Bring the heat.

It has finally warmed up. I am so happy it is ridiculous. I love hot. I love summer. I love sun. Apparently this has carried over to my cooking, however.

There is a place in Durham, NC called Foster’s Market. In college, we savored our trips to Foster’s. It was almost a roadside barn, but had the most delicious food — sandwiches, salads, breakfast, baked goods. All for takeout, or you can eat outside after you buy. It is the type of place we all wish was around the corner from our house. But it isn’t. It is in North Carolina.You should all go there when you are in the area. Luckily for us, the owner has written a few cookbooks, including The Foster’s Market Cookbook. Truly this book is indispensable in my house. Every recipe I have tried in the book comes out great, and is universally loved. It is perfect for the type of casual entertaining that we all do in real life. At least in my real life. Just yesterday I used two different dip recipes when going to a Memorial Day pool party. Both were delicious, easy, and well-received.

Getting back to the heat — one of my favorite recipes is from Foster’s is the Yellow Rice and Black Bean salad. It looks so nice, and the colors and flavors just say warm weather to me. I have probably served it to guests seven times with rave reviews. My father loves it. But today things went a bit strangely. The recipe calls for one jalapeno pepper. I love spicy food, and one pepper, chopped without seeds and stem, is usually nothing for me. Well, I think I got tricked into buying a stronger pepper, because this one little pepper almost killed us tonight. The whole salad was deathly spicy. My fingers are still tingling as I type now, hours after handling this pepper. The kids almost passed out when they tried to eat it. I announced it inedible, and we saved it for my husband. Who ate it happily. Men are so easy.

Luckily we also had grilled salmon. It marinated in some orange soy marinade for a day, and it was easy and delicious and universally loved. Fish is so good on the grill. And it has been my goal to do as little cooking in my oven as possible lately. It just seems to much like winter when you turn on the oven. And it is definitely not winter. It is hot. But not as hot as that pepper.

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