1/2 cup raisins

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


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Salt, if using

1 cup dry rose wine (not white zinfandel)

Feta cheese crumbles, optional garnish

Dill sprigs and/or mint sprigs, optional garnish

In a large saucepan, over medium-high, heat olive oil. Add onion and celery, and saute until onion is translucent. Add rice and almonds, and cook, stirring constantly, until almonds are lightly browned. Add water, tomato paste, raisins, mint, dill, pepper (and salt) and rose wine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 25 to 30 minutes until rice is done. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.

To serve, arrange on an attractive platter. If desired, sprinkle on some feta cheese crumbles and add a few dill or mint sprigs. Serve warm or at room temperature. Or cover and chill overnight if you wish.

Chocolate zucchini loaf

Here's another way to use summer's bounty of green squash. For this SoCal feast, we actually add wine to the "bread." You'll probably want to serve this with a favorite ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato. Add some whipped cream, if you wish. And, perhaps, a drizzle of hot fudge sauce.

One loaf should yield 8 nice slices, but go ahead and make another, so you'll have some to enjoy after the guests have gone home.

1 cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1/2 cup whole milk (or 2 percent)

1 cup shredded (unpeeled) zucchini

1/4 cup (red) zinfandel

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-by-5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in center of oven for 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick (or cake tester) comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely. Wrap well and refrigerate until about 30 minutes before serving time. Makes 1 loaf.