School’s Out & Asian Slaw

Kids all over New England have been waiting for the last school bell to ring, not for the day or for the week but for the summer. As soon as they hear that shrill brrriiinnnggg, school children will pour out the doors in a flood of youthful energy and excitement.

There was no fooling around at our house on the last day of school. Before we even walked out the door for our last class, our duffle bags were packed and ready to leave for vacation. We were expected to come directly home, stops at the swing set or slide were not allowed. Within minutes of the last bell, the family station wagon was packed. With my mom at the wheel and two dogs, three turtles and three kids crammed together in back, we headed out of suburbia. My memories may be hazy, but I don’t think it ever rained on the drive north. Or if it did, it was always clear and sunny by the time we arrived at the lake. Rain or shine, it was a wonderful day. Regardless of what the calendar said, it was our first official day of summer.

I was ten when my parents built the house near Pleasant Lake. The house is in the woods, near a brook that babbles softly most of the time and roars like a mighty river after a big thunderstorm. It is about a ten-minute walk to the lake, longer if you dilly-dally and explore along the way.

There is a lot to explore. There is flora to inspect and fauna to discover everywhere. Deer wander through regularly and a bear has been known to visit from time to time. There are two little ponds and they are alive with color and activity. The ponds are surrounded with iris and cat-o-nine tails and filled with tadpoles and frogs. If you are lucky, you can spy a Great Blue Heron fishing or a beaver doing laps. It is a friendly neighborhood so you are sure to bump into a friend or two before you eventually make it down to the lake.

When you’re a kid (of any age), summer is a wonderful time. You get to breathe easy. Rigid rules and boring schedules disappear. If you want, you can lie in a hammock all day reading Harry Potter books. Until your mother boots you out tells you to get some exercise!

Then you can ramble through the woods, climb huge boulders or fall in the brook. You can explore the lake in a kayak, canoe or sailboat and visit every nook and cranny along the shore. There are coves with snapping turtles and an island filled with blueberries. You will probably spot a few ducks and loons as you glide through the water. Afterwards, you can play in the water and swim until you turn blue or have fun with a game of tennis or volleyball. Eventually there will be a day when you don’t know what to do with yourself but never on that first glorious day of freedom or even that first week.

If you are lucky, you’ll end that first day and every summer day with a cookout on the deck or a picnic on the beach. There is nothing better than eating outside on a warm summer evening. It is a great way to make each and every golden day last as long as possible. After the sun goes down, toast marshmallows or tell ghost stories, chase fireflies or play hide and seek in the dark. Especially in New England, summer is short, so make the most of every minute. Have a wonderful summer!

Asian Coleslaw
Schools out! Fire up the grill, throw on a few burgers and dogs and just relax! Try this not-so-ordinary coleslaw at your next cookout and enjoy the start of summer.
Serves 12

16 ounces cabbage, cut in thin ribbons or coleslaw mix
8 ounces bean sprouts
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2-3 carrots, grated
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Grated zest of 1 lime
Spicy Slaw Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Garnish: chopped peanuts (optional)

Combine the vegetables, herbs and zest; toss to combine. Drizzle with enough spicy slaw vinaigrette to coat lightly, toss. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve.

Spicy Slaw Vinaigrette

Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon or to taste chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

Put all the ingredients except the oil in a blender, process to combine. Slowly add the oil and process until well combined.

Bon appétit!

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Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good.   ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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