Sunday, July 19, 2009

The First Gift of Summer

I always lowered my voice an octave and held up an imaginary bell when I bellowed out my favorite line from the classic Christmas book, The Polar Express. "The first gift of Christmas."

Today, I plucked the first red Celebrity tomato from the garden. I held the shiny fruit in the sun and shouted out, "The first gift of summer" (without lowering my voice an octave). Isn't gardening dramatic?

And the best part? Just like Santa's bag, the vines should produce an endless supply of gifts - some red, some yellow and some green and striped like a zebra - all summer long.

The gift that keeps on giving, all summer long - vine ripe tomatoes. With a little salt and fresh chopped basil, what could be better?

(And with heat in the 90s here in Southern California, I may cool off by reading The Polar Express. I'll drink Sangria chilled with ice shaved from the Polar Ice Caps instead of hot chocolate "as thick as chocolate bars.")

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Open Mouth, Insert Milk

We have one more mouth to feed at the Open Mouth household, but it will be a while before we insert a fork.

Daughter C. gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. He arrived a month early, but is healthy and strong and already developing a taste for the ultimate comfort food - mother's milk.

Please forgive the shortage of posts. Between the new baby and a trip to the East Coast (which I hoped to complete before baby's arrival), I'll be a bit tied up until the 28th.

I look forward to finding a bigger baby boy and a few dozen vine-ripe tomatoes when I return.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trespassers Picnic, Part III

The day of living dangerously: Trespassers enjoy an idyllic picnic.
(Photo courtesy of Petrea from Pasadena Daily Photo)

A few years ago,
my friend Barbara attended a memorial service where family members served the mom's "signature dishes." We both panicked when we realized that we didn't have our own time-honored dishes to serve at our funerals. God forbid that I should die and someone should mutter, "Well, you know Susan was working on those crab cakes, but she never quite got 'em right."

I may not have a signature dish, but I do have bragging rights to a signature event - the trespassers' picnic, where crossing the line is half the fun. The picnics are held on private property and are loosely centered around a theme. The first featured traditional picnic foods, such as fried chicken, deviled eggs and chocolate layer cake. We gave a nod to France on the second picnic and served pommes frittes, salad Nicoise and French wine.

Last week we gathered at a favorite private vacant lot and shared Asian-inspired food.

We started with green mango with chilli salt, a popular Thai street food that, according to my friend who lived in Thailand for nearly a decade, is as common in movie theatres as buttered popcorn. I think I'll try sneaking this sweet, sour, salty and spicy dish in on my next visit to the Laemmle. (The very next day, a friend served me a snack of mangoes with cracked black pepper, and it was equally delicious.)

I tried out this recipe for Thai Beef Salad, developed by Clare at Rainy Days and Sundays. I could live for days on the dressing alone.

Cold soba noodle salad, Thai beef salad and Banh Mi - cool foods on a hot day

The Menu:

Japanese Rice Crackers
Green Mango with Chilli Salt

Main Dishes
Cold Soba Noodle Salad
Thai Beef Salad
Vegetarian and Pate Banh Mi from Lee's Sandwiches

Red Bean and Sesame Buns from Din Tai Fung
Red Velvet Cupcakes (made by Chinese bakers)

Iced Tea
Rose Wine

As Liz put it, our afternoon was filled with "questionable wine, manageable danger and good company." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Do you live in the Pasadena area? Do you have a flexible weekday schedule? Would you like to be invited to the next Trespassers' Picnic at the end of summer? Email me at susancarrier AT or leave a comment.