Summer Camp & Tomato & Burrata Salad with Grilled Bread

I met up with a friend a day or so ago. She was taking a deep breath after a crazy busy weekend. Her grandchildren breezed through town and stayed the night on their way to camp. It got me to thinking of my days at Camp Four Winds. For most people, summer camp was one of those things you either loved or hated. Just to be a contrarian, I was neither obsessed nor filled with fear and loathing.

I like to think that I was really very teeny tiny when I went off to camp. As a child, I was always following in my sister’s footsteps. A few years older, as soon as Brenda went to camp, I wanted in. So, while my sister was probably eight or nine when she headed off to camp for the first time, I was ready at six. Okay, maybe seven, but I know I was still a Brownie.

Of course, we went to Girl Scout Camp. It was more or less a given. A proud Camp Fire Girl, Mom went to one of their camps. Dad went to Y camp (as in YMCA). Regardless of generation or affiliation, the critical criteria were two weeks on a pond in the woods and dirt cheap. Given the givens, Camp Four Winds fit the bill but was nothing fancy.

There is a reason that I always think of myself as ever so young when I went off to camp. One of a couple of things happened and I don’t know which. It could be I forgot to tell Mom that I wanted to go to camp until the last minute. Alternatively, I told her at a time when she was busy doing a thousand motherly things all at once and she didn’t hear me. Or finally, I told her but she didn’t believe me and it took some time to convince her. Regardless of why, I must have signed up late. In spite of being one of the youngest campers at Four Winds, all the girls in my unit were at a couple of years older than me. Then again, maybe Mom got my date of birth wrong on the application.

Anyway, Brenda spent her first year at Four Winds in the cushy little girls unit. It could be my vivid imagination but I think they had flush toilets. Not only was I younger but I roughed it with the big girls. We had cold showers and latrines. We also had to walk five miles in a snowstorm to get to the dining hall for breakfast. Oops – no, wait a minute, that’s another story!

Being the youngest and smallest girl in my group did have its advantages. The other kids took me for some sort of mascot or woe-be-gone in need of a helping hand. From morning chores to an extra marshmallow on s’mores night, I suspect I got away with quite a lot during those two weeks.

It didn’t hurt that I showed up with a plethora of pink clothing. Most of the time, we wore camp uniforms. An army of girls from seven to seventeen, we were all identically clad. There were dark green shorts and shirts for everyday and whites for Sunday. However, we could declare our own true selves with our bathing suits and pajamas. It must have been some strange coincidence. Both new and hand-me-downs, from my bathrobe and fluffy slippers to my bathing suit, everything in my camp trunk, except the uniforms, was pink.

The big girls were delighted. In less than twenty-four hours, I’d earned the nickname Pinky. I was well taken care of and coddled but it didn’t last long. As soon as I hopped in the station wagon for the trip home, I was back to being Susie … and all that went with it.

Happy summer and bon appétit!

Tomato & Burrata Salad with Grilled Bread
Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It is delicious with fresh local tomatoes and warm bread. Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 1 tablespoon or to taste red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil to taste
2 garlic cloves
1/4-1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 1/2-3 pounds very ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 slices ciabatta
2-4 balls fresh Burrata
1/2-3/4 cup torn basil leaves

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the vinegar in a large bowl, add olive oil to taste and whisk to combine. Mince one of the garlic gloves, add it and the onion to the oil and vinegar and toss to coat. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Arrange the bread on the grill and cook, turning once, for about 30 seconds per side or until nicely toasted. Remove from the grill, rub each piece of bread with the remaining garlic clove, brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Place the still warm bread on individual plates, top with tomatoes and Burrata, garnish with torn basil and serve.

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

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

What about you? How will you celebrate the first days of summer vacation and the longest day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

The Sounds of Summer & Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Throw open the windows and give a listen. The air is alive with distinctive, summer sounds. Some are rarely heard and fill us with nostalgia. Others play day in and day out but are still much-loved symbols of the too-short season. There are sounds unique to early morning while others wait until after dark. Here are a few favorites:Field Day Wheel Barrel 06

  • Light sleepers know that up with the birds is more than a cliché. Our feathered friends begin their chorus at first light.
  • From breakfast until dinnertime, the drone of lawnmowers fills the neighborhood.
  • As the heat builds, so does the hum of insects. So no, you’re not crazy; there is a buzz in the air.
  • Just when you think you can’t take another minute of sweltering humidity, a New England thunderstorm explodes with pelting rain, earsplitting claps and deafening booms.
  • Can’t wait for the inevitable storm? Head for the multiplex and sit back in air-conditioned comfort while the thunderous crescendo of a summer blockbuster surrounds you.
  • If you decide to stay home, you can enjoy the deafening hum of an ancient air conditioner. (Since we rarely use them, some of us New Englanders keep them forever.)
  • There is something timeless and inimitable about the bang of an old screen door when it slams shut. Just as timeless is the shout, “Don’t slam the door!” that inevitably follows.
  • Get ready for a symphony as soon as the sun goes down. Crickets come out to chirp, owls hoot, peepers peep and frogs croak.
  • Speaking of symphonies, at least half a dozen local bandstands fill the air with music every summer weekend. From John Philip Sousa to jazz, doo-wop, rock and country – it’s all good.
  • Rarely heard these days but fondly remembered, with a bit of luck, you might catch the jingling bells of an ice cream truck.
  • The crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd are the telltale sounds of the nation’s pastime.
  • The buzz of a motor boat whipping through the waves and a water-skier’s shouts of glee are sounds of victory.
  • Hide and seek, Red Rover and Capture the Flag – we welcome the shouts and laughter of children playing outside.
  • At the end of every long, sunny day, neighborhoods ring with the calls of moms yelling for their kids to come home for dinner.
  • Not just wonderful smells, summer cooking is filled with delicious sounds. Consider a steak sizzling on the grill, a crackling campfire ready for marshmallows or the crunch of crispy veggies in a salad.

Enjoy the sounds of summer and bon appétit!

Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce
A great addition to your next picnic or cookout, this salad has a delicious crunch. Enjoy!
Serves 8Asian_Noodle_Salad_Spicy_Peanut_Sauce_01

12-16 ounces rice noodles
Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
3-4 radishes, chopped
1 carrot, cut into curls (use a peeler)
1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
About 1/3 cup chopped salted peanuts

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again, shaking off any excess water.

Put the well-drained noodles in a bowl, add enough Spicy Peanut Sauce to coat and toss to combine. Add the vegetables, sprinkle with the herbs and about 2/3 of the peanuts and toss to combine.

Transfer the noodles and veggies to a deep platter or individual plates, sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and serve.

Can be made in advance, covered and refrigerated.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons or to taste soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup roasted peanuts (if salted, quickly rinse and drain)

Put the garlic, ginger, lime zest and juice, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar and sriracha in a mini food processor or blender and process until combined. Add the peanut and sesame oils and process until smooth. Add the peanuts and process until finely chopped and smooth.

Let the sauce sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for several hours to combine the flavors. Bring to room temperature before tossing with the noodles.

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

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

What is your favorite sound of summer? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016