Posts in "Summer"
Humidity and Lightning Bugs
Humidity and Lightning Bugs | Freckled Italian

I was at Costco the other day, looking at salami and prosciutto when a man walked by wearing Ralph Lauren cologne and I swear my entire morning stopped in its tracks because of the combination of that familiar fragrance combined with rotisserie chickens and whatever warehouse smell bulk grocery stores all have in common.

I stood there, transfixed and temporarily brought back to summers in Roanoke. Of living on Smith Mountain Lake, driving into town with my mom in her black Suburban, of buying what seemed like way too much food and wine and soda but always ended up being just the right amount, because friends were always filtering in and out of our house every day in June and July, and because (most importantly), we really only seem to be friends with people who can eat.

It’s so much more than the house, though.

I’ve been missing summer in the south lately--that deep, humid heat that settles into your bones and gives your hair texture you didn’t know it had. The way that long after the sun goes down and the fireflies come out it’s still 85 degrees and sticky. Summer in the south is big and magical for more than just the humidity and the lightning bugs.

It’s s’mores and cheap beer around a fire pit; it’s bug spray and sunscreen residue on your skin and the shocking splash from a backyard pool or even just a sprinkler to run through as it cools you down and rinses the watermelon juice from your wrists. It’s a late-night Blizzard from Dairy Queen with friends, and pup cups for the dogs who played all day together in the yard.

It’s the way I think of my late friend Zach and cry every time I hear “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” It’s fireworks and sparklers and hot dogs on a grill. It’s the way a leather couch feels on your bare legs as you slide in to watch a movie after a day outside in the sun. The deep, almost overwhelming greenness of the forest as I-81N opens up suddenly to mountains on the way from Charlotte to Roanoke.

When I was working on my first cookbook I would come home after an early morning rowing workout and pour cold brew over ice, opening the back door to the yard as Ender wiggled through my legs to roll around in the grass. I’d sit there with bare feet, in leggings and a sweaty tank top with my coffee and my laptop, under the shade of an oversized umbrella, taking in the morning before that North Carolina heat crept in for the day.

But now I’m here, in what feels like a different world sometimes. Sleeping with open windows as the chilly eucalyptus-scented Bay Area air cools our house down every night. Wearing a sweater every morning, working almost only through nap-time, putting together a 3PM toddler snack--sitting at our kitchen table with an afternoon cup of tea, planning our next trip to the coast to pick strawberries by the ocean as our daughter stacks her blocks and moves her stuffed animals from their woven basket to my grandmother’s light blue armchair. So happy to be where we are, and so sad to be so far away from other places. On days like this I somehow feel homesick and content and melancholy and joyful all at once.

Life is an incredible tangle of feelings and experiences and I’m so grateful for each and every one of them.

But I could use a drive down a country road.

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Summer Staples: Grilled Shrimp and Cold Rice Salads

This post is sponsored by La Crema. You can find the recipes I talk about below on their blog right here!

Herby Shrimp and Chilled Grain Salad | Freckled Italian
Summer Staples: Grilled Shrimp and Cold Rice Salads | Freckled Italian

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been the world's most amazing hostess--she could feed a crowd with one hand tied behind her back. I think back on Thanksgiving and Christmas with a lot of lovely memories, but the ones that stick out to me the most are in the summer--Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, or really any weekend in Virginia when the sun is out, the grill is hot, and the wine is pouring.

She also always had La Crema Chardonnay chilling in a bucket on the counter--even before I started working with them it was a staple in our house and we served it every single time people came over. (Her love for the brand and its presence in our fridge at all times both encouraged me to approach them over four years ago at Alt Summit in Salt Lake City.)

My family loves to feed people and I'm so glad it's a tradition and a passion that Rob has embraced as well--I love the idea of one day cooking a ton of food for Sophie and her friends when they're home from college every summer. Nowadays we don't do as much entertaining as I'd like to, but when we do I always stick to a few basics that I learned from my mom: flavorful but easy-to-prepare dishes that you can make or at least start ahead of time, using the grill as much as possible to get everyone outside and cook a lot of things at once if you need to, and--of course--a few bottles of La Crema. 

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

When summer rolls around I love grilling seafood, especially shrimp. I buy the biggest ones I can find and leave the shells on so they don't fall through the grate, and I like to season them simply and then toss them in a ton of fresh herbs--I'm notorious for adding sliced green onion to everything in my kitchen, and grilled shrimp are no exception. Cilantro, dill, parsley, scallions--if it's fresh and green and you can chop it, you bet I'm going to be using it.

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

Grilled shrimp is my go-to, but my newest favorite summer thing is a cold salad with a nice grain compontent--rice, quinoa, farro, whatever you like. I cook it and cool it and add whatever greens and veggies I have in the fridge. The recipe I shared on the La Crema blog has tomatoes, kale, and arugula, but you could add spinach and cucumbers or swap any other ingredient for something you like better. Even if you aren't entertaining, it's a great dish to throw together on a Sunday evening and enjoy throughout the week.

You can find my recipes for herby grilled shrimp and a chilled salad with rice and quinoa today on the La Crema blog. I live for autumn and often wish away the end of summer, but there's nothing like a July or August cookout with friends and family.

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

Photos by Cue the Light.

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Summer Wish List: Platforms + Wedges
Summer Wish List: Platforms + Wedges | Freckled Italian

I'll be the first to admit that summer is far from my favorite season, but I am a pretty huge fan of big chunky sandals. The wedges I've had and loved for years finally bit the dust this past season, and the other pair I have are just a little too high for everyday use, so I'm on the hunt for a good pair that I can wear with everything, from shorts to sundresses (and well into fall with leggings and jeans).

So far these are my top contenders:

  • I love the mix of black and canvas on these espadrilles.
  • These frayed beauties would look so cute with some skinny jeans.
  • Still obsessed with pretty much every pair of Swedish Hasbeens I come across, and these ones are no exception. 
  • These are a little on the dressier side but the price is definitely a bit more reasonable compared to some others.
  • Such a dainty little pair of wedges!
  • I've never tried on any Toms other than the classic flat ones but I bet these are super comfortable.
  • I didn't think I'd like the whole flat platform trend, but actually now I think I'm kind of into it.
  • These might be my least favorite that I'm linking to. They're cute but they seem like they're almost a bootie, and I'd rather just have a bootie. Maybe they're a bit more sandal-y in person.
  • I love the lace-up detail on this pair.
  • These are really cute but maybe a bit too strappy for my taste.
  • Can't go wrong with black details and a chunky heel.
  • These might be my all-time favorites in this list. I love the height, the ankle strap, the combination of brown and white. It's kind of between these and the other Chloe ones (right here).

Check out all the shoes I linked to above right down here as well, you can click around in this widget:

Which are your favorite? And do you have anything special on your summer shopping list this year? 

This post contains affiliate links.

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