I have discovered the key to enjoying summer, and it is sugar

Oh ho ho we are in the SUMMER RECIPES home stretch now, boys and girls! Check out the summer fun smackdown I laid on this past weekend:

BA #52-56: Hot fudge sauce, marshmallow sauce, sweet-and-salty peanut butter sauce, cherry compote, and wet walnuts. Add snack-aisle sundries, a couple of cartons of ice cream, and a houseful of preschoolers for an instant Festival of Hyperactivity.

Seriously, this will jack them up pretty good.
I covered each of the ice cream toppings specifically in yesterday's Food Lush post, so all I'm going to say here is that my favorite BA recipe so far is for Wet Walnuts because 1) cool name, and 2) it is a combination of walnuts and maple syrup that takes five seconds to accomplish. A++

I was all geared up to throw some righteous stop-adding-unnecessary-elements indignation at these BA#57 chocolate, cardamom, and coffee ice cream sandwiches because CHOCOLATE and COFFEE don't need your weird cardamom, magazine, and then they were very popular and got a lot of compliments. So.

You win this round, Bon Appetit.
All of which was just as well, because it meant I had plenty of exasperated-head-shaking energy built up to deal with BA#58 Chia limeade. Let's take an overhead view:

Nothing more refreshing on a hot day than clumps of stuff in your drink.
And here it is in its full glory.

It was almost worth it just for the "afraid to ask" look on everyone's face.
Anyway, amazingly the pitcher was pretty much empty by the end of the day, probably because it was nowhere near as gross as aquavit.

I know you're probably concerned about me stuffing all these tiny bodies with junk food, but it's not like I didn't offer healthy options:

Er, option.
Chia seeds aside, I have to say that between the ice cream fun and the waterworks outside, this was one day that I was almost happy it was summertime. Goal achieved! And it only took 58 recipes to get there! I could tell Anna really enjoyed everything, too.

Well, I mean, endured everything.


It's almost like the sun is not trying to murder me

Those of you who have been following me since last summer may have noticed that the weather has not yet caused me to completely lose my senses, as it had by this time last year. (You may also recall that I was not the only member of this household affected.) Chances are it's simply because of all the EMBRACING I've been doing, but let's take a look at the numbers...so far this year Austin has seen nine days over 100 degrees. Nine! Pretty toasty, and I'm sure August will up that total considerably. Ahyhoo, let's see what what happening last year, looks like Austin had oh ninety days over 100 degrees. Nine TEE. We also surpassed the entire 2011 rainfall total...in early May.

Look. I'm not saying that my personal decision to EMBRACE SUMMER is responsible for this dramatic shift to hot-yet-tolerable temperatures. And I'm pretty sure the fact that water now occasionally falls from the sky just like I've seen so many times on television is not my doing. But I'm telling you right now that the theme of Summer 2013 is going to be EMBRACE THE MOSQUITOES. Just in case.

BA #OHSOCLOSE (51): Black barley, fennel, and radish salad. So, okay. Black barley is...a thing, in theory. It does not appear to be available anywhere in the Austin area, but it can be obtained online for $3-4/lb! And $14 shipping. If I had tackled this as, say, BA#4, I probably would have sucked it up and shelled out the $20 to guarantee "visually striking" authenticity. But there has been a lot of shrimp and smoked salmon and obscure liqueur and grotesque sea-beast since then and I'm pretty much tapped, so I gladly took them up on their "feel free to substitute [the normal barley you already have in your freezer]" offer.

I'm sorry it's so visually unstriking, everyone.
It tasted like a room-temperature grain salad. I don't know, they've all run together for me now. Unlike, for example, TACOS! TACOS! TACOS! (which are special snowflakes, each and every one), anything that involves pasta, rice, or grains and a vinaigrette goes on my list of Things I Would Like Better If They Were Hot And Covered In Tomato Sauce. (This is a long, long list.)

It's nice to see that, even though we're two weeks post-party, Anna's birthday presents are still bringing her so much joy.

The furrowed brow of childhood contentment.
She is also taking her own stand against the mosquitoes.

Honestly, this is as good a solution as anything I've come up with so far.
Also, I feel like there's been a dearth of Ivy pictures lately, but she gets so shy when the camera comes out, you guys.

She just goes full Garbo on me.

Poor little recluse.


Check "Kill some stuff" off the Summer Fun List!

