Brian Williams of The 11th Hour on MSNBC closed out his newscast the other evening like this. “Now we begin five weekends of August and then it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving!” That seemed a uniquely NY take, not unlike the iconic New Yorker’s View of the World cartoon of yore.
What up, August? If you are semi-addicted to Instagram, as I readily admit, then you know all your friends are already in Portugual, Martha’s Vineyard, the south of France, Croatia, Iceland, the Grand Tetons, Switzerland, the Eastern Shore, Rome, or that rustic place on the lake in Maine that has you pondering how everyone else can find such a lovely spot when you are typing away in your 6 x 8 in NYC. August is hot, it’s humid, it’s lonely, and your shrink is away at one of the above destinations – or the cabin upstate that you have been financing for the past dozen years.
So how do we solve a problem that answers to the name Dog Days? Let’s start with the #1 book of summer, FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE. We knew Taffy Brodesser-Akner could write because we have been religiously following her amazing journalism in the pages of the New York Times. But who knew she could carve out of hardscrabble city asphalt this hysterical and heart-wrenching tale of a marriage in free fall.
I won’t give anything away, but if you have ever been married, divorced, bored, tempted, have kids, don’t have kids, or have one ounce of desire left in your sanded-down but still hopeful heart, this one’s for you. And spoiler alert: it is really, really sexy. I don’t know how she did it, but no matter what team you bat for, this will make you squirm, laugh or swipe.
You are probably reaching grill overload by this point, but I always save one Bacchanalian carnivore’s feast for the end of summer. The Lamb! Need a recipe? Here, nothing simpler.
Find a butterflied leg of lamb (or ask the butcher to do one for you). Spread it out in a dish and pour in red wine, olive oil and a healthy dollop of soy sauce. Mince in an ungodly amount of garlic and a shrub’s worth of fresh herbs (go heavy on the mint, rosemary & thyme).
Let stew for at least 8 hours in the marinade and then grill it (on fire dear god, please?) rare. Don’t ask your guests if they like lamb. When did we start customizing our menus, anyway? Just serve it with jugs of Cabernet and plates of summer corn and tomatoes and see how it goes.
Lastly, we must add water. I am shamelessly tagging along with my kid sis and her fam to their Cape Cod rental and I am a lousy guest. I take up space, I am bringing my son AND his friend, and I eat everything in the house! However, I cook, clean, and will provide steamers on demand!
If you have not secured your beach view for the waning days of summer, I strongly recommend you scroll your email list or peruse your Instagram followers and figure out who’s where – and join them! Somewhere within a 100 mile-radius of Megabus, Amtrak, or Southwest airlines you will find someone who loves you, enjoys your company, and has a ratty couch in a water-approximate rental. Get thee to the sea. Be generous with the cheap wine and clams. And wash off the sand in the outdoor shower. But go – do this for yourself – because it’s hot out there, people are fleeing town in droves, and before you know it you’ll be planning the Thanksgiving stuffing. Happy August!
You can watch Ken Carlton mooch off of family and friends at his Instagram @foodformarriage.