Monday, July 26, 2010

Summertime and the Return of Sunday Dinners

When I lived in Long Beach and was caring for Gracie during the week we started a little tradition that I enjoyed. On Sunday I invited Jim and Ashley and Gracie (who wouldn't eat my food because she preferred her own gourmet items such as breast milk and pureed peas) for dinner. We didn't have dinner together during the week, usually, because I felt it was better that the little Stromberg family have time to themselves without "Mimi" butting in. Not to mention Mimi collapsed in exhaustion on the sofa with barely enough energy to push the "on" button of the TV's remote control. So on those weeknights, even though I'd often cook for all of us, Ashley or Jim would jaunt on over to "Mimi's Cassita" to pick up what I'd made because let's face it - who really wants to cook for one person? Plus that gave Ashley and Jim a little more time to focus on Gracie without having to focus on what to fix for dinner.

Now that the Strombergs have relocated here in our neck of the woods, I thought it would be fun to resurrect the Sunday dinner theme. The deal is, I'm cooking, and whoever's not busy can come. So although the invite is open for the Wagner clan, as it turns out, Rob, Alyssa and Charlie have had a very busy social calendar and haven't yet been to Sunday Dinners Reincarnated. I know once the Strombergs are more established, they will probably have less Sunday Dinner time, too, so for right now I am enjoying this Big Time.

So here's what I love about Summertime and Sunday Dinners. All that FRESH PRODUCE that we see in abundance right now. Earlier, during Spring, I finally, finally, FINALLY planted an herb garden. I'd been planning for years to do this but all of a sudden I'd notice it was, like, Halloween and still no herb garden. (Eventually I would like to plant veggies, but hey! Let's break one bad habit at a time here!)

So here are a couple of pics of the bounty from the herb garden...I LOVE, simply LOVE the combination of tomatoes and basil. I cut the tomatoes into chunks, rustic style, and tore up about 30 leaves of basil to toss on top. Throw in a little fresh mozzerella, also rough cut, and - VOILA! It's a fresh-as-heaven Caprese salad. Shown above, this freshness on a fork is pre-dressed...just before serving I finished it with a nice drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse salt and pepper. And if it looks like there is a lot of basil on this puppy, well, there is. It's from my own herb garden, don't you know...Besides, my motto of the day is "Go big or go home." 'Nuff said.
When Rob and I kicked off our "Eat Healthy and Get Cute" campaign last month (oh, ok, Rob is already cute), Rob introduced me to the "Big Ass Salad." This is tons of fresh spinach or interesting lettuce of some sort (no, not iceberg since the poor iceberg has practicaly zero, zip, nada nutrition) plus a virtual salad bar of goodies to add in such as beans, corn, artichoke hearts, onion, cucumber etc. I finish my "BAS" off with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, fresh ground pepper, and it is YUM! So at my last Sunday Dinner I re-created the "BAS" using my new favorite serving vessel: the platter. Yes, it's Salad-on-a-Platter and is ever so elegant, don't ya think? PLUS - with my now famous herb garden, I finished it off by scattering lots of fresh herbs (such as a lovely French least I think it's French - at any rate it's from another country) over the salad. Again, no dressing on the salad yet - that came later in the form of, yep, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Also good is seasoned rice vinegar. And at the risk of repeating myself, may I just say again - YUM.
Now, please take note of the lovely basil that has gone wild on my deck...I have to trim it back since it's getting those little white flower thingies on the end, but I'm working on it. Plus it's trying to crowd out another little herb planted in the front, which may or may not be thyme...I kinda forget now...

And here is my lovely new herb planter pot...I can't believe how much all of these tender little plants have grown. Looks like they're happy in their pretty new home.
So even though my adventure in cooking from the wonderful "Julia" cookbook that I attempted earlier in my blog seems to have stalled out for awhile, I am simply happy about my re-creation of my simple little Summertime Sunday Dinners.

1 comment:

  1. Looks good and fresh! I've been thinking of havoing a little garden myself, someday!