About susannye

A corporate dropout, I left IT sales & marketing for the fun, flexibilty & fear of self-employment & freelance writing.

The Summer of ’69 – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly & Greek Salad

So, I was a kid, hanging out on the beach with my friends. Life was simple. We swam, sailed, water-skied and played tennis. I’m sure we washed a few cars to raise money for Hospital Day. We probably went to a dance or two or maybe a movie on a rainy afternoon. On a scale of one to ten, it was a perfect life. Out in the real world, far from the idyllic hills and lakes of New Hampshire, a whole lot of everything was happening in the summer of 1969.

It was a turbulent time. Nixon was president and the Vietnamese War was raging. The evening news was filled with stories of war as well as protests, demonstrations and lots more. We didn’t watch a lot of news during the summer or any television for that matter. Our old black and white television had rabbit ears and a snow-filled screen. It played two stations, both ABC – one out of Portland and the other out of Manchester. While some memories are more vivid then others, here are some of the stories I recall from the summer of ’69 – the good, the bad and the ugly …

Enough was enough. A Saturday night police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York on June 28 sparked the gay liberation movement. Long hassled by the police and homophobes, it was one raid too many. The gay community fought back and the Stonewall Uprising continued for several days.

Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island on July 18. Mary Jo Kopechne, one of his brother’s campaign aides, died in the accident. Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. He continued to serve in the Senate until his death in 2009. His long tenure and influence earned him the title – Lion of the Senate.

Two days later on July 20, Neil Armstrong took, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He fulfilled the ambitious goal set by the late President John F. Kennedy to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. We never looked at space or the moon the same again.

A few weeks later, a group of love-struck, teenage followers of cult leader Charles Manson went on a violent, drug-fueled murder spree. On the night of August 8 and 9, they killed five people, including the very pregnant, actress Sharon Tate. Not finished, they killed two more on August 10.

Thirty-two acts played between August 15 and 18 at the Woodstock Music Festival on Max Yasgur’s farm. They expected 50,000 but a half million kids made it to the rain drenched celebration of music, peace and love. Max proudly told crowd, “…you’ve proven something to the world … A half a million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music, and have nothing but fun and music, and I – God bless you for it!”

On August 18, as concert goers sat for hours in traffic trying to get out of Woodstock, Hurricane Camille came ashore in Mississippi. She brought widespread damage from the Gulf Coast to Virginia and 259 people died. Although the infamous Hurricane Party at the Richelieu Apartments never actually happened, the myth lives on pop culture.

And finally, Labor Day afternoon, September 1, the Nye kids piled into their mom’s station wagon along with the dog and two or three turtles and returned to suburbia. The kids grumpily nudged each other and bickered in the backseat while their mother silently wept and said goodbye to summer.

Fifty years later, I hope your summer is more good than bad or ugly.  Bon appétit!

Greek Salad
A classic summer salad, you can toss it together or dress it up by arranging everything into a lovely salade composée. (That’s French for composed salad – beautifully arranged ingredients provide a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.) Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
About 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small red onion, cut in half horizontally and then into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes – a mix of large, small and cherry tomatoes in different shapes and colors if you can find them
1-1 1/2 European cucumbers
8 ounces feta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
16-20 Kalamata or a mix of your favorite Greek olives, pitted and halved

Put the oil and vinegar in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the onion and minced garlic, sprinkle with oregano and toss to combine. Tossing occasionally, let the onions marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, cut the larger tomatoes in wedges. Peel and seed the cucumbers and cut into chunks.

To serve – put everything into a large bowl and gently toss …

… or create a beautiful salade composée. Start by artfully arranging the tomatoes and cucumbers on a large platter or individual plates. Reserving the olive oil and vinegar, drain the onions. Drizzle the tomatoes and cucumbers with the oil and vinegar and sprinkle with onions, feta and olives.

Serve at room temperature. Cover and store extra sauce in the refrigerator.


