Hello, Friends! It’s hurricane season here and our first storm of the season is making its way across the Lowcountry. Hermine, I’m ready for you! Well, sort of . . . I stock-piled La Croix and rosé and made a batch of Rice Krispie Treats, or as they’re known in our house, RKTs. (Yes, recipe to follow. You’re welcome!) Hopefully the provisions will get us through the next 24 hours of rain. True, Georgia and I may have had a few RKTs for dinner last night. Fortunately, though, I bought extra mini-marshmallows just in case the RKTs started running low. As my husband will tell you, be prepared is my personal motto.
But let’s get back to the important stuff. Yes, there’s a tropical storm coming through, but it’s Friday and it’s the last weekend of summer. How could there not be a Feel Good Friday? This week I’ve put together a beach house playlist to keep you company on your last few days on the porch and a few easy recipes to give you more time on the beach and less time in the kitchen.
Can I ask one question before we get started? Where did the time go?? Weren’t my daughters graduating just yesterday? Wasn’t the 4th of July last week? How is it possibly September??
Alright, now that I got that out of my system, how about some tunes?
This playlist is inspired by the many, many nights I spent on the porch of the beach house I shared with friends when I still lived in D.C. They’re laid-back, feel-good songs that you can listen to while laughing with 15 of your closest friends. Now, head to the porch and get ready for some Allman Brothers. As always, the playlist is on #Spotify: End of Summer.
Hot in the Kitchen
My approach to summertime cooking is simple: stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. I like to keep my time inside to a minimum so I can enjoy more time outside–on the beach, with friends, sitting on the porch. That is especially true when I have friends over, particulary around cocktail hour. Where would you rather be? In the kitchen cooking up some elaborate appetizer, or outside with your closest friends making the most of these last long days of summer? I thought so.
Here are my go-to, beach house staples for instant happiness and an almost-instant cocktail hour spread.
First up, RKTs. One batch will last a few hours in my house, if I hide them. These aren’t your average rice krispie treats. These are the grown-up version and they are DELICIOUS. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen a while ago and I think it’s fair to say it was a life-changing moment. These RKTs are on another level, but they still only take a few minutes to whip up. I’ve made them so many times now I could probably do it blindfolded, and they would still be good. There are two secrets, and I’m about to tell you what they are. I hope you’re sitting down.
RKTs (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt
10 oz. bag of mini-marshmallows (minis are a must for even melting)
6 c. crispy rice cereal (FYI: I’ve found that generic rice krispies work better.)
Spray an 8×8 square cake pan with cooking spray. I’ve found a glass baking dish works best, but metal is just fine too.
Brown the butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. The butter will foam a bit, then go from golden to brown. Stir frequently to prevent burning. When the butter browns, it’s ready. Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner. (Note: This is the first secret. Browned butter adds a nutty, rich flavor that you don’t get from regular melted butter.)
Sprinkle the salt over the pot and stir to mix. (Second secret: sea salt.) Add the marshmallows and stir to melt.
When the marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and stir in the rice krispies, a few cups at a time. When mixed, spread into the pan using wax paper to press the mixture evenly. Let cool and you’re done!
I’ve experimented with fruity pebbles and cocoa krispies. They’re okay and fun for kids, but you can’t beat the original.
Now that you have RKTs taken care of (elapsed time 10 minutes), you can work on your 5 o’clock spread. I always like to have something crunchy, something sweet, and something savory. Here’s one of each.
Crunchy: Olde Colony Cheese Zingers. Traditional cheese straws with a hint of cayenne for an extra kick.
Sweet: Olde Colony Benne Wafers. A Charleston tradition for a reason–a little sweet, a little crunchy, and a lot tasty.
Savory: Hot pepper jelly and crackers: grab a jar of your favorite hot pepper jelly, spoon over cream cheese, serve with your favorite crackers. Done.
Put these snacks on a pretty tray and make yourself a drink. Cheers to summer!
Why I Love Labor Day
Labor Day is always a little bittersweet. It signals the end of the summer, the beginning of the school year, the return to regular work days. That time of year when we move out of our languid summer swelter to a cooler, more productive state of mind. When September rolls around, I always marvel at how quickly the summer months passed. Where did all of those endlessly long days go? I remember the days on the beach, the evenings spent outside, the family vacations, all the road trips. I savor those moments. And I also look forward.
While Labor Day means summer is drawing to a close, it also means that so much lies ahead. The first year of college for our younger daughter. A new city and a new home for our older daughter. New opportunities, new work, new things to learn. For me, I always remember Labor Day as the weekend I met my husband–in the most unlikely of places at last call on the last day of summer. It may have been the very, very end of summer, but it was a beginning, too.
One of my favorite reads this week is this beautiful essay, The Last Week of Summer by BettySweet Atkinson via The Southern C. Do yourself a favor and curl up on your porch in the morning when it’s still quiet, read these lovely words, and savor the last days of summer.
Happy Friday, y’all.