How are you coping with the heat? The good news is that it doesn’t last for more than a week; and then again, that is why most of us live here. We LIKE that the weather is generally mild and ever-changing. The seasons are well defined and yet they do not define US. We do not have a season for Really Bad Things to happen, like tornadoes and hurricanes. Rather, we have tides that remind us that change is inevitable, even within the predictability of our days. Yes, we get some rain, and once in a while it is A LOT of rain. What I wouldn’t give for some serious rain right now! It’s gonna be bad this week… and then it will get much better. We have fans running and here is a great idea: Wet down some bandanas, ring them out and put them in a bag in the fridge. Put them around your neck during the hottest time of day and they really cool you down! As the bandana heats up just change how it is folded and find a cool side once again. Once one bandana is spent, rinse it out and change it for an already chilled one!

I finally got to try Merende in Tacoma and it did NOT disappoint me. Loren and I went there for lunch and we shared the pulled pork sandwich, and the taglietelle Bolognese. Loren’s favorite was the pork, she raved about the flavors in it! My favorite was the pasta. The taglietelle was hand made, light and fresh and tender. It was not too heavily sauced and I thought it was perfectly sauced! Small chunks of tomatoes and sausage, creamy and light… it was a condiment for the pasta, which is exactly how they would do it in Italy. Showcasing the flavors of all the dishes components, and how they work together. I am really looking forward to going back and trying more things. They have ‘small plates’ and you should invite me if you head over there!

Some of the most fun I have had lately has been with the Sustainable Bremerton group and their Green Drinks events. Green Drinks is a national movement and originated as a way for people who work in the environmental sector to connect, socialize and network. In Bremerton everyone is invited to the events and they have restructured the events to be all free! The first one I got to go to was on a rooftop in Bremerton and John & David from Henry’s Deli did FABULOUS food for the event.Hale’s Ales was there with beer and wine, and the views were spectacular. The next event was down on the breakwater in Bremerton and CJ’s Evergreen General Store was in charge of grilling up burgers, beans and some wonderful side salads. I have to admit that whenever I can make it to the Poulsbo Farmer’s Market, my breakfast is one of their sausage breakfast burritoes. I love them! We brought cookies for all to enjoy and we shared a table with The folks kept me very happy. They make the best flavored popcorn EVER!!!! Hales was there again and Harborside Market provided some wine. The main sponser was Kitsap Boat Adventures and they were giving free boat rides to all who wanted them! These events are held the 3rd Tuesday of each month and you can get on the evite list by sending an email to and requesting to be put on the list. Did I mention that it is tons of fun and free?

This week we will be helping everyone chill out with chilled ‘soups’, like Gazpacho, Mango-Cucumber, Cantaloupe, and Sparkling Strawberry. We will also offer salads of fresh fruits and veggies and of course, ICE CREAM!!! We love to get creative with our ice cream and we make fantastic shakes! We have a new blender that puts our old frappes & smoothies to shame. At the Downen family reunion my brother in law (Mark’s older brother) Don made these great cucumbers! They are today’s recipe because they are cool and refreshing, with a great bite to them as well, and our farmer has big cucumbers coming up this week! Keep these in the fridge and snack all day, or add chicken and toss them over greens to turn them into a tangy, refreshing salad!

Don’s Sezchuan Cucumbers

3 large cucumbers, unpeeled cut in half, seeds removed, and sliced in ½-inch slices
4 t salt
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
4 dried hot red peppers, chopped or 1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 c sesame oil
½ c wine vinegar or white vinegar
½ c sugar

Put cucumber slices in a bowl; add the salt, chill and let sit for 4 hours. Squeeze juce from cucumbers.

Put cucumbers, garlic, and peppers in a serving bowl. Heat sesame oil until it just starts to smoke, and then pour over the cucumbers. Heat vinegar until it boils, then pour over the cucumbers.

Add the sugar, stir well, then cover and refrigerate about 4 hours. Serve cold. Can be stored up to 1 week. And of course, as they store they get even more flavorful.

Try this recipe and tell me what you think!!!