many many more plants for next year's crop and wanted the kids to have the opportunity to pick their own berries.  After all, not many children grow up on farms where they pick their own produce.  I enjoyed watching the little ones find the reddest "bestest" berry on the plant!  They were so cute.  

I knew I could not pick any berries, but were there any for sale?  Off to visit the store attached to the farm.  Upon entering, the aroma of strawberry hit my senses and brought forth favorite childhood memories.  I inquired if they had berries for sale, and the answer was: "Yes!! we have some in the refrigerated area.".  I thought for a second  and told her I would take a quart.  She brought out the quart as per my request, I took one look at it, grinned,  and said that I would finish those walking to my car! No, a quart was certainly not enough for me.  I needed a gallon of berries!  Yes, a gallon was reasonable for this strawberry lover.  They were beautiful and were almost as delicious as the berries my "Papa Jimmy" grew at our house (what made those from my childhood the best was that they were grown by my papa!!).   

I took the berries outside, sat them on the picnic table and listened to the bluegrass music that they had hired for the festivities.  I sat and looked at those berries with anticipation of getting them home, cleaned, and used in desserts or yogart.  I couldn't wait!! I thought for a moment and remembered the bottled water that I had in my backpack. Yes, that would work wonderfully for cleaning a few berries.  I chatted with the owners of the farm who were very hospitable and welcomed me to come pick berries at a later date.  Arriving home, having eaten my quart of berries en route, I started sorting the rest.  I decided to freeze some of them for "emergency" use!  Out of the entire batch of berries, I think I only had a few that had "bruised" spots. 


It's amazing how one remembers how good a home grown berry tastes as compared to those purchased in the grocery store.  Granted, they aren't bad, but that ray of sunshine hitting the berry a little longer, gives it that sweetness that gets lost en route by truck.  I will return to pick the berries soon.  I don't mind picking blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries.... picking peaches I will leave to someone else (itchy, itchy).  I wonder where I can pick some blackberries and blueberries in the next few weeks.  

Labels

Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar
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