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Today is another of those goofy food holidays but this one actually makes sense given the season: National Zucchini Day. It’s that time of the year when for a lot of people, zucchinis grow 2 feet overnight and overwhelm their lives. Enthusiastic gardeners plant a little too aggressively in the spring and to their delight, the plants flourish. Come August, these formerly delightful gardens are spitting out giant zucchini like aliens. I’ve seen them abandoned in office kitchenettes, in paper bags mysteriously left near front doors, in sidewalk boxes marked “Take me! PLEASE!” and once, I saw a woman whip one out of her purse and give it to the bewildered hostess as an open house gift. Also around this time of year, I tend to get requests for a good zucchini recipe that isn’t a quick bread. As good as those are, they get pretty tired so I usually recommend this simple savory tart.

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I am an over the top, unapologetic Olympic fan and have been my entire life. I come from a family of Olympic fans. In 1980, my mom let me stay home from school to watch the USA vs. Russia hockey game in Lake Placid. As a kid, I was so enamored with Nadia Comaneci that I begged and begged my parents to enroll me in gymnastics. They did. My mom and I will routinely call each other in the middle of an event to discuss something amazing, outrageous or a rule technicality. It is not uncommon to find myself at 4 or 5am on the couch engrossed in wresting or curling or sailing or biathlon and maybe I even set an alarm to wake me in time. I cry during medal ceremonies. It may even be true that I make complicated excel spreadsheets of the TV coverage so I know exactly what is on when and on what channel. With over 6,755 hours of coverage this year, I have to go in with a plan.

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During these long hot days of summer my cooking mojo takes a nose dive. I don’t feel like doing much of anything and the thought of turning on the oven makes me cringe. Case in point: this weekend I baked two slab pies for a party that were delicious if incredibly frustrating. Hot kitchen and cold dough are not compatible in any way. It was a struggle that required a nap directly in front of a fan to cool down. While the pies were enthusiastically greeted at the party, I ditched them on the buffet table and immediately went to the bar to calm my overheated nerves. Not wanting to repeat that situation, today I wanted something sweet but something easy and nothing that would work up a sweat. I dug around in my unusually well stocked refrigerator, the result of enthusiastic shopping trips and the lack of energy to do much with my purchases. There was a pineapple with unfulfilled ambitions and a bunch of lemongrass that was supposed to go in something I never made. I looked at my little windowsill lime leaf tree and a decision was made.

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A few years ago I was in Bangkok, suffering from some tremendously awful jetlag. After a full, hard day of work in a foreign and unfamiliar kitchen, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep so around 1am I gave up and decided to explore. I caught a cab and told the driver to take me to the Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat) which I read doesn’t really get hopping until 2am or later. If I couldn’t sleep, at least I’d see part of the city as my sight seeing had been pretty limited up to that point.

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I felt the need for some BBQ the other day, but in a new and different way. No burgers or hot dogs, no chicken or ribs. Instead I started thinking about Korean BBQ, one of my favorites. Korean food is fantastic – delicious, fully flavored and a little spicy at times. I headed to my favorite Korean market, steadying my nerves for the inevitable Tetris parking lot situation, white knuckeling my car into an oddly shaped spot. I grabbed a cart and looked around to put together some ideas. Korean BBQ was now definitely on the menu; it was just a question of how I was going to pull it off.

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On a random weekday before the July 4th holiday, a friend and I decided to take a little road trip. She was in the midst of selling her condo and I had just wrapped up a series of stressful meetings. Our nerves were frayed and we needed a change of scenery so we decided to go to a few Michigan beach towns and buy some blueberries. A short drive, less than two hours, and we were enjoying a much-needed change of scenery. The day was absolutely gorgeous; one of those bright sunny, breezy days that plants a smile firmly on your face. We had lunch, went whiskey and beer tasting, roamed a local farmers market, wandered in an out of antique shops and art galleries and hit a favorite produce stand.

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It’s grotesquely hot around here. I know, its mid July, it’s supposed to be hot yet somehow I’m caught by surprise. Mother Nature fools with us, you know? She’ll sneak in a couple absolutely gorgeous days then, BOOM, 90 degrees with 90% humidity. My energy goes down as the temperature goes up, as does my motivation to cook anything. During times like this, I only want to eat two things: watermelon and ice cream. I eat and ungodly amount of watermelon and ice cream during these sweltering weeks.

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