No matter how old I get, I think I'll always consider September the start of the new year. The real New Year's Eve feels like a blip in a snowy expanse, a one-night excuse to wear sparkles and drink bubbles. For me, Labor Day is the real New Years Eve: the last hurrah before I buckle down and get as busy as those trees shedding their leaves.
The equivalent of the champagne toast on Labor day is the use of the grill. It may not be the last time I can cook outside, but the grill is a symbol of a well-played summer and, hey, with this crazy weather I don't want to take any chances.
I hardly eat oysters at home because I lack the upper body strength required to shuck them. Luckily, a short turn on the grill makes even the most clamped specimen easy to open. Simple and delicious, the warm, briny oysters need nothing more than a squeeze of lemon to highlight their flavor.
Quinoa Salad with Grilled Zucchini, Feta, and Poblanos
This is a great vegetarian main dish. Both zucchinis and poblano peppers take well to the grill, quickly picking up a smoky flavor and supple texture. Once they're grilled, the vegetables are chopped and tossed with fluffy quinoa, crumbled feta, oniony scallions and a simple red wine vinaigrette. The final dish is hearty, smokey, salty and just a little spicy.
Blueberry Muffin Cake
Blueberries are my favorite summer fruit and I'll be eating them until the last sad pint is available. This cake resembles a giant blueberry muffin, but in the best of ways. The crumb is buttery and moist and lightly scented with vanilla. The top of the cake is simply covered in fruit, making sure that each bite is a bit of blueberry bliss.