Dog days

It’s the dog days of summer. The cats and I are in heaven. Heat. Humidity. Sun. It’s fantastic!

I am so thankful for the pool being open! Swimming outside is a true joy for me and each visit restores my soul.

We’re about one month from empty nest now. Alec goes back to college in Chicago in 2 weeks and Avery has decided on a hockey team in Connecticut. It’s surreal after all of this time together—more than my maternity leave—that soon we will be far apart again. I am glad for the boys to be moving forward and hopeful for their health and safety.

In the meantime I am spoiling them rotten with their favorite foods and trying new ones.

We were honored to try a new local chef’s Mediterranean takeout, Dervish Mazza. Fun tapas style dips and snacks. Winner!

It’s berry season and I found an awesome strawberry shortcake recipe (vegan)! It’s soooooo fantastic!! I use coconut oil for the fat and it really makes for a moist flavorful cake. I ❤️ fresh local strawberries! And can even find great nondairy whipped cream or ice cream.

Speaking of favorites… I don’t know what I love more, fresh local cherry tomatoes (the purple ones especially!) or Door County Wisconsin cherries! I don’t care how much they cost, yes please!

Avocado cucumber soup. Green goop? You betcha! Anything avocado. Thank you Martha, as always, for this winning recipe. It’s like gazpacho but more satisfying. Eating it at the lake helps too. Kayaking amongst the loons is restorative.

In our first happy hour out in public (and his first visit to a cocktail room), Alec and I enjoyed local distillery Dampfwerk. This watermelon/lime gin cocktail “take home” kit was just what we needed for Saturday night patio time. I am going to miss him!!

Peace to you all…

Strawberry rhubarb salad

Rhubarb is ripe with opportunity to mess with people. It’s usually cloyingly sweet, as mounds of sugar mask its inherently bitter flavor. There’s an infamous dessert in our family of strawberry rhubarb crumble made with packs of strawberry Jell-O, and finished off with Cool Whip to “cut the sweetness”. Classic Minnesota dessert.

Side note: only in Minnie do we require adjectives for salads: Jell-O salad, macaroni salad, fruit salad, bean salad, lettuce salad. Not to be confused with the entirely separate category of “fluff” aka salads made with Cool Whip. These types of descriptions are necessary to avoid salad redundancy at potlucks. I digress.

I actually prefer rhubarb closer to bitter than sweet, and so when I saw a recipe similar to this I couldn’t resist tinkering. It’s not going to be a regular in the rotation but would be awesome for a dinner party with adventurous friends. Or to freak people out at potlucks.

Reviews from the boys:

“Mom, that kiwi isn’t ripe.”

“Who put celery in the strawberries?!”

Hey, at least they tried it. And I enjoyed watching them pucker 😉

Strawberry rhubarb salad

  • 2 cups quartered strawberries 
  • 1 stalk rhubarb, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp orange juice

Mix ingredients and allow to marinate 30 minute. 

Strawberry rhubarb swirl scones

  

Rhubarb is weird. It’s stringy, pungently sour and funny colored, I mean is magenta rhubarb sweeter than green? 

My mother-in-law was thrilled to unload a couple pounds of the stuff on me, and gosh darnit I got nostalgic remembering childhood desserts that appeared singularly in Spring. Someone always had rhubarb to give away. 

In fact, I ran into a woman at the grocery store who was distraught that she had to actually break down and buy it. She remembered fondly her grandmother’s rhubarb custard pie, but like many a hearty Minnesotan she couldn’t give me ingredients, she just “knew” how to do it. Hmmmmm. Evasively Suspicious. 

(For those of you unfamiliar with just how seriously we take our baked goods here, I have one thing to say: Minnesota State Fair ala Marjorie Johnson.)

In today’s vernacular what my dairy farm grandmother did in using what she had on hand is called “locally in season”. This recipe was inspired by that thinking.

The boys were skeptical that any amount of sugar would make mushy stringy celery taste good. Mixing it with strawberries and cream won them over. 

Maybe that’s cheating just a bit, but Grandma would have approved, and the cream certainly would have come straight from the  barn.

Strawberry rhubarb swirl scones

Make the swirl first by mixing 1c chopped strawberries with 1c rhubarb, 1/3c sugar and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Simmer til soft over low heat (about 10 min), mash until smooth. Cool. You can also use this as a topping for pound cake, ice cream, etc. 

Combine by hand:

  • 4c flour
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt

Add in 2 2/3c heavy cream and 1/2tsp almond extract. Do not overmix, dough should barely hold together. Swirl in strawberry rhubarb mixture. Form into mounds (makes 12 hearty portions). Bake at 425 for 12 min–use parchment or these may stick to your cookie sheet.