When we bought our home almost 30 years ago, one of the things that drew us to it (other than the fact it was in one of the few flat areas of the city and it had a fireplace), was the large family room and deck the previous owner had added onto the original house.
The roof of the house extends over the deck, so we can use it rain or shine. We've looked at making it into another room, but the pleasure we get from using it as a deck stops us. To help keep it a cool and shady, we've added wicker blinds to block the sun and a ceiling fan. A large dining table and chairs, and a comfy wicker couch and loveseat complete our summer refuge.
I love getting up early on the weekend, brewing a pot of coffee and sitting out there. Sometimes I read, sometimes, I just sit and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood - cardinals singing in the nearby trees, a train rumbling in the distance, a plane flying overhead and our neighbors as they start their day.
In the afternoon, there is no better place to sit and read with the radio playing softly or (yes, I'm frequently guilty of this), taking a nap on the couch.
After a hard day at work, there's nothing like a margarita or glass of wine with family and friends on the deck before starting to get dinner.
As a child, I was never afraid of summer thunderstorms and I was lucky enough to marry someone who also enjoyed watching nature's fury. We've sat on the deck on many hot summer nights, watching the storm approach from the
Summertime also means changes in our dining routine. I abandon the oven and some of the stovetop cooking, opting to cook on our gas grill. Why heat up the kitchen if I don't have to? And, we eat most of our meals al frescoe.
Because we have a pool and are barefoot most of the summer, I have heavy plastic dishes and glasses- which I call my summer china and crystal - to use on the deck. Colorful place mats replace the tablecloths I use indoors and meals just seem more relaxed out there.
Many years ago, I found a recipe in Parents magazine for barbecued country-style ribs. (Why is it I can't remember any of the parenting advice it offered, but I can put my finger on numerous recipes from the magazine?) I like this recipe because I've never really been a big fan of barbecue sauce and I'm also not a big fan of ribs, but the country-style ribs are nice and meaty, more like really fat pork chops.
Marinated Country-Style Ribs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
Mix all the ingredients well and pour over 4 pounds countrystyle ribs in sealable plastic bag or covered container.
Place in refrigerator and let marinate for up to 24 hours, turning occasionally. Cook over medium heat on grill until done.
And what are ribs without a decent cole slaw? This recipe comes from a former co-worker who came to the Transcript from the Midwest. She brought this colesalw to a potluck luncheon one day and it was the hit of the party!
Oriental Cole Slaw
2 packages pre-shredded cole slaw mix (add grated carrots and shredded purple cabbage for color and flavor)
1 bunch green onions, chopped 1
package Ramen noodles (chicken flavor)
crumbled Frozen peas to taste (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 to 1 cup cashews or slivered almonds
Dressing: 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 packet Ramen seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
MIx cabbage, onion and thawed green peas.
Just before serving combine dressing ingredients in a shaker and pour over cabbage mix. Toss well and top with the Ramen noodles and nuts and toss again.
The salad is still good the next day, but the crunch is gone.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.