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One Year Ago – Moroccan Grilled Chicken & Carrots with Chickpea-Quinoa Salad
Two Years Ago – Szechuan Noodle Salad
Three Years Ago – Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus
Four Years Ago – Cucumber-Mint Agua Fresca
Five Years Ago – Double Corn & Cheddar Muffins
Six Years Ago – Blueberry Clafouti
Seven Years Ago – Blackberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt
Eight Years Ago – Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato 
Nine Years Ago – Red Pepper Dip
Ten Years Ago – Grilled Chicken, Shallots & New Potatoes
Eleven Years Ago – Barbecue Chicken

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What salads are you arranging or tossing up this summer Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

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Ways to Show – I Love You & Grilled Carrots with Green Tahini Sauce

Love isn’t easy. Romantic love, familial love, dear friendships – they all take effort and time. Love of a spouse or a sibling, love of a parent, cousin or friend, it doesn’t matter. Things can get messy, and sometimes, even ugly. Yes, indeed, like it or not relationships are not effortless hugs and kisses, long chats and giggles. A good relationship takes work, sometimes a lot of work, sometimes one-sided work – but it can be absolutely, positively worth it.

Great as love is, it won’t mend all that’s wrong with the world. It won’t erase the niggling insecurities we all have. Love won’t miraculously give you or anyone else world class soccer skills. Love isn’t the key to winning a Pulitzer. Love can’t guarantee a better job or a raise. It can’t straighten hair or get rid of pimples. However, it can help everyone feel better, stronger and … well … loved.

Perhaps you’re not good with words or not particularly demonstrative. If you have trouble expressing your feelings …

… here are a few things you can SAY to show your love –

Did you eat?
What can I do for you?
Come sit; tell me what you’ve been up to.
What would you like to do today?
I love the new haircut.
Let me get that for you.
It’s supposed to rain today, don’t forget your umbrella.
Please, wear bright/florescent/reflective clothing when you go out on your walk.
Be safe.
You are smart.
You are beautiful.
You are amazing
Thank you.
I love you.

… and a few things you can DO to show your love –

Smile when they walk in the room.
Laugh at their jokes.
Ask their advice.
Cook them a special meal. Invite them to cook with you and share a favorite recipe.
Put your dishes in the dishwasher. Put their dishes in the dishwasher.
Get over it. Whatever pissed you off; it’s not worth it.
Call for no reason except to say hello.
Spend time with them.
Join them at their favorite game or activity.
Give a book you know they’ll love.
Give flowers.
Give a heartfelt hug.
Give your undivided attention.
Listen, really listen.

This summer, this year, this millennium, let the people you love know it.

Love is too good to keep it a secret. Bon appétit!

Grilled Carrots with Green Tahini Sauce
Tender, new carrots fresh from local farms are incredible when grilled. Perfect as an appetizer or side dish, serve them plain or with my Moroccan tahini inspired sauce. Enjoy them with people you love!
Serve 8

Green Tahini Sauce (recipe follows)
1 1/2 – 2 pounds carrots
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the Green Tahini Sauce. Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Toss the carrots with enough olive oil to lightly coat and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the carrots on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. If using a gas grill, reduce the heat to low and turn the carrots. If using a charcoal grill, turn and move the carrots to the cool side of the grill. Grill for an additional 5 minutes or until tender.

Transfer the carrots to a serving platter or individual plates and serve warm or at room temperature with Green Tahini Sauce.

Green Tahini Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

3-4 cloves garlic
2-3 scallions, chopped, white and light green parts separated from the dark green
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or your favorite hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves

Put the garlic, white and light green scallion and spices in a small food processor, add the lime juice and zest and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and pulse to combine and finely chop.

Add the tahini, olive oil, herbs and remaining scallion and process until smooth. If necessary, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, and process until smooth and creamy. Let the sauce sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors.

