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posted: 6/6/2012 6:00 AM

Relaxing in the shade with summer beers and books

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  • The Stiegl Grapefruit Radler is new to the local shandy market.

    The Stiegl Grapefruit Radler is new to the local shandy market.

  • Berry Blue Salad

    Berry Blue Salad
    Courtesy of Whole Foods Market

  • Food and lifestyle writer Katie Lee's first novel, "Ground Swell."

    Food and lifestyle writer Katie Lee's first novel, "Ground Swell."

  • Auditions for the popular Fox reality show take place June 9 at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago.

    Auditions for the popular Fox reality show take place June 9 at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago.


Most of the year when I reach for a beer it's something hoppy. I enjoy full-bodied India pale ales and heady ambers. But once the mercury pushes 90, I want something with a lighter body and lighter taste. What I want is a shandy.

Shandy is a style of beer that includes citrus soda or carbonated lemonade in the mix. I first encountered this cocktail of sorts while traveling in Germany several years ago, when I spied tweens and teens at a family reunion drinking 50-50 mixes of pilsner and 7-Up.

Most often shandies are made with lemonade or lemon soda -- Samuel Adams' new Porch Rocker is a fine example. Yet the shandy that knocks me off my rocker is Stiegl Grapefruit Radler.

Stiegl Lemon Radler has been around for a few years, but the grapefruit version is new to our market and I encourage you to seek it out. (Check out the beer finder at for assistance.)

Stiegl Grapefruit Radler is a low-alcohol (2.5 percent), low-calorie lager that's far from low on flavor. The distinctive tart aroma and taste and gentle carbonation make for uber refreshment. Pour a glass after a day of yard work or enjoy at your next cookout.

Light summer reading: Sure there will be days this summer when it's too hot to venture into the kitchen, but that doesn't mean food won't be on your mind.

For those times when you're dangling your feet at the local pool, lounging in the backyard hammock or propped in the passenger seat on a multistate road trip, here are some books, suggested by the James Beard Foundation Book Award Committee, to satisfy your appetite:

"The Art of Eating" by M.F.K. Fisher (John Wiley & Sons)

"Blood, Bones & Butter" by Gabrielle Hamilton (Random House)

"The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food" by Jennifer 8. Lee (Twelve)

"Oranges" by John McPhee (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

While those are all good suggestions (I particularly liked "Oranges"), let me add two more books to your summer reading list.

"Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink." Articles from the magazine have been collected here for easy consumption. I like this hefty book because I can devour a few well-written, insightful stories while the boys spend the afternoon jumping off the high dive.

"Ground Swell" by Katie Lee. Food and lifestyle writer Katie Lee takes her first stab at fiction with this breezy beach read about a NYC A-lister who flees to Mexico to regroup after a failed marriage. She learns to surf, live without a safety net and, of course, love again, all in 224 pages.

Life in Hell: Think you can stand the heat in "Hell's Kitchen"? Then head down to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Saturday afternoon for an open audition.

Representatives from the popular Fox show that follows chefs through the perils of working in hotheaded chef Gordon Ramsay's pressure-filled kitchen will be in town from 2 to 6 p.m. June 9 looking for cooks who have the skills and the stamina to cook alongside the infamous chef.

The casting call is open to culinary candidates, 21 and older, who are outspoken, competitive and passionate about their craft. Le Cordon Bleu is at 361 W. Chestnut St., Chicago.

Go to for an application and other details.

May the best berry win: If your strawberry shortcake has a surprise ingredient and ideas swirl in your head when you spot fresh berries at the produce stand or farmers market, then consider entering Whole Foods Market's summer berry recipe contest.

Between now and June 15, contestants can submit their best original recipe (seven ingredients or fewer, please) for the chance to win one of five $250 gift cards.

Berry fans can enter one of five categories: strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry or a combination. Recipes will be judged on taste, originality, prominence of organic berries in recipe and original photography.

Need a little inspiration? Try Berry Blue Salad; get the recipe at

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at or follow her on Twitter @PankeysPlate.

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