As I also mentioned below, My Minxes and their girls came over on Tuesday to swim with Nathan and me. Man did we luck out with a stunning day, perhaps the best so far this summer. We had a super-simple lunch - grilledhot dogs, chips, and strawberries - but I also made a batch of gazpacho for us ladies. I adore cold, crunchy, spicy, salty gazpacho, it really hit the spot on a hot, sunny day. I dare say that Kim & Suz agreed. Thanks for a perfect day, girlfriends! (Recipe posted in comments, below.)
Tonight, my friend Michelle (she of Cancun in March and UW-Madison in 1987) will be here in the Minneapple on business from the Big Apple. Yay! I'm thinking grilled salmon over couscous with dill vinaigretteand pine nuts, inspired by the to-die-for version (pictured here) at The Post Ranch in Big Sur which I ordered for lunch two days in a row. (As I write this, I send up a little prayer for the town of Big Sur to escape the fires raging at its door, sigh.)
Moderate it: gazpacho is a delicious way to eat your veggies, and it's quick to make too (no cooking, just some chopping). Make it crunchy, or puree and sip from cups - either way (or a combo of both, that's how I make it), it's a delicious way to use up the abundance of tomatoes and cukes that are about to hit us at a garden, farmstand, or CSA veggie share near you. Can't wait!
Humid moods are not helped by car trouble. I was just plain lucky to make it home today as my car completely freaked out on my way back from a (humid, sweaty) walk - tomorrow morning it's being towed to the shop, sniff.
Oh look, it's now raining, just as I'm about to step onto the deck to grill a couple of trout fillets. The ones John had to pick up on his way home because...I don't have a car. Despite it's obvious wetness, I won't really complain about rain since we quite need it.
Back to the trout...I'll serve it alongside (drum roll), more new potato-green bean salad. Can you tell that I made quite a bit of it? Hey, waste not want not, even if the fam (and frankly, I) is (am/are) a bit tired of new potatoes + green beans. Tonight I'll dice the pieces a bit smaller and saute them in a small amount of olive oil until just-browned. Already seasoned with onion and fresh basil, they should make a tasty accompaniment to simply grilled fish. Nice? Yes. No complaints about trout, potatoes, and green beans for dinner, but of course.
OK, time to take my humid self to bed. Tomorrow, The Maven and Metal Mommy, aka My Minxes, with their mini-me daughters in tow, are coming to swim. It was either tomorrow or a day in August - the only two days this entire summer that worked for us all to get together! Luckily we were also able to sneak away for din last night, to Luci Ancora in St. Paul, just the three (er, maxi-me's) of us. With lovely food (polenta, pastas), and lots of time to chat, pool time tomorrow is just icing on a fabulous cake.
Even if I don't have a car (grumble). Sleep tight!
Moderate it: you know, I've tried every anti-humidity, straightening hair product on the market... None of them work completely, although a few help - Phytodefrisant, Kiehl's Heat-Protective, Silk-Straightening Cream, Graham Webb Stick Straight Gel. Apply one, two, or even all three (yep, I've done it) before grilling trout in the rain. Good luck.
Tonight, John and I had big plans to go out for Date Night, but after I picked up my LaFinca veggie share, and saw all the lovely possibilities (carrots, new potatoes, baby cabbage, arugula, tomatoes, green beans), I called John and said, Dude, let's eat here! Nothing can beat a fresh vege-ful dinner on our own deck on a night as spectacular as this! So John's happily picking up a couple of killer NY Strips at Byerly's on his way home, and I'm roasting those new potatoes with fresh rosemary, garlic, coarse salt, and oil (400 degrees, for about 45 minutes, turn several times) until they're crispy little bombs, perfect for a dippy-poo in cool, creamy sour cream. Yeah, baby! Chopped arugula salad with lots of shaved Parm and cracked pepper, alongside tomato slices, should finish us off nicely. I'd better get to it, tee hee!
