Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cool cooking ideas for summer
The refrigerator and freezer can be your best friend for summer entertaining.
Linda Carman, a Martha White baking expert, advises collecting recipes to make ahead, refrigerate and serve cold or frozen for later use. A big tray of cucumbers, onions and tomatoes in vinaigrette would be one of my picks. Here are some of her ideas:
• Build your meal around a hearty main dish salad.Cornbread and pasta salads make ideal summer dishes when they contain meat, cheese and/or beans, along with vegetables. Chicken, tuna and pimento cheese salads are classic for summer.
• Cook meat outside on the grill so you don’t heat up the kitchen and serve refrigerated side dishes prepared earlier in the day. Potato, bean and fruit salads or crisp green salads are always welcome, but don’t forget that roasted vegetables are delicious served cold or at room temperature.
• When you do have to use the oven, plan ahead and bake extra muffins, cakes, cookies or other baked products to freeze for later use.

Dulce de leche in a cup
My senses remember my late mother-in-law’s welcoming cups of coffee on morning visits. The blend was strong, sweet and hot and it’s taken the artisan roasters of Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company to give it back to me. Dulce de Leche is the latest java treat at for an introductory price of $8.95 in July.
Pilar wouldn’t have imagined ordering coffee through the computer, but I’m sure she would have loved what the company describes as “100 percent Arabica roasted coffee infused with rich caramel and hints of chocolate and vanilla flavoring.” I’m loving it every morning. The company is based in Tampa.

Honey, you’ve got to try this
I don’t recall ever having had honey like Frieda’s Wild Honeycomb and I now get why it’s considered a “food of the Gods.” Delicate comb melted in my mouth as the golden sweetness warmed. I waited for bread the second time, but just carved a square out of the wooden restraining box the first time. I’ve got to respect the bees who made this. Now that summer is here with Farmer’s Markets, it’s a good time to experience what comes from nature, and not the shrink-wrapped, reconstituted world.

Brown ale myth busters
While Newcastle Brown Ale makers are assuring the skeptical that the dark stuff is still good for summer, I will remind you of something you probably already know: A beer may taste its absolute best just after the hard work of mowing the lawn. A Newcastle boosted my spirits in the back yard this weekend, and the cold bottle on the forehead felt so good. When I see brown ale, my mind goes to corned beef sandwiches, but Newcastle also promotes pairing with red meat, fish and chicken, all summer grill favorites. This ale is comparable in calories, combines English Pale and Dark Caramel malt flavors and is as smooth as you’d want to get.

Palm pairings
Navitas Naturals has a catalogue that makes you feel healthy and sophisticated before you’ve ordered a thing. When you get your products, your pantry looks stylish, then you have colorful pouches of healthy stuff, like flax, cashew, hemp and mesquite products, at the ready to play with. Palm sugar is my new summer sweetheart and I love the crunchy, brown crystals rimming my punch goblet and sprinkled on bananas. I’m not above putting extra palm sugar in my own palm to enjoy it by itself.

Candy Man
Cody on the copy desk has a drawer full of instant noodles and such for late nights. He shared some unusual finds from his candy stash. While us “old-timers” from the ‘80s related to Wonka Tinglerz, which are chocolate-covered “poppin’ tinglin’ candies. Loved ‘em. We just don’t know what to make of new Wonka Kazoozles, in cherry punch, called a “delickoricious chewy candy.” It’s an extremely sour tube of red with blue stuff inside that gave me what I call “mumps,” as in swollen glands.

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