A Week in Pictures

I’m sitting in my car, parked outside the music studio where Colby takes drum lessons.

Mother Nature decided I was tired, so she’s watering my garden for me.

It seemed like a good day to spend a paycheck. At Target, on school supplies. The irony.

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I had allergy testing done earlier this week.

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Now I will know what is like to live in Maine and not eat any seafood.

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Matt and I got our marriage license. I kept thinking they were gonna say no, but it turns out as long as we’re not first cousins we’re all set!

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I have painted my kitchen twice in the past two weeks. *facepalm*

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The sea foam green was good in theory. I like the present khaki MUCH better.

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I got a college ID much different from those I’ve had in the past. I think I look better in this one too.

We’ve been canning and freezing in the middle of all of this wedding planning kid carting new (extra) job ruckus. I think I can I think I can . . .

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What’s Cooking?

Head over to the Recipes page to see the newest chard recipe. I know. You could barely wait, couldn’t you?

We ate another version of this last night with parmesan, and it was super satisfying all over again.

On the sweet side, we just picked (I just picked) and pitted about 10 cups of tart cherries from our neighbors’ trees.

a sink full of cherries - if only I knew what to do with them
a sink full of cherries – if only I knew what to do with them

Dear God, I promise I won’t try to make anything with chard and cherries in it. I promise.

Coming up this week:

Cherry Preserves

Swiss Chard Pesto

Yet Another Beet Green Smoothie

What’s cooking in your kitchens, friends? Any suggestions?

Green Smoothie Brown

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Thanks to my friend Catie (of theapproximateyogi.com) who suggested using smoothies as a means to rid one’s refrigerator of excess greens.

I feel like such a brat. Like complaining about my over abundance of nourishing food is comparable to complaining about a new car for super-sweet 16, but I digress.

I had a giant bag of beet greens in the fridge, so here’s what I did:

4 ice cubes, a handful of blueberries, a tbsp of chia seeds, on chopped and very ripe peach, a splash of water, and as many beet greens as I could put in the blender. Blend for a really long time.

It was very beety ( not surprising), but pretty good for something the color of dirt. Next time I may adjust to add sweetness and manage the color, but overall this was a cool and nourishing meal. I drank the whole thing, and I do not believe in eating gross things.

Summerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtime.

I’m not looking to jinx myself, but the living really is pretty easy.

I’m sitting under my $34.99 Christmas Tree Shoppe umbrella and sweating through every stitch of clothing I have on.

This is not a complaint. It’s just fact.

But also, it is so hot and sunny that I have to sit under the umbrella or hide inside with the air conditioner on and the blinds drawn. That, my friends, is a miracle.

Matt and his father are framing out the space for the new barn floor, and it seems like every time they set aside a day to dusk-till-dawn work, it is a bazillion degrees out. I feel badly about this. We should be at camp  (and by this I mean I want to be at camp and I want all of us to pick up and go and I feel the teeniest bit guilty that my tiny work ethic only kicks in only when it is raining or snowing, but really those are good times to lay around and read, too).

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Someone, thankfully, gave the Panther a new home.
Someone, thankfully, gave the Panther a new home.

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My flowers are blooming. Between the frequent appearance of a green John Deere and some helping hands and flowers appearing on my doorstep, it is easy to make the call that we have the best neighbors ever. We get annuals from one side, perennials from the other. As the annuals are blooming now, I’m operating under the assumption that the flowers will not still be in bloom for our September wedding. Oh, well. That’s what supermarket flowers are for. But look at our gardens now:

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I spy . . . four rows of greens. Note to self: next year, diversify.

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I just dropped my baby off at music camp (keep your band camp jokes to yourself, thanks. I can’t handle it!) for his first overnight camp. I realized, with every step I took, that it would be five measly years before I did this, moved him into a college dorm, for real. Holy Holy Holy Shit.

Colby and I did get a good dose of time together today; we waited in an hour’s worth of lines for registration, drove back and forth across campus, moved him into his dorm, met his roommate, had lunch, and sat through the full-group (kids – behave, parents – don’t worry) meeting. We simultaneously realized that we were about halfway through July. And then we didn’t mention it again. Please summer, just stay. Please kid-version of Colby, just stay.

This is what we’ve done so far this summer:

I schedule stuff, drink coffee, and check email. This is how I look 50% of the day.
I schedule stuff, drink coffee, and check email. This is how I look 50% of the day.

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Watching fast cars and funny people.
Watching fast cars and funny people.
We swim with friends. Colby likes babies (understatement of the year).
We swim with friends. Colby likes babies (understatement of the year).