Serve at room temperature. Cover and store extra sauce in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil
Two Years Ago – Grilled Romaine Salad
Three Years Ago – Fresh Tomato Crostini
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Crostata
Five Years Ago – Orzo Salad with Lemony Pesto & Grilled Tomatoes
Six Years Ago – Watermelon & Cucumber Salsa
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Chicken Salad Provencal
Eight Years Ago – Lobster with Corn, Tomato & Arugula Salad
Nine Years Ago – Greek Green Beans
Ten Years Ago – Blueberry Pie
Eleven Years Ago – Grilled Lamb

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are you grilling this week? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Believe in Magic & Spicy Asian Noodle Salad with Grilled Eggplant

There is a special magic to summer. It’s in the air – an indefinable sense that anything is possible. The feeling is strongest at dawn and again at dusk or maybe it just seems that way. I suppose it has something to do with the slight dampness that cools the air. Caught between day and night, the sky turns gold and pink. The atmosphere is almost otherworldly and filled with quiet optimism.

Not a believer? Well – look back and look around. It shouldn’t take much to change your mind. Summers past, present and future are filled with mystical, magical happenings. After all, what else but magic can explain …

The moment you suddenly realized that you weren’t going to sink like a stone. No matter how ugly it may have been, you were swimming.

How, after gazillion tries, you pulled your bat back, (finally kept your eye on the ball instead of your friend at first base) and hit it out the park.

A perfect afternoon building fanciful fairy houses with the children. The next morning, still in their jammies, the children discover evidence of sparkly visitors.

Your all-time favorite ice cream shop has your all-time favorite flavor.

After a thunderstorm roars through, a perfect rainbow forms over the lake.

After that same thunderstorm, the brook isn’t just babbling, it’s singing.

The most beautiful butterfly flutters through your garden.

Each morning, you wake not to an alarm but to the sound of birds signing.

Your very best friend in the whole world calls you out of the blue just when you need a good long chat.

After what seems like hundreds of tries, you drop that ski and do a perfect slalom around the lake.

A tiny child giggles with delight upon finding the most perfect strawberry in the pick-your-own field. And then promptly eats it!

Young players’ faces light up with pure joy and admiration when the women’s soccer team score the final, victorious goal at the World Cup.

Magic happens through acts of nature and acts of kindness. It can be the result of hours, even years, of hard work. A bit of good luck might have something to do with it as well. Sometimes I think that I believe in magic because there is no other choice. The alternative is too bleak, too distressing. Summer is a time to dream – to not only see the magic around us but to see the magic within ourselves.

Happy summer and bon appétit!

Spicy Asian Noodle Salad with Grilled Eggplant
Warm evenings send us outside for one last swim. Why not bring a picnic along? This delicious salad will make an excellent addition to your outdoor feast. Enjoy!
Serves 8

12-16 ounces pad thai rice noodles
Asian Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
About 2 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Peanut or canola oil
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and finely chopped cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped red or yellow bell pepper
3-4 scallions thinly sliced
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, toasted

Prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain well. Transfer the noodles to a bowl, drizzle with enough Asian Vinaigrette to generously coat and toss.

Can be made ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated for several hours. Bring to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-hot. Brush the eggplant slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the slices on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn and grill until tender, about 2 minutes more. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, chop into bite-sized pieces.

Add the eggplant, cucumber, pepper and scallions to the noodles and toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette if necessary. Add the herbs and peanuts, toss again and serve.

Asian Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon or to taste Sriracha
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Put all of the ingredients in a glass jar and shake vigorously to combine. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to combine the flavors. Give the vinaigrette a good shake before using.

