fig. a: not bad
1. Find yourself a perfect spot to spend the day. Preferably one with easy access to a big, clean, and natural body of water. Preferably one that allows for barbecuing.
figs. b & c: afternoon snack
2. Bring yourself an afternoon snack to give you plenty of energy for an afternoon of swimming, and to tide you over until your late afternoon/evening barbecue.
Maplebrook Farm burrata
Red Hen Baking Company ciabatta
extra-virgin olive oil
Drizzle your ultra-ripe burrata with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with a fresh tomato salad and a crusty loaf of bread. Devour.
fig. d: don't hold back
3. Go swimming. A lot. (Note swimming pier + floating swimming platform to the right of the frame.)
fig. e: read a book
4. Do some summertime reading. Bring a good read. Relax. Take in the breeze. Listen to the birds.
figs. f, g, and h: steaks, corn, beets, cipollini
5. Plan a simple meal: one that doesn't take a great deal of preparation, one that makes full use of the barbecue, and one that's not overly elaborate. Part of the goal, here, is to make sure you'll have as many opportunities to swim as possible. Your meal should be a complement to this goal, not an impediment.
When it is time to prep your meal, crack open a crisp beer or a nice bottle of wine. You're picnicking, after all. You're outside and the weather's beautiful. Enjoy yourself.
Santa Barbara steaks
grilled summer squash
fresh tomato salad
for the steaks:
sirloin or rib steaks, preferably grass-fed
Using your hands, apply Santa Barbara rub generously to your steaks. Allow the steaks to reach "room temperature." Grill over a medium-hot fire for 2 minutes per side. Move steaks away from the coals and continue cooking over indirect heat (without flipping them) for roughly another 4-8 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness (and on the thickness of your steaks). We like ours rare to medium-rare.
Santa Barbara rub works wonders with tri-tip, but it's also pretty great with sirloin steaks, rib steaks, and t-bones.
We mixed a batch of Santa Barbara rub before we left home, based on the following recipe:
Santa Barbara Spice Rub
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground cumin (preferably toasted)
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/8 cup cayenne pepper
1/2 cup sweet paprika (preferably Hungarian)
Mix everything together and keep in an air-tight container until use.
[recipe from Jane & Michael Stern's Popular Plates BBQ 2010]
for the corn:
Keeping the husks intact, remove the silk from your ears of corn. Pull the husks back over your corn cobs and soak your ears of corn in water. Tightly wrap the corn in aluminum foil. Place the foil-wrapped ears of corn directly onto your medium-hot coals, and cook, rotating a quarter turn every 10-15 minutes, for about 45 minutes. Some of your kernels should have caramelized. The others should be moist and perfectly tender. Peel back the husks, add salt and butter or chipotle-lime butter, and serve.
for the beets:
Peel the beets and chop them. Place them on a sizable piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and add salt and pepper. Wrap the piece of aluminum foil into a tight package. Place the package directly on the coals and cook, flipping once, for about 40-45 minutes. The beets should be perfectly tender, with some signs of caramelization showing.
fig. i: sun set
6. Get back in the water at least one more time before the sun sets.
When you've gotten your fill, climb back out of the water, find a seat with a view on the beach, on a rock, or on the grass, and pause to watch the sun set. Fully.
7. Pack up your things. Put out your fire. Leave nary a trace.