I know it’s not normal to revel in the choking heat and humidity of a New Orleans summer, but I do. I love it. I love the clammy feeling of leaving my air-conditioned house to walk out into a sticky summer morning. I love sweating in the thick twilight air at an outdoor party. I love that the cement is still warm under my feet at midnight in July. I know all of this makes me sound more than slightly insane, but I can’t help it. I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with New Orleans in the summertime.

One thing I don’t like about summertime here, though, is cooking dinner, particularly for my kids. It’s one thing to spend hours dripping sweat in a hot kitchen to turn out a masterful meal for appreciative guests of honor; it’s quite another to put the same amount of effort and literal sweat into a dinner that is met with whines of “But I only like raw broccoli!” and “My meat has fat on it, and it bleeds when I poke it!” and “Can I just have a sandwich instead?” My husband and I have three kids between us – his 11-year-old son, Elliot; my 6-year-old daughter, Ruby; and our daughter together, Georgia, who is almost 1. Only the baby is a decent eater, lustily shoveling chubby handfuls of spinach, cod, squash, pasta, tofu, brussels sprouts and meatballs into her six-toothed mouth. Elliot subsists mostly on Ensures, sushi, smoothies and pickles, and Ruby keeps herself alive on peanut butter, chicken nuggets, French toast sticks and plums. The meal we describe for you in these pages, though, which is both fast and reasonably healthy, genuinely satisfied all of our kids. Ruby, who usually hates mustard, devoured the potato salad, and Elliot had seconds of the mac and cheese. Georgia had her first food-related tantrum, actually, because we wouldn’t let her eat the slaw on account of the peanut butter and honey in the dressing. So I can say with confidence that this menu is a crowd-pleaser, at least for our particular group of picky kids. In addition to coming together quickly, it really doesn’t heat up the kitchen that much, and the no-bake dessert (with lots of healthy fruit) and the fizzy lime sodas (for the kids) and mojitos (for the adults) will certainly help to refresh you once the dishes have been cleared away.

Also in this issue, we feature some seasonal tips for keeping your lawn healthy during these scorching months in For the Garden and, in Gatherings, a terrific recipe for a Fourth of July barbecue – baby back ribs with a spicy apple glaze. These ribs are definitely not fast, and they will heat up the kitchen for sure – but oh, it’s so totally worth it! We finish up with a salute to the perfect summer strawberry in Last Indulgence.

Elsewhere in the magazine, we have the trends and styles that are wonderful any time of year: A wide range of upholstery styles and fabrics in TrendWatch might help you get a jump on a project you’ve been putting off, or Living With Antiques might inspire you to go treasure-hunting in search of fabulous mid-century modern pieces to add some punch to your décor. Home Renewal lays out some of the newer high-end options for outdoor storage sheds, and Masters of Their Craft profiles a young soap-maker who is running the very definition of a clean business.

And of course, there are the homes – the beautiful and striking mid-century modern-esque new Lake Vista home of Connie Gowland, lovingly created with her family in an incredible joint effort, and the amazing renovation by up-and-coming decorator Heidi Schirrmann of a completely gutted Irish Channel home. Working against the clock to ensure that her daughter would be able to spend Christmas in their new home, Schirrmann did a tremendous job of furnishing, painting and planning her home on the quick. Both homes, really, speak to the power of family, of teamwork, of determination, of knowing what you want in a home and making it happen.

So even if you don’t love summer like I do – and truly, most people don’t – I think you will still find plenty to love about our Summer issue. Enjoy!