Caprese, Caprese!

Caprese, Caprese! One for me, one for you! Make in spring or in summer, anytime! Just do! 


Caprese, Caprese! One for you, one for me! So fresh and delicious! Makes life better, you’ll see!


Caprese, Caprese, I adore you, you’re mine! I’ve loved many a’ salad, but must say, you’re divine!

Here’s to the small pleasures in life, and to your good health and happiness!

Summer Delights, and A Mystery Solved!

We’ve finally received warm weather here in Evanston! 70s and even low 80s! Now, I’m more of a cool weather gal (I get a little grouchy when it gets into the 90s) but this weather is truly perfect. I’ve spent several days writing outside on the porch (my absolute favorite way to spend the day) and am looking forward to many more…


Tiddo has enjoyed his first sprigs of summer catnip, which is already growing quite abundantly around the neighborhood. He’s also been trying to dart out of the front door and is yowling like a wild thing. He wants to spend the day outside too!


For me, the moment the weather turns from cool and dreary to warm and sunny, what I want on my plate changes as well. As soon as it turned mid-70s this week, I wanted a caprese salad!


And though a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil usually do on my salads, once summer begins, I’ve a hankering for reduced balsamic…


Pour a few cups into a sauce pan, place over low heat and then stir (and stir, and stir) until it is reduced to about a fourth of what you originally poured in. When you taste it, the bitterness should have run out and the sweetness kicked in. I like to then cool it in a ramekin in the fridge, it becomes thick as molasses. Oh heavens! Remember to keep stirring while it cooks however, or else it will burn immediately and will not turn out.


I also made a delightful quesadilla for breakfast, with a caprese twist. Purple onion, red and yellow tomatoes, basil…


I particularly like experimenting with breakfast. I’m weirdly ravenous about an hour after I wake up each morning. Therefore, I think just about everything sounds delicious and am more willing to cook up something out of the ordinary for that meal.


And now for a mystery solved! This was so cool! The raccoons have been out, enjoying the nice weather too. This isn’t the same dude who was hanging off of our tree the other day (who looked a little scrawny I thought), this one is a real healthy size. I took this picture of him in the backyard (safely from the window of course).


The shots are blurry, but if you look closely, he’s digging around in our backyard drainpipe! He pulled out some snacks to munch on, who knows what it was. Wet and stinky no doubt, gross!


What made me smile when I saw this was that one, he went straight for the drain as he ambled through the yard, as though it was one of his usual spots to check for a bite. Second, if you look to the top of the photo, you’ll see a brick. There used to be a green cover over that hole that mysteriously kept coming off, and broke apart. I thought it was the result of lawn mowing. So, I placed a brick over the hole so that debris (leaves and sticks) would not clog the drain. Though capped off, it’s still designed to capture water below the surface…


Mysteriously, that brick kept being moved. Usually, just aside the hole. Sometimes, a few feet away. I even asked my honey one day when I noticed this strange phenomena, “Did you move that brick???” Nope, he didn’t do it. I was puzzled, because it kept happening.

Was this noisome gases pushing up the brick? Hmmm. Was this a backyard ghost? Hmmm. A mischievous fairy? (I have an overactive imagination…good for book writing). The wind certainly can’t blow a heavy brick over. What was this! Go to bed and the brick is there, look out in the morning and it is inches away. NOW I know why! The clever raccoons know that there are snacks down there, or maybe he’s getting a gulp of water?

Here is wishing you’ll find special delights in each and every day, no matter the weather!

Farewell, Summer Salad!

It’s getting rather chilly here in northern Illinois…brrrrr! I had a campfire with my folks last weekend, we must have known the chill was coming! Wasn’t it summer just yesterday? They’ve already had the pumpkins and potted fall mums displayed at the grocery store this last week and though autumn is my favorite season, I’m just not ready. In fact, I spent a greater part of this morning daydreaming about summer salads. Yes, I wake every morning and daydream about what’s on my menu for the day…don’t you? Below are three salads that I still swoon to remember from Ristorante Antico Pignolo in Venice…


The fresh eggplant salad with ripe red tomatoes and chiffonade basil leaves drizzled with balsamic reduction and olive oil…faint.


The traditional Caprese with soft rounds of mozzarella, tomatoes and bright basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic reduction and topped with black olives…insert heavenly singing here.


And the simplest, yet most delicious salad ever invented…ripe melon and tender, slightly salty prosciutto…I’m seeing stars.

If you’d like to have a go at making the melon and prosciutto salad, you’ll find inspiration here with Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast. Her delightful site and cookbook are filled with splendid watercolors and enchanting forest arrangements that make her realistically simple recipes look oh so pretty!

For the Caprese salad, try Pioneer Woman’s recipe. She says she, “…love Caprese Salad so much it actually hurts.” I know how she feels!