Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cool as a Cucumber

Originally uploaded by love_yellow
Yes, cucumber really is cooling because of its high water content - it's not just a random saying. Cucumbers is one of the reasons why I love summer so much. I pick them straight from my garden and it's so easy to make a variety of quick and delicious dishes with them.

My husband's favorite preparation is simply to just splash rice vinegar on sliced cumbers in a bowl and add a little fresh ground pepper. Sometimes with a little sesame oil too, and occasionally a some anise seed mixed in. It's so refreshing and goes well with almost any protein, especially grilled salmon which we eat a lot of in the summer.

I appreciate the ease in which you can prepare cucumber. Just rinse and slice/cut. No salad spinners or other crazy gadgets needed to get it ready for consuming.

And of course there's the obvious... I like to cut my cucumber in large chunks and add garden tomatoes, feta, red onion and kalamata olives. I just add a little oil & vinegar and chop up marjoram, oregano or other herbs from my garden to add a little more flavor.

Just slicing them up and dipping them in hummus is a satisfying snack when I'm starving and trying to prepare dinner, rather than noshing on bread. The slices are great for adding to sandwiches as well. And adding them to an appetizer platter makes them a nice alternative to crackers, not to mention adding a nice color and texture to the overall presentation.

I look forward to enjoying the refreshing crunch of the cucumber all summer long!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Double Rainbow

Yosemite never seems to amaze me. It is my favorite place on Earth and it's a place I will continue to return to for as long as I can. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there 14 years ago and when we take our overseas visitors there, they understand why we spent our honeymoon at this magical place.

The Mist Trail along Vernal Falls is always a favorite. Our most recent guests from Finland were thrilled to get soaking wet by the mist of the noisy waterfall while climbing this steep and rocky trail at the high altitude. Even young teenagers appreciate the awesomeness and beauty of where we were.

Can you see the double rainbow? The one on top is a little faint, but it was much easier to see standing there.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Choxie chocolate from Target

Choxie chocolate
Originally uploaded by love_yellow
First of all, apologies for the absence over the last several weeks - my new job has taken all of my free time!

Recently I came across this milk chocolate roasted almond sea salt bar at Target.

I've had both chocolate and toffee with fleur de sel before, but never with sel gris (a.k.a. gray sea salt). When I read on the packaging that it had grey sea salt in it I became curious and had to splurge the $3 to taste it. I was at Target (a shop know for its low prices) so I was equally curious about the relatively high price.

I consider sel gris to be a "working" salt vs. a fine finishing salt which is the reason for my curiosity. For example I put it in the water when boiling pasta or when making soups, so I couldn't imagine it combined with fine-ish chocolate.

The verdict....
Fabulous! I really could taste the big chunks of salt which enhanced the flavor of the chocolate and roasted almonds. My only complaint is that it had too little in it. The photo on the packaging is misleading because it makes it look like there are many chunks of salt.

So I went to my stash of sel gris in the pantry and added a couple more little chunks of salt with each bite and it was even better. Not only did it further enhance the flavors of the chocolate and almonds, but also added a nice little crunch which complemented the smooth texture of the milk chocolate.

What a pleasant surprise from Target!