Musings from Quince


Remembrance of Pools Past
July 19, 2010, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Seasonal | Tags: , , , ,

Time Warp!

Here we are in the thick of summer, with days averaging in the 90’s, and the humidity right on up there.  What better way to cool off than a dip (quick or lengthy) in the pool?  Of course, it helps if you HAVE a pool, but many of us don’t, though some of us are fortunate enough to have friends with pools….of course, there’s always the athletic club pool and public pool, but there’s something special about hanging out at a friends’ pool, especially with a fun group, zillions of bottles of wine and champagne, platters of delicious food (some healthier than others), soft fluffy towels, and an adorable gazebo/changing area to boot…not to mention assorted chaise lounges, umbrellas galore, and plenty of seating on teak benches and tables…..a friend of mine has been threatening to put in a pool for quite sometime, and this year she actually did it!

Mighty Close to Eden, c.2010

  Jumping in her pool serves as a catalyst for a trip back in time, where growing up in Miami, we had a pool, which back in the late 50’s, was still slightly novel.  I was about 6 at the time, and I remember my swimming lessons in that pool like it was yesterday.  Within a relatively short time, I sprouted gills and essentially spent every waking free moment playing in that pool – it had a very deep end, and friends from the neighborhood would descend, and we’d spend so much time in the water that eventually we turned into puckery prunes, with bright red bloodshot eyes, and chlorine-bleached hair. Can-opener? Watch out…Watermelon? No problem! Cannonball? Bring it on!

Aaahh, time for a dip!

Our family really enjoyed the pool and patio….the terrazzo tile was really slippery, so we had to be careful, but it was always the epicenter for entertaining, etc.  The patio was screened in, so it was easy to barbeque and have food around, without being bombarded by flies and mosquitos.  My step-mother, Julia, reigned supreme when it came to whipping up the most delicious meals ever….steaks on the grill, Florida lobster (crawfish), stone crab claws, it went on and on.  And some Sunday mornings, she’d do pancakes and we’d sit outside….those were the days.  My sister, Karen, celebrated her birthday one year when she was in high school shortly after the pool was completed….I remember about 50 kids showed up, and she walked them AROUND the pool (no one got in?!) like it was some sort of mysterious watering hole. However, this was in January, and sometimes it actually became a bit too chilly for a swim.  Did I also mention we had an entire row of key lime trees on one whole side of the pool which provided an endless year around supply of limes for limeade, pies, etc.  Yes!  Was I lucky, or what!

Full Service Gazebo

Anyway, what I find so amazing is that after that first plunge, all the frustrations of the day seem to melt away and all of a sudden you’re engrossed in heavy discussions with really smart people (seriously!) about what George Clooney is up to, or what Chelsea’s wedding dress will look like.  And most importantly, who’s going to refill the wine glasses (or flutes) next time around…and BTW, that little gazebo/cabana houses a changing room, mini-kitchen, a fully stocked large fridge, a large basket of assorted sun blocks for your choosing, and everything else you could possibly need to make your afternoon dip the highlight of your day.  I for one, feel very fortunate  not having to resort to the garden hose and sprinkler in the back yard this year!



The Perfect Summer Couscous Salad
July 6, 2010, 5:31 pm
Filed under: Recipes, Seasonal | Tags: , , , ,

The Best Sidedish, Ever!

Well, here it is….the perfect dish to take to a party or serve as a side when you’re entertaining at home….Couscous salad goes with just about everything: burgers, chicken, lamb, etc.  but also is vegetarian/vegan (I just realized this!), so all types of foodies can enjoy this stuff.  Warning, it’s terribly addicting, so watch out!  I basically made this recipe up, and you may certainly make substitutions, but here’s what has worked for me…..

First, buy a box of “Near East” boxed couscous….any flavor but plain….follow directions, then dump in a big serving bowl..let cool….then, add:

1 15oz can drained & rinsed chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

3 or 4 scallions, sliced thinly

broccoli florets, a cup or so

1/2 cup or so of chopped cilantro

1 cup or so grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup or so of pine nuts or walnuts

Then, open up the spice cabinet and add salt & pepper to taste, plus  2 or 3 shakes of garlic powder, cumin, & chile powder.  Drizzle olive oil over mixture and stir it all up.  Add additional spices & oil, if needed.  Again, just throw it all together, and don’t go crazy over exact measurements!  Can be served room temp (no mayo, so it does really well at outdoor gatherings) or slightly chilled.

Serves about 6 people…..recipe easily doubles or triples for a larger crowd!

Enjoy!  If you try it, let me know what you think!