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And we swim elsewhere.
More on this local 'beach' later.
More on this local ‘beach’ later.
United Methodist Strawberry Festival. . I ❤ cheek pinchers. Really, I’m serious!
Chard pie with savory herb crust
Chard pie with savory herb crust
Oriechiette with chard, chickpeas, and smoked gouda
Oriechiette with chard, chickpeas, and smoked gouda
Turkey Lurkey!
Turkey Lurkey!
Swiss Chard Pizza - I'm sensing a theme here.
Swiss Chard Pizza – I’m sensing a theme here.

This week, more of the same. I have recipes for all of the above (up soon). Do any of you have chard/sturdy green recipes for me? I’m running out of ideas.

xoxo

What’s New?

I feel like summer is a boulder rolling, rolling, rolling downhill and picking up speed. I want it to stop. STOP. Now. Thanks.

My wedding registry tells me there are 57 days left until the wedding. This means only 50 something days before school begins again. *sigh* I’m not physically ready for the wedding or spiritually ready for school.

I have Colby a grand total of six days in July. Six. That is not enough. I’m so happy that he has a chance to spend some time with his father, but. . . more on that later.

I am reading like a fiend. Check out my book list page. This is one of my favorite things about summer. Also – all of my reading and writing time counts, for me, as “professional development”. That’s what I tell my family anyway.

I am awaiting a lumber delivery as we speak. Matt and his father have been jacking and digging and mixing concrete and pulling up boards. I cannot wait for the barn to be finished and have Matt back. I’m sure he would rather be at camp instead of pulling boards in 90 degree weather too.

I have a list of recipes that are nearly ready to go up. We have been eating swiss chard, more swiss chard, and occasionally cereal.

I’m running again. We’ll get back to that.

I am officially enrolled on my local yoga studio‘s teacher training program. I’ve been waiting for this FOREVER. Like since I was 10 years old and pulled a yoga sequence article out of my mother’s Redbook. I’m dropping out of university to go to yoga school.

And now, I’m going outside because I cannot stand to see the sunshine without being directly in its path.

xoxo

Swiss Chard Boredom = Genius Pizza

Our garden is seriously producing.

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I’m incredibly grateful.

Also, I’m a little bit afraid I’m going to be so sick of swiss chard (by the end of the season) that I may never eat a leafy green again.

I’d had enough chard sauteed with garlic and balsamic (Matt could eat it 2x a day, every day). Also, I need to carbo-load so I can dance at PHISH tomorrow, so I thought up a pizza for dinner tonight. BTW, genius pizza stems from the ‘genius’ series of recipes on food 52. I want to go to there.

We were all skeptical, but it was so.effing.good! The chard and onions are a crispy contrast to the melted cheese, and even though I had to pat water from the top (use a paper towel – this usually happens with spinach and peppers, too) everything stayed crispy. A total keeper!

lotsa green
lotsa green

Pizza with Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onions

  • a good bunch of chard (or kale, I suppose), washed, trimmed, chopped and (kinda) dried
  • one ball of pizza dough (I’m usually a make-my-own kinda gal, but this dough from Portland Pie Co. is seriously the next best thing)
  • corn meal
  • olive oil
  • tomato sauce (plain, from a can, NOT PASTA SAUCE)
  • mozzarella
  • good parmesan
  • a couple of onions
  • pat of butter

 

Place fry or saute pan on the stove on medium heat. Throw in a pat of butter and a couple of glugs of olive oil. Slice onions and throw in the (now warm) pan. Let hang out until they are dark brown and miniscule. Cook at least 20-30 minutes. You can do the next steps while these are cooking down.

Take dough out of refrigerator (if you got lazy like me and bought the damn dough). Preheat the oven to 500. Make sure there is nothing in the oven (dirty dishes, pans you don’t have room for, cookies you forgot about last week). Sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza stone or baking sheet and plop the dough on top. Slop a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on the blob of dough, and begin to spread it out with your hands. This is gonna sound strange, but it works – place both hands on the dough. Press it into a flattish disk. Then take your hands, fingers closed, and place them on the dough. Begin to slowly spread your fingers out. Move to another place and do it again. Soon enough your dough will be stretched nice and evenly. Believe me.

Disclaimer: If I could go back two hours, I would have pre-baked the shell for 5 or so minutes just because the chard is so watery. I didn’t do that, and didn’t have any major issues, but I think the crust would have been crunchier if I had pre-baked it.

Spread a small can of tomato sauce (or 1/2 a larger one) on the shell. Sprinkle mozzarella (don’t go fresh mozz here – the chard is too watery to deal with any more excess water) liberally. Place big heaps of chopped chard on the pizza and spread out. It should look like veritable mountains of chard. It will shrink so so much. Grate fresh parm over the whole thing. Now do that again. Lots of parm, baby. Place caramelized onions on top of the pizza so that every bite will have crispy onions in it.

