Beach Treats

Beach Treats

When I was growing up, my family would spent some time every summer at the Jersey shore. Living in Philly, the beach was about a two-hour drive. My grandparents had a place in Cape May, and they nicely let us use it. (A post for another day will be all of the Victorian houses there, some of which you can tour. So much fun!).

As the calendar gets closer to Summer (I’ve been in countdown mode since Christmas), I always check for beach weekends so I can get at least one dose of Vitamin Sea. Days at the beach are one of my most favorite things. I’m definitely a summer baby. Give me sun, sand, and salt water, and I’m a happy girl.

I’m also a giant baby, so the amusement rides at the boardwalk (we usually would drive to Wildwood) weren’t my favorite thing. But going to the boardwalk meant we got to have a special, once-a-year treat: salt water taffy.

(photo credit: Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy: https://shrivers.com/)

I grew up thinking that salt water taffy was a Jersey shore thing. But apparently it is a coastal thing (and like everything else, you can buy it online if you can’t get to the beach. I’ll link to some places at the end of the post). The story goes that it originated Atlantic City, New Jersey with a man named David Bradley. He had a taffy stand on the boardwalk, and it was damaged during a bad coastal storm in 1883. The next morning, he was in a bad mood about the damage, so when a little girl asked for some taffy, he sarcastically called it “salt water taffy”. The catchy phrase stuck, and “Salt Water Taffy” was born.

Salt water taffy doesn’t have ocean water in it. I’m sort of sad about that… (It actually has hardly any water at all, and only certain flavors use a bit of salt).

And it doesn’t taste salty either. I guess the closest thing I can compare them to are Starbursts. But these are better. Way better. Promise. (That may be my nostalgia talking, but hey…)

Traditional Flavors include: Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Grape, Peanut Butter, Licorice, Banana, Molasses, Molasses Mint, Orange, Lemon, Lime, Peppermint, Wintergreen, Teaberry, Spearmint, and Cinnamon.

(photo credit: James’s Candy. https://www.jamescandy.com/)

Even now, the sight of the box instantly transports me back to lazy, sunny, carefree days and the magic of summer. My grown-up self appreciates that they now make sugar-free versions too.

(photo credit: James’s Candy. https://www.jamescandy.com/)

A few places you can get it (that will also ship it to your door):

Shriver’s in Ocean City, NJ and James’ Candy Company in Atlantic City, NJ.

Let me know if you’ve tried it, like it, or what’s your favorite beach food (vacation food).

Not so patiently waiting for summer,

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees!

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees!

A few months ago I injured my knee while walking to the bus stop. What I thought was a simple sprain turned out to be so much more and extremely painful–namely, a torn meniscus, a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (also known as the ACL) and incipient osteoarthritis in my left knee. Yes, I’ve got it all at the moment. My orthopaedic surgeon is taking a wait-and-see approach and I’m doing physiotherapy (which is helping a lot, actually). I have to do special exercises just for my knee every day…and now they tell me to… lose a little weight.

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Yes, Kevin Hart, I wore that same expression on my face when they said it!

The foodie in me is not happy about this, but I do have some extra pounds that I’d love to see magically vanish…so I am trying to take a reasonable approach that involves cutting back on certain things, namely carbs, and not completely cutting out all the things I love.

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Did someone say bread….? Yum!

I freely admit it: I am a carb junkie. I love potatoes. I absolutely adore pasta. Got waffles? Yes! Sourdough bread? I am in ecstasy. But…these are, of course, the very things I need to cut back on if I am going to lose the first 5 kilos my physiotherapist says will help my knee feel better.

At least it’s summer. And usually during the summer–as long as it’s hot (which there is no guarantee of here in Sweden) I tend to crave other thing than…bread, pasta, comfort food. Lately, I’ve been craving roasted veggies–tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, red onions, carrots, you name it. I’ve also been longing for a good Caprese salad since my June trip to Matera, Italy.

Oh my stars! I love a good Caprese salad! Photo credit: www.pioneerwoman.com

Oh my stars! I love a good Caprese salad! Photo credit: www.pioneerwoman.com

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees and super simple: the only ingredients you need are

  • ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • good quality mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

That’s it. It doesn’t need to be more complicated. Pull out a shallow bowl or serving dish. Slice the tomatoes–not too thinly, you’ll want thicker slices to really enjoy this–and set them aside. Drain and slice the mozzarella. Again, not too flimsy slices. You want to savour the texture and the flavour. Pick a goodly amount of basil leaves–no point in stinting since–again–this is all about flavour.

