Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Watermelon and Sheet Cake

The two most useless foods to bring camping. This according to Ned, one of our camp mates from Philly Folk Fest. So if you invite a friend along or a camping trip and ask them to bring food, make sure that they have some idea of what to bring, 'cause that's what they're likely to show up with. Watermelon or sheet cake. After all, you don't need to fuss with prepackaged sheet cake, you just grab it from the bakery section, and what could be more summery than a watermelon? You did remember to bring plates, right? And forks? How 'bout something to cut it with? Or something to cut the watermelon on? How are we gonna store the leftovers? Um, what are you planning on having for dinner? Er, never mind.

So, since we now all know to bring all the right stuff on a camping trip, here's a summer watermelon recipe that we get asked to make all the time, especially at Folk Fest. It's an interesting combination of sweet and salty that Italians call agro dolce, and that really works on a hot summer day. Not everyone will eat it - it's too weird. But the people who will eat it invariably rave about it. Trust me on this!

Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad
Nigella Lawson

1 small red onion
2-4 limes, depending on juiciness
3.5 lbs sweet, ripe watermelon
9 oz feta cheese
bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
bunch of mint, chopped
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 oz (1/2 cup) pitted black olives
black pepper

Peel and halve the red onion and cut into very fine half-moons and put in a small bowl to steep with the lime juice. Two limes worth should do it, but if the limes aren't very juicy add more. Remove the rind and seeds from the watermelon, and cut into approximately 1.5 inch triangular chunks. Cut the feta into similar sized pieces and put them both into a large, wide shallow bowl. Tear off sprigs of parsley so that it is used like a salad leaf rather than a garnish, and add to the bowl along with the chopped mint. Add the onions, along with the juice, the oil and olives, then using your hands toss the salad very gently so that the feta and melon don't lose their shape. Add a good grinding of black pepper and taste to see whether the dressing needs more lime. Serves 8.

Link to Nigella's original recipe using metric measurements.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Our Adventure So Far

Germany was a lot of fun! We got to see and do a lot in Berlin and Lubeck. The weather has been a mixed bag, though - it's rained at some point almost every day that we've been here. We haven't had a lot of down time to spend on the computer, but access has been very spotty anyway. The hotel in Berlin offered a jack for modem access - how quaint! We got wireless access in the hotel in Lubeck for 20 euros a day, and it was almost never working. Sheesh! I thought Europe was supposed to be very connected.

The other really weird thing here is the music. Don't you people have any music of your own? Almost everyplace we've been has had American music playing. 60's motown in the Russian restaurant, hip-hop in the Vietnamese restaurant, and standard gay bar music in the gay bar. I've heard It's Raining Men enough for one lifetime, thanks.

Our trip is starting to wind down. We're at our last stop in Copenhagen, where the people are friendly and the prices are scary. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for a change.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Auf Wiedersehen!

The hubby and I are going on a trip to Europe. We're starting in Germany: Berlin for 4 days, then L├╝beck for 2 days. From there, we're going to Copenhagen, Denmark for 4 days, then flying back home. Our flight out is tonight, so of course we're busy obsessing about what to pack. Having been hit with the magical excess weight charge for the baggage before, we're trying to keep it simple and planning on hitting a laundromat during the trip. My problem is that I always try to plan for all kinds of weather, so I take half again as much stuff as I use. So I'm taking stuff for 5 days, and keeping it simple. We'll see if it works.