From the Publisher
LOS ANGELES TIMES
by Russ Parsons
Not every good cookbook has to be serious. Sara Perry's Summertime Treats is a prime example. It's slight, and slightly giddy, the way you might remember from the last week of vacation.
Soccer moms should delight in the crafts suggestions: everything from an ingenious method for making semi-permanent castles from a homemade sand based clay to decorations citronella candles with grass and fake bugs.
The recipes are evenly divided between summertime drinks (all, of course, nonalcoholic though not necessarily childish) and the kinds of dishes you might call beach food. Included among the smoothies and shakes are a splendid-sounding lime fizz, a pretty convincing coffee frapp and a strawberry lassi. The food runs to big, bold flavors guaranteed to rise above even saltwater and suntan lotion.
by Ren e Enna
Summertime Treats, by Sara Perry, is a lively and beautifully photographed book designed for families, with recipes and crafts that accentuate, warm weather living.
Quick-to-make dishes concentrate on picnic classics such as potato salad and deviled eggs (which get dressed up with cocktail umbrellas), as well as ethnic favorites, including orange mint tabbouleh and gazpacho-to-go. Corn on the cob gets an update with a variety of flavored butters to serve alongside it. We fell in love with the recipe for fresh strawberry shortcake with summer cream (pictured on the book's corner).
The crafts are fun too. Vacation place mats are made from postcards and maps, and a "One-for-the-Road" lunch box is designed to accommodate the restless-on-road-trips crowd.
I remember so many things about my childhood summers. I would get into my uniform a bathing suit early in the morning and stay in it until the late hours of the evening. My days revolved around swimming pool activities: swimming, diving, Marco Polo games, and water volleyball. Even when I wasn't waterlogged, I often found myself playing by the pool deck backgammon, four-square, and rummy.
Occasionally, however, my mother would throw my summer routine for a loop by saying, "Today we are not going to the pool," referring to the club we belonged to. "We are going to have activity day." Usually I balked at the idea, but once we started our activities, I was immediately at ease, having a good time partaking in making homemade lemonade and fun crafts.
Sara Perry must understand the need for summer projects to break up the sameness of July and August days. Her book, Summertime Treats , is filled with recipes and ideas that will cool you and your family down on the hottest afternoon and keep you occupied on the rainiest morning.
The crafts in this book are easy to do, and even the most unartistic and uncreative parent can help her child complete a project to perfection with the help of the detailed directions and inspirational photographs. One of my favorites in the book is the Ants-in-the-Grass Citronella Candle. You begin with a citronella candle (you know, the kind that keeps the bugs away when you burn it outdoors), about 30 blades of grass, and some plastic ants that can be purchased in any toy or craft store. Using a double boiler, you melt paraffin wax and then dip the grass into the wax, which you then secure on to the candle. After the grass is positioned vertically, looking as though it's growing, you secure the ants in various positions atop the grass with hot glue.
Other fun and equally easy projects in Summertime Treats are Sponge-Painted Patio Pots, Cookie-Cutter Soaps, and Vacation Place Mats. The beauty of these activities is that they can be divided over a few days: On a warm day, some of the materials that need to be obtained from the outdoors can be collected, while on an indoor day, the project can be undertaken.
But there is more to summer than sitting around making crafts. After all, if your kids wanted to do crafts all day long, you would probably send them to a summer day camp. The next section of the book is devoted to thirst quenchers that kids of all ages including 73-year-old kids will love. Consider the lime fizz recipe that combines lime juice, syrup, and sparkling water. Yum. The perfect companion drink for the backyard barbecue.
If summertime means entertaining to you, then you will love the great recipes in Summertime Treats , which occupy the last two sections of the book. As a child, I remember standing next to my mom as she prepared salads and snacks for guests in the warmer seasons, helping her in whatever ways I could. Kids love doing that, and with Perry's ideas, your gang certainly will be able to help out in the kitchen, too. Recipes for Black Bean and Corn Salsa Salad; Iceberg Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing; and Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad are fine ways to start off a tailgate picnic party. Continue the meal with the Super Sub Sandwich, Grilled Flank Steak, or the Mixed Summer Grill (a marinade that's perfect for anything that you are throwing on the grill). Finally, no meal is complete without some summer desserts. Chocolate Spanish Peanut Cookies, Fresh Fruit Cookie Pie, and Silver S'Mores are just a sampling from Summertime Treats .
If these projects and recipes don't make you want to speed up the clock and fast-forward to Memorial Day weekend the unofficial first day of summer then I don't know what will. This summer take a break from your beach reading and call your kids in from the pool. The quality time spent making frames or mixing iced tea are the days you and your children are certain to remember for years to come.