Monday, July 09, 2007
tea parties, pimento cheese, and ratatouille
photo from Wikipedia; license available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/
Balmy. Sticky. Luckily, also breezy. Welcome to summer in the Great Lake State! This morning I ran on the Lake Michigan shores, straight into a driving wind kicking up two foot rolling waves. Exhilarating! My "vacation/last weeks in Michigan" continues with a drive up the shore of Lake Michigan tomorrow to spend a few days visiting my friend H, her daughter, and her parents, in my favorite summertime haunt: the Leelanau Peninsula. I hope to bake a cherry tart for my hosts, and maybe make a dinner from farm fresh produce from the market stands that dot the rolling hills and lake vistas...
This weekend my Mom and I hosted a tea party on my parents' porch for my cousins, aunts, and grandma. The porch is perfect for parties, complete with a cedar swing, lots of chairs, and little tables. My grandma and aunt brought flowers from their gardens--lilies, daisies, and hydrangeas. Mom and I made lemon angel food cake cupcakes, cucumber sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, and a variety of fresh fruits. Grandma brought mini cheesecakes in adorable heart print cupcake papers. My favorite tea party treat, though, is pimento cheese.
Pimento cheese is one of those Southern foods I never actually ate until I moved back North. Go figure. My grandma (who was born and raised in the South), recalls their version of pimento cheese when she was young, which revolved around Velveeta cheese (also a staple for the ubiquitous Rotel dip that peppered grad school parties). My version of pimento cheese is a bit more gourmet-ey, which is the cause for some teasing, but everyone eats it up just the same.
Grate equal amounts of best extra sharp white and yellow cheddars (now I use Vermont and New York, respectively, but I suspect this will change once I move to the other side of ye ol' Lake), mash with a fork, add a squirt or two of mayonnaise (I use Hellman's Light), and a small jar of diced pimentos (drained). Add black pepper and cayenne pepper (powder or sauce) to taste. Mash it up real good, refrigerate (preferably overnight so the flavors meld), and serve with celery, bread, crackers, pretzels, crostini, anything, really. Drink a glass of sweet tea on the side.
Today I took two of my cousins to see *Ratatouille,* which has received rave reviews from other bloggers AND the NYT film critics. What a fun, thoughtful film! Such a delightful foodie movie, and I'm so glad I could share it with my cousins.