In the summertime when the weather is hot…

What else says “Summer” like taking in a baseball game? Nothing, that’s what. We were right behind home plate yesterday to watch the San Jose Giants beat the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at Excite Ballpark. (Got some burnt knees to prove it, too. There was absolutely no shade where we were sitting. Next time: sunscreen.)

Sweeeeet.

Tim enjoyed beer and a Polish dog…

while I chose wine (!) and nasty ballpark nachos. (Seriously, that’s what I call them.) One of the very few times I indulge in unhealthy food. The only thing here that wasn’t “suspect” was the pickled jalapeños. LOL

Life’s for living, yeah, that’s our philosophy…
– Mungo Jerry

(Ear worm)

More Sounds of Summer

Boys of Summer (Don Henley)
(For some reason this song reminds me of a scene in the film Suddenly Last Summer)

Summertime Girls (Y&T)
California Girls (David Lee Roth)
Summer in the City (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
Hot in the City (Billy Idol)
Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts)
Cruel Summer (Bananarama)
Cruel Summer (Blestenation Mix – from the Blue Crush soundtrack)
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini (Bryan Hyland)
Summer Nights (from the Grease soundtrack)

(Actually, ANYTHING from the Grease soundtrack…)

Summer Nights (Van Halen)
Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet)

Just about everything by The Beach Boys
Anything by Dick Dale

and…drum roll, please:
Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer (Nat King Cole)

Finally, summer means heirloom tomatoes. Today I made a “Deconstructed Caprese sandwich Salad”. Tomatoes, chunks of sourdough & mozzerella, fresh basil, and plenty of EVOO. Yum.

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A Summertime Feast – Courtesy of our California Farmers

Huzzah to California’s Farmers/Growers!!

What we snagged at the Farmers Market.
Everything here was used in our Feast.

Menu
Store-bought hummus with baguette slices
Fresh organic strawberry margaritas
Roasted organic corn-on-the-cob with chipotle mayo and cotija cheese
Roasted veggies (eggplant, red onions, summer squash, sweet peppers, and studded with garlic cloves)
Roasted yellow potatoes with arugula and feta cheese
Mothership Tomato Salad
Sirloin Steak (Yes, I cook for meat eaters. ≋;> )
Espresso served over gelato (vanilla and chocolate)

Some of these photos were taken in haste and turned out a bit blurry. My apologies…


Not included in our Fourth of July Feast but something I’ve whipped up a couple times this summer.

Roast Veggies & Pasta Bake

Any vegetables can be used here. During the colder months I might try this with winter squash, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and perhaps parsnips. Anything goes, really. The key is to roast each vegetable separately in a baking pan. It normally takes about 30 minutes in a 350° oven, but some veggies may take less (or more) time. Just keep an eye on them.

Recipe
4-5 heirloom tomatoes, sliced in chunks or quarters
2-3 onions, sliced in half-moons
2-3 summer squash, sliced in half-moons
1/2# dried penne
A boatload of shredded mozzerella
Grated parmesan (fresh)
EVOO
Salt and pepper

Note: Roasting the vegetables can be done a day ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble the bake.

Preheat oven to 350°.

I like to roast the tomatoes first so the onions can cook in their juice. Arrange tomatoes in a foil-lined baking pan, drizzle with EVOO, season with salt and pepper, and pop in the oven. Once the tomatoes have roasted to your liking spoon them into a container – but leave the juice! Next up: the onions. Again drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Bake these until they soft and golden brown. Spoon them on top of the tomatoes (You’ll be mixing all the veggies together anyway.) Treat the squash the same way: drizzle with EVOO and season. These may take a bit longer than the others depending upon the size of the pieces. The squash should be soft and slightly browned. Add to the tomato/onion mixture along with whatever juice is left in the pan.

Cook the penne in boiling water according to directions on package. Meanwhile, spoon your veggie mixture into a 9×11 greased casserole dish. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the veggies. Toss well. At this point I like to throw in a couple (or three…or four…) good fistfuls of the mozzerella and toss again to thoroughly incorporate. THEN I cover the entire top with more mozzerella and finish off with a layer of parmesan.

Into a 350° oven it goes for about 30 minutes or until the cheese starts bubbling.

Bon Appétit!

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Pour votre santé – it’s World Cocktail Day!

