Today’s moments are tomorrow’s memories.
Sushan R. Sharma
Picnic basket in tow, my husband and I joined my brother, his wife, and ten thousand others for an evening of music under the stars. Redlands, California has a long time tradition of free concerts, plays, and dance performances through the Summer Music Festival established in 1923. Their ‘music for all’ vision provided a place for anyone who wanted to attend regardless of their ability to pay for admission. This is a wonderful thing. Our family has going there since our girls we small. It allowed them and us to be exposed to the arts we would otherwise be unable to afford.
The night we attended, James Garner performed his Tribute to Johnny Cash. It was great fun to listen to all the songs my dad had sung along to on Sunday drives when we were young. As each song started, my brother and I would exchange smiles of remembrance and for some, we even joined in with the singing— just for old time’s sake.
Our picnic wasn’t half bad either. Each person in our group showed up with wonderful things to eat. Falafels, hummus, and bread came with my sister-in-law from her favorite Mediterranean café. I added a Summer vegetable salad and grapes, while wine and sweets were produced from a Trader Joe’s bag to round out a very fine meal. It was a bit like the story of Stone Soup. No one went away hungry. Our hearts, as well as our stomachs, were filled from an evening of good conversation, yummy food, and sweet memories.
Summer Vegetable Salad is a pretty mixture of potatoes, tomatoes and fennel. Very low calorie and great for picnics because it contains no mayonnaise.
Summer Vegetable Salad
- 1 pound new potatoes, quartered
- ½ pound carrots, cleaned and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
- ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup julienned fennel
- 1 red onion, peeled, cut vertically, then thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup black olives
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Separately steam potatoes, carrots and green beans until al dente. Drain and place in large bowl. Pour wine over vegetables and toss.
- Add julienned fennel and onion. Sprinkle with vinegar and toss.
- Add olives, tomatoes, fennel fronds, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and serve.
I found the Summer Vegetable Salad in Great Good Food: Luscious Lower-Fat Cooking by Julee Rosso. I tweaked the original recipe a bit to suit my pantry and tastes. I have had this book on my shelf for years primarily because its fun to look at. It has the recipes grouped in events rather than categorized by mains, sides, desserts. It is full of ideas of menus that celebrate life.
A loud ruckus could be heard in Maria’s dining room. This was the first time the gals on the hospitality team that I am part of had met together outside of our regular Thursday mornings. Friendship was evident through the teasing and laughter that was happening around the table. We have gotten to know each other through working together every week. A friendship has grown while serving brunch and cleaning up after in the church kitchen.
Today, however, was our turn to relax. Maria prepared a wonderful meal and the beautiful table settings made everyone feel special. Each of us took a turn to share a little bit of our stories with the others. This proved to create an even stronger bond between us. Our lives became richer through hearing personal challenges each could connect with. I came away from the morning thinking how lucky I was to know and serve with these women. This group is a special blend of backgrounds, experiences and seasons that makes my life much more delicious.
The greatest sweetener of human life is friendship. ~Joseph Addison
One thing that Maria served our group was a luscious Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. It was a grain free recipe and was oh, so yummy.
Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake
prep: 20 minutes Cooking: 40 minutes Makes: 8 servings
- 1/3 cup grass-fed butter (Kerrygold), plus more for greasing pan*
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour, plus 1 teaspoon for dusting pan
- 1/2 cup raw honey**
- 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups blanched almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons finely ground raw cashews
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- 2 teaspoons honey, melted
- 1 tablespoon coconut milk
- Preheat the oven to 325F.Make the cake.
- Grease a Bundt pan very well with butter, then dust with 1 teaspoon coconut flour, carefully checking that every crack and surface is covered. This makes sure your cake will easily come out of the Bundt pan after baking.
- Place the first 9 ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender and process for 15 seconds, until smooth.
- Add 1 egg at a time, blending in-between, until all the eggs have been incorporated.
- Gently stir in the poppy seeds and lemon zest by hand.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in oven, and bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then invert it onto the rack to cool completely. If necessary, use a rubber spatula to gently release the cake from the pan. A small chunk broke off on mine as I flipped it over, but it didn’t mess up the taste at all!
- Make the glaze. Grind the cashews in a food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined and smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake before serving.
- If you like this post, perhaps you would reading another blog I write. Girl on Adventure is a collection of lessons God is teaching me as I travel along life’s road.