For the past few years, the kids and I have just floated through the summer months. The days were filled with day camp, maybe swimming, and definitely a lot of play dates. And usually by the end of the summer, I am counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until school starts. This summer we took a few trips (as evidenced by my Instagram account) and my husband had the fortune of spending more time at home during July so that made home life a little less frenetic for me. The fact that we weren’t enveloped with the typical Northeastern hot, humid and sweltering weather made the summer all the more pleasant. I packed July with kids’ day camps and activities so that they wouldn’t get lulled into boredom.
As a family, we took a quick jaunt to Washington D.C. – again, the weather was awesome so we were able to walk everywhere in the city without any threat of heat exhaustion.
The culinary highlights…lunch at the fairly new DGS Delicatessen in DuPont Circle where I had an eggplant reuben which truthfully, was ‘just okay’, but the latkes and matzo ball soup were ‘pret-ty good’. We also had the best cup of coffee at baked & wired in Georgetown!
I took the kids up to my parent’s house up in the boondocks of New York state for a couple of weeks where we spent some quality time with family and friends, and while we were there, we took a few day trips up to Ottawa, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. I got to know the 417 and 401 really well!
Then, we made a last minute trip to San Francisco and it wasn’t just for the Labor Day weekend, we were there for a good nine days, i.e. long enough to screw up everyone’s sleep schedule 3 days before the first day of school. I started the trip off with a pitcher of margarita with my good friend Peggy – yes, that pitcher had no chance.
The culinary highlights… Chairman Bao, a food truck we found in Mission Bay. Simple menu and just plain good food. The bonus? The kids devoured the steamed buns nary a complaint! A dinner at Prospect in SoMa which was just really good food and really good wine. Our sommelier Josh recommended some good wine which I can’t remember off the top of my head (I was too busy eating and drinking!). I do remember this…I started with an appetizer of grilled abalone atop pork trotters. My main dish was braised goat, the special that night. The meat was very lean and tender. We went to Ame with my husband’s boss and his wife. The Japanese-influenced food was clean and light, but filling. I started with the “Chawan-Mushi”, a Japanese savory custard with lobster, sea urchin, and grilled lobster and scallops with chickpeas, Thai red curry sauce and grilled cauliflower. It was as good as it sounds. No pictures, of course.
We also had a lot of great home-cooked meals by friends. That was the best! Thanks Gabe O. and Peggy C., and Amy L.! This is one of the advantages to living in so many different places…having friends everywhere!
We stayed with my friend Peggy and her family at the beginning of the trip and we returned on the last day. She cooked our last meal (among others) before we left for the airport. She made salmon with a relish of fresh oranges and onions and a side of mashed sweet potatoes. The flavors were bold and just all went together harmoniously. I loved the way she prepared the sweet potatoes and she shared the recipe with me to share with you! A perfect dish to welcome the fall season. It’s definitely on my Thanksgiving menu!
Peggy’s Quick and Simple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Yields enough for 4 starving adults
2 medium-sized garnet sweet potatoes (the ones with the orange-colored flesh)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3 Tablespoons of maple syrup
Pinch of salt
1 – Peel and cut the potatoes into 2-inch chunks.
2 – Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and let simmer until a knife can easily pierce a piece of potato, about 10 minutes.
3 – Drain the potatoes. Return the potatoes to the pot. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve warm!