During these last two years we’ve been honing skills in preparing mixed drinks – aka mixology. With limited options on going out to a club, bar, or restaurant, what else was there to do? (There are silver linings to every cloud…)

African Blue Basil Martini

  • Dry vermouth
  • Chilled vodka (I keep mine in the freezer)
  • Castelvetrano olives (Don’t even try substituting these – it won’t taste the same.)
  • 4-5 African Blue basil flowers
  • Lemon (optional)

Add ice cubes to a cocktail shaker (don’t scrimp on the ice). Add 2 ounces vodka and 2 spurts of vermouth. Shake for about 10 seconds then pour into a chilled martini glass. Add a jot (or two) of olive juice and a squeeze of lemon. Sprinkle the flowers on top and garnish with 2 the olives.

Makes 1 cocktail

Elderflower Martini: 2 ounces chilled vodka and
1/4 bottle Elderflower lemonade (or to taste).

Fresh organic strawberries from the Farmers Market make the perfect blended Strawberry Margarita.

A classic Manhattan using Redemption Rye whiskey.
(Never, ever use maraschino cherries. Splurge on the good, black ones.)

A successful experiment using ingredients we had on-hand.

Use good quality eggnog, please
– and don’t forget FRESHLY-grated nutmeg!

A classic vodka martini using jalapeño-infused olives
(and more than a “jot” of the juice).

I’ve also amassed a collection of cocktail recipe books…

One of Sushi Confidential’s twist on a Mantattan: Deserves a Defense.

Cheers!!

Related Posts
Bourbon Milk Punch
Elderflower Peach Sangria
Gin & Tonic à la Chez Rock Vixen
Brazilian Lemonade

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Spring ~ Life, Joy, Hope, and the God of War?

March 20, 2022. Happy Ostara. Spring (or Vernal) Equinox, where day and night reign equally. Here in the Northern Hemisphere it marks the official start of SPRING.

Hope Springs Eternal – endlessly renewing itself. Indeed Spring celebrates renewal/rebirth, regeneration, resurrection, fertility, and new life. JOY. When Spring arrives and the days grow longer and warmer, Nature bursts with joy. The birds welcome the morning sun with their songs – a celebration of Life itself. In the Concrete Jungle my Green Dragon is coming out of hibernation and I awoke to the trumpeting of a Canada Goose. He must’ve chosen our rooftop to serenade his lady love because the honking sounded very close and VERY LOUD!

I’ve posted this once before but it deserves a repost:

You have to believe in happines

You have to believe in happiness,
Or happiness never comes.
I know that a bird chirps none the less
When all that he finds is crumbs.

You have to believe the buds will blow,
Believe in the grass in the days of snow.
Ah, that’s the reason a bird can sing,
On his darkest day he believes in Spring.

You have to believe in happiness –
It isn’t an outward thing.
The Spring never makes the song, I guess,
As much as the song the Spring.

Aye, many a heart could find content
If it saw the joy on the road it went,
The joy ahead when it had to grieve,
For the joy is there – but you have to believe.

– Douglas Malloch

Astrologically, March 20/21 marks the beginning of the year and signifies the first seven years of life: ARIES. The Ram. Aries is ruled by Mars. In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars (the son of Jupiter and Juno) was their God of War. The Greek equivalent to Mars is Ares – which is how the astrological sign of Aries became entwined with Ares. To make matters more convoluted, The Emperor is the Zodiacal Trump of Aries (ruled by Mars with Sun exhalted).

WTF? How did we go from life-affirmation to War, Conquest, and Domination?!? Let’s take a deep breath…

The Emperor is also referred to as “Sun of the Morning” (Makes me think of birdsongs.) and represents leadership, courage, individuality, independence, passion, and the Archetype of the Earthly Father. He is the consort of The Empress who symbolizes the Earthly Mother, abundance, Nature, love, and the source of all life. They represent the harmonious balance which exists in every living thing: The Divine Spark.

Joy is an expression of Love.

We forget to play. We forget to be happy. “Whales and elephants, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes, all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them.” – John Muir.

Use this time of new beginnings and growth to rejuvenate your own life. Take time to appreciate the absolutely beautiful World around you and spread some JOY of your own. “Reviewing the day’s delights often yields surprises, and serves as a reminder of how full a life is, how lucky some days feel and how even stressful days may contain glowing nuggets of peace, pleasure, or joy.[1]


As I write this I am enjoying a lunch brimming over with foods celebrating Ostara: eggs (Quiche Michelle), asparagus, a salad of baby arugula, and Bourbon Milk Punch (recipe below).

