mardi 31 mai 2011

Evening at the window

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My relationship with summer has never been easy. While others rush to put on shorts and sandals and spend hours at picnics and barbeques, I find myself desperately trying to stay cool and not get sunburned. Officially the palest person in Berlin with only two skin tones, white and red, my friends look annoyed whenever I take a seat at a café in the shade or worse still, inside. No matter how much people tell me how incredible Berlin is in this season, the hot weather makes me bad tempered and the warmer it gets, the more I long for a summer in England in my parents' garden, eating strawberries and cream and watching the tennis. While others dream of endless parties on the terrace with cool drinks, I struggle to deal with sticky nights and mosquitoes.

Yet this year I find myself enjoying the warmer days more than before, even if I'm not outside for very long. Though summer will never be my favourite season, it's hard to resist a time of year when the tomatoes have flavour once again, when you can smell the strawberries as you wander between market stands, gazing at the piles of fresh asparagus and the cherries. I love to take a moment to watch the changing palette of the sky as the sun goes down and enjoy the luxury of getting up early at the weekend to linger over the first silent moments with a cup of tea. And you, what are your favourite things about summer?

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Beautiful skies

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Strawberry smoothie - strawberries with kefir milk and rolled oats

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In the Bürgerpark last weekend

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One of the best things I've done recently was to get my hands on a copy of Heidi Swanson's new book, Super Natural Every Day. Like many others, I was always a fan of 101 Cookbooks but the book really blew me away with such wonderful recipes and I've been using it pretty much every day. It's hard to talk of favourites - millet muffins, baked oatmeal, wild rice casserole and yoghurt biscuits to name just a few - but I have a soft spot for these stuffed tomatoes with couscous and it seems like the perfect summer dish.

Stuffed tomatoes

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6 large, ripe tomatoes
115g/ !/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon harissa
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 fresh basil leaves, chopped,
2 shallots, minced
fine-grain sea salt
85g wholewheat or barley couscous (I used spelt)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Chop the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the insides with a teaspoon over a bowl, trying not to cut into the sides. Break up any large chunks. Place the empty tomatoes into a baking dish, greased and big enough to fit them all in.
2. For the filling, mix the tomato chunks, yoghurt, harissa, olive oil, salt, most of the basil and the shallots into a bowl. Test to see if you need more salt or harissa then add in the couscous.
3. Spoon the mixture into each tomato until almost full then bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the couscous is done. Top with the leftover basil.

17 commentaires:

  1. I hate to steamy weather, to sweat or get sunburned, but I enjoy summer on my balcony and in my countryside. Of course, summers in England are far more enjoyable. I also miss my grandparents' lush garden, toasted sandwiches and the fresh evenings there...

    Lovely clicks! Those stuffed tomatoes looks scrumptious.



  2. I hear you about the heat...I love summer but it is a constant negotiation. As I live in a place that is hot & steamy - you have NO idea - I cannot complain as I've lived here long enough to know what's in store. Add to that the same pale skin as you & eek.

    But I love the late sunsets, fireflies (lightning bugs), flowers, fruit, swimming...about 10,000 things so I won't list them all. I have to run errands now or it will be a disaster. Another heat emergency day. Oof.


  3. That recipe looks wonderful! I'm not a big fan of summer either and prefer to enjoy it at least in the shade.

  4. I think you might enjoy San Francisco. We don't see a true hot summer here. The weather stays fairly moderate during the summer months. Beautiful photographs -- lovely skies and nice smoothie.

  5. @Rosa - I'm sure we have some common memories of Derbyshire and it must be sad for you not having your grandparents there anymore. Thanks to you I now have a longing for toasted cheese sandwiches though.
    @Susan - I checked the weather for Washington and felt a bit guilty for complaining about the heat when what we have here is much cooler. Hope you managed not to get a sunburn, it's nice to know others have pale skin too though. Ah, fireflies how magical! I've only seen them once when I was on holiday in Italy.
    @Christine - The tomatoes are super easy and really tasty. When we meet up then, you won't mind sitting in the shade.
    @Denise - A good friend of mine used to live in San Francisco and often tells me about the wonderful climate - I think it'd be perfect for me and plus, we could meet for coffee.

