Friday, we usher in my favorite season of the year — summer. It hasn't really been summer-like. The good news is, we've had so much rain, I've only had to water my garden, err, horse troughs, only once. The bad news is my plants aren't looking that good, possibly due to the very wet soil and scarce hot, sunny days. I planted yellow zucchini (the nursery was out of zucchini and yellow summer squash plants, so I compromised) in one of my troughs and I'm hoping it will work. The other is dedicated to tomato and pepper plants.

My pool is open, but I have no desire to go in — or float on — it, the water is freezing. The winter cover split during one of the March wind storms, so when the pool guy opened the pool, the water was green. Another "bonus" was the pool filter pump wouldn't turn on, leading to the great debate of the month — is it the pump, itself, or the wiring leading to it? Adding to the dilemma was the fact the pump had a unique plug, ruling out plugging it into an extension cord. Thank goodness for electricians ... and a whole lot of algicide and pool shock. Button Beach is open for business!

The last chore standing between me and summer was hosing down the deck and bringing up the patio cushions. Thanks to my son, David, the cushions are in place, the deck ceiling has a pretty coat of paint and it's ready for me to read on. All I need is a tall glass of sangria ...

And speaking of sangria, when I was going through my recipe box, I found this slow cooker chicken parm recipe a friend had passed along to me. (Nothing beats slow-cooker meals in the summer!) I'm not sure, because the recipe I have is handwritten, but I suspect the Dominique DeVito, whose cookbook it allegedly came from, is the same Dominique who I interviewed for sangria recipes a few weeks ago. You have to love living in such a close, small region ...

I had plenty leftover and shredded the chicken, added more marinara sauce and had it a few nights later over some cooked pasta.

CROCK-POT CHICKEN PARMESAN

(Adapted from "The Family Table Slow Cooker" by Dominique DeVito)

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning mix

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

3 cups prepared marinara sauce

6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS:

Lay the chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Mix the garlic powder, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the chicken breasts, patting lightly so it will stick to the chicken.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the chicken, then pour the marinara sauce on top, covering the tops and sides of the chicken.

Cover and cook on low, checking after 4 hours.

Uncover and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for about 15 more minutes, until cheese is completely melted.