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good stuff
good stuff

Cook, oh, 20-30 minutes or so. This is a loose time guideline. My oven is notoriously iffy. Sit in the kitchen and drink wine, do the dishes, read a book. Whatever you do, just be sure to turn the oven on every 5-10 minutes to check on the pizza. The pizza is done when the cheese is bubbly and the chard and onions are very dark and crispy.

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... and I eat the last piece.
… and I eat the last piece.

Let cool while you set the table. Eat heartily, my friends.

Dining Solo

I have been anything but solo these days.

In fact, the past couple of weeks have been busier than usual. I’m feeling that itching from the inside of my soul, the one that says: it’s quiet time.

While I am a terribly social being, I need time to be home alone. It’s like my Miracle Grow.Without time alone I end up looking like sad, sad tomato plants. Yellow and withered at the edges, drooping, and begging for someone to just feed me already.

Colby and I (finally) arrived home today after an overnight trip to Portland to 1. pick up my wedding dress, 2. visit my aunt, uncle and cousin, and 3. welcome my parents home from Okinawa. It was a great trip, but by the time we hit 295 north I was done. Too much interaction, too much talking, not enough sleeping. I made a deal with Colby as we pulled into Bangor. “Ok”, I said, “We have chores to do, but how about we take an hour when we get home?”. He thought it was a great deal. And so we took an hour. He began watching Supernatural (his show du jour), and I settled in on the porch to read. Then I fell asleep, so we took another hour. I was enjoying the silence so much that I decided to let him continue while I cleaned up the house and unpacked. Another hour. I called him down for supper. I sent him back upstairs. Another hour.

I just let my kid watch four hours of television. And you know what? He’s still up there.

Mom’s gotta do what mom’s gotta do.

On the solo note though, what I MOST enjoy about being home alone is preparing a meal for myself. This post reminded me of just how important that time, and that meal, is.

This started as a way for me to deal with a transition night (when Colby would go with his father). I would pour a glass of wine and get cooking. It was meditative and purposeful and when I was done: delightful.

Back then it was always the same meal. Good angel hair (yes, there is a difference), scallops or shrimp in a garlic, butter, and white wine sauce. Fresh parsley. Ice water, wine, something sweet for dessert.

I’ve moved on now, but nothing brings me as much comfort as that old, faithful meal.

Winter Panzanella
Winter Panzanella

Some new meals:

Winter – small batch soups, grilled sandwiches, pastas

Summer – goat cheese and fresh tomatoes on hearty bread, new salads

Anytime – fruit, crackers and cheese; veggies, hummus and cheese

 

Do you cook for yourself? What do you make? It’s time to expand my meals for one file.

 

Goodnight, Friends. I need to peel my kiddo off the television now. xoxo.

Bravery

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I wrote earlier this week about my struggle to tell a story that tweaks every nerve of my being. I’m restoring my courage through the honest writing of brave people.

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Need courage? Start here:

http://momastery.com/blog/about-glennon/

http://dashandbella.blogspot.com/2012/12/i-know-mama-who_13.html

http://www.mattlogelin.com/archives/2008/04/13/what-happened/

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

http://benandbirdy.blogspot.com/2012/04/perfect-vinaigrette-healthy-lunch-bowl.html

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Tonight, I’m attempting to make a black hole cake for Colby to take to school tomorrow. That, my dears, is an exhibition in bravery.

p.s.

I bought materials for an extra cake just in case this one tanks.

xoxo

Hungry and Harried?

Make this!

Today was so gorgeous I knew I wouldn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen. Because I picked this super easy meal (a Bittman inspired chili-type dish), I had time to play ball with Colby, hang multiple loads of laundry on the line, and clean the yard (we look a little less like a junkyard now).

Here’s the recipe:

Place a few glugs of o.o. in a large pan. Add 1 lb 90% lean ground beef (at 90% lean you don’t need to drain the grease- I’m a lazzzy cook). Cook on med high. Drain two 15 oz cans of chickpeas, reserving one cup of liquid. Add chickpeas and stir. Once the chickpeas start popping (10 or so minutes), add 1 tsp good chili powder and 2 tsp cumin. note: this is always too spicy for me but I forget to fix it the next time around. I guess what I’m saying is: season to taste. Add a few cloves minced garlic. Stir around and add the reserved liquid. Scrape off all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the liquid is no longer too liquid-y, take off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I serve this with roasted garlic bread slices which I toast and butter. Today I put a handful of baby kale in the bottom of each of our bowls and spooned the chili (not sure what the hell else you’d call this. “Looks like dog food but tastes real good”?) on top of it. The heat steamed the kale just enough. Even Colby liked it.

