The creeping vine has begun to reveal a bright, blazing red. The blankets linger on the couch in the darkness of the mornings, tossed aside after cuddling in the evening’s chill. Soups and ciders have begun to be appealing again, and the bed has doubled with the thickness of comforters and quilts. It’s fall, but my mind keeps wandering back to the day I played hooky and soaked up the last bit of summer.
When I think back to that day of lounging aimlessly on the shores of Lake Erie, my skin feels warmer. The intense sunlight renders my skin golden, and I brace myself for the stark contrast of the water, an instant chill surmounted only by a quick submersion.
They say “when it rains, it pours,” but in my freelance world lately, “when it rains, it tsunamis” feels more accurate. The beginning of September was the equivalent of hiking to a cliff and seeing a vast, new territory of hurdles and challenges in the distance. As I stared into an overwhelming work load, I did a rare thing- I retreated. I took a day off, and I’ve been trying to channel a bit of that blessed hooky day ever since.
Lake Erie had shamefully been unchecked on my summer bucket list for more than one season. Finally, with fall and work looming, I recruited my partner in bucket list adventures for a day of soft sand, intense sun, a picnic lunch, sneaky whiskey and the type of water antics that leave you coughing and snorting and feeling like a child who just plunged off the diving board.
The picnic menu, like the day itself, was another attempt to soak up the end of summer and put a dent in the pile of harvested zucchinis.
When I finally returned to that precipice, to face the looming projects and more intense work load on the horizon, I tried to embrace the work with gratitude. Though not always successful and definitely guilty of an ugly meltdown, I tried to enjoy the pouring rain of projects. In case I forgot and let my mind slip into stress/frenzy mode, I attached a sticky note reminder near my desk. “Commit to creating joyfully, not stressfully,” wise words from the ever strategic Marie Forleo.
It’d be great if my life included A LOT more beachy days with best friends and wholesome picnics, and part of me will strive for more of those, but more importantly, I’m striving to take that beach day’s in-the-moment-happy vibe with me in my work. I like what I do, and even if I’d like a little more space between projects, I’m still grateful for the spike.
Here’s to sharing summer recipes well into fall, to holding on tightly to hooky days, to picnics with friends and to creating joyfully because it really could be so much worse.
Vietnamese Zoodle Salad with Fragrant Herbs & Peanuts & Zucchini Bánh Mì
About These Recipes: Ideal for that end of summer zucchini pile, these recipes are loose and easily adaptable. Omit the fish sauce in the Zoodle Salad and a vegan mayo in the sandwich for a vegan picnic spread.
Vietnamese Zoodle Salad with Fragrant Herbs & Peanuts
Gluten Free with Vegan Option
Recipe from Fine Cooking
3 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon organic fish sauce (omit for vegan option)
1 Tablespoon organic raw cane sugar
3 medium zucchinis, spiralized
2 medium carrots, peeled and spiralized
1/2 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts
1/4 packed cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 packed cup torn fresh cilantro
1/4 packed cup torn fresh mint
Sriracha sauce, for serving
In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. Add the zucchini and carrots to the mixture, along with the peanuts, onions, basil, cilantro, and mint.
Toss well to combine. Transfer to bowls and serve with Sriracha on the side.
Roasted Zucchini Banh Mi (with vegan option)
Homemade Mayo or one of Sir Kensington’s varieties, including a vegan option
All Natural Hot Sauce
Roasted Zucchini (seasoned with salt, pepper & herbs de Provence)
Quick Pickled Carrots, Cucumbers & Jalapeños (similar to this recipe)
Directions (a rough guide)
Stack ’em up every which way and however you please, but if I may, a few recommendations:
Mix the hot sauce and the mayo into one zinger of a creamy sauce (then commence using it on everything from oven baked fries to burgers). Then slather the combo on the baguette, followed by the roasted zucchini, then the pickled veggies.
Be careful with those jalapeño seeds! They’ll knock the wind out of you, make your heart jump a bit and fill your eyes with tears- much like catching an unexpected wave.