We have tomatoes! Earlier this week, the tomatoes went from green to red almost overnight. We picked four of them on Wednesday, and had them for dinner last night – I baked some cod with the diced tomatoes, sliced scallions and olive tapenade, with just a little white wine. I made some cucumber salad to serve with it and it was tasty – a perfect summer evening meal. The pepper plants are tall and robust, but so far aren’t making any effort to flower. I’m the most surprised about the sweet corn – there are five little ears of corn forming, and one of them has even started tassling! So it looks like I might be able to grow sweet corn in an apartment after all! The bay tree is continually putting out new leaves and the rosemary is fragrant and healthy. And we still have plenty of garlic greens growing in the window.
We’ve been doing a lot of simple cooking this summer. We grill out every chance we get, and have become mildly obsessed with skewers. One of our favorite skewers so far this summer has been a sausage, shrimp, onion and sweet pepper skewer with a spicy wine vinegar and smoky paprika based glaze. Grilled onions have also been a favorite – we just thickly slice an onion or two into rounds, marinate them at room temp in a little olive oil, sugar (just a few tablespoons), salt and pepper, and maybe a little fresh herbs. We then thread them onto bamboo skewers, and grill until they’re nearly soft and richly caramelized.
I’m also excited to try some new recipes for grilled skewers that I came across in the August issue of La Cucina Italiana. Spiedini di Gamberi consists of shrimp marinated in white wine and curry powder, wrapped in a slice of prosciutto and threaded onto skewers with scallions. Spiedini di Pollo con Battuto al Centriolo is cubed grilled chicken thighs topped with a cucumber, arugula and olive relish. And the one I’m the most excited about trying is the Spiedini d’Agnello – lamb, pancetta and sweet peppers, simply seasoned with olive oil and salt and pepper.
It’s been a fairly rainy, humid summer so far so we haven’t made it out to the beach just yet but I’m hopeful we’ll get at least one weekend day this season where it doesn’t rain. We have been getting out for some nice walks around the neighborhood – all of the gardens are in full bloom so the air is fragrant and the breeze off the lake is always nice. One thing rainy days are good for is games – we’ve been pretty hooked on card games lately. Our favorites are Monopoly Deal, Scrabble Slam and 1000 Mille Bornes (it’s a car racing game). The other bonus for these card games is they’re great for travel – we’ll be taking them on our next camping trip for sure.
Speaking of trips, we’re going to take a long weekend over the Fourth of July and drive down to Springfield, IL. Back when we did our honeymoon on Route 66, we pretty much skipped Illinois because we always figured we could do it later, giving us more time to explore the areas that were farther from home. Well, almost five years later we’re finally getting around to it! We’re going to start downtown at the official eastern terminus of Route 66, stop for breakfast at Lou Mitchells, then head off down the Mother Road. We’re planning to stop at some of the cool places we missed the first time – Funk’s Grove for their maple “sirup”, driving by the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, and getting a photo op with the “Gemini Giant”, a huge astronaut statue holding a rocket. There’s a Frank Lloyd Wright designed bank in downtown Dwight, and in Elkhart I’m pretty excited about stopping in at the Under the Prairie Frontier Archaeological Museum.
Once we get to Springfield, I’m super excited to have lunch (at least once!) at Cozy Dog, home of the original cozy dog (strikingly similar to a corn dog, some people say). Two cozy dogs, a pile of fries and a Route 66 Root Beer for me! We also plan to tour Lincoln’s Home and the Dana-Thomas House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s earliest homes. We also plan on having a meal at Maid Rite – an old-school drive through burger joint. We also plan to catch a double feature movie at the Route 66 Drive In. We’ll also check out any of the Fourth of July festivities going on, especially the fireworks, and we plan to spend a bit of time lounging at the pool. All in all, it should be a really fun long weekend getaway.