My dear compadres, I can't remember a hotter summer. I feel like that's the only thing we've really talked about this summer: how hot we are. We just endured a truly miserable camping trip at a blistering average of 100 degrees. With a two month old nephew and a big fluffy dog in tow. This is the stuff of champions. When I think back on it now, I wish two things: One, that we had a video camera rolling for those four comedic days, because it would have made for a great show and testimonial. Second, I wish we had
t-shirts capes with our respective superhero titles: "Silas, Prince of 105" or "Winston, Master of the Kiddie Pool", our powers being the not-so-slight endurance of a camping trip heated to a rolling boil. I think if there was an award for Most Miserable 26th Birthday, I'd have a pretty decent chance at it. And not because my wonderful family didn't celebrate but because they were up against the heat and sadly, the rising mercury won. To make up for it, we spent the Fourth of July in a pool, quite literally, all day, our imaginary capes afloat.
My bread baking has suffered incredibly this summer. I cannot fathom turning the oven up to 500 degrees. In my search for something light, fresh, and relatively cool to make, I ran across a slew of recipes for grilled pizzas/flatbreads. We actually made them on our camping trip with prepared pizza dough from Trader Joe's. You can essentially top them with whatever is in season and available; the grill gives it incredible flavor. I made one just the other day with what I could glean from the fridge.
Grilled Caprese Pizza
Makes 4 individual pizzas
1 lb pizza dough
cherry tomatos or sliced romas
pearl mozzarella balls
a handful of fresh basil
salt & pepper
Fire up the grill. Split the dough into four equal pieces and roll/work into a rough circle with a rolling pin (or if you're camping, with your hands) and a bit of flour. Brush with olive oil on both sides and throw it on the grill. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side, until dough is puffed and cooked through. Remove from gril and layer with basil, tomatos, and mozzarella. Return to grill briefly to melt cheese and heat through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I picked my first home-grown zucchini of the season this week - just before the rabbits got to it. It has teeth marks. My sister Jody calls me Mr. McGregor. I think it's destined for another recipe I've got for a pizza with grilled zucchini, scallions, and ricotta. I love summer. I love it for its fresh produce and its pool-side reading. I've been hard-pressed to find a good read this summer, so I've been re-reading some of my favorites. Scared at first that what I once deemed one-of-the-best-books-of-all-time would be just average the second time around, I hesitated to start Peace Like A River. But I guess my literary senses are keen because it's just as beautiful as I remember. The author begins with this dedication, which I think fitting of this season's adventures:
The country ahead is as wild a spread
As ever we're likely to see
The horses are dancing to start the advance
Won't you ride on with me?