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The whole country is experiencing a pretty rough heat wave this week, and today is the peak day for temperatures here in Buffalo – it’s going to be almost 100! While I have the luxury of working the hottest 7 hours of the day in the air-conditioned Book Arts Center, my poor Rosie is back at the house feeling the heat. I wanted to make sure she was well-hydrated and as comfortable as possible today, so I took a couple measures to help her stay cool. Before heading to bed last night, I filled 3 bowls full of water and put them in the freezer. This morning before I left, I took them out and placed them in shady spots in the kitchen and living room so she will have cool water for most of the day as they melt. I also gave her a few ice cubes this morning, and wiped her fur down with a washcloth soaked in cool water to help her cool off. Last but not least, I made dog popsicles!

I found this recipe in the most recent issue of ReadyMade, and Rosie absolutely loves them.

Frozen Doggy Treats

2 c. low-fat organic vanilla yogurt
1 ripe banana
3 T. flax meal/groud flax seed

Put all the ingredients in your food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour into ice cube trays or small paper cups and freeze overnight. Your pooch will love them!

Keep cool, everybody (and every doggy!)

This morning at our favorite diner, the owner surprised us by sending our waitress over with tiny pancake treats in the shape of our initials. Now we really know our favorite place loves us back! It’s those little things that make me feel like there really is something special about Buffalo and the community we’ve got here.

(Photo taken at Amy’s Place. Thanks, Amanda!)

I love pasta, but summer is not the season for thick red sauce or traditional alfredo sauce. I’ll be posting a few different summer-friendly pasta recipes over the next few weeks as I try different combinations of fresh veggies and herbs.

Linguine with Slow-Cooked Zucchini, Basil, and Cream

(adapted slightly from this recipe on NPR)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, cut into paper-thin slices
3-4 medium zucchini, sliced into thin coins
1 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. heavy cream
Handful large basic leaves, chopped into strips
1 pound dried linguine (regular or your favorite gluten-free variety – mine is Ancient Harvest Quinoa Linguine)
1/2 c. fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 c. fresh grated Romano cheese

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Stir in garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until garlic begin to soften. Do not let the garlic brown. Add the zucchini, salt, and a generous amount of pepper and cook slowly over medium to medium-low heat, gently tossing from time to time, for about 30 minutes or until zucchini are completely tender. The zucchini will be very soft, with some coins breaking up as they cook.

Gently stir in the cream and cook for 5 or so more minutes, or until the cream has thickened slightly. Turn off the heat and add the basil, tossing the sauce gently to incorporate. Reheat the sauce briefly when the pasta is almost done cooking.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente (usually 8-10 minutes). Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta in a colander.

Transfer the pasta to the frying pan and gently toss to incorporate the pasta and sauce thoroughly, adding a splash or two of cooking water to loosen. Add the parmigiano and romano cheeses and toss again, adding more cooking water if necessary. Top with a few fresh basil leaves, and serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings.

It’s berry season!

I started off this summer’s canning adventures with a tart, berrylicious blend of blueberries and blackberries and minimal additional sugar.

Black and Blueberry Preserves

Makes 4 pints

8 cups blueberries (cleaned and stems removed)
2 cups blackberries (cleaned and stems removed)
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 lemons

Combine the berries, sugar, and juice of two lemons in a large sauce pot. Cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes, mashing with a potato masher to crush berries and release the juices. Skim any foam off the top, ladle preserves into clean half-pint jars, affix lids, and can in a water bath canner.

The set of these preserves is loose with lots of whole berries. I’d recommend it on pancakes or waffles, or with a soft cheese on crackers or a bagel.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I found written on a scrap of paper while cleaning last week. I don’t know the original source, but I’ve edited it slightly and the results were positively delicious.

Banana Bread

1 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or your favorite gluten-free blend)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
2 thoroughly ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan or 9×9 baking pan.
Combine the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg, butter, and vanilla mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the bananas and greek yogurt, and pour evenly into your pan. Bake for 30-60 minutes (varies depending on the pan you use). The top and sides should be a golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

If you’d like, add chocolate chips, walnuts, or sliced almonds along with the bananas and yogurt in the final step for some yummy variations.

The bow is gone, and my summer wreath is adorned with delicate sprigs of dried Baby’s Breath. It’s my favorite yet.

Sometimes Rosie likes to help me take pictures.

Last Saturday I learned to crochet! Thanks to Sarah, I am now a proficient crochet-er of granny squares. I started this for practice, but it was coming along pretty well so I decided to go with it and make a little blanket for baby. The first color, off-white, is finished, and I’ll be doing an outer stripe of pale yellow. The yarn is a super soft 100% cotton baby yarn.