Summer is in full swing and I am shocked. Where did the day of the summer solstice disappear to? It seems like just yesterday we were preparing for Memorial Day and now the 4th of July is freshly behind us. Five cheers for the long weekend. I have the best memories of the 4th growing up in Dallas. We would deck out our bikes with streamers and participate in a Clearhaven Circle parade that lasted for what seemed like hours. Upon completing our victory lap, Moms handed out lemonade and wedges of watermelon that we would eat in the grass. Touch wood we have another handful of weeks of summer to which to look forward. Weather this past weekend was unseasonably glorious. I suppose we have Hurricane Arthur to thank for that. My folks arrived from Germany just as the impossibly hot weather was turning to something manageable. Wednesday evening we hit up a new uptown haunt. I stayed for a round and half of drinks paired with some interesting apps. Thursday we had my parents as well as my sister and her husband to the house for a cookout. I love it when Michelle and Michael visit. It is a grand event to which I look enormously forward and I actually find myself counting down days. For our dinner party, timing worked out perfectly as we enjoyed a solid hour of al fresco cocktails while the meat was on the grill. Just as Matthew was taking our four pounds of beef tenderloin inside to butcher, the skies opened and our thirsty yard drank in the two plus inches of rain that mother nature offered. Suited us fine as we moved inside to eat, drink and be merry. The Breyer's have cornered the market in this capacity. 

The remainder of the long weekend was wonderful. A little bit of this paired with a generous dose of that. Friday we awoke to a gorgeous day. Matthew and I enjoyed coffees on the front porch and marveled at the stunning weather. A cause of the cooler temperatures, it was decided that lunch would be enjoyed somewhere outdoors. After an unsuccessful trip to our beloved Vietnamese haunt (which was closed), we stopped at Lulu and dined in their charming little garden shaped by varied bushes of fresh herbs and chili peppers. From here, we went to a local watering hole to enjoy a World Cup match. This was followed by a quick trip to the grocery store for dinner fixings and home again to drop off loot. Within ten minutes we were out the door again to celebrate five o'clock somewhere on our favorite deck. Later on, we found ourselves sitting on the floor of Barnes & Noble pouring over books in anticipation of our Baltic adventure later this month. In the evening, we grilled out. Matthew prepared two pounds of hanger steak that I let sit most of the afternoon in a homemade Korean inspired marinade. To accompany the meat, we grilled cabbage, red onions and scallions for approximately 45 minutes. I transformed these into a smoky salad given life with a generous glug or two of olive oil, the juice of two ripe limes and chopped cilantro. We also tried our hands at Mexican street corn. You basically grill your corn and while piping hot, baste with mayonnaise, dust with cotija cheese, add a generous squeeze of lime and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Bonjour. After supper, we went for a long walk in the neighborhood and came across an impromptu soccer match in our local park. A bench was calling our name. As we heard firecrackers popping and swatted the mosquitoes off our arms, we savored the moment as the football game unfolded before our eyes. Happy Independence Day America.

On Saturday, we jumped in the car and headed due north to meet my folks at Lake Norman. We had a fabulous lunch at a spot on the water, Eddie's. Collectively, we sampled the peel and eat shrimp, wedge salad, beet salad as well as mussels in marinara. Our waiter, also Brooklyn bred like my father, insisted that the homemade lasagna was not to be missed. When in Rome and it did not disappoint. From our lunch on the water, we made our ways to the hotel for check in, a quick drink, bit of a rest and back out the door to attend the wedding of a close family friend. The evening was a magnificent one marked by outstanding scenery, company, gastronomy and drink. My hat's off to he or she who decided that late night wedding grub should include a five star ice cream sundae bar as well as fried chicken and waffles. Talk about creme de la creme. After a spectacular evening and late night, we were grateful for the air conditioning and unfamiliar sheets of our hotel room. Sunday morning welcomed the Wimbledon men's finals over coffees followed by a cookout at the lakefront home of the bride. Mac's Speed Shop was on hand grilling an entire pig that would be served with the works. Full disclosure here but I am a sucker for their macaroni and cheese and Matthew for their fried chicken. After lunch we chatted with other guests and dipped our toes in the cool water. Talk about going out with a bang. Circa 1.00 pm, it was time for my sister and her husband to return to the airport. Good byes always leave me with a serious case of the doldrums but hey, good things must come to an end and until the next time. Two weeks and five days to be exact.

I prepared the below salad on Thursday evening to pair with our filet. I served this alongside a magical beet dip garnished with toasted hazelnuts and bright green scallions, our beloved kale salad (which is my brother-in-law's favorite) and a jalapeño potato salad with a warm mustard vinaigrette. Stay tuned for recipes for the other goodies. 

Butternut Squash and Corn Salad
Adapted from The First Mess


2 lb butternut squash - chopped and peeled
1 lb sweet corn - roasted in the pan*
1 cup of fresh basil - washed and chopped
6 watermelon radishes - chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds - lightly toasted
4 oz bleu cheese - crumbled
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 jalapeño - chopped and I leave the seeds in for an extra kick
3 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 TBS raw honey
1 TBS mustard - grain or dijon - both do the trick
3 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
*If your barbecue is ready, you can grill three ears of corn and use the kernels for this salad.

Get Cracking

1. Drizzle your butternut squash with 2 TBS olive oil and roast in the oven. I like to do ours at 400 for approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Keep an eye out.

2. In a pan, brown your corn in 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil. Get the pan nice and hot, throw in the oil and add the corn. Stir for around five minutes. Once the corn begins to brown and pop, remove from heat. OR you can grill three ears of corn on the barbecue. Your call.

3. In a small pan, toast your pumpkin seeds on medium heat. This should take around five to seven minutes. Again keep an eye out.

4. In a blender, add your grapeseed oil, jalapeño, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, mustard generous pinch of salt, crack of pepper and garlic. Give a quick zap and set the vinaigrette aside.

5. In a large bowl, add the butternut squash, roasted corn, fresh basil, watermelon radishes, toasted pumpkin seeds and bleu cheese crumbles.  Pour the vinaigrette over the top. Gently mix with two large spoons.

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