Each summer I vow to discard the clutter in my life. Pare down and keep only what is necessary. How many spools of ribbon does one need to be happy? Do I need more than 100 books? And the odd piece of silk or the obscure album ” The Banjo Barons do Golden Hawaiian hits”?

I came up with a mantra to reduce the ephemera; think BEACH HOUSE. Yes, beach house. Think about all of the stuff a beach house doesn’t have. I don’t mean the second-home-as-mansion type. A real beach house, the one you sweep sand out with a broom. It seems we can make do with what we really need; a bed, place to cook, maybe an indoor-outdoor bath, a cold beverage and the book we are currently reading. In this venue, I’m perfectly content to rinse out my swimsuit and put it back on the next day.

Say BEACH HOUSE as you remove the quilts and artwork, extra photos, throw rugs and toss pillows. Put up a gathered flower wreath or sea shore prints, sling gauzy panels of fabric over bamboo rods and create an outdoor living space. Fix up a corner of your deck and have coffee out there tomorrow.

So what about the kitchen? Well of course you have fresh herbs planted nearby and you are declaring the oven ‘off limits’ until October, right? Unpretentious and fresh,summer cuisine is all about what’s right here, right now. Think chilled soups, portobello mushroom teriyaki sandwiches, cappresse salad and for dessert? Try this easy cooling pie.

Beach House strawberry pie

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 pints fresh local strawberries
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen strawberries thawed
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • nine-inch microwave pie shell ( see below)
  • sweetened whip cream or prepared topping

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, stir in thawed berries. Microwave for two minutes at high setting . Stir the mix then microwave for two to three minutes or more until the mix thickens, stirring every minute. Stir in the lemon juice and cool slightly . Arrange the strawberries stem end down in the shell. Spoon sauce over the berries. Chill for at least two hours, serve with topping.

Microwave pie shell

  • 1 1/4 cup unsifted flour
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup margarine or sweet cream butter( softened)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons iced water

Although it won’t be browned the fat will give it a gold color. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter or marg.in until you have coarse crumbs using a fork or pastry cutter. Sprinkle the ice water a little at a time while tossing with the fork until dough forms. Form a ball and roll out to a 13 inch circle. Drape into pie plate, press to remove air pockets and prick all over with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes. Microwave the shell on high for 6 to 7 minutes or until pastry is dry and opaque, cool on rack before filling.