You're only as good as your ingredients. Now that we're in full from-scratch recipe-testing mode for our Cold Turkey Cookbook, the Fourth of July groaning board was a perfect laboratory for our ongoing research. We stocked up on grand old baking basics like corn starch, Knox gelatine and granulated sugar. Also pictured above, a medley of fresh veggies for Vegetable kebabs. Orzo was made into Warm orzo salad with grilled shrimp and parmesan (recipe called for feta, but that's what tweaking is all about). Not shown are pork loin cubes for Pork and pineapple kebabs with sweet-and-sour sauce and -- the piece de resistance -- blueberries for No-bake blueberry cheesecake with graham cracker crust (we substituted toasted coconut for oatmeal in the crust and apple-strawberry glaze for the fresh blueberry topping in the original recipe).
Fun with food. We shop, shop, shopped and cook, cook, cooked up a storm in preparation for the festive family Fourth of July cookout down Goomp's yesterday. The weathermen had prognosticated rain, but the clouds parted midmorning, and we were blessed with a flawless,"typical summerish" afternoon of good food, good company and good cheer.
Salmon and cucumber pumpernickel squares from Epicurious won hearts and minds, with enough left over that we had them for lunch today, and Goomp just reported he's having his this evening as an hors d'oeuvre, "even better with a day of aging."
We came upon a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) by the sunny side of Goomp's driveway this morning dilligently covering a white oval egg by digging in the soft soil with her long-toenailed hind feet. According to Wikipedia, "Once the eggs are laid the mother will cover the hole with dirt or sand and leave the nest unattended. Painted turtle eggs hatch 72 to 80 days after they are laid. Once the young hatch and dig out of the nest, they are immediately independent." No danger of these youngsters' growing up with a feeling of entitlement like so many of our own species' cohorts who grew up with Fred Rogers telling them they were special. As Jeff Zaslow writes in today's WSJ, "what often got lost in his self-esteem-building patter was the idea that being special comes from working hard and having high expectations for yourself."
Goomp's sweet-tempered, inquisitive Siamese, Mr. Perkins -- the legendary Purrky -- had a brief encounter with an American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) but didn't seem to much mind when we lifted the Ranidad and moved it out of harm's way. The same thing happened when we saw him worrying a tiny chipmunk down in the field below the terrace. As we approached, the pussycat seemed to lose interest in the chipmunk, preferring our own company, and this time we moved the feline himself into the house for a brief cooling-off period.
Eastern Point across the river from Camelot-by-the-Sea is the landscape that keeps on giving. As we wrote three years back, "Had Monet lived here in Southern Coastal Maine, he might have been known for his sunrises instead of his haystacks."
'Course Mummy always said once the Fourth had come and gone, summer was over. Long live summer!