Well, I got to it, and it rawked! Especially with the Cain Five 2003 we sipped with all the tasties, ooooh, Napa Nice. And XM Satellite Radio tuned to the 70s, ha, I love it. We could hardly make a dent in the Cain Five, however, with its high alcohol content, ack. Too early to be drinking it, but we went ahead anyhow (decanted it a couple of times) with at least a bit of it, and it was delicious.
Tomorrow, I gotta come up with some way to use the 10 + cukes I now have in my fridge. Sauteed? Raita? Greek salad? All of the above? Ha. Stay tuned...
The rest of the week? With a bounty of zucchini from my veggie share, and access to absolutely divine tomatoes, we've enjoyed a couple rounds of a super easy zucchini-tomato gratin, based on the filling of the Summer Tomato-Zucchini Tart recipe I posted last summer. Lighter (no crust, just zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, onion, mozzarella, olive oil, herbs, and salt, baked until melting and crispy on top), yet every bit as delicious, especially cooled to just-warm and served alongside a crusty baguette. Or pasta. Or rice. Something to soak up all the gorgeous, garlicky juices. To. Die For. (Recipe posted in comments, below.)
Then yesterday, another pool-and-wine party with Debbie and Stu The Wine Genius (Rudy and Ana are in the Hamptons, poor souls, ha). Sooooo fun, a gorgeous, hot day, perfect for floating and sipping. And eating! Stu and Debbie brought two Turley wines, in honor of our Napa trip (and stay at Larry Turley's home), both delicious. In the pool we drank the white, a 2003 The White Coat, a rich blend, quite golden and delicious. With dinner we drank a 2004 Lodi Zinfandel, from the Dogtown Vineyard (not the one we overlooked), fantastic. Tasted just like Napa, sigh.
After a quick shower, it was time to get some food on! I started by grilling bread for a quick appetizer, served alongside hard salami, roasted peppers, and olive tapenade from the deli. For a first course I made a red cabbage salad - red cabbage sauteed until wilted and then tossed with crispy bacon and a warm shallot dressing and topped with a warm, breaded goat-cheese medallion. Crunchy, creamy, salty, gorgeous - all the good stuff (recipe in comments, below). And for dinner I grilled a couple racks of lamb chops, cut into two-chop pieces before smearing them with a mixture of minced garlic, mint, oregano, rosemary, and tarragon (the herbs on my deck) bound with a bit of olive oil. Alongside I grilled Potatoes on the Grill, or more accurately, La Finca Veggies and Potatoes on the Grill, because I threw in carrots, fennel, green pepper, and onion, all from my veggie share this week. For dessert I had baked a Lemon Picnic Cake (lemon cake soaked in lemon icing, yum; recipe in comments, below), withwhipped cream and raspberry sauce. Uff, we were stuffed as we chatted in the dark, watching the pool lights shimmer eerily off the trees, while Nathan took a pre-bedtime dip.
So! Now it's Sun-day, and time for a Baseball Moms and Players Swimming Party! Another hot sunny day, perfect for grillin' some 'dogs, eating lots of salty chips and appetizers, drinking ice cold beer, munching on cookies and bars, and chatting the afternoon/evening away while the boys raise hell in the pool. Yeah, baby!
The day started nicely - I dropped Nathan at golf, then went for a lovely walk in the North Tyrol Hills neighborhood of Golden Valley (I walk all sorts of cool Minneapolis-area neighborhoods, especially the hilly ones; much more interesting to me than walking around the lakes and more potential for torching cals). Then off to Byerly's for a few tasties in preparation for a Golf-Moms-and-Kids lunch and swim here at the hacienda, with Kris and her boys Nick and Andy, Suzanne and her boys John and Tommy, Susie and her kids Sam and Jane, and of course Nathan. Another great day for a swim - hot and sunny, but not humid at all, so we moms had a lovely chat while the kids swam and played. We had a very simple lunch - salad and hot dogs and chips and fruit, all anyone wants on a summer afternoon. After everyone said their good-byes, Nathan and I had a nice game of volleyball in the pool, and I thought I was heading into a light dinner and early bedtime. But no...
