Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sweet Corn Succotash

The truth is, I don't really cook that much in the summer. Okay, that's relative... I mean, I'm always cooking, but the way I do it changes big time in the warmer months. In the winter I make more composed, planned dishes, but summer is more freewheeling. If you let the produce lead you in the summer, you'll not only have delicious meals, but spare time to slip n'slide and chase the ice cream man.

This week's corn was too gorgeous to pass up, so I found it some friends for the world's freshest summer succotash.

Summer corn, tomatoes and green beans were basically born to be best summer friends. They even made friendship bracelets at camp. Shallots, basil and chives are part of the group too, but let's get real, corn, tomatoes and green beans are really the most popular ones. 

Pardon my imaginary foray into pre-teen vegetable social dynamics. The bottom line is that corn, tomatoes and green beans taste amazing in July and you should eat them all together. And you don't need to do much to have a delicious dinner. That's the beauty of summer cooking.

Sweet Corn Succotash
2 ears sweet corn
2 cups green beans, ends snapped off
2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 cup basil leaves, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons chives, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon champagne or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Prepare corn according to your preference -- either boiled or grilled (my preference). Once cooked, cut the kernels off the cob and place in a large bowl.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add green beans. Cook for 1-2 minutes until they turn bright green. Remove from boiling water and immediately put in an ice bath. Once completely cooled, drain and add to large bowl with corn.

Toss corn and green bean mixture with tomatoes, basil, chives, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cocktail Hour: Bourbon Slush

It's summer and the living is easy. We spent the weekend front-porching and relaxing by a river at a ranch with old friends. And after a full day sweating it out in the sun, having a refreshing slush waiting in the freezer was pretty amazing. What bourbon too? I could feel the unwinding down to my sunburnt toes.

This make ahead wonder is fabulous for a summer crowd. It's ice-y texture and sweet, tart flavor hits the spot.

Bourbon Slush
6oz frozen lemonade, thawed
12oz frozen OJ, thawed
2 cups good-quality bourbon
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups brewed tea, cooled
5 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and freeze for at least 6 hours. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving and stir to "slush it up." Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to Hang a Gallery Wall

The devil is in the details. While all the big things are done in our new house, it feels like there are thousand small things -- namely about a thousand pieces of art that need to be hung. Give an art history nerd a nice camera and you get a lot of hanging to do. 

In my past few places I've had a nice gallery wall of special stuff, including our engagement photos, vintage photos of people we love, some photobooth shots and even some cute little notes from the Husband from when we were dating. I love every piece of it, but hanging it was, frankly, a bitch. 

The first time, nothing was aligned (and not in a cute way), there were holes everywhere and it was in no way was what I had in envisioned. Turns out you don't have to jack up your walls and drive yourself into a decorating fugue state. There is a better way. 

The DIY geniuses over at Young House Love have a templating technique that is just too good not to share. Here's how it works...

Pick your spot and the art you want to put up. It's good to have a mix of sizes and shapes, so that you get that collage effect, but every space is different. The good news is, you'll have a chance to feel it out before you ever start hammering, so you can be flexible. 

Use some old newspaper to trace and cut a template for each frame. Great way to recycle your old copy of a local food paper (thanks Sauce!). 

Here's where it gets brilliant, use a pencil to polk through the newspaper where the frame hangers are on each. No measuring needed and no worries if your cheap-frames have inconsistent hardware. The template is doing the work here, not you.

Once all of your templates are cut and marked, start arranging with tape on the wall. Give a few arrangements a try and add/remove items until it's just right.

Once you find the arrangement that speaks to you (I sound like Oprah and that's fine by me), simply hammer in nails where you marked for the hardware on the template. See? No measuring... I promised. 

You hammer right through the newspaper and then just tear it away. Hang your art on the perfectly placed nails and make sure nothing is tilted. Voila... gallery wall complete!