One of the best ideas I’ve ever had…

Malibu Rum, Pineapple and Coconut Popsicles

Malibu Rum, Pineapple and Coconut Popsicles

A few weeks ago, while reading a blog, I came across the idea of making popsicles with coconut water for a healthy, refreshing summertime treat. And although it sounded like delicious concept, it seemed a little tame to me.

Coincidentally I had also seen something intriguing on Pinterest — pineapple chunks soaked in coconut rum, a boozy, refreshing summertime treat.

Aha, I thought, now we’re getting somewhere!

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Summer succotash & impromptu dance parties

Summer Succotash (a la April Bloomfield)

Summer Succotash (a la April Bloomfield)

My friend DB and I try to cook together as often as possible — switching off Saturdays so we each get a reprieve from traveling (we live on opposite ends of town). Cooking at his house is always a very different experience than cooking at my own.

I’m courteous with my neighbors, but we certainly aren’t close, and on my weekends to host our cook-fests, it’s almost always just the two of us. DB, on the other hand, seems to know everyone within a two-mile radius of his place, and they know they are welcome to stop by and visit whenever he’s home.

At his house, I’ve become accustomed to having a crowd of hungry, sweaty and slightly intoxicated softball players show up (his housemate plays in a league) or perhaps just random neighbors who heard tales of homemade pizza being made. In the beginning, I was a little awkward, as I rarely saw the same person twice. But now there’s a group of people that I feel comfortable with, and the conversation flows as easily as the beer does.

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Pythons and Shortcakes: A Very Martha Memorial Day, Part II

I wrote about the savory part of our Memorial Day meal earlier this week — now it’s time for the sweet!

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

The Best Strawberry Shortcake: fresh berries, whipped cream and strawberry ice cream all on a homemade shortcake!

I mentioned that my husband was determined to prepare the quintessential all-American BBQ for Memorial Day. This included a gigantic smoked beef brisket with all the classic side dishes. Once we had everything figured out, we came to dessert, which seemed like an easy choice. After all what’s more American than strawberry shortcake?

* Okay, okay, fine — apple pie is probably more American, but shortcake has to be right up there!

We also knew we wanted to do it all from scratch, homemade shortcakes, fresh whipped cream and local strawberries macerated in sugar. Simple stuff. But my husband was also bound and determined to take it one step further by making a batch of strawberry ice cream.

He used the recipe for “Here’s your damn strawberry ice cream” from Humphry Slocombe’s Ice Cream Cookbook, which if you haven’t bought it yet, is totally worthwhile. The recipes are great but the commentary is downright hilarious. This is the first recipe we’ve made from it and my husband said the only adaption he had to do was add more red wine vinegar because our berries were too sweet. Chalk that up to another reason to love Oregon!

Anyways, he brought home a pint of the ice cream which I immediately had to taste for…quality control purposes (yeah, we’ll call it that). Upon the first bite, I can attest it was nothing short of amazing. Super creamy and full of berry love.

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A Very Martha Memorial Day, Part 1: The Savory

Martha Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese

Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese

While in reality I may not strive to be totally like her, I can say with complete honesty that I really love Martha Stewart. I think it’s awesome that she came out of prison missing fresh lemons the most. And the fact that she can make a crumb cake with Ludacris and bake brownies with Snoop Dogg just endears me further. Martha seems to be able to bounce back — better than ever — no matter what happens to her and I admire that.

I also admire her seemingly always perfect recipes. There’s a reason the woman is an internationally famous domestic goddess. I haven’t ever had a recipe of hers turn out sub-par, which is why I chose several of them for our (pre*) Memorial Day party.

*My MO for Memorial Day (and Labor Day) is to host a BBQ on the Sunday prior. This is useful in case people have already made plans for Monday and it allows me to spend that day recouping and relaxing instead of entertaining. It’s a win/win strategy that I highly suggest.

Anyways, my husband wanted to do a traditional “Americana-style” BBQ. This means he was in charge of the grill — a task he took to happily, deciding to smoke a rather hefty (13 pound) beef brisket over apple wood. Here’s a sneak peek:

Applewood Smoked Beef Brisket

Applewood Smoked Beef Brisket

Oh yeah…it was serious!

I, on the other, took control of the side dishes. My husband had mentioned wanting mac and cheese so I used this recipe of Martha’s, which has a cult-like following online with commenters referring to it as “crackaroni” since it’s impossible to quit eating. Totally accurate name by the way, I actually had to pry myself away from the pan.

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Before summer is gone…

This week I noticed it’s getting dark by 8 o’clock and you can feel a certain chill to the air. My driveway is littered with fallen leaves, I have begun to see Halloween candy in the supermarket and I finally had to start using a bike light for my evening commute.

These things terrify me because it means that fall is approaching. Now I have no problem with autumn — we get along okay. I like the changing of colors and snuggling up on the couch with my kitties while a chicken roasts in the oven. My problem with fall is that winter is close behind it, and well, let’s just say it’s my least favorite season.

But before I get too sad, there’s still some leftovers from summer here to enjoy. One of my favorite things is tomatoes — delicious, sweet, warm tomatoes. Growing up in Alaska, I had no idea how good a tomato could be until I moved to Oregon. I was astonished.

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Seeing Green: Salsa Verde

We had some friends over last weekend for a BBQ/wine drinking extravaganza. My husband and I had just reached our 5-year anniversary and thought there was no better way to celebrate than with some good wine, great food and even better company. So surrounded by some of our closest friends, we dined on a simple, but elegant dinner fueled by the power of vino.

A Ponzi pinot party!

The star of the show (well besides the magnum of 1996 Pinot Noir Reserve from Ponzi — given to us at our wedding, which was held at Ponzi Vineyards) was undoubtedly the steak. I bought it from work — a lovely grass-fed Uruguayan beef flap that only needed salt, pepper and a nice hot grill.

But no matter how delicious the meat is, I always feel like it needs some sort of sauce. Keeping with the idea of fresh and easy, I talked my husband into making salsa verde — one of my summer-time favorites. Salsa verde is a blend of finely chopped herbs, with capers, lemon and anchovies added help bring it all together.

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