It’s hard to explain what’s been happening here lately. There’s actually been quite a bit of baking and cooking going on, but I feel as though I don’t have much to share with y’all at the moment.
I think what this is really about is summertime fever. I’ve got it bad. All I want to do these days is go outside and lounge around and read and have cocktails and make ice cream. So, if I may indulge for a moment, here’s a list of what I’m loving and what I’m excited about this summer.
Bulleit Bourbon – Yes. I’ve been hitting the bottle, but who could blame me when the bottle is Bulleit? One of the bartenders at Flora recently turned me on to Bulleit Bourbon. I’m really enjoying it in the form of a Boulevardier, which is a negroni with bourbon in place of gin. It’s divine. A little bit of Bulleit on the rocks is a nice treat, too.
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef – When I saw Gabrielle Hamilton on Charlie Rose, I knew I needed to read her memoir. What I didn’t know was that I would fall in love with her restaurant when I visited New York last month and that the leeks vinaigrette and the fried sweetbreads that they serve at Prune would be on my mind for weeks to follow. So it really is no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story behind their maker. If you love food, if you value food, you will definitely appreciate this book. You might even be inspired.
Olympus XA2 – I totally scored. I’ve been keeping my eye out for one of these classic 35mm rangefinders for years, so you can imagine how excited I was to find this little beauty at a rummage sale for $1 this past weekend. I can’t wait to play with it this summer. More importantly, I can’t wait to shoot and develop some film. It has been way too long.
Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits – This has been playing on a loop for days now. Seriously. It’s magical. I love Stevie.
Baby Lettuce Box – This is the best $4 investment I’ve made so far this year. There is nothing like a salad made of hand picked baby lettuces. So fresh, so perfect. A touch of vinaigrette is all you need, but some fresh fruit and a bit of cheese are also very nice accompaniments.
Dogwood – Cocktails. Cured meats. And a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich with whiskey bacon chutney. This is where I’m drinking this summer. Dogwood is one of the new bars in Oakland’s Uptown and it is impressive. It’s cool without being pretentious, offers an incredible selection of spirits, and houses a small charcuterie counter that made my heart skip a beat.
Young Coconut Cooler – Young coconut is a longtime favorite of mine. It may be psychosomatic, but I feel instantly calm(er) after drinking coconut water. I swear there are soothing properties in coconut, which is why I like to keep it on hand for when I’m feeling stressed. I’ve been drinking a whole lot of it lately.
I used to drink coconut water straight from the coconut with a straw, then scoop out the pulp for a snack afterward. It wasn’t until last year that I learned a better way of doing things.
Last Halloween, I woke up on my best friend’s couch with a hair piece still attached to my head and a serious hangover. It was a rough scene. Luckily, Sara’s sensible better half knew exactly what to give to this hot mess: young coconut. And because Mr. Redbeard is clever in the kitchen, he blended the coconut water with the pulp and some ice cubes and handed me the best young coconut smoothie ever.
Maybe blending the coconut water and pulp together is the obvious thing to do, but for one reason or another, I had never thought of it. And now it’s the only way to do things around here. I like to call this a cooler rather than a smoothie because it’s a bit lighter and more refreshing than your typical creamy, fruit filled smoothie. I’m sure it would be great blended with a handful of blueberries or a few hunks of fresh pineapple or maybe even a splash of rum, but I like my coconut cooler pure and simple. It’s great for breakfast or for an afternoon snack. And since coconut water is full of electrolytes, it’s the perfect remedy for hot summer days (and mean hangovers).
young coconut cooler
1 young Thai coconut
*If you’ve never opened a young coconut, check out this video before getting started.
Remove the top from the coconut, being careful not to spill too much of the water. Pour the water from the coconut into a jar or a blender. Scoop the pulp from the inside of the coconut and add to the water. Add a few ice cubes. Using an immersion blender or a stand blender, blend until the mixture is white and frothy. Enjoy.