Dear coffee in the summer,

When it starts to get warm, the shift begins: the heartbreaking shift toward to drinking less and less coffee. I started this habit a few years back, when I really concentrated on drinking enough water. I also subscribed to the long-held belief that coffee dehydrates the body (it’s a tough balance, life is hard).

But the logic goes as such: It’s hot in the summer. So drinking water to stay hydrated is more important (and more difficult, if you ask me) than usual, so best to avoid coffee and its diuretic effects.

But a few months ago, a study came out that busted my logic to pieces. NPR’s food blog The Salt discussed a study out of the U.K. (from the tea lovers!) that showed the body develops a tolerance to the diuretic nature of caffeine, and actually hydrates the same way water does. Hallelujah!

Coffee, it’s true that before, we were cuddle buddies only for the cold, cold winter. It’s true that once summer rolled around, we’d part ways only to meet again for brief, fleeting moments. I just didn’t know you could be any good for me when it was so hot outside. But now, if you’ll have me, we can continue to kindle this coffee love in the months to come. I can look at you, guilt-free, and know that we have something good.

And we do. It’s very, very good.

Love,
A

Dear blackberries,

It’s been winter for about eight years now (Game of Thrones reference, anyone?), so I need helpful reminders that summer still exists. It’s an absolute pleasure to open the freezer and find a bag of blackberries, ready for use in anything. Even if they’re frozen and cold, eating them reminds me of a time when it’s so hot outside you have to cool down from the inside.

Believe it or not, I picked these berries from the very Kansan earth last summer and I’ve never appreciated the technology of the freezer more. There were so many, it’s taken this entire year to get down to the last bunch and throughout this time, I incorporated the fruit a several different ways:

  • I like to toss in a yummy handful of berries into a protein shake with some peanut butter, making a PBJ treat (no bread needed!).
  • Other times, sprinkle a few on a parfait or a bowl of Greek yogurt and you can almost feel the warm sun on your skin and a cool breeze rustling the hem of your sundress.
  • But what’s summer without pie? I adapted this recipe for blueberry hand pies by substituting the blackberries. It’s so easy, you can even make the dough yourself from scratch. Plus, the lemony, sugary goodness really compliments the berries.
  • If you want to get cheeky, throw blackberries into a tumbler filled with whiskey and ginger ale to add a fruity tang to the sting of the carbonated, bubbly beverage.

Blackberries: I curtsy to your versatility and beautiful flavors of summer.

A delicious bowl of frozen blackberries.

A delicious bowl of frozen blackberries.

Love,
A

Dear Intorno (a return to summer),

This letter should have been written months ago, but life happens. Think of it as a daydream, a jaunt to the happy days of summer.

Intorno, you were my first introduction to Lawrence dining one year ago. You hold a special place in my heart because of it. So on the gorgeous summers’ day, on our gal’s day out, we couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves more. Imagine a scene from a gal pal, chick flick where the fabulous ladies eat an early dinner outside as the warm sun sets on a beautiful summer day. There are courses, appetizers, fresh entrees and of course, cocktails. Imagine a meal that looks so good you wish you could taste it.

This was us. We had hearty eggplant parmesan, a flavorful fish dish and sassy Cosmopolitans. How fancy are we? I’m convinced: Summer was made for Italian food.

Love,
A

Delicious salmon dish

Delicious salmon dish

Eggplant parmesan, a classic.

Eggplant parmesan, a classic.

Chic Cosmos

Chic Cosmos

Dear blackberries,

You’re a great berry but I’ve never gone on a hunt for you until this weekend. We woke up early (very, very early) on a beautiful Sunday morning, and spent hours maneuvering around heaps of bushes and thorns to pick the ripest blackberries Kansas land could offer. Tangy yet sweet, these fresh-off-the-bush berries leave the bloated, store-bought kind in the dust.

But what do you do with so many blackberries? Pies, of course. I saw a recipe for blueberry hand pies and decided that blackberries could easily be a delicious substitute. Sugar and lemon? Yes. Handmade pastry dough? Bring it!

This was my first personal, farm-to-table, made from scratch baking experience. And, it’s awesome. Thank you, blackberries.

Love,
A

SavedPicture-201371511262.jpg SavedPicture-2013715112613.jpg

Dear St. Germain,

image

I must thank The Bedford in Chicago for having this drink, introducing it to my friend who in turn shared it with me. This blend of champagne, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and tonic is so crisp and refreshing and not overpoweringly sweet.

It’s summer in a glass. And I really love summer (by the way, did I mention we drank them while watching the Blackhawks play this weekend? The only thing that would have made it perfection would have been a win…).

Love,
A