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Summer Kicks Off
Although the grill may already have been in use this season, the Memorial Day weekend is the official cookout kick-off.
As a gardener, I’m about ready to start planting the cool crops, such as potatoes and greens, so will have to wait a while for my own fresh produce.
The bell and hot peppers, along with herbs, tomatoes and corn will have to wait until Memorial Day to ensure that the soil is warm enough for germination. The asparagus has just popped up, so soon we will have those wonderful vegetables straight from the garden. And the rhubarb grows taller and leafier every day.
Memorial Day, of course, is set aside to remember our service men and women, and to honor those who have given their all. For many, the first long weekend of the summer is a time for bringing together family and friends, and a chance to relax, or to get busy with all the summer chores and activities we want to do.
Tourists begin arriving, and by July 4th, the roads often have more out-of-state vehicles than Maine plates. This summer may curtail some traveling, though, because of the incredibly high gasoline prices. This season may be a time for another “stay-cation.”
Here are a few ideas, a couple perfect for bringing to a potluck, and one, this delicious smoothie, for enjoying anytime during the summer ahead.
Orange and Pineapple Smoothie (4 servings)
1 cup low-fat or skim milk
1 and one-half cups diced pineapple (save the juice, if the pineapple is canned and add that to this smoothie, too)
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
one-third cup honey
2 or 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
5 to 10 ice cubes
Place all ingredients except the ice cubes in a blender and combine until smooth. Add ice cubes one and a time and blend. Pour into tall, frosted glasses. Garnish with orange slices, if desired.
Locally grown sweet potatoes won’t be harvested until late summer, but they are always available at the supermarket, and they are always a delicious, nutritious food whenever they are served. Like so many other
vegetables, sweet potatoes can also be cooked on the grill.
Grilled Sweet Potatoes (6 to 8 servings)
4 sweet potatoes, peeled
one-half cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons brown sugar
one-quarter teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon hot sauce, like tobasco
one-half teaspoon salt
one-quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cut peeled potatoes into half-inch slices. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and hot sauce. Place the prepared sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, one layer thick, and brush with the above mixture. Place on medium hot grill, buttered side
down. Brush tops.
Cook potato slices about 12 to 15 minutes, turning once. When potatoes are tender, remove from grill and brush with any remaining butter mixture. Serve immediately.
This crunchy fruit and granola salad is a perfect sidedish for an outdoor meal.
Granola and Fruit Salad (4 or 5 servings)
6 cups mixed, fresh salad greens
2 11-ounce cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup fresh blueberries
about one-third to one-half cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 cup nutty granola cereal
Arrange salad greens in a serving bowl or platter, then top with blueberries and oranges. Sprinkle with vinaigrette, then top with granola. Serve immediately.
Literally hundreds of chicken salad recipes are available for summer picnics or cookouts.
For those who truly enjoy the flavor of chicken, this basic chicken salad is perfect. If time is really short, pick up an already cooked chicken at the supermarket.
Summer Chicken (or turkey) Salad (4 to 6 servings)
2 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey
1 cup diced celery
about 1 cup light mayonnaise
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
about 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley for garnish
sprinkling of paprika (optional)
Combine chicken and celery in a bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and seasoning. Line a serving bowl or platter with lettuce leaves. Spoon on the chicken salad. Garnish with chopped parsley and a sprinkling of paprika.
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