Why Savor Summer?

I have been waiting for summer ever since the last one.

Kim O'Donnel circa 1968
My enthusiasm for food began at an early age.

It is truly my favorite time of the year, when ties get loosened, panty hose get ditched and everyone licks ice cream. With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend -- this very weekend -- we start to change our attitudes. That oversized rulebook, packed with the awful things we must and should do from September through May? Somehow, it magically gets lost. It's as if there's a switch-flicker in our brains, opening up space and time for beachcombing, road tripping and outdoor supping way past our bedtime. It's a chance to catch up with our dormant, winterized selves and get reacquainted with the neighbors.

For a cook, summer is a luscious platform, from which one can do raw or cooked, grilled or chilled, sea or pasture. We pack a picnic, fire up coals and pick berries for kicks. Life is not only fun, it's downright delicious! For those of us living a four-season cycle, summer is the jackpot for fruits and vegetables. Every week, there's a new batch of nature's jewels, gorgeously aromatic and, like runway models, donned in their exquisite finery. With nonstop variety until September, the bounty that is summer produce is a good argument for experimenting with vegetarianism, or shifting one's diet from heavy to light.

It goes without saying that I'm tickled to be with you every weekday through the summer, up until Labor Day. I'll share farm finds, road trip vittles, tales of midsummer night dreams, feasts great and small and things that I just gotta show and tell. So, dig out those flipflops (and kebab skewers) and join me on this delicious elephant ride all summer long.

Let's go!

By Kim ODonnel |  May 25, 2006; 8:27 AM ET  | Category:  Introduction
Next: Local Goodies, Six Days a Week

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Kim: Congrats on the blog!

I've got a bone to pick with you -- literally. Why the vegetarian What's Cooking? chat today? It's Memorial Day Weekend, for crissakes. Let's pay homage to killin' and grillin'.

You once sent me a recipe for "lunkhead ribs" -- so easy that even a lunkhead couldn't mess them up. Would be most grateful if you'd post that recipe. I lost your e-mail with the recipe.

Sincerely,
Your second-biggest fan in the newsroom.

Posted by: Snyder | May 25, 2006 09:04 AM

Snyder, it's all about giving everybody a little taste of the good life. You do need to some vegetables once in a while, by the way. Herewith the details for 'lunkhead ribs', but may I remind you that these were done in the oven on low heat...if you're lookin to grill, check with the blog tomorrow for the beginning of nonstop grill-a-rama.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | May 25, 2006 11:01 AM

Darn, that link didn't work. Sorry about that. Here are the details, itemized:

Orange-Soy Braised Pork Ribs
Adapted from January 2005 issue of Gourmet

4 pounds country-style pork ribs (I used a combination of baby back and

spare ribs with success)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups juice of 2-3 oranges or tangerines

1/2 cup soy sauce (try low sodium if you can)

1 1/2 tablespoons honey (or sugar if you don't have honey)

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Approximately 3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Season ribs on both sides with salt and place in a heavy rectangular roasting pan, in a single layer.

Combine orange juice, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until honey is dissolved.

Pour mixture over ribs, turning with tongs to coat well and making sure that meat is completely covered with sauce.
Cover pan tightly with foil and place in oven. After one hour, check ribs and turn with tongs, resealing foil on top of pan.

After two hours, check for doneness. Ribs should be tender, almost falling off the bone. If not, cook for another 30 minutes.

Transfer ribs to a baking dish or platter and keep warm. Skim fat from cooking liquid and use as a glaze to brush on top of ribs just before serving.

Can be made in advance and reheated at 200 degrees. Serves 4 to 6, as part of a larger meal.

Think rice and sauteed Asian greens, such as bok choy or Chinese broccoli.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | May 25, 2006 11:13 AM

To help folks find the Saturday FRESHFARM Market on H St, would you please add "NE" and "between 6th & 7th" to the posting - so they can find the market in the right section of town.

Thanks for featuring farmers markets and helping the readers find fresh, delicious food directly from the farmers and peoducers.

Posted by: Kathy | May 25, 2006 01:10 PM

There was a question on the chat about books on baby food. Two good ones are Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron (very pro-vegetarian, good basic information in the appendicies) and Cathe Olsen's Simply Natural Baby Food. Annabel Karmel's books are pretty, but the are very British. All are available on Amazon and libraries.

Posted by: Kerry | May 25, 2006 03:34 PM

Hi Kim, as always thank you for the vegetarian chat. One quick note from a long-time vegetarian: worcestershire is not vegetarian. It contains anchovies. I saw it as an ingredient on the chat and I just wanted to give a heads up. Thanks!

