Friday, July 20, 2012

Currently...




Excited: We leave on Saturday for our 10-day tour of the West coast! We're flying to San Diego, CA, then hitting up the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park (complete with a 14 mile hike to Half Dome) and then San Francisco. Duuude.





Reading: About eight things. So far this summer I've gobbled up The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates, Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner, An Amateur Marriage by Ann Tyler, and The Last Symbol by Dan Brown. Still working on Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, and then on to Maggie Now by Betty Smith (one of my favorite authors).



Wishing: To try this. Would it not be the coolest thing ever to make caprese salad with my own basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese?! Incidentally, I have several homegrown tomatoes ready for use and my basil is going crazy. Maybe it's time for bruschetta while I consider the mozzarella.


Courtesy of The Kitchn. As I said, I've not yet attempted this. 



Drinking: My new favorite smoothie--half a banana, 4-6 oz of almond milk, peanut butter and a smidge of nutella. So sweet, but low calorie and with just the right punch of protein. Yum.


Losing: Down almost 15 pounds this summer!! Super excited to look the way I did on my wedding day, and hoping that maybe I can keep up the momentum.




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Drinkin'

You know, the tame kind.



One of these days I'm going to learn to make sangrias.



Like this kind.






Or this kind.




But for now, I'm sticking to delightful midday sippers, like this baby.




Fresh-squeezed lemonade. In all its summery deliciousness.



This happened because I went to the library (huzzah for free summer fun!) and brought home some books to read. As I drove home I pictured myself sprawled on the couch, enjoying the warm breezes through my window, reading my new books and sipping something icy cold and delightful.


And, since I don't really do cocktails and, as stated, have yet to try homemade sangria, I decided lemonade would be the perfect drink.


I stopped for some lemons at the little produce store down the street, and brought home a handful of bright yellow beauties to add to my existing collection.





You can never have too many lemons. Agreed?


Especially when posed next to empty beer bottles. 



Anyways, I hunted down a simple recipe online and adapted it to my tastes. The only way I know how.



Start with some simple syrup.


Preferably in a scratched up saucepan. 


Then, since I do not own one of those little dome-shaped juicer thingies, and was too lazy to haul the real juicer out of the attic and peel all of the lemons, I cut the lemons in half and squeezed/spooned the juice and a good deal of pulp out of the lemons. 




Juice until you have a sad pile of empty lemon peels left. 




I actually saved these, because I like to drop lemon rinds down my garbage disposal so my kitchen smells nice. 



Be careful of lemon seeds.





Mine all ended up in the bottom of the juice, so I held a spoon over the lip of the pyrex glass while I poured the juice into the pitcher, and then scooped out the seeds so I could dump the pulp into the pitcher too. 




Pour in the simple syrup to taste. I like my lemonade a little on the tart side--I like that puckery feeling in my mouth.




Enjoy, preferably on a hot summer day with a good book in hand! 



Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
adapted from Simply Recipes

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup lemon juice (I used about five and half lemons)
3-4 cups of cold water

Boil the water and sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it cool while juicing the lemons. Stir the simple syrup into the lemon juice (I only used about 3/4 of the simple syrup, because, as I said, I prefer tart lemonade to sweet). Add water, again to taste, to dilute and completely cool the lemonade. Serve over ice! 


Happy summer! 



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Eatin'

I love summer.


I love balmy nights, when the temperatures don't drop below 70 degrees and the darkness is heavy on my skin.





I love fresh produce from the farmer's market, and making delicious treats from said produce.


Going to the beach, staying out too late, sweating and sunburning and tanning and my skin not constantly needing moisturizer, calling a bowl of watermelon "dinner."





Love love love.


One of my favorite things about summer will always be, however, the annual July 3rd party. It's the craziest mix of people, and you always make a new friend at the July 3rd party.


(For any curious souls out there, the July 3rd party began 7 years ago when family friends decided they wanted to have a 4th of July party, but since everyone already has family traditions on the 4th, they'd have their party on the 3rd. Anyway, they say, everyone has off on the 4th and so they don't mind staying up late and partying!)


And it continues to this day.


For this July 3rd party, we celebrate with tons of food, cornhole, kickball and bonfires. I, of course, am primarily interested in kickball.


Not.


I love the making and consuming of tons of delicious food. I've been making a 7-layer-dip for the last three summers, and my buddy Chris loves it so it's always on the menu. This year, however, I decided to make my second contribution something new and exciting and experimental.


Oooh.


Aaaahhh.


I made what I am fondly calling "chocolate-covered strawberry pie."





Oooh.


Aaahhh.


It's pretty straightfoward: make a chocolate crust out of crushed Oreos. Be sure to forget to take a picture of either the cookies in the blender, or the finished crust.


Then take some chocolate--GOOD chocolate--and melt it down. My favorite way to melt chocolate is to put a splash of milk in a saucepan, bring it just barely to a boil, and then turn off the heat and whisk in the chocolate.









It helps when your kitchen is already 90 degrees and the chocolate is nice and melty anyway.





Slice up some strawberries nice and pretty,





Add a layer of melted chocolate to the crust (to bind the strawberries, and because chocolate is delicious),





And layer in the strawberries.





Last of all, drizzle (or pour, depending on your gadgets and preferences; my "drizzling" consists of me wildly flinging a chocolate-covered spoon over the strawberries) the rest of the melted chocolate onto the strawberries.





Consume with lots of friends and great delight.


(I'm not sure what this says about whom, but I didn't actually get to taste this. By the time I made it to the desserts at the party it was gone. So if you make it, let me know.)


Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Pie


Ingredients:
1 package Oreos
4 tbsp butter, melted
4 oz Ghirardelli's chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
1/4 cup milk
2 pints strawberries


Blend (or food-process) oreos until finely crushed. Mix in butter and press into a springform pan with your hands. Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes (don't trust your eye on this one, since the oreos are dark it's nearly impossible to tell when it's done). Let cool before adding chocolate and strawberries.

Bring milk to just boiling in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Spread a thin layer of melted chocolate on the cookie crust.

Slice the strawberries and pile into the crust. Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate over the berries.

Chill before serving to harden the chocolate. Enjoy!