...I "let" John talk me into (twist my arm, yeah, ha) heading out for tapas and a glass of wine at Solera. So I put on some makeup, and a cute top, and heels, and a little bling, and off we went, back downtown (for him), and enjoyed a fabulously not-moderate dinner. Ham & manchego on tomato bread...shrimp croquetas...potatoes in spicy tomato sauce...braised green beans...chocolate cake... It was all absolutely delicious, particularly the potatoes and green beans, eaten together, rarrr... Quite filling, uff. We worked it off with a lovely drive home around Cedar Lake - so idyllic, with the windows rolled down, man it smells like summer tonight and I will miss that smell in just a few short months. Damn, but it goes too fast.
So now, yawn, it's definitely bedtime. Unless I motivate for a dusky walk, hmmm, that might make me feel better about all those tasties. We'll see how loudly that bed calls my name as I walk by to get my walking shoes...
John and I had such a lovely morning babysitting our nephew, Cooper. He played, and chatted, and played some more before eating lunch and getting very, very tired (as in head resting on the highchair tray tired). Post-lunch, he absolutely crashed in Nathan's cool, dark room for a long afternoon's slumber. I was actually jealous. Of a sleeping one-year old. Yeah.
But instead of napping myself, I headed out to the pool. I know I'm getting more than a little repetitive here. But hey, what can I say? It was 97 degrees out there today, with 40% humidity, and not much of a breeze, so into the pool we went. First just John and me, then Nathan joined us, then our neighbors the Hatzungs joined us too, and away we all cruised (and splashed!) into cocktail hour and then dinner, with a quick (and delicious!) delivered pizza (thank you, Hatzungs!) supplemented with a salad (thank you, La Finca CSA veggie share!). Now, it's bedtime, man, dang I'm tired. This party girl is all partied out. Until tomorrow...
Happy 4th of July!
Looks to be a lovely day for barbecuing and hanging by the pool - good thing that's our plan! Stacey and Cooper, and Suz, Cory, Vivian, and Sullivan are all coming later this afternoon for some food and fun before we head out on the golf course for fireworks. We didn't know there were fireworks right here in the 'hood the first summer we lived here, but we figured it out pretty fast as we were driving by the entire neighborhood walking toward our house! It's so sweet - no parking, no traffic, just a bag of chips, a cold beer, some bug spray, a chair, and we're out the door, yeeaah.
Simple food today - guaaaahcamole with chips and raw veggies (a nod to moderation; there, I'm done) at the pool; Suz's deviled eggs (she's the deviled egg queen, yum); grilled burgers and dogs with all the fixin's (including a little guac that I set aside, there's is nothing like guac on a burger, The Kill...); a big salad with grilled tomatoes and onions; and Suz's blueberry kuchen for dessert. How fabulously, patriotically red (tomatoes), white (eggs), and blue (kuchen), eh? Hope you have plans for a tasty, Festive 4th as well!
And for dessert? 'Cuz you've got to have dessert to honor such a gorgeous day...strawberry shortcake, oh my. Everyone lovesstrawberry shortcake, including The Coopster! No secret recipe here - Pillsbury (frozen) Buttermilk Biscuits, hot out of the oven and filled with lots of fresh strawberries sweetened with a pinch of sugar, and lots and lots and LOTS of freshly whipped and sweetened cream. Summer Heaven...
Today? I am TOAST, no more sun for me for at least a few days, ack. Instead, I'm in full-on driving mode as of this morning - let the camps begin! Golf league and basketball so far today, with a baseball game later this evening. Dinner plans are obvious - leftover steak (yum) and a big salad with the first load of my LaFinca CSA veggies. Mixed greens including lots o'arugula, radishes, scallions, and fresh dill from a pot on my deck. Crumble of feta, few sizzling slices of steak, and it's all good.