Summer

Summer Picnic Essentials

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by Amy Sherman

It’s National Picnic Month and when you think about it, a picnic is really a mini vacation. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach, hiking in a canyon, boating on a lake, or just heading to your local city park, here are some great products designed to make your next picnic even more fabulous.

portableblanketXL Blanket
Wet grass is a pain in the, well, you get the picture. This XL Blanket is water resistant so you and your picnic stay dry. It also folds into an easy carrying tote with an adjustable shoulder strap. Keep it in the trunk of your car and you’ll be ready at a moment’s notice. $35.99

 

portablegrillBioLite
A stylish bbq is one way to seriously impress your friends and family!

The BioLite CampStove and and grill offer a super portable and compact way to grill your food using wood instead of charcoal or propane. The stove and grill together weigh less than 5 pounds. And the geeks at your picnic will be impressed that the surplus electricity from the stove can be used to charge a phone. Stove and grill combo, $224.85

A Boston Harbor Picnic

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by Kitty Kaufman

Roseanna Marco 1Mountain tops, leafy glades, pastures? Not for us. We're having our picnic in Columbus Park overlooking Boston harbor. Leave your meat and fancy picnic set-ups at home; there are no grills or tables, just trees, grass and benches and other people's yachts, of course.

We like simple egg salad and tuna salad. Hard boil four eggs and refrigerate. Cut two stalks of celery into tiny pieces. Combine eggs with Hellman's mayo. Season with salt and pepper; add dry mustard if you must. Transfer to a disposable plastic container. Next, drain a can of cold tuna. Dice celery and add Hellman's, not too much. Add a dash of pepper, onions if you must. Garnish with parsley if you're a food writer.

Transfer to a separate container with a tight cover. Finally, cut grape tomatoes in thirds, then peel one cold and dry cucumber. Pack together in a third small container. If you freeze a couple of bottled waters, they'll keep everything cold.

Kool Slaw

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by Jessica Harper

ColeSlawI’m told that coleslaw dates back to the ancient Romans, although it didn’t really kick into gear until mayo was invented in the 18th century. (Can you imagine life before mayo? One more reason to be glad that, in the birth lottery, you got a later century.)

“Cole” comes from the Latin word colis, you will be interested to know. But the Dutch called the salad koolsla,which I find more appealing so I’m stealing from them.

(We also have reason to believe that the Dutch practically invented tulips so they have really got it going on.)

But enough with the history lesson. I like a salad that won’t wilt overnight; you can make Kool Slaw on a Friday and eat it all weekend. Have it with (or inside) a sandwich, pop open a beer, and it’s a kool day.

Summer Pearl Barley Salad

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by James Moore

barleysaladBarley is a wonderfully versatile grain with a rich nutty flavor and a nice chewy, pasta-like consistency. According to the Whole Grains Council, “barley is highest in fiber of all the whole grains, with common varieties clocking in at about 17% fiber.”

It’s a great addition to hearty soups, but it’s also nice in summer salads and makes a perfect alternative to pasta.

This recipe is easy to throw together early in the day and stored in the refrigerator, giving the ingredients and chance to blend and become more flavorful. You can add other favorite summer ingredients like cucumbers, zucchini, or cherry tomatoes.

Farro Caprese Salad

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by Joseph Erdos

farrosaladInsalata di Caprese is one of those classic Italian recipes that shouldn't be reinvented. It's so simple and delicious just as it is—sliced mozzarella layered with sliced tomatoes and basil leaves and drizzled with olive oil. But there is room for reinterpretation, especially when you take those familiar flavors and ingredients and turn them into a whole new kind of salad.

I love grains in all their many forms, but they are most interesting when left whole and unadulterated. Wheat berries, for example, are wonderful in a salad. The Italian grain farro, which is related to spelt, is another whole grain that makes a great salad. This recipe combines farro with the ingredients of a classic Caprese salad. All the components that make a healthy and refreshing salad are right here.

Instead of sliced mozzarella and tomatoes, I use small bocconcini and cherry and cocktail tomatoes. For added tang, I drizzle the salad with red-wine vinegar. Serve this salad in place of the usual pasta or macaroni salad at your next picnic. It's perfect as a side dish for grilled meats, like steak or chicken. But it can even make a terrific light appetizer. Add some whole grains to your diet with this recipe. It will have you going back for seconds—even thirds.

Cherry Tomato Salad

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by Joseph Erdos

cherrytomsaladPicked up a pint or quart of cherry tomatoes at the greenmarket? Or harvested some from your garden? You could eat them as they are or make something special. What would you make with them?

