Mojitos, grilling and sand between the toes

The season is upon us.  Summer.  Backyard grills are being fired up, blenders are whirring with ice and tequila, and personal space at the beach is rapidly diminishing as crowds flock to enjoy a California summer.  And it’s predicted to be a hot one too, thank you La Nina.  So here’s a couple recipes to celebrate the arrival of summer. 

MOJITOS

We made mojitos last night.  Super easy cocktail, and super refreshing.  Here’s what we did. 

Start with fresh mint (easy to grow too), white sugar, and fresh squeezed lime juice.  Using the handle end of a wooden spoon, crush it all together at the bottom of the glass. 

Take a bag of ice cubes, wrap them in a dish towel and whack them on any hard surface to make your ice chips.  Add the ice to the glass.  Pour desired amount of rum and Perrier or any other sparkling water over ice cubes.  Stir and enjoy.

SQUASH GRATIN

Making this tonight.  Thinly slice yellow and green squash and fill baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and herbes de provence (rosemary, thyme, oregano).  Mix.  Sprinkle grated parmesan or asiago cheese on top.  Bake at 375 for 30-60 minutes, depending if you like crunchier or softer veggies.

Who says southern California has crowded surf?

The glare of the computer screen dries out my eyes.  I rub them and adjust my glasses.

What time is it?  Ten more minutes and then I can slip out the back door.  Butterflies flit and flutter in my stomach, the excitement and adrenaline mounts. Almost as if I’m about to skip school.

I read emails with an air of seriousness, hunched over the keyboard.  But hiding behind the window is the browser with the surf forecast open.  Oh Surfline, please say it’s onshore and poor.  Oh please Bird from South Coast Surf Shop, tell those FM94.9 listeners to go for a bike ride, it’s just not worth it.  Oh please let the whole North County decide a surf just isn’t worth it today.

The forecast calls for small and poor conditions.  Perfect.

The clock hits twelve.  I weave through the maze of cubicles,  jump in the car and push legal driving techniques til I pull into the parking lot.  A couple of black forms bob in the grey-blue ocean, its surface slightly textured.  A set begins to feel the bottom.  I’m already ripping my jeans off and wiggling into my wetsuit.  A glance over the open trunk reveals a wave ridden all the way into the inside.  Small but not poor.  Definitely worth more than a bike ride.

I paddle out as a couple guys paddle in.  No one else out.  A little set takes shape over the fingers of the reef.  Quick repositioning to the peak.  The wave stands up and offers up a long wall, small but punchy enough.   All the way to the inside.  The next one goes right, softer but still peely.  After a while, I get that gut feeling.  Lunch is over.  But the tide’s dropping now, and it’s getting better.  And still no one’s out.  I scrape into a little one, float the end section and belly in to the beach.  Running back up the cliff, I turn around one more time.  A perfect head-high set rolls through.  And still no one’s out.  Thanks Surfline.