SUMMER PICNICS

There isn't a holiday in August (at least not an American one), so let's celebrate Summer all month long. Let's call it "Summerfest"! Summer is full of picnics, backyard barbecues, and potlucks with friends and neighbors.

Summer came late to the Pacific Northwest (where I live) this year. It really didn't begin until around the 1st of July, so it caused our local produce to be ready a lot later than usual.

I am very lucky to have a wonderful fruit and vegetable market close to where I live that sells local produce. If it isn't grown here, it is brought across the mountains from Eastern Washington. The local strawberries are the sweetest this year that I have ever remember tasting.


SUMMER RECIPES

Strawberry Shortcake

A friend of mine told me that when she was a little girl her mother used to make her strawberry shortcake every year on her birthday. She said she hadn't eaten homemade strawberry shortcake for 10 years, so of course I told her to come over and I would make some special just for her! In my area of the country, Northwestern Washington, strawberry season is pretty much limited to the month of June and maybe a little into July. In my city, we have a marvelous farmers' market once a week which I attend with relish! There are no strawberries sweeter than freshly picked from the grower; but, when we can't get them that way, we just have to rely on the good old grocery store. When the berries are sliced and tossed with sugar, piled high on the shortcake and smothered in whipped cream, you can hardly tell the difference.

Shortcake 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 3/4 cup whole milk (if using 1% or 2% milk, add a little cream to it)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Do not grease baking pan.

Measure flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or knife until mixture looks like corn meal. Slightly beat egg with fork and add, along with milk, to the flour and butter mixture. Mix all together until it forms a nice soft dough. Knead about 10-12 times. For one large shortcake: Roll or pat dough into a 1/2” round shape to fit into a 9” baking pan. Bake about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. For individual shortcakes: Roll or pat dough 1/2” thick and cut into 3” rounds. Place 1” apart on cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or untill lightly brown. To serve: Split hot shortcake; butter well; lay one half of the shortcake on plate or in bowl and cover with sliced sugared berries. Add top to shortcake, cover with more berries and then slather on lots of whipped cream. Note: These shortcakes are best when they are served warm since they then just melt in your mouth! I use real whipped cream, but if you don't want to go to the bother of whipping the cream you could use Cool Whip or the canned squirt kind.


Crunchy Broccoli Salad

This is my most favorite salad in the whole world! My dear friend Betty made it to serve at the bridal shower she threw me just before my wedding. It is bursting with flavor and crunchy texture, and so colorful too! Bring it to the next summer get-together you attend and your friends and family will rave about it!

Ingredients: 1 large head broccoli (about 1 pound) cut into small flowerettes and finely chop stalks 1/2 red onion, chopped 3/4 cup raisins 1 cup salted sunflower seeds 1 cup grated cheddar cheese 1/2 pound bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled for dressing: 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon vinegar 1 teaspoon garlic powder (if desired)

Instructions: In a large salad bowl, add broccoli, onion, raisins, sunflower seeds and grated cheese.

Mix dressing ingredients together in small bowl and pour over salad ingredients. Toss; add crumbled bacon and toss again. Note: Make this salad the same day you are serving it. It does not stay crisp when you store it overnight.