Cover and store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Roasted Tomato-Chipotle Ketchup
Two Years Ago – Grilled Zucchini & Feta Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette
Three Years Ago – Fresh Tomato Crostini
Four Years Ago – Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad
Five Years Ago – Watermelon Sorbet
Six Years Ago – Caramel Sundaes with Sweet & Salty Pecans
Seven Years Ago – Gazpacho
Eight Years Ago – Mousse au Citron
Nine Years Ago– Thai Salad
Ten Years Ago – Sweet Dream Bars
Eleven Years Ago – Lobster Salad

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are your favorite summer flavors and dishes? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Fireflies & Other Fragments & Sriracha Aioli

Summers past and present are a kaleidoscope of this and that. Snapshots of ordinary life and historic events fill both real and imaginary scrapbooks. Or in the case of my family, instead of scrapbooks, we have decades of photographs jumbled together in an old pine chest. On top the pictures, each of us has hundreds, maybe thousands, of mental images of summer days and nights. From the July night when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon to an afternoon catching tadpoles, we each have a vast collection of stories. Some are filled with intricate details; others are mere fragments.

When you are little, there is something inexplicable thrilling about being outside after dark on a warm summer night. I suppose it’s the natural byproduct of living under the cardinal rules of suburban life. Close to the top, if not the top, was – drop whatever you’re doing and go home as soon as the streetlights come on.

On weekends and during vacations on the Cape, that rule was suspended. We did our best to spend every waking minute outside. Forget the kitchen. Still in our jammies, we ate our morning cereal on the backsteps. Lunch was a picnic on the beach. Every night was a cookout with dinners hot off the grill. Soon after the s’mores or blueberry pie were finished, the grownups were driven inside by the mosquitos. No, not to the living room, it was too hot and stuffy. Instead, they settled onto the screen porch to catch a breeze and wait, in vain hope, for the house to cool down.

Meanwhile, we kids were told to stay outside and play. Yes, during the school year, the exact same parents threaten to ground us for life if we didn’t report home the minute the streetlights came on. There is something quite magical about summer. Normal rules are suspended and everyone relaxes. Anyway, before you go thinking that we were somehow imperiled or neglected, forget about it. We were within easy earshot of the porch. Malaria does not creep that far north and, if they existed in New England at the time, no one had ever heard of West Nile virus or zika. For our part, mosquitos or not, we were more than delighted to be out under a starry sky.

Besides Nana always gave us each a punk. No, I’m not talking about some yahoo hoodlum or one of those wild bands from the seventies. This is my Nana, we’re talking about. No, she gave each of us one of those incense sticks that are supposed to keep the mosquitos away. We would run around, waving them in the air. If luck was with us, no one got burned and mosquito bites were few.

Some nights we skipped the punks and hunted fireflies instead. Fireflies don’t like punks. However, they did like to flit and flirt in the seagrasses down the road. Nana gave us mason jars and Pop used an old awl to punch holes in the lids. In our excitement, someone was sure to trip over a piece of drift wood or something or other and end up sprawling. Even so, a summer didn’t go by that we didn’t catch a few fireflies

The thrill was in the catch so we set them free before gathering up our stuff and trudging home. Grateful for their freedom, some of our fireflies showed their appreciation by tagging along. Just as my eyes were about close for the night, a little green light would blink and bring me back from the edge of slumber. If I was lucky, two or three would wink back and forth until I finally fell asleep.

Happy summer and bon appétit!

Sriracha Aioli
Aioli is the perfect condiment or dip for summer cookouts. Skip the ketchup and try aioli on your next burger or slather it on grilled corn. Use it instead of tartar sauce with seafood or as a dip for fresh veggies. The list goes on and on. Enjoy!
Makes about 1 1/4 cups

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-3 tablespoons Sriracha
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup mayonnaise
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the garlic, sriracha, lime zest and juice in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Add the mayonnaise and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and whisk again.

Let the aioli sit for 30 minutes at room temperature to combine the flavors. If it’s a hot day or you’re making ahead, let the flavors mix and mingle in the refrigerator.

