June 30, 2008

What a Weekend Can Teach You

As if the sweet grass-scented air and lake swimming weren’t enough, one of the nicest things about getting away for the weekend with friends is the chance to ask questions that seem either too banal or too large for the span of a dinner date. With two days of open time stretching before you like an unfettered clothesline, it’s easy to bandy back and forth from “what fulfills you?” to “Beatles or Stones?”

I like to comb through the rhythms of my friends’ days, what makes up a dream life, and always, what they tend to make for weeknight dinners. And then when the conversation quiets, it’s time to dive back into the lake, or take a hike by some waterfalls, or drape your legs over the arm of a rocking chair on the porch and sip at a gin and tonic.

This weekend I learned that if all else fails, South Korea may well be the answer when playing the 20th Anniversary Edition of Trivial Pursuit, that laying in the sun on a floating dock until your swimsuit dries is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and that couscous salad makes a great go-to weeknight meal (thanks, Alison). I also got to teach two of my favorite lessons: how to do the electric slide, and why compound butter makes everything better.

Shallot-Lime-Chive Compound Butter

This is one of my favorite things about the summer. This butter makes already fantastic summer foods like grilled corn, potatoes, and steamed green beans even better.

1 medium-sized shallot, minced
juice from one lime
1/4 cup snipped chives
1 stick softened butter

Stir together all ingredients. Turn out onto a square of plastic wrap, then wrap the butter, and roll it into a thick log the very same way you probably used to roll Play-Doh into ropes. Refrigerate until firm, and then slice into rounds to serve.

Couscous-Lentil Salad
Serves 6

I must confess that I adore Near East Toasted Pinenut and Garlic Couscous. I know, it’s probably very “inauthentic” of me to like a food product that comes with a flavor packet, but I think it’s just delicious.

1 cup French green lentils
1 box Near East Toasted Pinenut Couscous
1 shallot, minced
1 small head purple endive, sliced crosswise into thin ribbons
1 1/2 cup shredded green beans
1/2 cup roughly chopped basil

Mustardy Vinaigrette
Makes 3/4 of a cup (tip: shake this up in an old jam jar and use the leftover to dress your salads the rest of the week)

1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring lentils to boil with four cups water. Reduce heat, and let simmer until tender, about 15-25 minutes. Meanwhile, cook couscous according to package instructions. Drain lentils and rinse with cool water, then shake dry in a colander. Fold together lentils, couscous, shallot, green beans, endive and basil, and serve with some of the mustardy vinaigrette over a tangle of mixed greens.

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  • sarah: sounds like a very nice weekend!
    7 years ago

  • Sarah LeBlanc: Where is that slate sign from? Please tell me it’s a recent discovery — my bf’s mom would eat it up for their Adirondack lodge.
    7 years ago

  • Sarah: Sarah LeBlanc, That was the sign hanging in the bathroom of the cottage we rented in the Poconos, so I have no idea where it came from — but isn’t it awesome? It had me grinning nearly all weekend.
    7 years ago

  • Kristina: I did a very similar vinaigrette this weekend, with raspberry vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. It was stupendous. Can’t wait to try your compound butter.
    7 years ago

  • EB: What a fantastic weekend you lucky girl you. Thanks for sharing it.
    7 years ago

  • Lisa: It’s so random that you mention the Beatles vs Stones thing since one of my other favorite blogs randomly brought that up today! My worlds are colliding and I kind of like it, haha.
    7 years ago

  • kat: Sounds like a great weekend.
    7 years ago

  • Sarah: Kristina, I swear, compound butters make everything better!

    Lisa, I love when worlds collide — synchronicity in the universe.

    EB and Kat, Thanks, it was a pretty great weekend filled with little pleasures. That’s what summer’s all about, right?
    7 years ago

  • Alison: I forgot about that wonderful phrase–we ARE lucky enough!! What a fun weekend.
    7 years ago

  • We Are Never Full: Compound butter is one of lifes greatest things. We make compound butter out of everything! Great on pasta, veggies, bread, etc. etc.
    7 years ago

  • Sarah LeBlanc: If you want to bring a bit of the Poconos to your bathroom at home. . .here you go!

    7 years ago

  • Sarah: Sarah, You are a friggin’ genius!
    7 years ago

  • Ruth: Sarah, I had a respite just reading your post–thanks! And I must test your theory on compound butters…
    7 years ago

  • kat:
    7 years ago

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Only the pure of heart can make good soup.
- Beethoven