Bourbon Milk Punch

2 oz. bourbon
3 oz. milk
1 oz. simple syrup (you can substitute Agave syrup)
2 dashes vanilla extract
Nutmeg

Add bourbon, milk, simple syrup, and vanilla extract to a shaker filled with ice. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into a glass and garnish with freshly-grated nutmeg.


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[1] Ackerman, Diane (2009). Dawn Light. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.. p. 237.

Celebrating Fall ~ Mabon Style

Tomorrow is 2021’s Autumn Equinox but you wouldn’t know it around here. We’re having our usual late-in-summer Summer by ushering in a heat wave. (Not that I’m complaining.)

Mabon’s predecessor, Michaelmas, came about as a recognized holy day during harvest season as a means of subverting the Pagan harvest traditions by entrenching them in church doctrine. In 1011 the Christian church established September 29th as the feast of Saint Michael, to honor the protecting archangel as the leader of God’s heavenly host of angels, and to honor his triumph over Lucifer. Michaelmas evolved from a feast day into a day of conducting serious end-season business. In the 20th century, as Protestantism became dominant, Michaelmas then became England’s Harvest Festival. On this day farmers bring in baskets of their bounty to local parishes, where vicars bless the crop, and the baskets are then delivered to local food shelves and families in need. Harvest Festival remained a Pagan tradition, and Michaelmas often served as a Christian mask for the preservation of ancient practices.
[source]

Like the Spring Equinox, Autumn Equinox (Mabon) is that time of year when the day and night are of equal lengths. It marks the beginning of the dark phase of the year: the first day of Fall. This holiday is when we honor the Goddess as she enters cronehood. A day to reflect, remember, and look within. Even in today’s hectic world it’s important to set everything on pause for just a moment. Go somewhere quiet and take a deep breath – outside in nature, if possible. Close your eyes and reflect on all you’ve accomplished this year and the blessings received. Your life IS bountiful so take this opportunity to give thanks, for Mabon is known as the “Witches’ Thanksgiving”.

Ceremonies involving the spirit world are also observed, for the veil between the living and dead is gossamer thin. In Ireland, people would make pilgrimages to burial grounds and pay respect to the deceased – which sounds similar to the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos celebrated on November 1st. You don’t have to travel to your loved one’s grave to honor them – and you certainly don’t have to be Irish! Set out photos of those who have passed – perhaps light a white candle – and raise a glass of wine (or spiced cider) to each, while remembering how much you loved them and how much love they gave you in return.

In Ireland they believe it’s bad luck to eat blackberries after Mabon, so wines made from any other berry are permissible to consume including heather wine which is made from a flowering plant.

Goddesses: Morrigan, Morgan, Persephone, Hecate, Lilith, and Pomona
Colors: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, gold, and black
Incense: Cinnamon, sage, clove, pine, and myrrh
Stones: Yellow agate (joy and prosperity), amber (protection and positive energy), cat’s eye (luck), and sapphire (psychic protection and wisdom)
Decorate your altar (or table) with pumpkins, gourds, pine cones, acorns, corn husks, vines (such as ivy), dried seeds, and horns of plenty.
Traditional foods include breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates (symbolic of Persephone), and fall vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. Don’t forget the wine!
I made Mabon Apple Cake (recipe below) for the first time last night and it is the bomb!! A snap to make, too.

⛤ Mabon Blessings to you and yours. ⛤


Mabon Apple Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups finely chopped apples* (about 6 big apples, Jonagold is recommended)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a 13 × 9-inch pan.
In a large bowl mix together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla with a spoon until smooth.
Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon, stirring just until blended.
Mix in the apples. (This batter will be stiff. I had to switch from spoon to my hands to incorporate the apples.)
Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Bake 40 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the edges are beginning to pull away from the pan. (Start testing at 40 minutes but don’t overbake.)
Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack.

This is a moist, delicious cake that keeps well at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of llewellyn.com

I served it up warm with a drizzle of half-and-half but it’d be great topped with whipped cream OR Talenti Madagascan Vanilla Bean ice cream.

*Next time I’m substituting one of the apples for a mix of raisins and chopped pecans.

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