Summer Cooking 

Here I’ve collected good ideas for summer cookbooks, if you’re looking for some.  I have more cookbooks than these, but I find I reach for these the most lately.

The first book was a lucky find at the delicious Prejean’s restaurant in Lafayette, Louisiana.  I wanted to take that whole restaurant with me back West.  Since I could not, the cookbook was the next best thing.  You can buy it here.

Next up, we shift northeast to the thorough and delightful New England Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase.  Inside, you will find lush photos, anecdotes, and loads of summery dishes, as well as recipes for other seasons.  If you want to capture New England’s deliciousness, this book is for you.  In fact, all of her books are great.

Looking for some Southern goodness for your next summer potluck?  Nashville Eats by Jennifer Justus has you covered.  Fried chicken, biscuits, greens…you name it, she’s got it.

If you want never-fail recipes that are beautiful and delicious, Ina Garten’s books should take pride of place in your home.  In Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, Garten really shines, offering her trusted classics and many other seasonal foods.  I can’t recommend this one enough.

Maybe you love to host, and want your table to keep people talking for a long time.  In that case, you must try and get your hands on Simple Soirees by Peggy Knickerbocker.  You’ll likely need to get a used copy, but trust me, the book is worth it.  Fresh, West Coast ingredients inspire the book, but you can get what you need most anywhere.

Need a deep dive into everything big and tasty?  Rope yourself a copy of Texas Eats.  I found this cookbook by Robb Walsh remarkable not just for its variety of foods (of course there’s brisket, but there’s also vegetarian and seafood; remember, Texas does have a coast), but also for the history in its pages.  Fire up your barbecue for this very special book.

I’m a tad biased, but I truly love Sunset Eating Up the West Coast.  It serves as both an epic road trip inspiration and priceless collection of recipes from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest, and all the points in between.  Your mind will be blown by the bounty of the West Coast, and the special little enclaves you can find off the beaten path.

Sometimes, you want everything in a cookbook.  You want the basics, and you want some variations on them.  In Saveur:  The New Classics Cookbook, you get the best of all worlds.  It’s a high quality, hardbound beauty of a book, and the perfect gift for the budding chef or the seasoned.

In The Foster’s Market Cookbook by Sara Foster, you will find countless ideas for your summer feasts.  Durham’s Foster’s Market inspired this absolute classic.

The utterly charming Irish chef Donal Skehan offers a bounty of healthy, gorgeous food in his Fresh cookbook.  This lovely cookbook is a natural for summer eating, when so many fruits and vegetable are at their peak, and you need inspiration for the bounty.

Want some humor and education with your summer grilling?  Look no further than Alton Brown:  EveryDayCook.  You’ll want to make everything in this book.  It’ll make you drool and make you think as well.  Possibly the most fun that can be had from a cookbook!

Last but not least, hey, it’s grilling season!  So I must tout Weber’s Way to Grill.  Want to grill something?  This book will show you how.  There are so many colorful, instructive photos and recipe ideas here, you’ll be set all summer long.

Happy summer cooking!





Happy Summer!

The Summer Solstice has arrived!  We are spending it making sun tea, which will soon be poured over ice, and heading to a leafy, shaded park later today.

This weekend we went to two beaches: South Carlsbad State Beach, seen here:…and after that, we headed to Fletcher Cove  in Solana Beach, seen here: Note there is also a snowy egret rookery just across the road!

The egrets have built several nests in this tree, and they make the funniest sounds, “Lobble-lobble!” and growls and bays.  

Now we are ready to glide through the sultry summer days, with picnics and road trips and potlucks in the works.  

For now, I’m waiting for that tall glass of sun tea to cheer the longest day of the year.


Yesterday, I took one look at the weather forecast for the inland Southwest and said, “Nope.”  So now we’ve altered our trip plans and will explore the parks in autumn instead.

I feel even more excited about this, as one reservation agent said fall is best for seeing wildlife.  And of course, fall color, which is legendary in the mountain West.  It’s also great elsewhere throughout the West, with lower elevations turning much later in the year.

So, some alterations.  The plus side?  Day trips and letting summer guide us, rather than the other way around.  I kicked that attitude off with a visit to the Little Italy Farmers Market, or Mercato, this morning.

It had been a few months since I had visited.  And so now it’s an explosion of summer fruits and veggies!
Flowers too…

Local mead and soda and jams…

And of course it would not be summer without stone fruits in particular!

Summer guides us now.  Local, fresh foods, sunny days, languid nights.  That’s a fair tradeoff, I do think.

Producers of these lovelies:

Jackie’s Jams

Susie’s Farm

Smit Farms

Superfood Coffee Co

Golden Coast Mead

Stay cool, everyone!

Summer Dreaming


Summer fills the mind with possibility.  It is the ripe, full, juicy peach.  It is the scent of pungent, full berries on the vine.  There are trails to be hiked, beaches to dig in, roads to twist our way through valley and range.


While it’s not officially summer, it’s already fizzing like soda up my nose.  I’m poring over maps, plotting the summer reading, scoping out new places to picnic.  I’m browsing books to read under the wafts of the ceiling fan on the hottest days.  I’m combing through recipes for grilling, sangrias, cobblers, ice creams, popsicles, tiki drinks, salads…and realizing I’m leaning toward not cooking at all, as my thoughts wander to olives and cheeses and fresh fruits.

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Soon we will hit the road, and we’ll see our wonderful national parks, so do stay tuned for that!


For now I’m digging in to the deliciousness of summer dreaming.

This Peach and Raspberry Crumble recipe was made from the recipe by Joy the Baker.

The homemade vanilla ice cream  is from Crowther Cafe.


VariegatedJune Gloom overtook the region, carrying over from May Gray.  I’m not one to complain about this weather phenomenon in SoCal, because well do I know the furnace that awaits in August and September.  I’ve indulged in brisk walks and I’ve dared to have hot tea.  Besides, the gray skies make the flowers glow.

The month canters ahead, full of activity.  Many things are unfolding rapidly, more rapidly than the blooms it would seem.  I do pause to look at the flowers, though, as I dash hither and yon.

And I always stop at a Little Free Library.  This one caught my eye recently:

LittleFreeLibraryCan we talk about the landscaping first?  You can’t see the rest of this lady’s yard, but let me tell you, it’s a complete dream.  She’s a plant sorceress.  And look at what she’s done with the Little Free Library case!  Adding decorative branches!

Aren’t these things delightful?  I think my neighborhood has four Little Free Libraries that I know of.  They’re popping up everywhere, like June flowers.  And the best part is, they’re little treasure chests, you never know what’s in them.  And it feels grand not only to find a read, but to return and put another one in for someone else.  Our family loves everything about this.  Books in bloom!