Another Hip Hip Hooray Holiday Weekend Special

As I mentioned last week, a midweek holiday can be a bit awkward. Do the celebrations start the weekend before the Fourth of July? Or do you start on the Fourth and keep celebrating through the weekend? The best solution is to take the entire week and do it proud.

With all this warm weather, a picnic or cookout is a happy holiday must. Need some help with your menu? Not to worry, I have a few suggestions …

For a light and bright appetizer, your friends will love my Rosemary Cashews and
Tapenade with crispy slices of cucumber and red bell pepper.

Now, gather around the picnic table and enjoy my Vietnamese Salad. Next, try my Grilled Shrimp (this time without the peanut sauce) and Szechuan Noodle Salad.

As long as the local strawberries are in season, you’ll want to head to the PYO for dessert. What could be more festive than a Berry Flag Cake or Strawberry & White Chocolate Fool. Parfaits.

Have a wonderful summer and holiday. Bon appétit!

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

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Celebrate Democracy & Vietnamese Salad

This Fourth of July, let’s embrace and celebrate our democratic republic – the Great American Experiment. Back on July the 4th 1776, the founding fathers declared independence from a tyrannical, and some say mad, King George. At the time, they could only hope that the experiment would last. From day one, it’s been far from perfect and always evolving. Sometimes the nation takes a step forward. Take for instance, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Sometimes, it takes a step backwards. Consider McCarthyism and the Red Scare in the 1950s.

In spite of the ups and downs, our democracy has held. Our deep belief in equality, that all people are created equal has been central to our success. We cherish the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These beliefs are at the very core of our national identity. It is what continues to make us patriots 242 years after the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

The United States was founded by immigrants. From the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, to the laborers who built the railroads and programmers who created Silicon Valley, the United States has always been a proud melting pot of diversity. Eight of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were not born in the United States. They were farmers, lawyers and doctors who crossed an ocean in search of a new life. We are a nation that has grown and prospered with each new generation of immigrants. Some came for adventure but most were in pursuit of a better, safer life.

I lived in Switzerland for seventeen years. It was an interesting experience for many reasons. For one, I was an immigrant, a foreigner, a legal alien coming from a nation of immigrants. With dozens of United Nations agencies and just as many multinational companies, Geneva is a wonderfully diverse city. At work and at play, people from vastly different cultures come together. On street corners, in restaurants, in the supermarket, people of every nationality and race speak a multitude of languages. Like communities across the U.S., this cultural melting pot made the town all the richer.

One summer, I was the assistant coach for a tee-ball team of five-year-olds. A few were Swiss but the vast majority were immigrants, just like their coaches. Many, but not all, were Americans. I’m guessing their parents signed them up to maintain a link back to their homeland. For the others, it was a chance to try something new. Overall, they were just a jumble of kids who wanted to have fun. While I have no proof or statistics, I’d hazard to guess that their talent was as varied as any tee-ball team you’d find in the U.S. Given the superb (?!?) coaching they received, I’m sure they had more fun than the average U.S. tee-ball team.

I joke about superb coaching because I was one of the worst softball players to darken the doors of my middle and high schools. However, I figured out one thing and passed it on to my five-year-old charges. Keep your eye on the ball, hold the bat tight and swing. Ignore the noise from the crowd. Don’t worry if that cute little Belgian girl likes you. Stop thinking about ice cream after the game. Keep your eye on the ball and you will hit it every time. Like magic, they did.

This 4th of July and every day, keep your eye on our shared American values. Hold tight to the belief in equality for all people. Don’t allow the country’s high standards for liberty, justice and opportunity falter. These beliefs are at the very core of our national identity.

Have a wonderful Independence Day and summer. Bon appétit!

Vietnamese Salad
A refreshing salad is perfect on a hot summer night. Serve this one with your favorite grilled fish or chicken. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 heads baby bok choy, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 head romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
About 5 ounces arugula
3-6 radishes, finely chopped
1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, cut into curls (use a vegetable peeler)
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, cut in julienne
Garnish: 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Put the vegetables and herbs in a large bowl and toss to combine.

To serve: toss the salad with just enough Vietnamese Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Transfer the salad to a large, deep serving platter or individual plates and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Vietnamese Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup

Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece fresh ginger
1-inch chunk red onion
1-2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon or to taste chili sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup or to taste extra virgin olive
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Put the lime zest and juice in a blender or small food processor, add the garlic, ginger, onion, honey and chili sauce, season with salt and pepper and process to chop the vegetables and combine. Add the vinegar, fish sauce and soy sauce and process until smooth.

Add the olive and sesame oils and process until well-combined. Transfer to a clean, glass jar. Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors. Give the vinaigrette a good shake before using.

Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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

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

What’s your summer travel story? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018