Passengers, we are approaching the Hot as Hades station, please gather your belongings and get to the nearest beach…
Sara’s Spanish Gazpacho(I translated the recipe into US measurements from Sara’s metric)
4 pounds of ripe, sweet tomatoes, such as Roma
1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Have a little water handy to thin out if necessary
Shred all ingredients as fine as possible in the Thermomix for 4 minutes. (A Thermomix is a very powerful blender, if you do not have one a regular blender or food processor will work fine.)
Strain the mixture in a strainer and return to the blender. Shred again for one more minute. Strain again to make the mixture very fine.
Chill a lot in the fridge. Sara’s secret is to chill it overnight so it becomes even more flavorful.
Serve in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and cubes of toast. To make it extra special, top with a bit of crumbled feta cheese and slices of cherries! (pictured above.)
Next up is a recipe I have been making every summer for years. It is so easy, but every time I serve it, it gets enthusiastic reviews of how sophisticated it looks. I think this was the first meal I served my now mother in law where she raved (in French: ooolala!) and asked for the recipe. Hopefully this will help you impress any future in laws in your life.
Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2000
1 firm-ripe avocado
2 English cucumbers, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 (8 oz.) container low fat yogurt, I prefer 5% Greek
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Lime juice squeezed from half a lime
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 chopped fresh jalapeño chile with seeds (either omit the chile or just the seeds depending on your heat tolerance)
1 cup small ice cubes
Garnish: chopped fresh chives and or/ diced avocado and a drizzle of fruity olive oil
Peel and pit the avocado. Blend all ingredients in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute. Chill until ready to serve, at least one hour. Garnish and voila!
My favorite part of packing for a summer vacation is painstakingly compiling a list of books that sound perfect for beach days. Then instead of clicking “buy now” on Amazon, I trek to a small bookstore to touch all of the glossy covers and edit my list down to 3 or 4 books. This may sound like a waste of time to some, but it is sheer pleasure for me, and this is definitely a plug to support your local, independent book sellers.
Here are the summer reading winners so far…
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi is a National Book Award winner, and I am a sucker for those prize stickers on book jackets. This excellent novel set in a high school performing arts school captures the no-womans-land feeling of being stuck between adolescence and adulthood with raw precision. There are twists that keep you intrigued and questioning beyond the last page.
I am currently reading All Adults Here by Emma Straub. I have really enjoyed Straub’s previous books which always strike a balance between lighthearted summer reading and thoughtful character development that makes you think about multigenerational relationships. So far All Adults Here, which depicts the more bohemian side of the Hudson Valley, is setting up to be another winner.
James has a summer reading recommendation to add to our list. After a little mishap that sent us to the doctor for stitches, a kind friend (looking at you Rae!) sent us Dory Fantasmagory as a cheer up.
Since (remote) school let out for summer, James has been reluctant to crack a book, but one day after hours of boogie boarding, he succumbed to sitting in my lap for just onechapter. Put it this way, I had to ration chapters, so we had something to look forward to the next beach day. This book is hilarious and perfect for the 5-7 age group.
Stay cool friends.
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Top photo is by Slim Aarons.