June flew by quite literally, but the end of the month went out with a bang. There was a party for a good friend of mine (Lo - you're my miss bomb-dot-com and you know it!), who has since skipped town to work on a cruise ship in Hawaii. I know, right? You can read more about her adventures in paradise here. Such a courageous move called for an outrageous sendoff party. And as we all know, outrageous parties need some contagiously addictive food - which is just what yours truly set out to provide.
I had recently attained a new cookbook, for which the party was the perfect opportunity to try on some new recipes for size - and boy did it pay off! (It probably also helped a little that I used a decent amount of produce straight from the farmers market in a lot of these new recipes - the remaining ingredients were provided by the ever faithful "whole paycheck" - which led me to do pretty close to just that, but was nonetheless, completely worth it.) Anyways, back on topic. The new cookbook I got has become my new food bible. It's called The Good Life, and it's pretty much an instruction manual on how to lead just that. This book shows you how to make dishes from scratch with love and only a little bit of sweat.
Sure, I still made a few of my mainstays, like jalapeno poppers (compliments of Pioneer Woman) and olivida crostini (compliments of the Farm Chicks), but the real winners came from this newbie. For the first time, I tried my hand at homemade rosemary focaccia to go with the olive tapenade. Albeit after accidentally dropping the first batch on the floor, the second batch worked like a charm. And it was so simple, I pondered why I'd never tried it before. I also made (yes, from scratch!) a raspberry lemonade (with fresh farmers market raspberries and just a handful of blueberries), and a perfect summer grilling dish of zucchini wrapped haloumi soaked in a greek herb marinade and garnished with a generous helping of capsicum dressing.
See, you're getting ready to fire up the grill right now, aren't ya?
Saying goodbye is bittersweet enough. Which is why I just couldn't help myself when I came across this sweet dessert - it definitely helped make the goodbye tears a little sweeter! With fresh strawberries from Nichol's Farms, light and fluffy hand whipped cream (cool whip who?) and a brandy infused strawberry jam filling - the buffet table's tub-o-twizzlers didn't stand a chance against this airy sponge cake's sweet summery charm.
Then, before I knew it, the celebration was over, we said our goodbyes, not a crumb of food was left in sight, and it was magically 4th of July. And here we are, in sweltering heat and the midst of summer - and there's really not much you can do but to sweat it out. True, doing any kind of "real" cooking that entails anything outside of scooping ice cream straight from the carton into your mouth is going to make you sweat a little more than usual, but the payoff is more than worth it. Trust me on this.
Oh yea, and one more thing... Happy Birthday America!