Hi, Anna-Liza here.
So Mr. B has his first day of first grade on Monday, which feels like the end of summer (but it’s really not). So that leads me to thinking about summer, my favorite season most of the time. (I like not having to put on layers to go outside … and the fact that Darlin’ K walks around without a shirt at home).
Lyda has admitted to her domestic goddessness with the cleaning–and her baking’s not at all shabby. Me, I like a very clean orderly house, and when I have enough money to pay someone to keep it that way, I may have it. As it is, it falls apart too fast for me to put cleaning at the top of my priority list. I’m a results cleaner, not a process one.
I’m pretty much a results cook, too. I don’t get the primal satisfaction from the process of cooking that I do from knitting or beadwork or … a lot of other crafts. I’m not a Chef, not even really a Cook*, I’m just a pretty good everyday cook with a few really good dishes and a lot of pretty good to okay dishes in my repertoire. That said, the few really good ones are, well, really good. And I specialize in the “looks really special but very simple to make” kind of thing. So I’m going to share a little. ‘Cause that’s just how I roll.
Just to get things started, here’s an essay on that very special Southern beverage, sweet tea.
I am married to a Yankee (western variety, not so obnoxious) who dislikes sweet tea. And caffeine. So I’ve come up with my own iced tea recipe that is decaf, still very refreshing, and of course I can sweeten up my own glass if I want. Which I do, with stevia rather than sugar. Practically blasphemous, I know! But it works very well and doesn’t spike my blood sugar! Or add extra calories.
Anna-Liza’s Healthy Decaf Iced Tea
You’ll need four teabags of decaf green tea and four teabags of a good mint tea. I use Celestial Seasonings’ “Decaf Green Tea” and “Mint Magic“, usually. Boil water, pour over teabags in 2 quart pitcher, let steep by wandering off and forgetting about it for at least half an hour (my usual method) or about 10 minutes, whichever you prefer. Scoop out the teabags with a slotted spoon, cover the pitcher and chill in the fridge.
Of course, we’re in August and heat and humidity (okay, not so much with the humidity here, I guess, but there’s been enough lately to get condensation on my iced tea glass), and a nice cold supper sounds nice, doesn’t it? Here’s one of my favorite summertime meals–it doesn’t seem to matter how big a batch I make, it’s gone in a few days. Or one.
Anna-Liza’s Favorite Chicken Salad
- Chicken thighs, cooked (thighs taste better)
- Celery, sliced
- Tarragon (fresh if you can get it, dried will do)
- Black pepper
- Salt (just a tad)
Combine tarragon and black pepper with mayonnaise, let sit for a while while you cut up the chicken thighs and celery. Cut up the chicken, slice the celery, dump them in the big bowl with the mayo. Add pecans, stir it up good, add blueberries, stir more gently. Taste, add more pepper and/or mayo if necessary. I don’t add very much salt, but sometimes it’s needed. Chill for an hour or more, serve on romaine lettuce leaves, on a sandwich, or just scooped into bowls. Maybe have some sliced bread and olive oil, or some rice crackers and goat cheese for a side.
And, here’s my favorite way of serving trout, which isn’t strictly summertime (no seasonal produce required), but I tend to serve it more in warm weather. One of those dishes that impresses more than the effort level really warrants … which is always a good thing, in my book!
Anna-Liza’s Sesame-Ginger Trout
- Trout fillets, or whole trout (I prefer whole with the head cut off, butterflied, skin on)
- Sesame-Ginger Sauce (my favorite is by Ginger People)
- Olive Oil
Cut the heads of the fish if you need to. Dredge it with flour (not too much), set aside. Heat frying pan with olive oil, add fish. Cook on both sides on medium heat until flour has started to brown a bit. Pour sesame-ginger sauce over the fish, cook some more on lowish heat until sauce starts to thicken.
Serve with julienned green beans with toasted almonds and brown rice, or green salad and white rice.
And, just as a teaser for what’s coming …
Anna-Liza’s Favorite Fall Green Salad
- Mixed greens
- Goat cheese (plain or smoked, not herb or peppered)
- Dried sweetened cranberries
- Shelled walnuts–halves or pieces
- Balsamic vinegar dressing
Prepare the greens in whatever way you prefer. Add the walnuts and dried cranberries. Chop up the goat cheese into about-nickel-sized pieces (this is the biggest hassle in this recipe) and add to the mix. Serve with balsamic vinegar dressing. Great as a side dish to turkey!
Oh, and don’t bother with the juice-sweetened cranberries–they’re still too sour. I doubt the amount of sugar in the good ones is going to cause too much damage.
*(in homage to AntiM) Did I ever tell you about the time I was roasting a turkey and managed to tip it off the roasting pan into the back of the oven, and all the grease spilled? And the smoke was pouring so thickly out of the kitchen door I was afraid the neighbors would call the fire department? No? Oh. Well, nevermind.