Thereâ€™s nothing like a trip home to spark a fierce bout of nostalgia. This past weekend, a short visit to my parentsâ€™ out in the suburbs served not only as a brief respite from the congestion of the city, but also as an invitation for the most bittersweet of childhood nostalgias for this city girl: yard nostalgia. The wistful longing for summer nights spent running around barefoot on freshly cut grass. As kids my sister, brother and I would hang around outside with the neighborhood kids playing all sorts of yard games. A favorite was croquet. Even though we didnâ€™t know the rules, weâ€™d often get the set out and knock the bright balls around with the colorful mallets. Bocce was another we played, albeit with our own rules, that has become popular in the city, even with its lack of yard space. Some bars and apartment complexes have designated areas for the sport, but nothing compares to the beauty of an expansive yard in the summertime. If I had one, Iâ€™d be right back at it, and would love to introduce some giant, yard-approved versions of table games, like Jenga, which can be made according to this how-to at Instructables, or even this larger-than-life game of Scrabble, found at Sunset.com. Click here to read about an Ohio couple who made an even larger paver Scrabble board in their backyard. How cool is that? Readers, do you play summer yard games? — Sarah C.
photo by Flickr member RLHyde
Ice cream makers can be expensive. Stand mixers? Certifiably so. But if you already own such a mixer, and many of you do, might we introduce you to summerâ€™s favorite attachment? Compatible with all KitchenAid models, the Ice Cream Maker Attachment, $79.95 at Williams-Sonoma, whips up two quarts of soft, homemade ice cream in just 20-30 minutes. While Iâ€™m not enough of an aficionado to take the plunge for a stand-alone ice cream maker, Iâ€™d definitely love to try my hand at it enough to justify the purchase of an attachment, if, of course, I already owned the mixer. As a have-not in that department, this is a compound pipe dream, but one Iâ€™ll keep alive in the name of greek yogurt ice cream. Readers, have any reviews to share? — Sarah C.
Is it just me, or are more and more recipes calling for a stand mixer? I donâ€™t own one, so when I see using a stand mixer as part of the directions, I get a little irritated. I tend to read more recipes than I do actually make them, so on the one hand, itâ€™s fine. And itâ€™s also easy enough to just pull out the hand mixer instead. But all reasonableness aside, what gets me is the assumption that a $250 piece of kitchen equipment is commonplace. Especially one that, let’s face it, doesn’t tuck away as easily as toaster. Sound off. Do you own a stand mixer? If not, why? â€” Sarah L.
This post has been in the works for A LONG TIME. Before I was blogging even, about 6 years ago. You see, when I lived in CA, I had access to the world’s greatest scones. Up front, they didn’t look remarkably impressive — perfectly round and domed on top; the rustic, oaty pastry pockmarked with sugar. But when you bit into it, oh mama, was it good.
In the center was a pocket of fruit baked inside the scone! I quickly became obsessed with these “magic scone pockets of delight”, and rushed to our farmer’s market every Sunday in hopes that they still had a few left (often they sold out fast). I eventually forged a friendship with the sconemaster and his family which resulted in many free cookies and bags of granola, but the secret to the scones eluded me.
Fast forward a few years and a whole lot of recipe testing — I’m not sure if it’s perfect, but I finally produced a successful batch of scone-pie hybrids. And now, I’ve made them 5 times. They are a TOUCH labor intensive, but honestly, for scones this amazing you won’t mind the extra time it takes to fill each one. And did I mention that these are the only scones that actually taste better the next day? Get those summer fruits ready and start the oven preheating, ’cause the recipe is after the jump! — Megan B.
Ever since receiving The Art of Simple Food from a dear friend, Iâ€™ve been fascinated and inspired by Alice Waters, her philosophy, her Edible Schoolyard initiative and her Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Chez Panisse. I was fortunate enough to dine in the cafÃ© portion of the restaurant on my first trip to Berkeley, and it is a memory I will never forget. This summer, Chez Panisse will celebrate its 40th anniversary and is commemorating the occasion with a series of special events and this new book, which I cannot wait to get my hands on. A tribute to Alice, her revolution and the people sheâ€™s touched over the course of the last four decades, the book is sure to please anyone with an interest in sustainable food culture or a love of Chez Panisse! Available for pre-order on Amazon now. â€“- Sarah C.
To learn more about Alice & her work, click here. For some of her favorite, quick summer dishes (including wine-soaked peaches!) pick up the August issue of Glamour, on newsstands now.