Friday, August 28, 2009

The Lazy Days of Summer: Simple and Simpler

It's almost the end of summer time, and I honestly can't say that the living's been easy, but the cooking has been.

Take Tuesday night's dinner: lime and garlic chicken breasts, roasted potatoes and cucumber and tomato salad. My picky eaters gobble up potatoes, roasted with olive oil and sea salt, faster than French fries. The homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers were dressed with what Bonny from Hip Cooks calls the "Holy Trinity" - a splash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sea salt. Simple and easy.

Easier yet? Pick up a roasted chicken from Soumarelo in Pasadena. The chicken, along with a package of pita bread and a pint of rice pilaf, costs a whopping $7.99. Toss your own salad and dinner is served.

Summer time drinks tend to be on the sweet side: lemonade (made from backyard Meyer lemons), Sangria (backyard lemons and oranges) and sweet tea. What's the common denominator in these three beverages? Simple syrup.

I once paid $6.00 for a bottle of simple syrup, which is more embarrassing than the time I paid $20 for a pair of J. Crew flip flops that I could have purchased from my local Rite Aid for 99 cents. In case you didn't know, simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil and simmered slowly until the sugar dissolves.

I usually make a cup of simple syrup at the same time that I make the beverage, but I recently got smart. I made up a quart of simple syrup and now store it in my refrigerator so that beverage making is simpler than ever. (Japanese coffee shops frequently offer a small bottle of simple syrup at the table for iced tea. Brilliant!)

While I was at it, I decided to start storing water in the same kind of bottle. Mozza Pizzeria uses a similar bottle for their free tap water, as does the Bodega Wine Bar at Paseo Pasadena. For some reason, the water tastes better when I pour it out of the glass flask.

I think I just posted a recipe for water. How simple is that?

Bottled water , straight from the tap into an elegant glass container
(picked up on sale at Cost Plus for 99 cents)


Chrissy said...

Gorgeous bottles!!..I bet tap water tastes better!.. Love the background of your backyard!....Dinner sounds divine... I will have to do the shortcuts more often... yep, I would have roasted that mutha of a chicken!. and complained about the heat in the kitchen later!... Smart lady!. Can't wait for your next restaurant review!. :-)

Christopher said...

How long does the simple syrup last in the fridge? and where did you get the bottles from?

ps: I recently made simple syrup, but I used light rum instead of water and poured the syrup over strawberry topped angel food cake...Delish!

Desiree said...

heh heh heh, I'm going to steal your water recipe

Christyrenee said...

I love simple syrup! I keep some in the fridge for sweetening mixed drinks, tea, and even coffee! It's great and makes making drinks so much easier. I like to infuse other flavors into it sometimes too - especially mint. You post made me hungry!! lol. Have a great weekend =)

Cafe Observer said...

Bottled tap water. Have your bottled water & on the tap as well.

The Food Librarian said...

I love simple syrup and yes, tap water does taste better in a pretty bottle. Don't forget to copyright that recipe! :)

pasadenapio said...

I love the photos. Hey, I recognize that table! Something about a leaf with my name on it. Hmmm...!

Susan C said...

Chrissy, Thanks! Well, I did heat up the kitchen with those potatoes.

Christopher, The pre-bottled stuff says two weeks in the fridge, but I don't understand why simple syrup would have an expiration date.

I'm definitely going to try that rum substitute!

Desiree, Why you recipe thief!

Christyrenee, Another great idea with the mint. Can you answer Christopher's question about how long in the fridge?

CO, That's right!

Food Lib., Copyright? LOL

PIO, I thought I had a table cloth on the table when I did my leaf thing.

California Girl said...

Everything sounds delicious and easy. I cannot believe the take out price for a whole roasted chicken, pita, rice and garlic paste. I had to link to it to see if you were quoting a plate price. Wow.

I grilled round slices of eggplant, zucchini, yellow summer squash, onion rounds, whole garlic cloves and quartered mushrooms sprinkled with kosher salt,dried herbs (oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary) drizzled with EVOO (channeling RR). I served these with a tenderized London Broil, also grilled and seasoned with a beef salt rub. It was delicious, filling, healthy and a great way to use up fresh farm vegetables.

Italo said...

Simply and nice. We uses to bottle tomato sauces as well. Ciao have a nice sunday.

Margaret said...

You're making me thirsty.

Susan C said...

Cali Girl, Isn't that price amazing? Three folks can feast for 8 bucks. Can't beat it. Grilled vegetables are my favorite, simple summer time dish.

Italo, I'll bet the tomato sauce looks lovely in those bottles.

Margaret, he he

Petrea said...

I'm going to give this one a try. Wish me luck.

Mary said...

I had some time to page through your blog today, Susan. I really like what you are doing here. I'll be back often. Do folks who say nice things about you get the bottles :-).

Susan C said...

Petrea, And if you really want to get fancy, you can drop in some slices of lemons or cucumbers like the spas do. Of course, it may be hard to squeeze the slices through the bottle top.

Mary, You're cute!

Katylui said...

Susan I LOVE your blog, just reading evokes the smells and tastes of lazy summer afternoon feasts!
These bottles are fabulous, I have a couple that I take on Picnics with me, but I am definately going to invest in some more...loving the tomato sauce idea and I now realise (at 11:45pm UK time) that I cannot rest until I have a stock of indispensible simple syrup in the fridge! Thank you...!

Nelle said...

Oh how my mouth waters at the thought of simple syrup but I don't eat anything with sugar except for natural sugar found in fruit. I purchased some bottles like this. Love them. I chop up garlic and put it in olive oil and use it for many things. Do you ever make (sorry the name escapes me) tomatoes sliced with freshly made mozzarella cheese then topped with fresh basil and sprinkled with olive oil? I use the infused oil for this as well. Yummm.

Nikki and Jace said...

Your blog makes us hungry! :)

Nikki & Jace

Cafe Pasadena said...

I hope you had an enjoyable lazy Sunday morning away from the recent smokiness.

Anonymous said...

Is Soumarelo the location of the previous Ceasars?

One of my many misadventures included my homemade shampoo recipe. I used dishwashing liquid, raw eggs, blueing, beer and a ton of fruit. Yes, tomatoes are fruit in my book. Took me an hour to get all the seeds out of my sandy blond hair with blue tinted highlights.

Anonymous said...