Savor summer with simple celebration
Oh, can't we have just one last hurrah to end the summer? One last long and lazy, carefree weekend before we pick up the cadence of reading, writing and 'rithmatic? Let us play for just a little bit longer before the rituals of early-to-bed and early-to-rise begin again.
Labor Day: The last weekend of summer vacation. It's somewhat of a bittersweet holiday. We are all ready to add routine back in our lives, but we recognize the house will seem very empty that first day of school.
Cheer up! Autumn doesn't officially begin until Sept. 23, and we'll have beautiful Indian summer days through October. Let's make the most of our Labor Day Weekend.
My solution to savor summer is threefold, and lucky for us, all three involve food.
First solution: capture the flavors of summer so you can enjoy them during the grey days of winter. Preserve - can, freeze, or dry - your favorite foods of summer. Take a class or ask a friend for help in this process; the results are worth the effort. Freeze or can tomato sauce, pesto, peaches, beans, berries, pears and apples. Make pickles and sauerkraut. Nothing will transport you back to August more quickly than eating from the summer harvests on a cold January evening.
The second solution is to get outdoors. Have you been putting off a day (or longer) trip? Take that trip this weekend.
Check our Greenlight Classifieds for locations to pick peaches, apples or pears. Go to the state fair. Drive to the beach or to Seattle. Visit Mount Hood or Mount St. Helens. Go white water rafting or fly-fishing. Sleep outside under the stars. Eat Voodoo Doughnuts at midnight. Take the family to a drive-in movie. Hike or bike a new trail. Do something to send the season off in style.
My third solution to celebrate the shifting season is to host a special Labor Day meal. Make it something festive, something memorable to sustain your guests through the winter. Even if you entertain often, make your Labor Day bash especially enchanting.
A particulary festive meal to share with family and friends is a good ol' Southern dish called 'Low Country Boil.' Compiled of shrimp, potatoes, corn and sausage, the dish will satisfy everyone on your guest list. It's a great 'audience participation' meal - everyone will want to help create this feast.
Cooked outdoors, a Low Country Boil can be messy; diners use their fingers to shell shrimp and eat corn off the cob. Play up that feature and set the table using a colorful, plastic tablecloth and big, checkerboard napkins. To round out the meal, serve lemonade and beer in pint mason jars, add a green salad, sliced tomatoes and crusty French bread. For dessert serve homemade peach pie with homemade ice cream.
I guarantee you will create such a memorable meal that no one will mind summer coming to a close!
Low Country Boil
I love the casual approach of this recipe - count the 'yesses' on your guest list and start popping items in!
You will need a large - no, a HUGE pot and a propane burner. We use our 25 gallon aluminum stockpot with a boiling basket insert. The pot, with the insert inside, sits on a stand with the propane tank attached below. These are readily purchased at stores like GI Joes and Fred Meyer.
2 cups Old Bay Seasoning
¼ cup cayenne pepper
¼ cup salt
3 lemons, cut in quarters
Onions - peeled and cut in half, 1 per every three people
Potatoes - good-sized red or other type, one per person, cut in quarters
Corn - shucked, one per every two people, broken in half
Andouille or kielbasa sausage, half pound per person, cut into 2-inch pieces
Shrimp - Shell on, larger-sized shrimp, half a pound per person
Fill the pot about two-thirds full of water and bring water to a boil.
Put the seasoning, cayenne, salt, lemons and onions in the water and boil about five minutes. Add potatoes and boil about 20 minutes. Add corn and sausage, cook for about 5 minutes. When potatoes feel tender to knife point, add shrimp, stir and cover with a lid. Turn off heat and let shrimp steam.
Remove insert by handle and pile foods onto deep platters. Serve immediately with crusty French bread.
Alternative serving method: As each item finishes cooking, remove it from the pot with tongs or a strainer to a separate serving platter. Cover with foil and set aside. Allow the water to come back to a boil before adding the next ingredient. This will allow for a neater presentation, but the flavors won't meld as well.