Hello everyone! As I sit here, writing and sipping on my tea, outside does not look happy – the rain is crashing against my window and the wind is blowing something crazy. On a brighter note: it’s the first of March and you know what that means, right? Spring is coming! As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently put: “The earth laughs in flowers”. I love seeing all of the flowers in full bloom. Though, as much as I love the flowers and springtime, I love summer even more. Why? Here is my list of what I look forward to this summer:
- Sunshine – okay, the West Coast is gorgeous. We have the mountains, the forests, the lakes, the ocean. However, it rains…a lot. To be frank, I am a bit tired of the rain and grey skies, which is why sunshine is the number one thing on my list. Waking up and it actually looking like morning is kinda nice, too.
- Adventures – there is no time like summer time for adventures.
- Cookouts & BBQs – Burgers, grilled meats/seafood, veggies, and grilled pineapples with ice cream on top. Cornbread, pies, and sweet tea…yes, please!
- The clothes & shoes – If you’re a person who is perpetually warm, you may not really feel me on this one. I get cold rather easily, so, during all the other seasons, I generally layer my clothing. In the summer, however, I can wear my favorite clothing items without hiding them under other clothing items (and wear things I normally wouldn’t wear during other seasons). Makes sense? I hope so. As for the shoes, I can wear flats and not worry about soaking my feet in a puddle; I can wear heels and not worry about them getting muddy; plus, my feet don’t have to be trapped in boots or sneakers, meaning my toes and be free in a pair of flip-flops.
- Swimming & lounging – Lounging in the sun after swimming in the lake/pool/any body of water.
- Fruit – I absolutely love fruit! I consume fruits like a hoover while they last. Those juicy mangoes and watermelons and peaches and pineapples *salivating* – I like pulling up to the farmer’s market and grabbing all kinds of delicious summer treats.
- Camping and warm nights – Close your eyes. Can you hear the crackling of the wood, too? Bonfires on a warm summer night are magical. Spending time in nature, roasting marshmallows, chatting around the fire. Sign me up!
- Ice cream & cold treats – well, here’s a no-brainer. With summer comes all kinds of ice cream, frozen drinks, and iced teas.
- Amusement parks – I haven’t been to a proper amusement park in ages, but I gotta get to one this summer.
- Fresh cut grass – I really enjoy the smell of it.
- Markets and fairs – I think going to a local market and/or fair is one of the most fun things to do in the summer.
- Wedding planning – last, but certainly not least, is planning the wedding. I am very excited for this process and it will be so incredible to finally have my fiance back home with me!
This list could potentially become very long, so I will cap it off at twelve points of why summer is the season I love and look forward to. There shall be many summer-themed posts coming up.
To wrap up today’s post, I’d like to share some recipes with you which are perfect for welcoming spring – some small nibbles along with a sweet indulgence at the end. I find that instead of eating one large plate of food in the spring and summer months, I like to tantalize my taste buds (and give my stomach a rest after the hearty winter food) with a few well thought-out complimentary bites.
Spring onion flatbreads:
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 170g spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 215g plain all-purpose flour
- 1.5 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- oil for pan-frying
- Head an oiled frying pan on medium heat. Add green onion and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, or until soft
- In a large bowl, combine flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Add your onion/garlic mixture to the bowl, then add cilantro. Gradually stir in 250 ml of boiling water. Stop adding water when you notice a loose dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- After the dough has rested, rip off walnut-sized pieces of the dough and roll out into 20 thin ovals.
- Fill a frying pan with 2 cm of oil and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the breads two or three at a time for about 30 seconds on each side, or until golden and crisp.
- Drain on paper towels and serve with tzatziki (recipe follows)
- 1 Lebanese (short) cucumber
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 250 g plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dill
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped mint
- Finely grate the cucumber and squeeze out all the excess moisture. Transfer the cucumber to a bowl; then add yogurt, vinegar, dill, mint, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix it all together to make sure ingredients are well combined. Serve with spring onion flatbreads.
Grilled lime prawns
- 48 raw king prawns (peeled and deveined)
- 125 ml fresh squeezed lime juice
- 6 tinned sugar canes
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
- salt and black pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, basil, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Next, toss in your prawns and make sure they are well coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge; let the prawns marinate for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the sugar canes into 1/4 inch thick strips that are about 4 inches in length. Thread two prawns per sugar cane stick. You can make small cuts in the prawns to help the threading process.
- Cook prawns on a hot griddle (or BBQ) for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through. Serve with lime wedges.
Salt and pepper squid:
- 1 kg small squid tubes
- 250 ml (1 cup) lemon juice
- 250 g (2 cups) cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1.5 tablespoons white pepper (ground)
- 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
- 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
- oil for frying
- Wash and pat dry the squid tubes, then cut them into thin rings. Put the rings in a flat dish (not metallic) and pour the lemon juice over the top. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry again.
- Combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Fill a deep heavy-based saucepan 1/3 third full of oil and heat to 350 C, or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns within 15 seconds.
- Dip the squid into the egg white and then into the cornstarch mixture. Shake off excess.
- Gently drop the squid into the oil in small batches. Deep-fry for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden. Serve right away.
*dip into tzatziki!*
Fig and mascarpone tart:
For the pastry:
- 175g (1.5 sticks) of softened butter
- 50g caster sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- 50g white chocolate, melted
- 250g (1 cup) mascarpone
- 18-20 fresh, ripe figs
- 6 tablespoons apricot jam, strained
*an 8-inch tart pan*
- Preheat oven to 350 C. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolk and stir until well combined.
- Fold in the flour and bring the mixture together to form a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough and line the tart pan with it. There should be pastry left over, you can freeze them and use again later.
- Bake the pastry case for about 10 minutes or so, or until lightly golden and firm. Let it cool.
- Brush the base of the tart with melted white chocolate and let it set. Meanwhile, beat mascarpone for a minute or two, until smooth and light. Spoon the mascarpone onto the tart and spread it out in an even layer.
- Quarter the figs and arrange them vertically in the mascarpone, place them close together in concentric circles until the there are no gaps in the tart.
- Place the jam in a small saucepan and add 1 tablespoon of water. Heat on low heat, stirring until smooth and warmed through. Remove from heat and gently brush figs to give them a nice shiny glaze.
- Serve with your choice of beverage (mine, of course, is tea).
I hope you try the recipes – they are worth the effort!
[Also, my apologies for the post going up so late in the day. My desktop computer died on me today and it took a while to identify the issue. I do have my laptop but my desktop is now out of order for a while.]
+Update: I’ve finished my journal/sketchbook decorating, along with the box. Decided to add them into this post as they are rather summery and fun. Also, I bought a new sketchbook/journal that has sturdier pages as well as binding (my other one was not as durable as I’d like). The box (left) came wrapped in canvas, I just added everything else you see on it. However, to match that, I bought canvas sheets and wrapped the journal myself. Here they are 🙂
Have a great week, everyone!