Cover and store left over aioli in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Turkey Burgers with Goat Cheese & Rosemary-Tapenade Aioli
Two Years Ago – Blueberry Bread Pudding
Three Years Ago – Crunchy Quinoa Salad
Four Years Ago – Cheesecake Brownies
Five Years Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter
Six Years Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Red Potatoes with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Oil
Eight Years Ago – Tandoori Chicken
Nine Years Ago – Blueberry Muffins
Ten Years Ago – Peanut Butter Brownies

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What do you put on your burger? Ketchup? or something else? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Thoughts on Independence Day & Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Alright now, we know that the 4th of July is a day of parades, cookouts and fireworks. But what about the real story? What’s behind all the hoopla? In case you’ve forgotten your history lessons, the then-colonists, subjects of the King of England declared independence on the 4th of July, 1776. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – that’s what July 4th, Independence Day, is all about.

This declaration did not happen overnight or without warning. Tension over a laundry list of issues had been brewing for years. Taxes were a particularly hot dispute. From documents to tea, the cash strapped British King tried to impose one tax after another on the colonists. Heated protests turned to rebellion before the all-out demand for independence.

Each and every one of the original thirteen colonies were represented when the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and approved the Declaration of Independence. Hardly wild-eyed rabble-rousers, these congressmen were men of means, educated landowners and professionals. In defiance of the King, Congress pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in pursuit of freedom and independence. Enough was enough, it was finally time to end the crushing tyranny of British rule.

The Colonists’ political and economic complaints were numerous and grave. Not only were they forced to pay taxes without representation, the courts were hopelessly biased and an army of red coats and mercenaries had invaded their shores. The colonists complained that the King had not only cut off trade with the rest of the world, he had, “plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.” In addition, they raised an oddly contemporary issue – immigration, stating “He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither …”

And so, the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence renounced any last shreds of allegiance to King and crown. The colonies united into free and independent states. Today, we see it as a heroic declaration of freedom. However, at the time, it was treason. Or, at least, treasonous in the eyes of the British government. It was no small thing when the signers closed with a mutual pledge to stake their lives, fortunes and sacred honor on freedom and independence.

This holiday week, let’s all take a moment to reflect on the freedom fighters who helped create our great American story. Not just the revolutionaries of 1776 but the heroes of the Civil War, World Wars I and II and every conflict in our long history. While you’re at it, don’t forget the champions of the women’s, civil and LGBT rights movements.

A constant work in progress, our American story is far from perfect. Democracy is hard and our great experiment has been known to wobble and waiver occasionally. It will probably continue to do so. Am I alone in thinking that things are particularly wobble-y and waiver-y right now?

So, yes, thank the revolutionaries who laid the foundations for our democracy. Then, let’s ask more of ourselves to help safeguard life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for future generations. Together we can smooth out some of those wobbles and straighten a few more waivers.

Thank you, Happy Independence Day and bon appétit!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
A perfect dessert to help celebrate an old fashioned, red hot 4th of July or any early summer party. Enjoy!
8-12 servings

Butter for the pan(s)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 – 2 pounds rhubarb, washed trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 – 2 pounds strawberries, washed trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 3 quart baking dish or individual ramekins.

Put the sugar, cornstarch and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the rhubarb, strawberries, orange zest and Grand Marnier and gently toss to combine. Pour the fruit into the baking dish or ramekins and sprinkle with the crumble topping.

Put the pan(s) on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly, 45-60 minutes for a large baking dish and 20-30 minutes for ramekins. Serve warm or at room temperate with vanilla ice cream.

Pistachio Crumble Topping
1 cup pistachios
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

Combine the pistachios, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine and roughly chop the nuts. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Add the oatmeal and pulse until the topping comes together in little lumps.

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One Year Ago – Vietnamese Salad
Two Years Ago – Tomato & Burrata Salad with Grilled Bread
Three Years Ago – Grilled Shrimp & Vegetable Salad
Four Years Ago – Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard
Five Years Ago – Grilled Tomato Crostini
Six Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Seven Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Eight Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Nine Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Ten Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What is (are) your favorite summer fruit(s)/dessert(s)? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

 

Native Strawberries, a Little Taste of Heaven! & Strawberries & Cream Parfaits

“Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.”       