The tomato plants in my garden have provided for many relatives, friends, and coworkers. With such a surplus we were giving them away as fast as they were growing. Cherry tomatoes, such little bursts of summer freshness, are great for a light salad, combining other vegetables and herbs from the garden like onion, cucumber, and parsley.

Great for accompanying grilled meats or roast chicken, this recipe for cherry tomato salad is sure to be a highlight of summer’s end. Make it any time of the year too, but it’s most refreshing when made with perfectly ripened tomatoes.

The Best Maine Lobster Roll

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by James Moore

lobsterrollI was walking through my local farmer’s market today and saw a new vendor called the Maine Connection Seafood Company.

The prize on their table was fresh Maine lobster – flown to LA the same day that it is caught from the family run fishing business.

Of course, you can buy a whole lobster and cook it yourself, but this is so convenient and incredibly fresh.

Lobster rolls in Maine are almost always made with a top split hot dog bun, but they’re nearly impossible to find in California.

Amaretto Peach Bake with Honey-Lemon Olive Oil Cake

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by James Farmer III

peachcrunchAlmond and peach flavors are totally apropos for one another – probably because they’re cousins! Peaches are in the almond family. Just take a gander at a peach pit’s inner pit or the blossoms even – you’ll see the family connection for sure! I won’t bore you with the horticultural nomenclature, Latin naming, bark similarities and inner cambium layers of their trunks: just trust me – they’re related!

My sisters and I had the best extension of siblings with our first cousins growing and still do today! Something about having your own playmates from your own family tree is so fun. Growing up in a small town, we often were mistaken as “oh he’s one of those Brantley kids” or “she’s that Farmer girl isn’t she?” and for the sake of not splitting hairs, we’d just answer “ yes’m or yes sir” accordingly. We’ve always been glad to be the from the same tribe!

The kissin’ cousins in this recipe are the amaretto cookies, almond liqueur and the peaches. They are a household of flavor all to themselves! I can remember my Mema, my great-grandmother, and my Mimi, my grandmother, being the most temperate of ladies – “lips that touch wine shan’t touch mine!” was often exclaimed. Yet, there was always a bottle of almond liqueur, grand manier, sherry or Lydia Pinkum cough syrup somewhere in the pantry or medicine cabinet! I guess they had to say such an expression because they married Baptists. I digress…

Lemony Blueberry Corn Bread with Basil

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by Susan Russo

blueberrycornbreadThe farmers' markets here in Southern California are amazing -- you can find dates, figs, guavas, kumquats, passion fruit, persimmons, and pluots, but rarely do you see humble blueberries.

I grew up picking and eating fresh blueberries every summer back in New England. Why, I wondered, are they so hard to find in California?

The problem is dirt. Apparently blueberries like to grow in highly acidic soil and Southern California has alkaline soil. This presents a challenge to growing blueberries in Southern California (which explains why most the of the blueberries I buy at the market are from Washington).

New England's acidic soil is perfect for blueberry bushes. I don't know what was better, marching along rows of blueberry bushes, basket in hand, with blue lips and fingertips or standing in the kitchen watching my mom use my very own fresh picked berries to make sweet blueberry buns with lemon icing, old-fashioned double crust blueberry pie, or a loaf of hot blueberry-corn bread (that went straight from the oven to my mouth).

Georgia Caprese Salad

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by James Farmer III

peachcapreseThe classic triumvirate of tomato, basil and mozzarella is nothing short of divine. I can just imagine Michelangelo snacking on this delicacy whilst carving the David statue. The salad is such a quintessential, Italian dish yet it has become a major part of the American summer menu – especially with the resurgence of heirloom tomato growing!

My Georgia Caprese Salad has a fun origin and pays homage to the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention.” The necessity of mention was supper. A light summer supper for yours truly alone. I was hot. I was tired. I did not want to cook – the thought of being around more heat was as tempting as repeatedly running into the back porch screen – head first mind you – like the bumble bee was doing. My family was scattered with other activities, travel or who knows what and Ol’ Jimmy was home alone – and hungry!

Not only was the thought of cooking with heat unappealing, the thought of eating something hot was equally unappetizing. Enter the “necessity… invention” moment. I rummaged through the fridge and saw I had a block of Pepper Jack cheese from M&T. I said to myself, “Self, you can at least have cheese and crackers.” Then I got to thinking – a dangerous pastime.

 

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