I’m living in Charleston during the week this summer and commuting back to Charlotte for the weekends. I could go on for hours about the pros and cons of this arrangement, but I don’t want to cry over spilt milk. No, I’ll keep my complaints to spoiled milk. Not easy to cart back and forth in the car, I can’t drink my milk fast enough and I’ve had many a breakfast ruined by sour milk. Determined to keep my mornings happy and have my money not go to waste, I’ve given up my favorite breakfast of cereal with milk and have switched to yogurt, which holds up longer in the fridge. This transition has brought about my current obsession with granola. Yogurt may be yummy, but it’s not breakfast unless it’s topped with granola.
It’s easy to make granola and even easier to make a large batch of it. This is a good thing; because once you find your perfect combination of ingredients you’ll find yourself wanting to eat it all the time. In the morning, you might enjoy it with milk or yogurt, in the afternoon a handful serves as a hunger-abating snack, and at night, your ice cream indulgence gets a healthy kick with the addition of this crunchy topping.
What to eat? I usually have no problem answering that question, but I had just arrived home from a wonderful family reunion with my husband’s family in Lake Lure, NC. As you might expect, we had lots of fun and had many wonderful meals. Hence, my dilemma. After a weekend of good eating, you can’t just settle for any old thing.
Cookbooks came out and I started flipping through them hoping that something would appeal to me. A recipe for eggplant Parmesan caught my eye in Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Jamie’s Italy. I was intrigued by the fact that it called for grilling the eggplant instead of breading it and frying it. It sounded lighter than the traditional version and got me thinking about vegetarian lasagna, summer produce, and a way to incorporate the eight leftover, no-boil lasagna noodles lurking in the back of my pantry.
It’s not often that you find yourself without plans for a holiday which is why we took full advantage of the situation. On Saturday, we decided to celebrate Independence day by enjoying a delicious picnic while watching the fireworks at our local park. We knew we wanted it to be a picnic to remember, but North raised the bar when he suggested that we make sushi. Homemade sushi? At a picnic? Surely this is heaven!
To give you some background, we’ve made sushi before. Once. Two years ago for Valentine’s day we opted to avoid the restaurant scene and instead spend the money we would have spent on a four course meal for the finest, sushi-grade tuna in Charlotte. We spent a lot of money on that hunk of fish, but it was not money well-spent. Tuna discarded, we found ourselves rolling up pieces of imitation crab meat and cucumber around 11 p.m. that night in a desperate, and rather pathetic attempt, to feed ourselves. While not the most memorable Valentine’s day, it remains unforgettable. It also put an end to our desire to make sushi at home, as we came to the conclusion that sushi was one of those things that was worth paying someone else to do.