My perfect summer day starts with a very early breakfast followed by a long walk on the beach. Then I spend the rest of the day in a comfy chair under a big umbrella with a pile of books on one side and a stream of never-ending iced tea close by. I munch on light beach food through the day, take lots of walks, ocean plunges and wave jumping in my beloved Atlantic. As the day passes by, I enjoy the increasing quiet as people leave the beach. The sun begins to drop lower in the sky, I take a final sunset dip, dry off, and watch the sun set at the end of the day.
That is the way I spent my days as a child on the New England beach called Nantasket, where my grandmother and uncles and aunts all owned houses that we summered in.
I learned to swim in the Atlantic, catch and release fireflies, climb rock jetties like a little Ninja, and go to sleep still feeling the rocking of the water as I drifted off. We could swim on the Beach side with lots of waves and miles of soft sand, or on the Bay side, which was rocky, had lots of Horseshoe crabs, but no waves, and where, if we wore our sneakers in the water, we could walk out hundreds of feet from shore in the shallow water.
Sadly, my family sold their properties way too early, and I sorely missed those days as I was sent to camp with a murky lake that had a muddy, squishy bottom that I hated!
Time passed and happily, we were able to give those kinds of beach days to our kids, although in fewer numbers. The beach for us was a place of total relaxation, lots of activity and kids who invariably fell asleep in the car! And, so, summer is my favorite time of year, the beach my favorite place and those days treasured more than gold.
Still, time goes forward, so summer is winding down. It seems like yesterday we were talking about July 4th barbecues and here we are closing in on Labor Day. But don’t count out summer just yet — there’s time ahead for fabulous eating as crops come to harvest and provide us with beautiful colors and delicious treats.
The end of summer brings with it some of the best eating of the season. Tomatoes and corn are abundant, not to mention zucchini, cabbages, lettuces, and all the other summer veggies like summer squashes, scallions, and other herbs. I love summer cooking, with all its clean, fresh ingredients and lighter calorie counts. Grilled food tastes so good, even when just simply seasoned with salt and pepper.
End the summer with a big barbecue and close out the season with a bang. Or have a fun picnic at the beach and enjoy that last dip in the ocean. Relish those fresh grown veggies and visit local farm stands while they still have so much to offer. Then enjoy these last lazy, hazy, crazy days of freedom and relaxation; the holidays are right around the corner.
Paprika Grilled Chicken Thighs with Grilled Veggies (Meat)
4 to 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 Tbsp. Canola oil, more for brushing
1-1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 to 2 tsp. finely ground sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 to 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 lemon, half sliced, half squeezed for juice
OPTIONAL: crushed red pepper flakes for heat
2 sweet (Vidalia) onions, sliced
1 to 2 bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 small zucchini, cut in half and sliced
3 to 4 Roma or cherry tomatoes, cut in pieces or half for smaller ones
1 to 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Mix the 1 tablespoon canola oil, paprika, cumin, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, and lemon juice together in a small bowl. It will be thick.
Place the chicken in a large bowl and mix with half the spice mixture, tossing to coat evenly. Let marinate for 20 to 30 minutes. Heat the grill to medium. Grill until cooked through and golden brown.
While the chicken is cooking, brush the onion slices with canola oil and grill until lightly charred and softened, turning once. Remove to a platter. Mix the remaining veggies with the remaining spice mixture and place in a well-greased veggie grill pan. Grill, tossing often, until the veggies are charred in a few places and fork tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Grill the lemon slices until golden and use for garnish. Serve the chicken with the grilled onions, veggies, and some fragrant rice. Serves 4 to 6.
Sticky, Tangy, Smoky Barbecue Sauce (Pareve)
This is great on everything!
1 (12-ounces) can tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 cup raw or turbinado sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup honey
2 to 3 Tbsp. Molasses
3/4 to 1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Kosher Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tamarind paste
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/2 cup canola or safflower oil
1 to 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. smoked sweet paprika
1 Tbsp. chili powder (scant)
OPTIONAL: 1/4 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, more or less, to taste
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. allspice
Place the sugars and tomato paste in a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Stir until the mixture thins as the sugars melt. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring almost constantly, for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings, including apple cider vinegar, honey and cayenne. Let cool and brush on foods during the last half of cooking time. Makes 3 to 4 cups.
Simple Roasted Summer Tomatoes (Pareve)
When faced with a bountiful crop of tomatoes, this is an easy way to save them and use them.
3 pounds tomatoes, washed and cut into quarters if the are large, half if small
2 to 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. finely minced garlic
1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh oregano
1/2 to 1 tsp. flaky sea salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Add a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.
Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut them as desired and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and garlic and very gently toss to coat. Spread evenly on the prepared pan and sprinkle with the basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Place in the oven and roast until some areas are minimally charred and others look shriveled and a bit dry. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scrape into a bowl or into a freezer-safe container. Use in pasta or freeze for later use. Makes about 2 pints.
Blueberry Crumble Pie (Dairy or Pareve)
This is a summer favorite.
1/2 to 3/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts, toasted
3/4 cup oatmeal, toasted
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. butter or trans-fat-free margarine, melted
5 to 7 cups blueberries
3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts and oatmeal on a baking sheet. Toast for 3 to 5 minutes until just fragrant. Let cool. In a large bowl, combine the nuts, oatmeal, sugars, flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and add the slightly beaten egg and the melted butter. Bring the dry ingredients into the egg and mix until crumbly. (I use my gloved hand- fast and easy) Squeeze the mixture into small clumps and place on a baking sheet. Freeze 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the berries in a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Toss gently. Sprinkle with the sugar and cornstarch and toss gently. Pour into a 3 to quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Top with the frozen topping and place in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Let cool about 2 to 3 hours to set the filling. Or, if you can’t wait, serve with vanilla ice cream and a spoon! Serves 8 to 12.