  6. I am quite in agreement with you about summer, my friends chose sunny spots in cafes and I don sunglasses and annoyingly move my chair to avoid the death rays. It gets humid here, and I might as well stay inside. I do enthusiastically frequent markets and scoop up much to much fresh vegetables and berries. Have a beautiful summer in the shade.

  7. I knew you were a winter person. So is my sister. You two would HATE living in Florida! In fact, I can barely get her to come and visit.
    The sun is a problem for me too...not because of burning but because of skin cancer. I was not very careful in my youth (baby oil and peroxide-the two necessities when I was a teenager) and am now paying for it. I love being on the beach, but must be very careful!

  8. Feels like long time no post, missed reading! As you know I *love* summer: the beads of sweat, the food, the beach, the sun on my face, the sitting outside, the hikes... So pleased you're enjoying it a little this year ^_^

  9. I never used to get sunburns, but last week that weird Ontario weather tricked me and I got burnt like never before... So I know what you mean! But after this too long winter, we've been thrown straight into summer with 30 degrees last week and I won't complain just now :)
    And your tomatoes look absolutely delicious...

  10. @P.K - Hope you're summer is warm but not too sticky and that it isn't hard coming back after your holiday. I think we have the same attitude to these warmer days.
    @Barbara - Yes, I'm more a fall/winter person indeed and it'd be fun to meet your sister. Florida looks wonderful but I just know the humidity would kill me so a visit doesn't seem very likely. Hope you don't have too many problems with your skin; my Dad was constantly in the sun without cream or a hat and now can no longer wear short sleeves or go out for long because of skin cancer problems.
    @Sasa - I know, I've missed you too! I often think of you lapping up the sunshine in your lovely dresses. Enjoy it. Today it's 30°C and I was out early this morning for a walk but am headed for the cinema later.
    @Julie - Ooh, I feel for you with the sunburn, get well soon. I too can appreciate how nice it is after so much cold and darkness to have warmth again and am more tolerant than I used to be when anything more than 25°C was too much. I'm sure you'd like the tomatoes, they're great cold as well.

  11. I am so with you... I would be happy if we could just skip july and august as I hate hot weather... and so does my st bernard. The tomatoes are great though!!!

  12. Even though I'm Greek and everyone assumes otherwise, I don't like the hot weather of summer. Ever since I moved to Holland I enjoy the cool evening summer breeze as opposed to the cold air conditioner inside my apartment in Athens.

    You stuffed tomatoes look so appetizing although I have to admit that when it comes to stuffed tomatoes I always choose Greek :)

    Glad to see you are back posting again Emily V.

  13. I have to admit, I really struggle to find anything I particularly like about summer, mainly because it's so brutally hot in Australia, that's it's never really pleasant enough to do things outdoors. Still, going to the beach is nice, if you can stomach the strong sun and sunburn :)

  14. Wonderfully evocative images.

    I never loved summer until after I had children and got to experience every single day of it fully, while home with them. When I used to go to work, I always felt sad to be indoors on a beautiful day.

  15. @Deana - Oh I so love St. Berhards, how wonderful to have one but I can imagine that summer is tough for them. It's nice to find other non-summer people here. In Berlin, I'm always relieved when we get to mid August because the chances of a heatwave are pretty small and September is my favourite month.
    @Magda - I know, I was surprised to learn that about you. I'm glad you live in a cooler place and hope the summer won't be too unbearable where you are. It's funny with the tomatoes because after posting this I saw yours and thought that I simply have to try them. I also thought of you yesterday because I managed to get some plain Greek yoghurt from a different supermarket so can make those rolls soon.
    @Hila - Summer in Berlin is nowhere near as hot as in Australia and I know I wouldn't be able to stand it. Must be lovely living near the sea and the beach but I think that'd be more for the autumn or spring if I lived there.
    @Lecia - I so enjoy seeing the summer through your eyes and it looks nice in Seattle. I'm so glad you can enjoy this season so fully now.

  16. wonderful photos Emily!
    as for me, i`m always looking forward to summer days and try to remember every smell, colour, sound and detail of that short season!

  17. Les nuits chaudes, les grillons, les etoiles, les vagues, les repas dans le jardin, les piques-niques dans les parcs parisiens, les pieds nus dans les sandales, les rues videes de leurs voitures - Si, c'est bien l'ete :)