August - The Sunday Night of Summer

Summer is like a weekend, isn’t it?  In June, it seems to sprawl out in front of us like this endless expanse of time.  We make grand plans about all the amazing things we’ll do sometime this summer.  And then – poof! – here we are with three weeks to go until Labor Day Weekend.

I was talking to one of my favorite co-workers (Rachel) about this Summer Time Warp Phenomenon this week.  We were wondering, “How do we make these last three weeks restful as we simultaneously try to cram it all in?”   

Here are a few tips:

Recipe

Quinoa & Black Rice Salad with Dill

Summer is a time to be outside (not inside with your cookbooks).  I typically count on a few amazing recipes that really take advantage of the fresh fruits or vegetables available for the season.  Once you make something, it becomes easy – and you can whip it up quickly and get out to that BBQ or SUP yoga.  This summer, I’ve been creating this tasty recipe.  I love it for the cooler when we head to the pool or the beach.  It’s a very welcome side dish to any summer gathering – especially as it’s so pretty.  The radishes give it a pink hue!  And leftovers go on our salads for lunch during the week.

Ingredients

Quinoa, 3 cups cooked

Black Rice, 1 ½ cups cooked

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded & diced

2 medium carrots, peeled & sliced into very thin rounds

1 lemon cucumber, peeled, sliced & cut into 4ths (optional)

2 T. chopped fresh dill

1 tsp agave nectar

½ cup olive oil

½ cup apple cider vinegar

2 T. lemon zest

Juice of one lemon

½ tsp Kosher salt or sea salt

3 or 4 radishes, sliced paper thin

Directions:

Combine quinoa, black rice, cucumber carrots, lemon cucumber in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, combine dill, agave nectar, olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt.  Add dressing to the quinoa mixture and mix well.  Add in radishes. 

 
Quinoa & Black Rice Salad with Dill

Quinoa & Black Rice Salad with Dill

 

Notes:

If your quinoa or black rice becomes too starchy after cooking, just give it a good rinse using a colander or a sieve. 

This recipe is best served ice cold.  If you are bringing it to a picnic or the beach, pack it on extra ice or cold packs. 

Don’t be afraid to modify this recipe.  I love radishes, cucumbers and carrots.  But if you love red peppers, Kohlrabi and kale, try that instead.

 
Vacation salad at Mandy’s in Montreal

Vacation salad at Mandy’s in Montreal

 

Why is this “restful”?  I find that really perfecting my Go To recipe for a season makes it easy to get to all those cookouts, get-togethers and events.  You can pull it together really quickly once you’ve done it a time or two.

Try a CSA on for size

We’ve been CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members (subscribers?) for a few years now.  I’m not sure what the official term is.  But I do know that I pay a little over $400 for the Summer/Early Fall season and that I pick up a box of produce every Friday from the beginning of June to the end of October at Ward’s Berry Farm.  There are other CSA’s around – but I choose Ward’s for their quality and convenience.  If you don’t make it there on Friday, you can pick up over the weekend.  Also, I have a neighbor who is also a CSA member/subscriber, so we back each other up on vacations, etc.

If you have never tried a CSA, Ward’s offers a great opportunity for you to try it out through their weekly box program.  You can order just one box and you can even see what you will get in that box.  A weekly box is about $25-$27.  Check out my photo to see what you get in a box.  It’s a lot!  And it’s all grown right here. 

We love opening up that box every week.  Sure, there is the corn, tomatoes, and blueberries that you would expect.  But we’ve also found new vegetables.  Mizuna?  I thought those were running shoes!  It’s actually lettuce that is much like arugula.

 
CSA.JPG
 

Your Vacation Message:  Set Your Intention

So a funny thing happened on my summer vacation.  We went to Canada (2 nights in Montreal, 6 nights in Quebec City area).  On the 2nd day that we were out of the country, my work email stopped coming to my Iphone.  I don’t know why – and I really didn’t want to get on the phone with my company’s IT help desk to find out.  And did I really need to?  I had a vacation back up plan.  A very well-executed vacation back-up plan.  My very capable co-worker was backing me up on any client needs that may arise.  And I had done the same for him the week before when he was on vacation.  So I really was covered.  My clients knew I was away – and while emergencies can happen in my business (supermarkets), we aren’t performing open heart surgery. 

So, for the first time in eleven years, I took a vacation where I did not check work email.  It was the best thing ever.  I dove into the culture of Montreal and Quebec.  I practiced French. I explored our home for the week on I’le de Orleans.  I rode my bike.  I spent precious time with my family.  The day before we returned, I spend one hour culling through the emails I received while we were away.  I thought about how I probably would have pulled myself away from the vacation and called a client (really about something that was not urgent – it was just that they forgot I was on vacation).   And I thought about what I was doing at the time instead – visiting Old Quebec city, making strawberry shortcake with my daughter, sitting on the deck of our AirBNB watching the boats go by on the St. Lawrence River. 

Studies show that taking time off from work – and work-related email – lowers levels of fatigue and job burnout.  If you spent your vacation checking in every day, I implore you to take a personal day before Summer’s End and try it out.

For more on the benefits of disconnecting, here’s a great article from The Washington Post.

It’s Your Summer Too

I’m becoming acutely aware that I’m on borrowed time with my kids when it comes to Summer.  They are 16 and 14 – and before I know it, they will be no part of my summer life at all.  It’s incredible how you go from not being able to sit down/eat/take a shower/use two hands because one is holding a child’s hand to empty nest in a blink of an eye.  As parents, we schedule our summer activities and vacations around the kids’ wants/needs/ultimate desires.  Which is great – I want my kids to remember a wonderful childhood.  However, I selfishly need some summertime too.  So my tip here is that you make that “you” time happen.  For me, as a healthy foodie, my summer needs to include an exploration of healthy and locally grown food. 

So, during our vacation, in addition to all the foods that the kids (and my husband) wanted to try (poutine, venison), everyone (including my reluctant son) agreed to my lunch at a Salad Only restaurant, Mandy’s.  (Not just a salad restaurant, by the way.  The best salad restaurant in Quebec – and there was a clothing boutique inside too!)  My son was the only one with a little bit of a problem with this choice – but I was able to order him a simple bowl of chicken, bacon and a side of chips and guacamole.  And he said it was fabulous.  My point here is this:  don’t feel like you need to always be at a burger or pizza place on family vacation.  Try the healthy alternative.  You might be surprised.

Watch a Sunset – No Matter Where You Are

Did you know that watching a sunset is good for your health?  It’s true!  There are so many benefits – stress reduction, mindfulness, appreciation of life’s gifts.  I’ve been to so many organized, celebratory sunset sightings:  Madaket Beach on Nantucket, Menemsha in Martha’s Vineyard, just to name a few of the local spots.  However, recently, I just watched one – I mean really watched one – while sitting at my Plainville pool club.  You see – we’re in a spot we’re it’s a lot harder to just jet off to MV for the weekend – as we have kids who need rides to work/from work at extremely convenient (not) times of the night.  But the thing about a sunset, is that it is beautiful, no matter where you are.  It’s just more beautiful if you set your phone down and take the fifteen minutes to watch the change of hue, the majestic progression as we move from day to night.

 
MIndfulness Tip: Watch a Sunset. No Phone

MIndfulness Tip: Watch a Sunset. No Phone

 

I hope that you find something useful in my tips for the season. Savor these last priceless days of Summer.  And be well.

"Everything good, everything magical, happens between the months of June and August." - JennyHan, The Summer I Turned Pretty