Just so you know, my August issue of Bon Appetit has now arrived and I am STILL struggling to wrap up June. Obviously I will not be taken in by the promise of "45 SUPER-SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPES" because I like to think my kitchen-oriented masochism streak is somewhere in the moderate, rather than severe, range. I mean, I'm not crazy, you guys. Just because there's a tomato and feta sandwich on the cover. And these are SUPER-SIMPLE. And seem to involve a lot more vegetables and a lot less shrimp. Nice try, BA! You can't fool me again! (Call me later.)

Okay, let's see here, what do we have left? Couple of beverages, another grain salad, ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, oh here we go! Live sea monster salad! Let's start at the end in order to assure ourselves that everything turns out peachy. Who doesn't love a flash-forward?

What a lovely bowl of summertime victuals! Probably wasn't at all horrifying to compile.
You may notice that the recipe technically gives you the option of live lobsters OR cooked lobster meat, but come on. Am I really going to pay a ton of money for an already-prepared protein I'm not even that crazy about just to dump it in a salad with radishes of all things so that you can barely taste it anyway? Or am I going to make a ridiculous production of the whole enterprise for the edification of the internet? I will always, always pick Option Two when it is available. So, yes, I brought home two enormous water-roaches and I dispatched them all by myself.

I was very brave, and I have the following gallery to prove it. BONUS: it serves as a showcase for the six human pounds I have gained since starting this project.

I'm clenching my left fist out of excitement.

Never flinched!

Definitely did not traumatize any small children.

All in all, it's still preferable to dicing a butternut squash.
In conclusion: do not spend a lot of money and time and mental energy extracting fresh lobster meat only to toss it with a bunch of other crap. What kind of insanely rich people were involved in the brainstorming session for this recipe? "You know what would be cute? Maybe make a sort of Cobb/niçoise-type salad but use a bunch of lobster as filler. No, don't bother putting specific instructions about what to do with the lobster, the kitchen staff can handle it." You know that one came straight out of the deepest recesses of the lair. I probably would have preferred smoked turkey. Or little ham cubes. I am the 99%!

Anyway, I would like to thank my support staff for all their help in this endeavor. Anna, who is better at peeling hard-boiled eggs than I am:

Small hands. (Smells like cabbage.)
And Ivy, who was in charge of morale, although this effort did seem half-hearted at best.

"Lobster. Woooooo."
Anyway, there is still lobster juice on basically every surface of my kitchen, so I guess I'll go work on that. Also, I've had a couple of requests to link my Food Lush posts over here, so here's everything so far in case you missed one, and I'll link Monday's post on this blog every Tuesday going forward. EVERYTHING ENDS WITH PLUGS NOW.

Cooking One Egg
How to Salvage a Cookie Disaster
Caffeinate Your Waffles
Austin: Black Star Co-op
Ketchup on the Side
Taking Pictures in Restaurants: A Progression


Back off spell-check, I know what I said

I made some clams! They tasted like mussels! They were...probably not worth firing up the grill for, since they totaled about a third of an ounce of meat, but that kind of thinking is not summer embracening. BA#47: Grilled clams with herb butter.

Here's why I endorse this recipe: five times more butter than clam.
Anna did not eat any clams, but she was intrigued by the shells.

"Hey, you guys? What is this thing?"

"No, LOOK AT IT. What the hell?"
BA#48: Basmati rice and summer vegetable salad. I don't understand why all these grain/rice-based salads have to make about fourteen portions just because I'm too lazy to measure out how much rice I'm buying and definitely too lazy to do anything but dump it all in the pot oh wait I see what happened there.

At least I have lunches! Until October!
BA #49: Strawberry tarts with ginger-nut crust. These are good, but a little fussy for an everyday snack. I guess you could make them as a dinner party dessert if your guests don't want to eat refined sugar.

They sound like a lot of fun.
Or you could just let your toddler frown at them.

This is the route I personally favor.
Oh weird, Anna traveled back to 1983 in order to not enjoy Sesame Place. Okay, no, it's me, and eagled-eyed Tweeter -R- spotted the SLIGHT family resemblance.

