Sunburn...check. Wet dog... check. Sand in my shoes...check. Yep, summer has arrived! (After a long weekend of rain, I was wondering if I would ever see that large fiery ball in the sky.) With a frosty drink in my hand and the warm glow of the sun on my face, it was hard to think of anything other than the blissful zen I was enjoying, but my mind wandered. The soft fluttering sound of the flags dancing in the breeze turned my thoughts to the soldiers, the fallen heros, and the families left without their loved ones today. So here's a toast and a huge thank you those who provide my freedom - May you never forget that we love you. Your courage is astounding.
Raise your glass, people... thank a soldier. They deserve it.
2 to 1 ratio - moscato to ginger ale
splash of mango nectar
splash of fresh orange juice
Shaken and served with ice... garnish with lemon balm and orange slice
Ok, I must be a dork... or perhaps I have just lived in a small town too long because the opening of a new grocery store had me tickled pink. During my reconnaissance mission, I meandered through the produce section and perused the aisles. The "international" section is where I spotted a bottle of orange blossom water. I had absolutely no idea what to do with it but I couldn't resist buying it. I knew that hauntingly sweet aroma was going to add a new twist to my culinary bag of tricks. The gears began to grind. Weening myself off a 2 week bender of bad eating, I avoided the urge to make cookies or cakes and opted, instead, for a light salad. I started with fresh strawberries, shaved carrot, and chopped romaine hearts and macerated the salad in the juice of 1 navel orange and 1/4 tsp of orange blossom water. Fifteen minutes in the fridge was all it took for these humble ingredients to incorporate into a sweet summer treat. Welcome back, inspiration... I missed you.
A dear friend has taken up residence in my guest room for the next few weeks and decided to kick off her stay by cooking me a delicious dinner. If there is one rarity in my world, it's having dinner cooked for me. This unexpected change of pace was nothing short of amazing. She tolerated my constant attacks with the camera and accommodated my ridiculous requests like "slow down the cheese grating", and "bring that bowl over to the window". The salad was crisp and flavorful with interesting tidbits like cherries and almonds, the garlic bread was a cheesy delight, and the main course was an absolute show stopper. A baked spaghetti squash was scraped into pasta-like shreds and topped with her father's homemade gravy. (I was told that "gravy" is the true Italian name for spaghetti sauce...she would know, she's a Grassia.) A true friend and a true treat... what more could a girl ask for??
The backdrop was a whirling carousel, it's cheerful music chiming away. The food was an amazing spread of festive desserts, complete with a gelato cart. The colors were bright and cheerful and the weather was surprisingly gorgeous. This was quite possibly the cutest confirmation party ever. My culinary contribution was Parisian macaroons and homemade butter cream icing for the cupcakes. With only a 20 minute window to get set up, the styling was organized chaos. Working with focused urgency, the hostess was able to create a flawless tablescape as I stood in awe. It was quintessential cuteness and a stylist's dream. Thanks for letting me participate... and cheers to your confirmation, Olivia.