Crispy thin flatbread topped with caramelized veggies and accompanied by refreshing watermelon salsa is perfect for an impromptu outdoor meal. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

I love having company and I’ve found ways to have a few friends over while still keeping my well-practiced social distancing techniques intact. Since I’m blessed with a lovely large deck and a shady terrace, there’s enough outdoor space for meal-sharing.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

This is hardly ever a planned event because I’m more of an impromptu person. If someone shows up, I dig around in the fridge and pantry to come up with something delicious, yet simple. On the day my most recent visitor came to call, I had dough rising for my own dinner and there was plenty to share. I just chopped the veggies and other dibs and dabs I had on hand for toppings. The meal turned out to be quite stellar, if I do say so myself, and was enjoyed at the corner patio table as the sun set.

You can make your own signature flatbreads by simply stretching the dough to fit whatever size pan(s) you have. The recipe, which can also be made with all-white flour, makes two 12-inch rounds or two 11-by-17-inch rectangles. Because I like the crust to be crisp, I bake it naked with a light coating of olive oil for a few minutes first.

Don’t overload the flatbreads with the toppings or they will turn out soggy. Ideally, you want a slightly crunchy bottom and caramelized toppings with the cheese melted enough to hold the veggies in place.

Now watermelon salsa may sound strange, but it’s actually very refreshing. It can also be served as a salad if you want to skip the chips and those extra calories. It has really grown on me this summer and has become a favorite lunch.

For dessert, there is always ice cream so I opted to share a sangria recipe. Imbibing in a tall, cool glass of sangria always reminds me of living in California in the ’70s when there were many, many porch parties in my life. Now those were the days …


Farmer’s Flatbread


1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in water and stir in oil and salt. Mix flours together and stir them into the liquid a cup at a time, using your hands to knead the dough for a few minutes. Oil the bowl and the top of the dough. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for an hour in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease two 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking pans with olive oil. Divide dough between the two pans and stretch and pat the dough to form two thin crusts. Brush with a bit more olive oil and bake 3-4 minutes. Remove flatbreads from oven and add toppings.


16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 red onion, diced
2 ears fresh corn, cut from the cob
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
6 ounces pepperoni or Genoa salami, thinly sliced, optional
Flaky sea salt
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish


Allow the tomato and zucchini slices to dry on paper towels for about an hour. Place cheese slices on flatbreads then divide other ingredients between the two flatbreads. Return to oven and bake for 12-20 more minutes, until crust is golden and toppings are beginning to brown. Yield: 4-6 servings

Watermelon Salsa

4 cups seedless watermelon, diced
1 cup red onion, diced
2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
Zest and juice of 1 lime

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and serve with tortilla chips. Yield: 4-6 servings

July Sangria

1 (750-ml) bottle red wine
1 cup bottled peach nectar
1/4 cup brandy
3 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup raspberries
1 cup seltzer

In a large pitcher, combine wine, peach nectar and brandy. Stir together until combined. Add fruit and top off with seltzer. Serve over ice. Yield: 8 servings

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