Wednesday, June 17, 2015


We are getting very close to the first day of summer but it almost feels like we've skipped a month of the calendar, here in Portland. The heat has been going steady for about a week now. The sun doesn't set till around 9pm now, and that still feels so strange. June has always been one of my favorite months. March, the month of my birthday, is nice and all, but it can be cold and a bit harsh still. But June, June is all exuberance and desire, as though Spring and Summer were slow dancing into the heat of July. June, too, means cold cherries straight from the fridge, and strawberries that barely last a few hours before they start to grow weary of their own sweetness. It means apricots tinged with blush, lovely and delicate, and big green salads, every which way. 

And it's going by much too fast. Summertime, and the 'livin ain't always easy. But Billie Holiday, you sing it so sweetly.  

I made a spring salad the other day with blue cheese, walnuts, strawberries, radishes and butter lettuce and it was of the more satisfying lunches I've eaten in a while. If you haven't ever put fruit in your salads, I suggest starting now. I also had a salad at P's & Q's Market the other day with frisee, fresh figs and house-made bacon that was wonderful and very pretty. As my dad would say, "duplicate it," and I shall I try. When you keep a jar of vinaigrette around, you can improvise the other ingredients, just keeping a good balance crunchy and leafy. When I'm alone, I've gotten into the habit of eating straight from the big bowl usually reserved for tossing, and that makes me happy, if not partly because I don't have to wash a separate vessel. If inspiration ever runs dry I know I can always count on that old Italian standby, arugula with lemon and olive oil, topped with shaved Parmesan. Like a pair of bright white sneakers, it's a true classic that never disappoints. Maybe I'm getting a little carried away, but green salad in June just feels right. 

I've also started making smoothies again, because I prefer super cold drinks when it's warm outside. I was remembering when my mom used to make this creamy shake once in a while with banana and milk and a dash of cinnamon, always in the afternoon, not the morning. Perhaps sometimes she added ice cream, or a capful of vanilla extract. She might have used soy or just old-fashioned milk in place of almond. Anyhow, it was delicious and I was thinking about it today when I saw a recipe for a breakfast smoothie while perusing Food52. I love anything anything with dates in it so I liked the idea of making a "treat" smoothie with almond milk and dates as a sweetener. With my sister's turbo-charged Vitamix, the drink comes together in a matter of seconds. It most certainly is not "cooking" but there are times when such laziness is appropriate. And like so many edible things, it's not particularly photogenic. I'm thinking of all the things you could add, some that might improve its color (cherries? malted milk powder? cocoa?), but really it's just perfect the way it is. 

Banana- Date Smoothie

Adapted from Food52

1 ripe banana, preferably frozen
2 medjool dates
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
A few shakes of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon almond butter (or other peanut butter)
A capful of vanilla extract
A handful of ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until very, very smooth.