Now don't you want to try a bit of that loveliness? Photo credit: www.recipeshubs.com

Now don’t you want to try a bit of that loveliness? Photo credit: www.recipeshubs.com

Now start placing the ingredients on your plate–tomato slice, mozzarella, basil–repeat–until you’ve got this lovely vision of red, white and green that makes you dream of Italy. Sprinkle a little sea salt and black pepper over this beauty. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And you’re done!

Told you it was easy. 🙂

Now if you want to jazz it up, you could roast the tomatoes or use dollops of burrata (a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream) or add some fresh baby spinach or toss in some strawberries or use crema di balsamico (a thicker, slightly sweeter version of balsamic vinegar that’s good on just about everything) instead. Go wild with it. 🙂 I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Caprese salad so I stick with the basics.

The great thing with a Caprese is that you can have it as a side salad or as your main dish–and it’s so pretty that people think you slaved over it when it took no time at all. Simply pretend it was so much more difficult than it really was to pick the perfect basil or slice that tomato just so.

So next week when I am in Philadelphia (where it’s always hot during the summer) instead of Stockholm (where you never know what sort of summer weather you’ll get), I have the feeling I will be eating a lot of Caprese salads.

Are you a Caprese salad lover? Or does some other bit of salad loveliness speak to you?

My Signature for the Blog

Vacation

Vacation

 

It’s that time of year… Summer has arrived and that means one thing. VACATION!

My favorite place to vacation has always been the beach. Salt air, sand, the sound of sea gulls and waves crashing against the shore, it all feeds my soul.

 

I think it’s one of the very best places to watch a sunrise or sunset. And it’s the first place where I saw a glimpse of how many stars number the sky. You can’t see very many stars, living in the city, but out on a beach at night, in the absence of artificial light, the view is breathtaking.

Growing up, I spent summers at the Jersey shore. (Fun fact: people who go to Jersey beaches don’t “go to the beach,” they go “down the shore.”). I was used the dark blue waters of the Atlantic. But a few years ago, I had the chance to go to Miami, and the ocean there was light, pretty, and clear.

MIAMI

I’m looking forward to adding other beaches to my list. Give me sun, sand, and surf, and I’m happy.

Cue the Go-Go’s: 🙂

 

 

What are your favorite places to vacation?

Susan-Sig

Salad Days

Salad Days

It’s Summer. It’s hot. No one wants to turn on their oven. Plus, you’ve worked hard (or played hard) all day. You don’t want to spend an hour prepping and then cooking a meal. And so, *drum roll, please* I present to you my go-to Summer meal… (frankly, it’s my go-to every-season meal)…
 
The Salad.
 
And not just any salad. No. It’s special. It’s “tropical. And that means: your taste buds are about to go on vacation.
Tropical Spinach Salad
Recipe credit: Cathy at Lemon Tree Dwelling
Ingredients
3 c. fresh baby spinach
⅓ c. strawberries, chopped
⅓ c. pineapple, chopped
½ avocado, cubed
1 slice red onion, quartered ⅛ c.
⅛ c. chopped pecans
fresh-shaved parmesan cheese, to taste
(Change it up by adding in almonds, walnuts, or chickpeas)
Instructions
1. Layer ingredients in medium salad bowl.
2. OPTIONAL: Top with Sweet Lime Vinaigrette – (1/8 c. olive oil, 1/8 c. vinegar, Tbsp. lime juice, Tbsp. agave nectar). I find this dressing too sweet, so if I use anything, it’s a light drizzle of olive oil.
3. Combine ingredients in a small container with a lid; shake well.
Voila! Your meal is served. 
But, wait. Where’s dessert???
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget that!
Here it is, in all its gorgeous, colorful, vitamin-filled goodness 🙂
Summer Fruit Salad
 
Ingredients
 
Blackberries – 1 cup
Strawberries – 1 cup hulled and quartered
Grapes – 1 cup
Kiwi – 1 cup peeled and quartered
Blueberries – 1 cup
Oranges – 3 oranges, peeled and cut into wedges
Watermelon – 1 cup cubed watermelon
Instructions
 
   1. Mix ingredients into a bowl.
   2. Serve.
 
Beverage perfect for the meal:
You could have a glass of chilled wine, or coconut water, or regular water, or my go-to iced coffee.
 
There. Dinner (or lunch) done. Light and healthy and delicious. 🙂
Susan-Sig