Surviving Summer

If spring is a time for rebirth and revitalization and fresh starts and cleaning and bursts of productive energy, well, then summer – at least summer in New Orleans – is almost the opposite: a time for rest and popsicles and lying on the sofa in your underwear whining about the heat.

But we refused to give in to laziness this issue. Despite the already-oppressive weather, we have managed to put together what we hope is a magazine crammed full of great recipes, fun design ideas, gardening tips and even some ways to get tax incentives while helping the environment.

When the air-conditioning is already working overtime, turning on the stove can seem beyond counterintuitive, and on top of that, no one has much energy to cook or much of an appetite for anything too heavy. Luckily, food writer Robert Peyton has some terrific pasta recipes that will help you get a light and tasty meal on the table without too much effort. The quick pasta salad with orzo, watermelon and feta is a fabulous combination of salty and sweet, and the pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil makes delicious use of ingredients that should be overflowing in your garden anyway. Likewise, in Gatherings, Margaret Zainey Roux offers up a simple recipe for couscous fritters with a bright tomato-and-corn salsa, flavors just bursting with summer.

And speaking of perfect summer flavors, For the Garden’s Pamela Marquis takes a look a mint, an herb I never knew was so controversial. I absolutely love mint – mixed with fresh berries in the summer, steeped in a hot honey-laced tea in the winter – but it seems that some gardeners find the herb entirely too invasive. But we have some suggestions on how to keep mint at bay while not banishing it completely.

In our TrendWatch section, Lisa Tudor has searched some of the city’s most fashion-forward stores to find the ideal outdoor furniture and accessories to help you class up your next pool party or barbecue.

One local family, whose home we’re honored to feature in this issue, doesn’t need any help when it comes to outdoor festivities. As writer Valorie Hart tells us, Chris and Shane Guidry have outdoor entertaining down to an art form. From their front porch to their courtyard, the Guidrys and their young son spend almost as much time outdoors as indoors, and the inside of their Uptown home is so full of natural light and bright colors that it feels like an extension of the outdoor space.

New Orleanians might be big fans of natural light, but up until recently, we didn’t do much with the sunshine besides bask in it. That’s all changing, though, as unprecedented tax incentives and a growing interest in green living have made solar power an increasingly attractive option. In Home Renewal, Peter Reichard explains the economic benefits of installing a solar system – both in terms of tax breaks and energy savings – while also suggesting some practical things to keep in mind when selecting a system and an installer.

Also in these pages, we celebrate kimonos, iced coffee, clocks made out of old records and plein-air painter Phil Sandusky.

Finally, we’re delighted yet again to partner with the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans by showcasing its 2012 Parade of Homes, featuring 19 homes by 13 builders in four parishes – the largest Parade of Homes since Katrina!

Summer may not be everyone’s favorite season down here in the deep South, but we like to think we’re helping to make it a little more bearable by at least giving you something useful to read while you’re lying on the sofa in your underwear whining about the heat.

Happy summer, everyone, and take heart – autumn is just around the corner!

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