Create your perfect backyard getaway
No fancy tools needed! Wrap an oversize blanket around some poles and you’ve got a comfy tipi. Or make the more elaborate tipi pictured by sewing a cover (a bit of a challenge) of weather-resistant fabric like Sunbrella.
Soak 12 wooden skewers (10 to 12 in.) in water for 20 minutes; drain. Cut day-old pain au levain into 1-in. chunks, including some crust on each, to make 2 qts. In a large bowl, whisk 3/4 cup whole milk, 4 large eggs, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract to blend. Mix in bread to coat; thread onto skewers. Grill, covered, on a well-oiled cooking grate over medium heat (about 350°) until browned, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with maple or berry syrup and melted butter and dust with powdered sugar if you like. Serves 4
Tricks for great French toast:
- Use day-old bread
- Each cube should have some crust
- Soak the skewers
Purée 3 cups berries in a food processor, then strain, discarding seeds. Mix purée, 3 cups fresh OJ, and 2 tbsp. sugar. Serves 4 or 5
Put 1 cup each puréed raspberries, apricots, and plums in separate bowls. Stir in superfine sugar to taste (about 21/2 tbsp. per bowl). Add lemon juice to taste (up to 2 tsp. each). Pour berry layer into 8 juice bar molds, add juice bar sticks, and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. (Chill remaining purées.) Pour apricot layer over berry layer and freeze. Repeat with plum layer. When firm, at least 1 more hour, briefly dip molds in warm water to loosen. Makes 8
Raspberries: A member of the rose family, with loads of health benefits.
Apricots: High in vitamins A and C. Go for the Blenheim variety, if you can find it, for the most tangy-sweet flavor.
Plums: Also a good source of vitamin C. We love the rich sweetness of Santa Rosas.
Time: One weekend (4 hours of labor, plus drying time for sealer)
Difficulty: 3 (on a scale of 1–10; requires modest woodworking skills)
Cost: About $170
Iced Lavender Green Tea: Add 4 green-tea bags and 1½ tsp. fresh lavender blossoms or ¾ tsp. dried lavender to 1 qt. water brought to a simmer. Steep 5 minutes. Strain and let cool. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with lavender sprigs. Serves 4
Recipe: Grecian Steak Salad
In a large pitcher, mix Hibiscus Simple Syrup (recipe below), 2 cups reposado or gold tequila, 1½ cups grapefruit juice, 3/4 cup fresh lime juice, 3/4 cup sweet vermouth, and 3/4 tsp. aromatic bitters. Fill tall glasses with ice. Pour 1/2 cup syrup mixture, then 1/2 cup club soda into each. Stir, and garnish with lime slices. Serves 12
Hibiscus Simple Syrup:
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1½ cups water
- 2 cups dried hibiscus
Combine ingredients in a saucepan, then bring to a boil. Cool, strain, and chill at least an hour. Keep for up to 2 weeks, chilled.