In my defense, this does look pretty creepy.
Finally, a plug I forgot to be plugging last time! Plug plug plug okay, sorry, got distracted because that is a fun word. I promise I'm not high. Over on the side of the blog I've added a link to my friend Emily's Etsy shop. (You may recall that her daughter is Ivy's BEST FRIEND.) I know I can't possibly be the only person on the internet who cannot sew, despite what Pinterest keeps insisting, so I also can't be the only person who needs someone else to make all the adorable bags, bibs, car seat covers, etc. So go buy them! END PLUG. (Plug plug plug.)


Three is the easy year, right?

Hey Anna, what do you see out there?


His name was Ramon.
Lesson learned: share pictures of your child enjoying things rarely enough that when you do, at least one of her grandparents will feel compelled to buy her that thing. Anyway, it's great that Anna finally has a way to expend some energy throughout the most brutal part of the summer.

I didn't say a lot of energy.
The whole day was, as you can imagine, pretty festive. You know Anna was in a party mood because she spent the morning decorating her hat.

Can't wait to see what she does with it for birthday number four!
She was also pumped UP about opening presents.

Being surrounded by loved ones and new toys can be very disheartening.
And, of course, there was cake.

I think this one might be a "smile."
It was a rocket cake! I stole it from Flickr. I actually made Dan do all the shaping because he's the "rocket surgeon" around here!

Hahaha I definitely did not already say that joke several times.
I wanted to make a toddler friendly menu, so I went with macaroni and cheese and sliders.

Interesting note: toddlers do NOT like this version. Somehow it will get eaten anyway.
For my money, it's not a party without a pile of burgers.
All of that fun was a little exhausting, so the next day I thought I'd take a crack at BA#46: a pitcher of Blueberry Smash.

Hats off to Bon Appetit for including one cocktail recipe that isn't completely revolting. Not completely good or anything, but now I don't have to go through life wondering what elderflower liqueur tastes like.

Anyway, if you need us we'll be in the pool.


I hope there's a database somewhere of Things Erica Feels Strongly About

Let me just check the calendar here and...yep, it is, it's Birthday Time at the Huff House once again!

I think she was hoping for something bigger.
Anna's actually isn't until tomorrow, but today is Dan's and that means good stuff in the morning because Dan's favorite food is "breakfast." So far that's the only common characteristic I have noted between him and Ron Swanson. Still on the lookout! Anyway, this banana nut French toast and locally brewed cold coffee served nicely. I have pretty good luck with the Martha Stewart Conglomerate Borg Inc recipes, though this was a little too sweet for my taste and I'm pretty sure the suggestion to serve it with maple syrup was just a joke.

I call this "Sunrise Diabeetus."
Aaaaaand not only was that Dan's entire present, it's also the only cooking I've done since my last post. (Who says we ladies can't do it all, am I right? Slackers.) HOWEVER, an extremely cursory review of my last two posts revealed that the math involved in numbering the BA recipes (putting numbers in consecutive order) is maybe a bit beyond my reach because I was THREE numbers off. In the last TWO posts. So what I'm saying is, even though I didn't cook any BA recipes in the past few days, I did bump my tally up to 45 by using my eyeballs and my counting-past-20 skills. Yay free numbers!

It's not the only eating I've done, obviously. The vast majority of it has been various combinations of Scandinavian leftovers (I think you should step away from the screen for a minute until you can get your seething jealousy under control). But last night we busted out of Danish food-prison and took a trip to Hopdoddy for burgers, because Dan's other favorite food is "cows."

Dan's hamburger had brie, truffle aioli, and arugula on it, because birthdays are for being fancy.

I feel strongly that Ron Swanson would not approve of this.
The only part of my order that was important was the add-on.

I think there was also hamburger in it.
The food was really good and you know I give them so many points for letting me put an egg on it, but the structure of ordering was so odd that I'm not sure it's worth it for me. I do not like to re-learn how to navigate an eatery. I either want to go to a counter and place my order or I want to sit at a table and be served, please do not provoke my anxiety by making a weird, confusing hybrid of the two. When people define "social script" they almost always use restaurants as an example, for a reason. Also, for our one meal we had three separate checks for various components given to us by three separate people, which makes me suspect that the whole thing is a scheme designed to prey on confused over-tippers like myself. I GUESS I HAVE NOT RECOVERED FROM THIS PLEASANT HAMBURGER-EATING EXPERIENCE YET.

Anyway, no big deal, but I think Ivy might be turning into Gollum.

Just going to keep an eye on that.