Summer Daze

Above normal sea temperatures here have meant little cooling at night.  Next month’s utility bill won’t be pretty.  So I’ve sought out anything to cool down.  Above, looking from Shelter Island, you can see the San Diego Bay meet the Pacific Ocean.  The peninsula we call Point Loma rises to the right.  On that morning, I fled over there to feel some cool Pacific fog and just gazed at the sea.

Summer tries my patience.  I want to enjoy it more, but the heat saps me of energy and sometimes makes me sick.  I reschedule walks to try and catch cooler moments.  

When that fails, there are thankfully Popsicles!Good thing, too.  They help ease the summer pain.  

And when veggies are at their summer peak, you can’t go wrong with a good salad.Romaine lettuce, halved grape tomatoes, chopped red bell pepper, basil, and a cut up Babybel cheese really fit the bill on a hot day.

Hope you’re all staying cool!

Welcoming July

July means high summer.  This is the time for the berries, peppers, summer squashes.

It’s maybe not the best month for baking, but I dared.  I made a lemon pound cake with some mixed berries blended in, and a layer of fresh blueberries in the middle.  Topped with lemon glaze, it really hit the spot.

We headed north to darling Balboa Island, a quaint village of shops and of course the signature Balboa Bar and Frozen Banana!

Then we stopped in lovely San Clemente on the Pacific Coast Highway.  This is the view from Pizza Port Brewing. There are several of them in SoCal, but this was our first time tying the San Clemente one.

Naturally, we sampled the beer and had their delicious pizzas and “garlic buddies.”

The next day of the long weekend, we headed to historic Presidio Park.It’s a beautiful space, with open park for picnics and play, and trails that go behind the structure itself.  

Then on the Fourth of July we attended a neighborhood parade in the morning, and enjoyed the Big Bay Boom fireworks at night.

While the heat can build quickly, there’s a lot to love about July.  

Farewell June

June drifted in and out, as ephemeral as the marine clouds that burn off in the summer sunshine.The sun shone above despite some June Gloom on some of the days.

Petals like fallen gold carpeted the park.

I enjoyed making sun tea, and adding hibiscus syrup to it.

And I tried a refreshing, budget friendly Rosé wine to send off the month in style.

As the calendar turns to July, I reflect on the ups and downs of this past month and steep in gratitude for time with friends, good food and drink, healing of loved ones far away, and for the beauty of it all. 

Thank you, June.

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.