Wait, is it August already? I can't believe what a whirlwind summer it has been. Since we got back from traveling I have been cooking up a storm while trying to avoid the unbearable heat and humidity in the city. More to come, later.
Back to July. One of my favorite holidays used to be the fourth of July. Up until I was ten, my entire family would get together for what we called a Penny Sale. All of my relatives would bring dishes to share, and items that they thought others would like to win in the raffle. My Aunt Lorraine, an Avon lady, would bring a whole carload of Avon products and organize the sale. We would arrange all of the items on folding tables and tape a dixie cup nearby. Raffle tickets were sold in envelopes ($2 for adults, I think kids got a discount); you would use your numbers to "bid" on the items. For instance, an envelope might hold 50 slips of paper with the number 2 on them. If you really, really wanted the little keepsake box, you would put all 50 of your tickets in the cup for that item, increasing the chances that your number would get picked. Funny memory--when I was around five I asked my aunt if I could carry on the tradition of doing the sale when she died. She was probably in her mid-fifties at the time.
While the raffle went on, we would sit in lawn chairs, eating barbecue, eagerly anticipating hearing our number from the "caller." In between, cousins and siblings would play lawn games and swing on the swing set. The day would culminate in backyard fireworks--the best, if not the safest, of firework displays.
Family circumstances caused the Penny Sales to be retired some 20 years ago, and the memories of them are drenched in nostalgia. Now I associate July 4 with Cape Cod, and even if I only have a few days off (like this year) I brave the traffic and head up there. Usually the weekend is full of barbecues at various family friends' houses, complete with bocce tournaments and babies, and the best adult perk: wine. This year I was sick and my parents weren't there, so DP and I embarked on a quest to make some authentically summery/Cape Cod-y food. We steamed lobsters, grilled corn and chicken, and made time for ice cream sundaes.
Our lobsters were delicious, and easily made once you get over the whole "they must be cooked while alive" hump. We read that placing them in the refrigerator prior to cooking numbs the nervous system, so we did that. I'm not sure if they were numb or not, but I like to think they fought a little less than usual.
*love the little barnacle by mr. lobster's eye
Loose directions for cooking lobster:
Place a large (really large) pot on the stove, fill with 1-2 inches water mixed with 2 tablespoons salt and the juice of 1 lemon. Bring water to a boil, add the lobsters (1-2 lbs each). Cover, steam 12-15 minutes or until lobster shells turn bright red. Serve with melted butter, preferably on plastic plates printed with instructions on how to eat a lobster (see above).
On the fourth, because I was sick, we kept everything really simple. Grilled the corn, in the husk, no bells and whistles--just butter. Grilled the chicken, brushing with store bought barbecue sauce (Dinosaur) frequently. Grilled romaine lettuce, dressed in store bought balsamic vinaigrette. Drank wine. Ate ice cream, and made it to the beach for the amateur fireworks show. It was great. Not too many pictures, but here's one of the corn: