I hate the summer in the desert. It’s hotter than balls at 115+, and most people don’t know June through August is our monsoon season that brings rain and humidity. It’s miserable. The summers here are similar to the winters back home in Wisconsin - they can get depressing and you find yourself hibernating. My house is closed up so the sun can’t get in and the air conditioner is going to be on through October. So to make the best of it I find things to keep me content and happy. Here are a few that you must check out as well. Happy sizzling summer!
Caviar + Wine
If you have not tried Taramousalata, a Greek Caviar spread, you have no idea what your missing! It. Is. So. Good. We pick this up at Sprouts or the local Mediterranean market. Every time I spread this pink decadence on a cracker the salty, creaminess takes me to heaven. Follow this with your a nice sip on my favorite glass of red wine and it makes for a perfect moment inside on a hot summer night. My brother brought over a red blend for my annual holiday dinner that has a fun play on words - If You See Kay - and I’ve been hooked ever since!
Comedians as Themselves
I recently learned of Jerry Seinfeld’s latest project “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, a web series with Jerry hanging out with his comedian friends. They aren’t focused on being funny but rather being themselves. I’m fascinated.
Jerry with Louis C.K. was the first episode I watched. Louis is such a genuinely nice guy. Jerry picks him up in the “Jolly” and they head out on Louis’ boat in the East River. I want to go see those 3D movies with Louis. Check it out.
Another good one was with Aziz Ansar where Jerry drove Aziz’s tour bus to Brody’s Diner for coffee. See it here.
A Dark Cool Room and a Book
I read two books in a little over week last month because they were THAT good.
Love with the Chance of Drowning is based on a true story with the author meeting an Argentinian man who opens her mind and her heart by taking her to sea. On a small sail boat they see the world and themselves in ways they did not expect. A page turner!
The Fault in Our Stars is a big movie this summer but I wanted to read the book first and I’m so glad I did. A couple of teenagers are brought together by their cancer and they fall in love. It’s a sweet story that made me remember how blessed my life has been. I couldn’t put this one down.
In the Kitchen
I have found real satisfaction in my kitchen over the last year. Jersey told me when we first started living together that I don’t put love into my food. I was like whatever. But now I know what he meant. I’ve learned to take my time with preparation and I’ve come to appreciate the presentation of the food. (Now that doesn’t mean I’m a good food photographer!) This week I made some tasty leafy green meals and they all link back to my hometown girls in one way or another.
My friend Sara Roahen from high school is a writer who I have shared her story on my blog in the past. This spring I was gifted a cookbook she edited by another dear friend from Wisconsin.
I pulled it out last weekend and made the Skillet Greens recipe that has a blast of flavor you will not forget!
Here’s what you need:
Tear the greens into bite-sized pieces. Wash in cool water. Lift from the water, but do not spin dry. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and anchovies and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic releases its aroma, about 30 seconds. Add the greens and toss to coat. The water clinging to the greens will keep the garlic from burning. Cook, tossing with tongs, until the greens are barely wilted, no more than 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at once, drizzled with a little more oil.
Kale and Rice
We do our best to be vegan during the week and nothing makes that easier than a delicious pan of kale, onions, garlic and rice. This week I used some Minnesota Wild Rice my crazy friend Lamb gave me as a Christmas present this year. It not only brought more texture to this popular meal but a whole new layer of flavor.
Here’s what you need:
Make rice using package instructions.
Once the rice is done, heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is soft and the garlic aroma fills the kitchen. Add kale, tossing until it’s a bit wilted. About 3-5 minutes. Add rice and let sit on low heat for around 5 minutes so all the flavors come together. Serve warm. If you have leftovers, they are so good cold!
My house in a constant state of fun projects. I love to decorate my home and always have an improvement or idea on the horizon. A while back I shared a tufted headboard Jersey help me make. I didn’t like how it was significantly longer than the width queen bed. The board I used when making the headboard was one of three I had in my garage. So I thought, what if I do the other two and hang them vertically? I like it so much better! Next up - new wallpaper for my future TV room!
Sunscreen is a requirement living where the sun shines 300+ days a year. I really only apply sunscreen to my face and I’m finicky about what I use. While on vacation I took a Birchbox sample of Coola’s organic sunscreen and found it luxurious. When I got home I ordered a bottle only to get another Coola sample specifically for the face. It has a bit of a tint like the 4 other bottles I have. I guess I’ve become a bit of a “tinted sunscreen” fanatic. Coola is the only organic bottle I have and could very well be my future preference.
Cats need to stay Cool too!
My kitty lives on the front porch. He’s a black feral cat and even though he is technically “wild” I worry about him in this heat. I started looking around for a house or something that could keep him cool over the summer and found this cooling pad on Amazon. It’s gel based and the cooling element is released when weight is applied. It was only $20 and he lays on it ALL DAY! #coolcat
Top New York Chef’s interpret America on a plate - It’s a white pizza: the base is our fresh-made mozzarella, and Prairie Breeze, which is a cheddar from Iowa. We’ve got some cherry tomatoes, sun gold, and other small ones on top. The red spots—the fireworks—are red onion, sugar, white-wine vinegar, apple-cider vinegar, salt, and habanero peppers. That’s where the heat is going to come from. And purple basil, from the rooftop garden.
We are really embracing our vegan and vegetarian lifestyle while enjoying a ton of flavor. I’ve been posting pictures on Instagram of our weekend food fest and think I need to share the recipes. I also read a book a couple weeks ago that has me digging even deeper into how I procure food. I encourage everyone to open their mind and give it a read.
This burger has a bite to it that is irresistible! I have made this for guests and they love it. I am sure to give them a good 4-5 hours to marinate before throwing on the grill. Want to make it vegan - cut out the cheese! Click the link above for the recipe.
This recipe is from a book I bought in Morocco.
I was really inspired with the Moroccan Salads served to us at the Riad Myra in Fes, Morocco. Light and full of flavor. And this was so easy to make!
What you need:
Wash and peel the vegetables. Cut them into small dices then combine in a salad bowl.
Mix together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over teh salad, mix well. Garnish with black olives.
Saving the planet - one book at a time!
I’m not sure how Ishmael landed on my list but I always pick the highest rated books from my list to read. I was drawn in by the subtitle as mind and spirit are something I care about but I had no idea what this book was about. After I got over that the dialogue is between a guy who wants to save the world and a Gorilla (yes it’s true), I was amazed at where the dialogue ventured to. Have you ever pondered how people lived centuries ago - gathering the food the needed for the day. There was not this concept of vast acres of land being used for mass producing food and people going to a grocery store to stock up for the week. It was seasonal food being gathered as it is needed. When did the agricultural movement start and where has it taken the fate of the world? Read this book to find out.
“But land abuse cannot brighten the human prospect. There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers. The penalties may come quickly to a farmer who destroys perennial cover on a sloping field. They will come sooner or later to a land-destroying civilization such as ours.” — Wendell Berry
If you have long hair and travel or you just don’t like to wash your every day, you must discover dry shampoo and conditioners. I just found these a year or so ago in a Birchbox. For all the years my mom has owned a hair salon these are new to me. I don’t like to wash and blow dry my hair every day - it takes too much effort and makes it super dry and brittle. But if I don’t my roots get very oily. I was using baby powder but it can leave a white residue and my hair looking grey. You apply the shampoo to your roots, the condition to the your ends, and you are good to go for the day. Many professional stylists use these as styling tools as they have some “hold and mold” attributes. I’ve also found a more environmentally friendly line as well.