Posted by: DC Veggie | May 25, 2006 05:47 PM

Re: keeping fresh ginger

I keep ginger submerged in white wine or sherrry in a jar in the fridge. I cut it as I need it. It lasts forever and is always fresh and flavorful.

Posted by: Marcia | May 25, 2006 09:56 PM

I dont care if ur gastronomically bipolar at times, but, gad, you were a lovely baby. We wd/ve been great babies together.
That notwithstanding, ur doing lovely work, Kim, and ur getting better & better & more relaxed; and I love the way you dole out information and stimulate participation (by way of comments).
the blog is not a fog.

Posted by: Lennox Raphael, Copenhagen | May 29, 2006 04:51 PM

A couple of tips on going vegetarian -

1. Don't overcook your veggies!!! Most veggies just need a quick saute with your choice of spices (of course, that is not the case with root veggies).

2. Go ethnic. Eat at various ethnic restaurants to get a taste for variety. Turkish, Ethiopian, Thai, and Indian foods provide a variety of lip-smacking flavors that you can then try to incorporate in your daily cooking. That will help you to avoid the "fake meats" (in my opinion, fake meats are fake food. You may need them initially as you make the transition, but once your taste buds adapt to the flavors of grains and fresh veggies, you may find yourself relying less and less on fake meat products).

Life is short. Enjoy every meal!

Posted by: | May 30, 2006 08:00 PM

on your chats, you've recommended roasting broccoli a few times recently. I was skeptical but we eat a lot of broccoli and it looked like an interesting, healthy option. made it last night - there was none left and received enthusiastic responses from hubby and 3 teenagers - thanks!

Posted by: Deb C | June 21, 2006 05:28 PM

Kim,

Saw the transcript from the recent chat re the grill pan. I just bought one mainly to grill fish and thicker meats that I find the Foreman can't cook as well.

Hubby wants expert justification that it is necessary to do this (we don't grill outdoors).

So, can you help? How is using a grill pan better/different/necessary as compared to other methods? Again, my goal is to get grill-marked fresh fish.

Thanks!

Posted by: Germantown Mom | June 23, 2006 02:26 PM

Last summer (2005), you blogged that you like a summer veg goulash or ratatouille (sp?) which included okra and chili pepppers. Can you share ingredients again? I've forgotten and it was delicious. Thx.

Posted by: Tennent S | July 14, 2006 10:02 AM

Dear Kim,

The best way to make halloum cheese is to grill it in a frying pan (no fat needed). It develops golden spots on the outside, and becomes soft on the inside. It is best eaten hot with tomatoes in Pita bread, or using soft sub bread and grilled like panini. Serve with peeled fresh cucumber on the side. Another way is to boil it for a minute or two: no brown spots but nice and gooey.

R-M

Posted by: Rose-Mary from DC | July 23, 2006 08:58 PM

Haven't forgetten about you dear. You are still in the back of my mind. You are doing so well and I'm thrilled for you and hope it continues.

Time of year for Salade Caprese!

Salade Caprese
serves 4

2 ripe tomatos (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 pound of fresh buffalo mozzarella
6 large basil leaves Cut into chiffonade
2 tablespoons capers
olive oil
salt and white pepper

Thinly slice tomatos and mozzeralla.

Layer them, offset, on 4 plates. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper.
Sprinkle with chiffonade of basil.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of capers over each plate.

Serve.

Hugs,
Sticks

Posted by: Sticks | August 10, 2006 12:27 AM

To Kim O'Donnel

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ! I hope your BIG 40 is not as bad as I remember, loved 50, loved 60, but my 40th was a shocker to reality !
Also welcome to the great NW. Understand you are going to take in some OR wineries. Choices are many, like 314 in OR. , grown on 14,000 acres, and produced over 1,199,086 cases in 2003.Reds 60% & Whites 40 %, therefore your choices are plentiful. If you make it to the southern Willamette Valley you might want to check out King's Estate, near Eugene, for their " A walk in the vineyard" wine tasting, Sept 26, or check into the " Wine & Blues Festival" at the Secret House Winery near Eugene, also on 9/26/06. Excellent wines from both.HAVE FUN & ENJOY !

Posted by: Ron from Eugene,OR | August 22, 2006 05:35 PM

Need recipe for your famous Lulu cookies. I heard about them on the radio today. Where can I get it?

Posted by: e kaibni | September 8, 2006 05:18 PM

Halloum is the best! I eat it by the pack everyday!

Posted by: Charsi | September 17, 2006 05:03 PM

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