I’m a happy girl. Summer has arrived, both officially and on the weather man’s forecast. Saturday hubby and I took the short walk to our neighborhood farmer’s market. It’s somewhat ironic since I’d been to my fave farm-stand only the day before, but hey! I picked up different things in both places. My “what we will be eating” list was long which equated to a heavy tote bag to lug home. There could be worse problems, right?
Early summer sees the advent of two special events. Yeah, there’s that “minor” observance known as Fourth of July, where we have a bang-up time of barbecuing, playing baseball and eating apple pie with homemade ice cream, all while celebrating our great nation’s independence. Then … there is my birthday. I’ve always held onto the notion that the fireworks exploding in brilliant colors in the dark, inky sky are for me! Come on, I bet all you other July birthday people think the same thing.
Seriously, though, I’ve been preoccupied with what to fix for the blow-out light-every-grill-you-own fest that takes place at our kids’ place. It’s almost like the whole city shuts down and goes over to their house; well, maybe just the block, but it seems like the city. There will be every sort of meat to satisfy the most carnivorous caveman you know, along with heaps and piles of sides and salads. That’s my part; being more herbivore than carnivore.
Skimming through a couple new cooking magazines and Pinterest “pins” I’ve got a few ideas cooking.
I once watched some sort of a reality show where people would pick out their parent, significant other or great auntie by their potato salad. Mine never quite looks the same. Each time the ubiquitous picnic food gets tweaked. However, one that is a repeat customer includes roasted corn, avocado and basil. Mayo, sour cream and Dijon mustard make up the dressing which is used with a light hand. I find that if you add the dressing to warm potatoes, it doesn’t take as much since it melts onto the spuds.
Cold, crisp watermelon is uber fine when eaten out-of-hand, dripping down the faces of the littles running around. There are plenty of salads and refreshing desserts that include this essential picnic food to choose from. One that’s been turning up on our table is a simple take on melon with prosciutto and parmesan.
What you do:
- Chunk watermelon in large bit-sized pieces
- Top with crumbled feta cheese
- Crack a generous amount of black pepper onto the melon and cheese
- Sprinkle with tiny mint leaves or chiffonade larger leaves
Four or five years ago, I collected a recipe from The Oregonian for Goat Cheese Cream served with a berry compote. I’ve since adapted it to a seasonal sweet with fresh berries or stone fruit.
Goat Cheese Cream
- 2 cups milk
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 ounces fresh, soft goat cheese
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Pour milk into a large saucepan. Heat over medium until it is steaming.
- While it’s heating, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt and cornstarch in a separate bowl.
- When milk is hot, gradually pour it into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until smooth.
- Pour mixture back into the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly until it boils and thickens. This should only take a few minutes.
- Turn off the heat and crumble in the goat cheese. Let sit for a minute, then stir well until the mixture is smooth.
- Stir in the vanilla. Let cool
Spoon cooled goat cheese cream into 6 small dessert cups or ramekins. Top with fresh berries and mint sprigs. Makes 6 servings.
Happy birthday, America! Happy 4th of July, my friends –