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A trendy tomato dinner, Plum Cake 2.0, a summer reading list for kids
Greetings eaters and readers! What’s for dinner tonight? I’m working from South Carolina this week, where the corn and tomatoes are way further along than back in New York country, so last night’s dinner was what you’re looking at above: Crispy pan-fried gnocchi tossed with tomatoes, radishes, Parm, olive oil, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, basil — a version of which I first spied in my warm-weather cooking bible, Nigel Slater’s Greenfeast, and then later came across on NYT Cooking. (Three makes a trend, so get on it!) In other news, My English major daughter Phoebe spent the first 24 hours of her return from college talking about Her Body and Other Parties, the story collection by Carmen Maria Machado, so I spent the weekend finding out why. Whoa, I haven’t read a book that unique in a very long time. Machado explores women’s sexuality through darkly magical worlds, almost apocalyptic, that are all the more powerful for the way they have one foot in reality. And for the record I am angry at every single person reading this newsletter who didn’t tell me to read it when it was published five years ago. Now, at long last, Three (more) Things I feel you’d like to know about this week…
1. A Special Dessert from a Special Book
Even if you think you don’t know Melina Hammer, you probably know Melina Hammer. She’s shot and styled for all the major food players in New York (Food52, NYT Cooking, Julia Turshen 🙂) and when one of her artfully chaotic recipe shots appear on my instagram feed, I don’t even have to look at the name on the handle — that rich, textured vibe that is very much at play in this cake photo, is just so distinctly her. Melina also runs the Catbird Cottage B&B at the foothills of the Shawagunk Mountains in New York, and her latest project — lucky us! — is a collection of the recipes that the seasons and the fertile, local land around the cottage has inspired. As a result, the dishes in A Year at Catbird Cottage, look like the way I would eat every night if I could, which is to say, like all the ingredients had been picked up at the local co-op, or pulled right from a CSA box or the ground itself. Think: A Dutch baby packed with pickles, pea shoots, and craggy cheese; a grand aioli summer feast; French toast with wild blueberry compote, a Spanish tortilla with pickles and garlic-mustard pesto; and this, this! Double Rye Buckwheat Plum Cake that might just be my new favorite answer to the question I ask myself all summer long, i.e. “What is a simple, but special dessert that I can bring to a summer party?” Melina was nice enough to share the recipe.
2. Must-Have Merch for the Vegetarian Grill Master
Here is your annual reminder that you’d do well to invest in a grill basket because there’s nothing easier or more satisfying* than charring up your lightly olive-oiled vegetables — think anything that might otherwise fall through the grates: bok choy, green beans, asparagus, eggplant slices, scallions (shown above) — then drizzling them with a cool-creamy-contrasty no-cook summer sauce.
*except maybe one of those hot dogs 😬
It’s great for fruit, too, as evidenced by last week’s Grilled Halloumi, Peach, Arugula salad. But also, how good would those grilled nectarines be served over vanilla ice cream once they’ve broken down a bit? I’ll answer that for you: SO GOOD.
3. Summer Reading for Kids
I’ll never forget the summer of 2011 when 9-year-old Phoebe discovered The Secret Series, by Pseudonymous Bosch — eventually, a five-volume series — and immersed herself in the strange and mysterious world of Max and Cass for weeks, coming up for air only to eat, in that way you can only really do when you’re a kid on summer break. There would be many more book benders over many more summers (series and otherwise, i.e. Chronicles of Prydain, Percy Jackson, The Great Sharon Creech Rabbit Hole of 2012*) and I feel like they were a pre-cursor for me sending her off to college, i.e. I missed her! But I was so happy she was happy! Well, for those of you who still have young kids lazing about the house with that kind of time and inclination, I’m pleased to announce that my lovely summer intern, Violette Terjanian, a longtime voracious reader herself (that’s 2007 her above, enjoying Les Schtrumpfs, aka The Smurfs) has rounded up a list of the books she loved and got lost in when she had endless summer afternoons to fill. I hope you find something in there for your own kids. If not, here are a few other summer reading posts that have appeared on DALS through the years:
Summer Reading for Science Lovers, crowd-sourced
Kids Audiobooks for the Road Trip, or whenever, by Rory Evans
Kid Classics for Summer, aka what holds up from our 1970’s childhoods, by Catherine Hong
Graphic Adaptations of Classic Novels, chosen by Phoebe
10-Year-Old Abby’s Top Ten Summer Reads, by Abby
Books That Teach Empathy, inspired by Emily Bazelon
Let us know how you do!
*and yet, to this day, Harry Potter has weirdly, fascinatingly not made the list!
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