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« Summer Nights | Main | Summertime Tea »

Thanksgiving in July…Hmmmmm?!!

By Lori Powell

While most folks are taking long weekends at the beach or enjoying a leisurely summer vacation, I am in a hot kitchen with both of my ovens on high…making Thanksgiving dinner.

Unfortunately every year, a handful of clients ask for Thanksgiving recipe development and photography during the biggest heat wave of summer. You can predict this and schedule your vacation or poolside retreat by it…you just have to give me a shout and ask when my deadline is for this unseasonably and untimely development.

So while you are sitting poolside enjoying your frosty beverages, think of me sweaty and full of turkey, making my way through not just one Thanksgiving dinner, but several…and let us not forget the succession of pies that have to be baked. Such a glamorous job!!

Try buying pumpkin puree, fresh turkeys and cranberries in the middle of July. Not an easy feat! Yes, some things are still seasonal. I will beg and pay bribes for those “have-to get-ingredients.”

If the steamy days of summer aren’t enough to put you to sleep already, mix it up with a healthy dose of turkey (tryptophan) and voila, who needs sleeping pills?

Try this, you insomniacs, for a holistic and natural approach: chow down on your turkey leg, open up the windows and let the hot air in, then go to bed. I promise you any insomniac will drop off to an easy slumber.

This also works in the afternoon since, on occasion, a caterer who will go unnamed (hired to dish up a healthful lunch for us at photo shoots), will serve up turkey.  Saboteur!! I never fall for the temptation of eating turkey midday anymore (took me at least three times to get it ). It has a similar affect as having a glass of wine with lunch, minus the headache.

But enough of Thanksgiving. For this moment, let me relish in two truly seasonal recipes and pretend that I am enjoying it poolside with all of you happy vacationers out there….Cheers to us!

PS: Do not cry for me. I will be taking my due vacation in no less than 1 ½ weeks on the cool shores of Maine…talking lobster and lots of it…real soon!

Watermelon Cooler with Star Anise Simple Syrup
Serves 4

½ cup sugar
2 star anise
3 pounds seedless watermelon, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Campari
4 fresh mint sprigs

Combine sugar, star anise and ½ cup water in a small saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Chill syrup, uncovered, until cold, about 1 hour.

Puree watermelon in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a pitcher. Whisk in juice and Campari and ½ cup syrup, or to taste. Pour over ice in glasses with mint sprigs.

Watermelon and Grilled Steak with Cilantro and Mint in a Spicy Lime dressing
Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for oiling the grill
½ pound lean sirloin steak
¼ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick rings
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
2 large slices of watermelon, seeded and rind removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves and tender sprigs
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan or grill grates to medium high heat. Sprinkle steak with the salt and pepper and grill about 4 minutes for onion and 7 minutes for medium rare steak, turning once. Transfer meat and onions to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing steak.

While steak and onion are grilling, whisk together lime juice, honey, pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set dressing aside.

Slice steak and mound on a platter with melon, onions and herbs; drizzle with dressing.

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