What is it about eating a meal outside that just makes everything seem wonderful in the world? I'm smitten with alfresco dining, hungering for the open-air charms of rooftop restaurants (less common than you'd think here in Portland, Ore.) and practically camping out at the table on my back porch (or, as it's become known, "the satellite office") for the bulk of the summer. But my favorite summertime dining experience of all is the humble picnic.
While many of us favor soft and gooey cookies, for a long hike you want something sturdier. This version of Pierre Herme's chocolate sable cookies is adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City's Best Pastry Shops (Clarkson Potter, 2002). They are sturdy enough to stand up to a hike (especially if well-packed), while still having a bit of crumbly delicacy. A good dose of salt deepens the chocolate flavor (and replenishes you after a sweaty climb).
These savory, nutty noodles are delicious at any temperature, with a slick of sesame oil that keeps them nice and slurpy. I went with bright, juicy cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and a handful of fresh herbs, but you can toss in whatever additions sound good. Fish sauce adds a nice savory note but may be omitted. If you'd like more protein, toss in some cubes of baked tofu.
Makes 6 servings
12 ounces noodles (you can use an Asian noodle, such as udon or bean threads, or regular or whole wheat linguini)
This recipe, adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (Clarkson Potter, 1996), turns a traditional Caribbean combination into a tangy salad. Pigeon peas, also known as gandulas, can be found canned or dried at Latin American markets or well-stocked grocery stores. Make sure you get the mature brown pigeon peas, not the green ones. If you can't find pigeon peas, substitute an equal amount of beans of your choosing.
While lettuce-based salads turn sadder and soggier the longer they sit in dressing, the sturdier leaves of kale just get nicer. This particular combination, inspired by a salad served at Brooklyn's Diner, matches kale with juicy peaches, briny feta and corn shaved right off the cob.
Pianist and singer Barbara Carroll is an old and dear friend of Piano Jazz host Marian McPartland. In fact, Carroll was the second ever guest to appear on Piano Jazz when the show began 30 years ago. Carroll recalls 1979 as a banner year for her, as well — it's the same year she started what became a 25 year run performing at Bemelman's Bar, at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan.
How, for better or worse, has your parents' record collection shaped your own taste in music? This is a question that NPR's All Things Considered will be asking this summer, beginning tonight, with a look at how actress and singer Audra McDonald came to discover the song "Edelweiss" as a child.
I am still an idealist when it comes to college. The four years spent in higher education remain a singular opportunity for young Americans to reach beyond themselves and ask questions that will, hopefully, take a lifetime to answer. But alongside my idealism I can see the reality that this nation faces tough questions about higher education. Who can afford it? How is it paid for? There is one thing, however, of which I am certain.