20 minutes start to finish.

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Dinner and a Rant

First, dinner.

Confession: I was so hungry, I moved straight from grill to table. This means no time for pictures. I assure you, the asparagus was green, chicken glazed and grilled, the corn – crisp and juicy.

Today felt so much like summer that we relaxed into a summer evening schedule (even though it’s a school night). We each went our summer evening ways: I ran, Colby hit baseballs then ran, and Matt worked on the property. While Colby ran, I sat on a rock nursing a beer and talking with Matt. Supper was super easy and ready in 20 minutes start to finish.

Sesame Chicken with grilled vegetables

1 lb thin chicken breast, tamari, dark sesame oil, tin foil

seasonal veg (2 servings veg to each 1 serving of meant) – we had corn and asparagus

dessert – every day is special enough for dessert

Directions: place chicken breast (if breasts are thick – believe me, mine are not – pound or slice them so that all pieces are approximately the same size) in a 9 x 12 pan with 2-3 good tablespoons of tamari. Swish around then add appx 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (the darker the better). Let sit while grill heats.

Put water on to boil. Shuck and wash corn. Cook until just tender, but still crisp.

Prep asparagus or other veg. For asparagus, wash, snap ends, and arrange in grill pan or in tin foil, lightly spray with olive oil and salt and pepper liberally.

This is about time to take the corn off. It should be almost done, but not quite. Take the pot off the heat and push it back on the stove. Let it sit and finish cooking while you work on the grill.

Place a large sheet of prepped (cooking spray) tin foil on the grill. Place chicken and asparagus on the foil. Drink a beer. Swat flies. Read two paragraphs in a book that may or may not piss you off.

Colby picking end-of-the-season carrots.
Colby picking end-of-the-season carrots.

Now, the rant.

I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I’ve been so excited to read this. I started seeds and we’ve planted and there are tender green shoots coming up everywhere. I totally wanted to spend my afternoons looking at my garden and reading this book. But while I was cooking, I read this:

I am not sure how so many Americans came to believe only our wealthy are capable of honoring a food aesthetic. . . Cooking good food is mostly a matter of having the palate and the skill . . . The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local – food culture is not price, but attitude (31).

What the fuck.

How many Americans know what “food aesthetic” even means?

For someone who seems to be railing against the perception of money as the gateway to food culture, that is an elitist and offensive collection of statements. And stupid.  And I’m only 31 pages in. I want to ask Kingsolver a few questions:

Do you know how expensive and time consuming it is to plant and raise a garden? Have you ever received food stamps? Was your first trip to a farmer’s market subsidized by WIC vouchers? Mine was. Have you ever had to create a meal for your family using dried or canned beans, canned tomatoes that you know are steeped in hormone disrupting chemicals? Generic, non-organic grains and cheese that did not come from organic milk? I have. That non-organic, processed and preserved meal was the staple of my young adult life (which also coincided with my parenting life). It contained complete proteins (I looked it up in Diet for a Small Planet), two servings of vegetables and complex carbohydrates. I am an American, I am a mother. And I’m really pissed off.

I value every fucking tomato that comes out of my garden because I know the investment. I know who started the seeds, be it me or my closest nursery. I water the plants. I talk to them. We weed and get bug bitten and apply compost. When we eat that tomato, I am proud. But when I have to buy a cheap tomato at the store because it is a year when I don’t have the time or money to grow my own, I will not feel guilty. Barbara – take a recipe for beans and rice and vegetables. Do the price comparison between fresh vegetables and frozen, organic rice and generic (at my local grocery it is at least a full dollar). Calculate the comparative TIME investment for dried beans vs. canned.

I feel like I’ve made it – in life- because I actually have the luxury of planting and tending a garden. TIME to prepare a careful meal for my family? A luxury that I have not always had. Enough money to buy the hormone-free chicken and local beef? You wanna bet that’s a luxury AND a sacrifice.

Sigh. I get it, I do. I want to know my farmer. I want to know where my food comes from. I want the best for my family and for me. I love Kingsolver’s fiction and I admire her passion, but she is missing the point.

When we eliminate time and money from the equation and make this a problem of culture (“palate and skill”, “attitude”), we are making a grave mistake. This is the culinary version of the bootstraps fallacy. Know what many working parents (and single working poor) don’t have? Time and money. Unchallenged, arguments like this are more harmful than a factory farmed tomato. They undermine our efforts at equality, tolerance, and human citizenship.

As angry as I am, and I’m angry because this argument cuts to the core of all I value, I will continue to read. I respect Kingsolver’s skill and passion, and I hope I find a glimpse beyond her 100 acre backyard and carefully crafted factoids.

I’m going to eat an Oreo.