Sunny Summer Salad

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Try this yummy, refreshing and healthy salad when produce is at its’ peak during the summer. It’s a snap to put together, and stores well for a few hours, or is delicious served right away. The only special tool you need is a good sharp peeler. I prefer a Y style peeler, and I think Rösli is the best brand, it stays sharp. I love zucchini this way. It has such a different flavor than when cooked. If you don’t think you care for squash, try this recipe, you just might change your mind!

This serving size is for a generous 2, so double it for more servings.

Sunny Summer Salad

1 Yellow Squash, small
1 Zucchini, small
1/4 a medium sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla)
1/2 each of 1 Red and Yellow Roasted Bell Pepper, sliced into ribbons. (store bought or homemade)
Parsley, minced
1 large clove of Garlic, peeled, minced

Dressing:
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice (about a 1/4 of a lemon)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Salt, Pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 tsp of any mediterranean style spice mix

Optional: Fresh Ricotta Cheese.

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1. Cut the top and bottom off the squat. Using your vegetable peeler, ‘peel’ it into ribbons working from top to bottom. I peel down just to the seed core, then rotate it 90 degrees and slice the next side, working your way around the vegetable. Toss the core.
2. Cut your whole onion in half, then in half again. Lay on its cut side and holding one of the root ends, slice into thin quarter rings.
3. Whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice, add the garlic and seasoning.
4. Toss all the ingredients together.
5. If desired, top with a dollop of ricotta, fresh as possible.
Tip: If storing for longer than a 1/2 hour, do not salt it until serving. Squash has a lot of water. Salt will pull that water out and your salad dressing will be diluted and weak tasting.

This is one of those dishes where there are very few ingredients, as such, buy the highest quality produce you can find. And if your store doesn’t carry fresh Ricotta, any decent Italian Deli will carry it.

Summer in Minnesota is short, so I don’t like to dawdle in the kitchen. Toss this together, pair it with a protein and head outside for a picnic!


Grilled French Onion Soup

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Oh yes. You MUST make these! Trust me. TRUST. ME.

These are heaven in a foil wrapped package. Heaven. In Foil.

So easy. SOOOOOOO….SO EASY!

Summer is upon us. Get your grill heated up and get going on these nummy babies!

Trim, core and peel a sweet onion. Slice it like shown. Stuff that sulfur smelling root with: 1 tbsp of unsalted butter (MUST BE UNSALTED…or you will swell up like a balloon); 1 tsp BEEF bouillon (honestly, I like Better than Bouillon, but any brand will do) and then wrap that baby up. Heavy duty foil please, and tightly wrapped, no juices leaking….

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Now, put that package of UFO communicating awesomeness on your grill. I use the gas grill. At 20-25 minutes you might have to move it up onto the rack, but maybe not. On a charcoal grill, maybe move it to the side, away from the heat. At about 40-45 mins start with the ‘test’. If your tongs can squeeze it gently, and it gives easily…its likely done. Sizzling is a good sound too. Sizzling means caramelization…unless it’s too hot, then you have burnt. Browning is good, burnt, not so great. Be smart. Watch your grill.

When done, have a bowl ready to tip all this goodness into. This is deliciousness beyond compare. French onion soup? Oh heck no. That is child play. This screams ONIONY GOODNESS like you can’t imagine. Oh, trust me on this one. This is the best main/side dish you’ll ever love. And it’s all on the grill. No muss, no fuss. Easy Peasy.

Summer is here. Go on, give it a try. It won’t disappoint.

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When it’s Hot, thank the Lord

Yes, it’s hot and I want to thank you Lord, for air conditioning.

I’m serious. I want to formally and officially thank our Good Lord for air conditioning, because without the ability to escape the heat for a bit and sleep at night, I’d be one crabby, nasty, terribly unpleasant human being to live with.

I have to laugh at myself, because as I sit in my kitchen typing, gratefully at peace with the warm but tolerable temperature, vs the hot and sticky muck outside, I am drawn back to a memory of my youth, living in Oregon.

As I recall, I was about 6 or 8 and we were living on the west side of town, in a brand new sub-division. We had moved from California and I thought it was the coolest thing to be on a cup-de-sac, with acres of hay fields to play in as our back yard. Pause for a moment and let that sink in. New development….fields. Yep, no shade. Gratefully, Oregon is fairly temperate and doesn’t get too hot nor very cold. In fact, being a zone 8 (gardening term) it ranges from 20-90 degrees, but with only a handful of days in those extremes, if it ever got that ‘extreme’.  A typical, average day runs between 50-70  deg most of the year. Thus, many homes do not have a/c there, and when I was growing up, this exposed little house did not.

The sweltering run of hot days this summer brings to my recollection a particular ‘heat wave’ of one summer in that house.  What was probably only days, felt like weeks of 90 degree weather. My brother’s and my little bodies, (children tend to run hot anyway) felt like they were going to instantaneously combust. Poof! I was convinced my mother would wake and we’d be ashes.  It was so hot, this little child refused to sleep in anything other than cotton undies, and I recall my thoughtful mother bringing in a small fan to blow air on the sweating little bodies, in a failed attempt to keep us cool enough to sleep. Despite the near Adam and Eve-like state, the thin sheet over the top of me felt as heavy as a woolen winter blanket.

It’s rather humbling to be reminded of how spoiled I live as an adult. Not everyone has a/c, and with this long stretch of brutal hotness, I am even more grateful for the inspired invention of cooled air. I think of how life has changed due to what is seemingly such a simple idea and product. I marvel at the freedom and power of the American free market to make a once expensive, elusive and desired symbol of wealth and privilege, in to something the everyday common man can attain and afford. Think about it for a moment. We travel, for the most part, in comfort. We work, for the most part, in comfort. There are places for everyone to escape the heat, public buildings, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, gas stations, malls, community centers. It has become such an everyday, accepted luxury of living in America, I think sometimes it’s good to be humbled and be reminded of how truly blessed we are. It’s easy to get caught up in the difficulties of living, and so pausing for a moment to relish the little things can be a tonic to the life-worn soul.

And so, as I peer through the steamy double pane windows out in to that sauna, called summer in Minnesota,  I turn my face to the heavens and thank my Good Father for, what to Him is a just one of the many ‘simple’ gifts He showers on us in this broken and flawed world of ours…Air Conditioning.