Ronnie Paul: Last days of summer dishes | TheUnion.com

Ronnie Paul: Last days of summer dishes

Ronnie Paul
Columnist

Aging yields benefits. For instance, consistently misplacing my reading glasses allows me to ignore the dust on the windowsills. And because I lack the energy to deadhead flowers, prune our shrubs and tuck up hanging vines, I've come to appreciate the gothic feel of our property.

But despite my upbeat philosophy, I occasionally feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless list of summertime responsibilities. When burnout strikes, my husband Jeff and I go away for a few days.

It's a treat to put August chores aside, but last weekend when we went away, I actually felt homesick.

At night, when I settled under luxurious covers catching up on back issues of The New Yorker, I longed for the heft of two cats pinning me like bookends to the one position I'm granted for the next eight hours.

As I stood at our vacation kitchen sink rinsing dishes, I missed the cold air blowing on my ankles and the scuttling sound of mice chewing vent ducting.

It felt odd not searching for the flip-flops my granddaughter always borrows, and what's stranger still is finding my nail polish where I left it.

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I especially craved combing through our prickly zucchini jungle and swearing that the green Goliath poking out of the leaves wasn't there yesterday.

Nostalgia aside, when we're away, I'm at leisure to envision new dishes. Try these summer recipes I mused on our last retreat.

Potatoes and veggies salad

Serves 4-6

You'll hear cheers when you serve this snazzy potato salad.

¾ pound red potatoes cut in bite-size pieces

½ cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 cup chopped red pepper

¼ cup chopped red onion

¼ cup sliced celery

2 tablespoons of capers, drained

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Dressing

Whisk together:

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes until tender, then rinse them with cold water and drain.

Mix everything together and chill.

Eggplant spread

1½ cups

So many eggplants, so little time. That's why I made this easy spread!

2 pounds of eggplant

Olive oil (Just enough to brush on the eggplant)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 large garlic clove, pressed

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 tablespoon capers, drained

1 tablespoon chopped scallions

Slice the eggplant in half length-wise, brush with a little olive oil, and place face down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes until the skin is wrinkled and the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.

Scoop out the eggplant innards and puree with the lemon juice, teaspoon of olive oil, and garlic until smooth.

Stir in the, parsley, capers, scallions and salt and pepper by hand. Chill well.

Slather on crackers or thin baguette slices.

Sweet cream for berries

1 cup

Here's an elegant and simple dip for berries.

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon white sugar

2 teaspoons orange liqueur

Whisk together the sour cream, sugar and liqueur until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator and whisk again before serving.

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