Summer is seeping in.
5 days until summer solstice...
And we have already had temps in the 100's for weeks.
Toasty skin, sun bleached hair, summer swollen gardening hands, hot wind, clouds teasing monsoon season down pours, dreaming of rain on sun parched earth.
Endless beautiful summer scent of basil.
Popping tops off babies so they grow taller and taller.
All grown from seeds of last year's basil, which I broke open in winter and worked into the earth.
Bees buzz around, spreading pollen here and there.
Bringing us first sight of pumpkin babies 2014.
Tiny and others growing.
Giant tufts of flowering leeks.
If you cut the tops off of basil when you notice it wants to flower, you will get bigger and heartier plants through summer, until extra brisk autumn nights show up.
Dirty garden hands are the best tool.
The first taste of basil.
Summer in a leaf.
I spend my morning squatting around the garden, weeding and pruning and gathering.
I always get snuggled during those moments.
Snuggle us up when you are perched in an odd balance, please.
Love them so.
All clothes guaranteed to come with paint in this house.
Rinsing giant strawberries.
Birthday's of Mad Hatters morphing with Father's day.
Which means treats all weekend.
Friends and food.
Champagne + orange juice.
Our first taste of my summer chicken salad came yesterday.
I make it several times during summer.
It is sooooo good.
And easy too.
And healthy to boot.
You can also double, triple or quadruple my invented recipe if you need it for a gathering etc.
Good for 4th of July too.
Here's how i make it...
Summer Salad Recipe
I start with 4-5 boneless skinless large chicken breasts.
(omit meat if you'd like to make it vegetarian, and use less dressing when you drizzle at the end)
I plop the raw chicken into a bowl with olive oil drizzled on each piece, salt and garlic powder.
Coat all pieces well and let sit for an hour (less if you are in a hurry).
Then grill and after fully cooked, let sit and cool for 1 hour or 2.
(again, if in a hurry just let sit 15-30 minutes)
Then shred and pop into a large bowl.
Also into the bowl of chicken goes half a small sweet onion finely diced.
4 diced avocados.
1 large diced mango.
1 larged diced red bell pepper.
One can sweet corn.
One can black beans rinsed and drained.
The juice of both half a lemon and half a lime.
The grated rind of half a lemon and half a lime.
Then drizzle with 3/4 cup sweet vinaigrette.
Vinaigrette dressing that is beyond yumm!
I make my own invention, for this dish I use 1/2 cup red wine vinegar.
A little under half a cup of good olive oil.
3 tablespoons of sugar, plus salt and garlic powder to taste.
Whisk until sugar has dissolved.
Then pour over chicken salad and toss until fully incorporated.
It's sooo good.
Lasts a couple days perfectly well in fridge.
You can use a rotisserie chicken but grilled chicken makes all the difference in the taste of summer.
And then of course...
The pesto turns up.
I don't measure.
A couple cloves of garlic, the juice of 1 or 2 lemons, 2-3 cups fresh basil, handful grated parmesan cheese, olive oil and a handful of pine nuts or walnuts.
(sometimes I do no nuts)
A little salt if need be, but parm is salty so wait until end to determine.
Pop into a food processor...
Pesto means summer is here.
Basil times upon us majorly.
That makes me sooooo happy!!
I love these times even though it's so hot.
It's fun too.
The gophers are being extra rotten.
They ate all the roots of one of my roses bushes, until it fell over before my eyes, dead.
I was so upset that I couldn't even react.
They are also everywhere in my veggie garden.
The rabbits are eating the pumpkin vines.
And the rodents are eating all the zinnias.
It's in the height of heat before monsoon season comes, that all the wild animals go crazy, and turn up to really cause havoc in my garden.
I feel for them so.
I really do.
The desert is a tough place for animals.
But I feel for years of hard work for the garden too.
I guess, you win some you lose some.
You have to take that attitude around here.
Our friends from Napa garden in huge tall above ground planters they built.
And have inspired me greatly to do the same.
Now I just have to get a certain someone to build then for me ;)
The dream of not having to squat or kneel around for hours?
I am dreaming!!!
And no gophers or critters to get in and ruin?
We have been ever sooooo busy.
Going places, hosting folks.
One of my fave times of the day is walking for an hour to good music every morning at 5:30/6 a.m.
It's such a great escape.
And bonus, it lets me really delve into music.
Also lets me listen to new music.
I love knowing what's happening in the music world.
Soooo, that's what I have been up to.
What about you???
ps: I think I really better start planning my mad tea party instead of playing too much ;-)