— William Butler

The world’s most popular berry, the strawberry, is finally, thankfully, just-about-ready for picking. Now, in reality this luscious red gem is not a berry at all, but a member of the rose family. Okay, wait a minute, stop the presses, back up the train … school’s out for summer. Could we maybe have a break here and skip the botany lesson. Berries or not, who can resist one (or two or a dozen or more) of these perfectly ripe, beautifully red, err, flowers? Particularly when they are growing right down the road.

While strawberries are available throughout the year, nothing can compare to a local, just picked berry. In the off season, at farms as far away as Chile, strawberries are picked before they are ripe and shipped around the world. They tempt us, they’re big, they’re bright and shiny red but unfortunately, their beauty is in the beholding. They may be pretty to look at but more often than not, they are pretty tasteless.

Native berries are ready just in time for end of school celebrations, the Fourth of July and, of course, Wimbledon. The tradition of strawberries and cream at Wimbledon may be as old as the famous lawn tennis tournament itself. Every year tons and tons of strawberries swimming in an ocean of cream are enjoyed at the All England Club.

But you don’t have to fly to England to celebrate the famous tournament; you don’t even have to like tennis. Just bring a few friends and family together, wear white, sip champagne or Pimms and nibble strawberries. I guess you had better put a television tuned into the matches in a corner somewhere for the enthusiasts. And for those who would rather play than watch; well, the ground and grass in most backyards, or at least my backyard, are not optimal for tennis. How about croquet?

In England strawberries are in season between May and September but in New Hampshire the season is fleeting and much too short. It begins in the last few days of June and goes into early July. Local strawberries are ready and ripe for just a few wonderful weeks so take advantage of the season before it runs out. Hurry over to your nearest Pick-Your-Own field, farm stand or farmers’ market and enjoy the heavenly aroma and sweet taste of native strawberries.

If you are looking for activities to keep the children or grandchildren busy and happy, berry picking could be just the ticket. With lots of little helpers, it won’t take long to pick enough strawberries to feed a hunger contingent of tennis or croquet players and Wimbledon watchers. That said, I have noticed that some young helpers have a tendency to put more in their mouths than in their baskets.

From the simplest dessert of strawberries and cream to shortcakes, ice cream, trifles and pies, strawberries are perfect for your early summer festivities. Strawberry season is short, so, make the most of this sweet time.

Enjoy the sunshine and bon appétit!

Strawberries & Cream Parfaits
Try this easy and delicious strawberry dessert at your Wimbledon or 4th of July or any early summer party. Enjoy!
8 servings

About 2 pounds fresh strawberries, halved or quartered

Mascarpone cream (recipe follows)
About 1/2 cup finely chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips
About 1/2 cup toasted chopped or slivered almonds
About 1/2 cup toasted coconut

Put a layer of fruit in the bottom of 8 wine or dessert glasses. Top with a layer of the mascarpone cream. Sprinkle with chocolate, almonds and coconut. Repeat for 2 or 3 layers.

Mascarpone Cream
6 ounces mascarpone
2-4 tablespoons honey
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups very cold heavy cream

Put the mascarpone, honey and orange zest in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. With the mixer running, slowly add the heavy cream and beat until smooth. Continue beating until soft peaks form.

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One Year Ago – Shrimp & Cucumber Bites
Two Years Ago – Creamy Yogurt Tart with Fresh Strawberries
Three Years Ago – Berry Flag Cake
Four Years Ago – A Hint of Asia Barbecue Chicken or Pork
Five Years Ago – Potato Salad Niçoise
Six Years Ago – Grilled Scallop & Asparagus Salad
Seven Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Eight Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Nine Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Ten Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What is (are) your favorite summer fruit(s)/dessert(s)? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Welcome Summer & Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Bites

Every May, people get all excited and cheer the unofficial start to summer. Well, I can tell you, it’s a bunch of malarkey. Or at least it was this year. I don’t know about you but I’ve had to turn the heat back on at least two or three times since Memorial Day. So, let’s just forget all about this unofficial stuff. I don’t think I’m alone when stating that I am more than ready for the real thing.

