Summer in New Jersey
I threw a mediterranean dinner party before I lost my appetite for the summer: homemade pitas, hummus, baba ghanoush, white bean puree, feta, roasted bell peppers, tabbouleh. People came and ate and gathered around the picnic table outdoors, all candlelight and fireflies and clinking glass and voices rising through the darkness about such erudite topics as... facebook.
I've heard more since about the homemade pitas than any other food I've ever made, no matter how difficult or tasty.
The Wild Oats on the corner of campus closed, victim to Whole Foods's purchase of the Wild Oats chain, because, as rumor has it, the location was competing with the Whole Foods on Route 1. Nevermind that any store gracing this location was by default the grocery store of choice for the entire population of carless Princetonians. I've ridden my bike the five miles to the Route 1 shopping centers once, and while it was fine, I don't really enjoy being the only bicycle in a SUV-filled parking lot the size of a town.
Anyways, Wild Oats closed and reopened as Olive May. The reopening was awaited with much trepidation by the entire aforementioned population of carless grad students, and so it was a bit trippy to walk the aisles and see: the same products, purged of the Wild Oats brand, in the exact same arrangement, the same cashiers, the same 10% student discount. There are emerging signs of real funkiness, though. The manager can be seen daily wearing enormous MC Hammer pants with a fish pattern, and the music now tends more to the apparent "employee CD collection" (with daily selections such as Elvis) than internationally standardized store muzak, and they now stock Soyrizo, and the fancy chocolate rack (a staple of my diet) is hidden in a new location every day. The produce still sucks.
Thunderstorms. There was one that everyone referred to for the next week or two as "that thunderstorm where the world was ending", because of the way the lightning flickered every second for hours. I watched it from the hammock in my glass-roofed porch. When the lightning stopped, we sat in the hot tub and ate ice cream and watched the fireflies glittering among the high trees.
There was the gay pride parade, but I was too sick to enjoy it.
I spent the fourth of July in the hot tub, an unexpectedly decadent evening that resulted in a six-person massage ring in the hot tub (carefully alternating boys and girls) in the torrential rain, until we decided that perhaps the hot tub was not the safest place to be in a thunderstorm.
Summertime means outdoor dancing in New York: Saturday afternoon tangoing in Central Park, where disconcertingly the large crowd of spectators claps after every song, Sunday evening tango at the South Street Seaport, which is all fresh breeze and romantically lit tall ships.
Shortly after the iPhone came out, I spent an afternoon in the 5th Avenue Apple store playing with one. The iPod software crashed every few minutes. I feel justified in my decision not to buy one.
The garden, unmaintained, has exploded, providing me green beans every time I think to go out and snack on one. The tomato hedges are now weighed down with swelling green globules, and the whole area smells intensely of tomato. The pepper plants produced one single pepper before being consumed by a bunny. My row of beautiful red lettuce was consumed by a bunny before I could do much more than snack on it, but the bunny seems to have rejected the romaine, which is largely growing up instead of out. The yellow squash and zucchini plants are inexplicably enormous, and have produced several surprise squashes. The watermelon that we planted before Clay decided to plant his zucchini over it has also produced vines which are racing to find sun before being blocked out by the zucchini. Watermelon planted elsewhere in the plot appears to have been a mixed bag: some of the vines are oddly shriveled, some seem to be just taking their time to come along. My experimental cucumber plants have produced one cucumber. The pumpkins dumped in the horrid front yard plots are incredibly happy, and have started to take over the wide asphalt expanse of the front driveway. I wish them luck.
I got a second hand ice cream machine off of Tigertrade, Princeton's private craigslist replacement, and have been turning out batches of chocolate sorbet. Recipe:
Mix 1.5 cups cocoa powder with 1.5 cups sugar and 2 cups hot water. Dilute with 2 cups cold water, chill until nearly frozen, then run ice cream machine.
It's fabulously good.
I tried making traditional vanilla ice cream, with egg yolks and cream and all, but I got a migraine shortly after and have been loath to try that again.