I love summer. It is my favorite season. Summer evokes memories of picnics, barbeques, beach trips and family time.
When I think of this season in terms of decorating I think of white, sea glass blue, & aqua paint colors, linen, cotton, and organza fabrics, distressed, reclaimed & drift woods and bare, painted & cotton rug covered floors.
Martha Stewart has 60 ideas for summer decorating
Bringing the outside in is the name of the game in winter and spring but making outdoor rooms is the summer mantra! In New England we live for summer and living life outside for a few months. I grew up in Washington, DC, and although I loved summer, it was hot and sticky. We can all enjoy planting flowers, vegetables and herbs in summer, in fact those of you down south have two opportunities to plant during the season. When planting flower beds I like to keep height, color and scent in mind. Mixing herbs in with flowers make a pretty herb garden and a more fragrant flower bed! I also like to add lighting to flower beds, candle light adds romance to a garden patio or deck.
Finally, I love to cook, entertain and eat. Summer means picnics, barbeques and fun cocktails. I do not like to use my oven from June-August. It heats up my entire house, which is lovely in the cooler months but sweltering in the summer.
I grill vegetables, pizzas, meats and event desserts and serve them with salads. Clean your grill, replace parts on your gas grill, or purchase a new coal chimney. Here are some yummy recipes from The Food Network.
- 2 medium red or white potatoes
- 1 cup firm or extra-firm tofu chunks
- 1 cup red, yellow or green bell pepper chunks
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 cup red onion chunks
- 1 cup white button mushrooms
- 1 cup zucchini or yellow squash chunks
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
Marinade, recipe follows
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Cook potatoes in salted water until fork tender; let cool and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place potatoes and the vegetables in a shallow dish or container. Pour marinade over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat.
Remove vegetables from the marinade, reserving marinade. Thread vegetables onto skewers, alternating colors. Cook skewers on grill until vegetables are lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. The marinade can be prepared in advance and held covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Grilled Basil-Marinated Chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, basil, onion, salt, peppercorns, and garlic in a bowl. Transfer the marinade to a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag with the chicken and shake to combine. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.
When ready to cook, build a charcoal fire or preheat gas grill.
Remove chicken from the marinade. Grill the chicken, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and garnish with the basil sprigs.
Picnics are such fun. Preparation is the key to a great picnic. Pack a bag or basket at the beginning of summer with good quality paper plates, a roll of Viva paper towels (they are the best), plastic flatware, a small light cutting board, a good small knife, trash bags, zip lock bags, wipes, plastic cups like Solo (they can be reused), a Sharpie pen (to label cups), bug spray, sun screen, and an old blanket or table cloth.
Martha Stewart Knows Picnicking here is a sandwich idea from www.marthastewart.com
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 loaf crusty bread (about 1 pound), sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound mortadella, prosciutto, or thinly sliced deli ham
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or sliced
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (1 ounce)
- 1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and halved if large
- Sprinkle a double layer of paper towels with salt and place zucchini on top. Sprinkle with salt and roll up like a newspaper. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out excess liquid.
- Over a low gas flame or under the broiler, roast bell pepper until skin is charred, 10 minutes, turning frequently. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit 10 minutes. Rub bell pepper with a paper towel to remove skin, then core, discard seeds, and slice flesh into strips.
- Pull out about 2 cups bread from inside loaf halves. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, and oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Completely cover inside of both bread halves with an even layer of bean puree.
- Arrange zucchini on bottom half of bread. Top with mortadella, parsley, roasted pepper, artichokes, Parmesan, and pepperoncini. Sandwich with top half of bread and wrap tightly in plastic. Place on a baking sheet in refrigerator. Place another baking sheet on top and weight with several heavy cans. Let sit at least 3 hours (or up to overnight). To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges with a serrated knife
Check out this craft from Martha…
Farmers markets are a great place to shop in the summer. Go to your local market and meet the farmers who grow your food and ask them their favorite way to cook what you are buying. These people are experts, believe me their families eat a lot of the items they grow…they will have multiple suggestions.
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