No, that’s not the fourth of July. The first day of summer or summer solstice finally, happily arrives this coming Friday. The longest day of the year, I love everything about the summer solstice. The myths and legends, the rituals, the parties, the extra hours of sunshine, you name it – I like it.

It must be the combination of Swedish and Scottish blood that courses through my veins along with a splash Danish, some Irish and English. By golly, maybe some of my ancestors were druids. Or maybe I was a druid in another life. Perhaps, that’s why I am such a fan of standing stones. Years ago, I visited Stonehenge. Many believe that the circle of massive stones was built by druids. A few others think it might have been built by extraterrestrials. Either way, the site is awe inspiring.

Druids or ET, no one is altogether sure what Stonehenge is all about. After all, it was completed almost four thousand years ago. However, many believe it pays tribute to the longest day of the year. If you stand in just the right place before sunrise on the solstice and look towards the northeast, you will see the sun rise over what’s known as the Heel Stone. It’s quite dramatic and more than amazing. Thousands of years ago, without cranes or a backhoe or whatever else, ancient people created this incredible monument.

If you like, you too can channel your inner hippie or inner druid and join the summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. Unfortunately, you are more likely to see the back of someone’s head than the sun coming up over the Heel Stone. Over the years, the annual vigil has become more than a bit of mob scene.

Just as intriguing, are the more modest rings and rows of standing stones found throughout the British countryside. I’ve seen them in the south of England and maybe Scotland. I took a walking tour of Scotland one summer but the trip’s details are now a bit hazy. If you like, or at least don’t mind, a long walk across the moors, you might stumble upon a group of stones. Too small or remote to attract tour buses, there are no souvenir stands or tea shops. There’s a good chance you’ll have the stones all to yourself. The locals know where they are. Ask around, some kind soul is bound to send you in the right general direction. It’s quite something to see them.

Across the North Sea, the solstice celebrations are no less festive. To many Scandinavians, the solstice is as, if not more, important than Christmas. From Denmark to Sweden and Norway, everyone turns out for parties and bonfires by the sea and picnics in the park. After a long, dark winter, everyone is happy to stay out late and enjoy the midnight sun.

The Scandinavian solstice is a wonderful time for family and friends. It is certainly less frenzied than the gathering at Stonehenge. Whether you have a Swedish grandfather like me, a Danish grandmother or no particular ties at all, think about a Scandinavian picnic to celebrate the longest day. You don’t want to miss a minute of sunshine in our too short summer.

Have a great summer with family and friends and bon appétit!

Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Bites
Salmon – smoked, cured, grilled, roasted or poached – is a favorite throughout Scandinavia. This light and bright hors d’oeuvre is perfect for summer picnics and cocktail parties. Enjoy!
Enough for about 4 dozen pieces

Horseradish Cream (recipe follows)
1 1/2 – 2 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
About 1 pound smoked salmon, cut in small pieces
Chopped chives

Make the Horseradish Cream.

Top cucumber slices with smoked salmon, add a generous dab of Horseradish Cream and sprinkle with chives.

Horseradish Cream
Makes about 1 cup sauce

2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup or to taste prepare horseradish, well drained
2 tablespoons capers, drained and finely chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Grated zest of 2 lemons

Put the cream cheese in bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. A spoonful or two at a time, add the sour cream and continue beating until smooth.

Add the horseradish, capers, mustard and lemon zest and stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour to combine the flavors.

Cover and store leftover Horseradish Cream in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Vietnamese Beef
Two Years Ago – Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze
Three Years Ago – Grilled Potato Salad
Four Years Ago – Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs
Five Years Ago – Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Six Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Seven Years Ago – Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts
Eight Years Ago – New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola 
Nine Years Ago – Spicy Hoisin Wings
Ten Years Ago – Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate the summer solstice? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Many thanks to Mystic Realms for use of the photograph of the sun coming up over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge.