Summer Sandwich for a Saturday or Sunday Afternoon

This could very well be the easiest and best tasting sandwich you have ever had. Think of it as a salad in really great bread. But there are a few things you must do to make this sandwich a success. Otherwise it will be an ordinary sandwich. And that's not what I'm striving for here.

First. You must get yourself to your local farm or farmer's market. They're everywhere this summer - The farmer's markets, that is! You'll find grocery store produce practically inedible once you get your veggies from the farm. This is how our tomatoes and lettuce and cucumbers and all the other deliciousness is supposed to taste!

After you've gotten all the veggies that your heart desires you'll need some really good bread. With the emphasis on really good. I am a bread snob. I make no apologies for this. Many local bakers sell their wonderful breads at farmer's markets. Really, farmer's markets are one stop shopping... you should be able to find everything you need from meat and fish, eggs, cheeses, breads, veggies, soups, and some of the best desserts ever.... But I digress... If you can't get a good bread at your farmer's market, then head to a bakery. But please please please do not go to the grocery store for this unless your grocery store sells local breads... and many of them do.

You'll want a fat, flat crusty bread like a ciabatta or eve a softer focaccia. Cut the bread in half through the middle and lay both halves on your work surface, crust sides down. On one half drizzle a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, infused or plain. Now start layering all your veggies... anything and everything you wish! We used mixed lettuces, thinly sliced fresh red tomatoes, thinly sliced fresh cucumbers, crushed and chopped Greek olives, thinly sliced pepadews and fresh mozzarella. We added some more olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper to taste. We placed the other half of the bread on top of the sandwich and pressed it down. You can use something heavy to hold it into place if you wish. When you're ready, cut the sandwich into as many pieces as you'd like. Serves 4-5 large sandwiches or more as mini sandwiches. You can add anything you would like - fresh basil, onions, peppers... The options are endless. Use an infused olive oil or add some pesto to the bread. Swap out the mozzarella for goat cheese or a spreadable herb cheese like Boursin.

Go ahead and make this. You'll thank me when you do!




August really is my favorite month. It's a gentle reminder letting us know that while September is just around the corner summer is not yet over. Her days can be hot and humid yet they can be gentle and soft. Early morning breezes make sipping coffee on the porch a pure delight. The sun is slower to wake now, her rays less jarring than a month ago. She reaches through the trees to warm my stiff shoulders. Gentle breezes dance gracefully in the air while a chorus of crickets, birds, peepers and cicadas sing melodiously. The day will grow humid and the sun will hide behind darkening clouds as torrential summer rains pour down to nourish the ground beneath us. It has been a hot and dry summer. Our grasses, no longer emerald-like as they were in the spring, were on the verge of turning hay-like. But Mother Nature stepped in to lend a helping hand. At this very moment all is right with the world. At least my corner of the world in Southwestern Connecticut.

School begins in just a month's time. There is still time to roast marshmallows and chase fireflies. There is time for homemade lemonade and Sun Tea. There is time to visit the beach... to dash through sprinklers... to wash the cars... there is time to dash around in cut off shorts and bathing suits and lounge around and do nothing. Summer is forgiving. It allows us to slow down and relax and take it all in. Summer is about county fairs and carnivals and ice cream cones and flip flops. Summer is about sleeping in and going for long walks or runs and swimming and playing tennis. Summer is about indulgence and relaxation. Summer is about letting go...

I love the sound of lawnmowers. I love the smell of freshly mowed grass. I love the smell of the ocean and the feel of the sand under my feet. I love the shrieks of delight as my little ones run through the sprinkler. I love their little cold and wet bodies - even when the sun is scorching. I love playing in the sand with my children and collecting shells and rocks and sticks.

This summer has been very different. In many ways it has proved to be challenging. It has been a juxtaposition this year. It has given me a reason to relax and enjoy, but yet my own fear of the future has at times caused me to stop dead in my tracks. There are many things I have yet to do what I had want to. This is why I love August. August is, to me, is a second chance at summer. It's a reminder that all good things do come to an end. It's a reminder that time does fly. It's a reminder that we must seize the day.

Summer is also a wonderful time of year for a foodie. Summer's bounty is abundant and sublime. My children and I share a love of cooking and food. There's nothing like sitting outside on a warm summer night as the sun sets, right before the stars take flight... Fresh fruits and vegetables... accompanied by warm hearth-baked breads... succulent meat grilled to perfection...accompanied by a refreshing cold beer or crisp chilled wine.

My funds are limited this year, more than they have ever been in the past, but I will not sacrifice good food and flavor. I am fortunate to live in a town where there are as many farms as people. (Ok, slight exaggeration!) Our soil is rich and produce is abundant. I have a favorite farm, I admit. It is just about a mile up the road from me. A two minute drive. Yes, I could walk but I drive. I would not be able to tote back all the wonderful goodies on foot! Sport Hill Farm, in Easton, Connecticut, should be on your map if you happen to be in the 'hood. She has her own chickens who produce the most magnificent eggs... and all the vegetables your heart desires. Her treasures are spectacular... wandering through with my camera I marveled at how farms are nature's jewelry stores!

Visit your local farmer, farm stand or farmer's market... buy locally. It's better for you. Better for the economy and better for our environment. Nothing tastes as wonderful as homegrown.

And while August is my month to enjoy summer and all that it has to offer to the fullest, I plan on getting back into my kitchen and taking advantage of all the garden delights it has to offer too!

Happy August!


Entertaining the Family

In the summertime we tend to head off to go visit my parents, but during the school year, with our busy lives and schedules, it's easier for my parents to come to us. They usually arrive at around 10:00, stay for a few hours and take off when the kids start driving them batty! Wish I could do the same... Oh wait, I do! I send them off to school!

Our visits usually center around food, so as soon as I got up this morning I had to prepare for lunch and dessert. I was so busy running around yesterday that I had no time for the prep work that I thought I would have.

But what a difference it makes getting the house ready for company when you have three kids in school for a whole day! I spent most of Thursday tidying and vacuuming, Windexing, etc. Alexander went off on a play date after school on Friday so I had the added bonus of another day of "freedom." This freedom allowed me to get so much accomplished, not inside the home, but outside the home. I spent my Friday running errands that are normally so challenging and stressful, but without children it's truly amazing how liberating errand running can be! I went to the bank, our local baker to pick up fresh rye, semolina, challah and sour dough breads. Then I went to get my hair cut (5 inches!), to CVS, to get the car washed, to the grocery store, to our local farm store, to pick the kids up from school and then to take them all to the school's Family Fun Night.

When people come from out of town, I like to give them a taste of the wonderful things we have in our area. Our town has so many wonderful farms and farm stores, that I like to use these ingredients as part of our meals. I decided that today we would have a large salad for lunch. I wanted something light as I was also serving dessert. I served a large salad, served on a platter, that everyone could help themselves to. The sweet tomatoes were fresh off the vine divine and the lettuces, splendid. I browned up some chicken in various spices for a little protein and made the most marvelous dressing by adding some red wine to the pan to scrape off some of the wonderful spices. I added the liquid, about 2 - 3 tablespoons to vinegar, olive oil and mustard. A perfect red wine vinaigrette. The salad was devoured as was the bread and the red wine.

We had a lovely visit and the kids got plenty of individual attention from Moo and Popsy as I cooked in the kitchen. We had to wait a little while between lunch and dessert so Alexander got to open his Birthday present from Moo and Popsy and the kids surprised Moo with flowers and cards for her. Her Birthday was last weekend. Finally, dessert was ready. The cake was cooked and had cooled enough to eat. Let the celebration continue! With bellies full, we sent Moo and Popsy home with their flowers and some of our apple picking prizes!

After my parents took off and I had cleaned up sufficiently, Daddy and I decided to relax for a bit in the family room. We decided to check out the much acclaimed and much talked about Mad Men television show. After just a few moments I was hooked! We ended up watching 3 episodes, and now, as I type this I'm watching another one! I simply cannot get enough!

I have decided that I love everything about the Sixtees. I love the dress and the lifestyle... especially the all day cocktail hours! I have decided, however, that I could not live in that era as the home decor is atrocious!

Our large salad featuring items from a local farm along with some seasoned chicken
and fresh bread made a perfect light lunch

The amazing Apple Cake we had for dessert. The recipe is on my food blog,
The Entertaining Kitchen

A picture of the apple cake, and my mom!

Dinner's in the bag!

As most of you know I loathe to go to the grocery store. I triple loathe it when I have three little heathens with me. How lucky that I can avoid it, for the most part, this time of year. We have so many local farms within just a couple of miles. All of them are abundant with brightly colored fruits and veggies that are freshly picked. We are even lucky enough to have a local bakery deliver some of its freshly baked breads to one of them. This proves for some yummy and healthy meals. (Which is great in light of all the baking we've been doing around here!)

Last night we had a salad made from mixed greens and heirloom tomatoes, bread and my garlic butter spread. The kids gobbled it all up. The night before we had tomato, asiago and basil sandwiches on fresh baguettes... and yes, in the bag you will see something that I did not get at the farm stand... my bottle of Pimm's. It's summertime after all, and my liquor cabinet requires this on one of its shelves!

Pictured below, simple sandwiches packed with flavor... add a drizzle of olive oil just prior to serving!

Wonder what the farm will provide for us today? Unfortunately we're running low on some all important staples of the paper kind that cannot be purchased at the local farm... I am so procrastinating!