“What fun projects are you working on in the kitchen?”
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Asked of me at a dinner party last weekend. If I didn't have an answer .. guaranteed she'd pass along some good ideas
I also think of those I'm excited to try: aka the stacks of seed catalogs scattered around my nightstand.
As winter winds blow outside .. I'm under the electric blanket .. flagging their pages .. and dreaming of summer in the garden. I'm looking forward to hours in the sunshine with books on tape .. picking fresh flowers for the windowsills .. and all of the recipes I'm excited to make
Until last year I'd only been an herb gardener of sorts. A lifetime ago .. proudly amassing basil .. mint .. and what was the other? Not long after my son was born and all of their pretty green sprouts shriveled. It seemed my capacity for keeping something alive was limited to one .. and a newborn seemed an adequate top for the hierarchy
Last summer I became the official weeder of a plot shared with friends and officially caught the bug. Sometimes driving home I pass by. The grey ribbons of what .. just a few months ago ..
was so full of life
There were so many wonderful things about growing up on our family's Iowa farm .. and my grandfather living close by was one of the best. Not only did he live (and farm) well into his nineties .. but he was a master flower gardener as well
As a child .. winter felt like something to wait and wonder through .. although it never seemed to bother him a bit. I remember the scraggly looking rose bushes covered with snow .. the planters whose edges were no longer softened by masses of daylilies .. the outlines of his flower beds dotting the yard.
He was my first employer .. and for every trip to the mailbox .. I earned a dollar. My burden was light .. until around mid-winter when .. along with the snow .. came the gigantic drifts of nursery catalogs
We'd often pass the afternoons together .. playing cribbage and eating circus peanuts. While waiting my turn I'd thumb through the latest offerings .. asking him questions .. hoping he'd read me a story from their pages. It was in those moments .. it seemed I'd discovered winter's beauty. Imagining what his gardens would look .. feel .. and smell like
in the summer
“Did you know it can take sixty days for a tomato plant to bear fruit?” One of the questions she patiently answered while we were planting last spring
Then I'd water and wait .. water and think .. water and look .. water and search .. water and wait some more. (And if you can relate) .. I'd water and question some more.
“Is it getting enough sun? Am I watering too much? Oh no .. the leaves are looking a yellow around the edges. Is a deer going to eat it all? Will this work? What if I kill off all of the lettuce?”
It seems to me now .. as I thumb through the catalogs .. that gardening (much like farming) is less an exercise in flowers or vegetables .. and more an exercise in faith. You realize the leaves will look yellow and limp on some days .. and lush and green on others. And still .. you water.
You stumble out of bed .. you brown the potatoes .. you walk the dogs .. you fold the socks. You offer what you know .. and tend to it while praying for sunshine and rain. Along the way trying your best to sprinkle in a few helpful nutrients: patience .. kindness .. grace. Rational thoughts might help .. but honestly?
One can never tell
I watch as a kitty gingerly surfs his way across the scattered sea of magazines .. and can't help but wonder if maybe I've stumbled upon a few of his secrets. The true beauty of a garden .. and how to live a life.
That growing season will come soon enough .. and along with it many happy moments to get dirt under my nails. Although who hasn't encountered an unreliable bulb .. a root that simply won't take .. ran for the hills because of the mosquitos .. felt slimed by layers of sunscreen .. or wondered how you're ever going to process all of its bounty?
It seems to me that the enchantment of gardening might lie most vividly in our imaginations. It's infinitely more beautiful in the dead of winter.
And in the summer .. when the rosemary's looking a little forlorn. When I wonder if perhaps I've done something wrong. Too much water? Too little sun?
I'll start to Google and instead stop to think of him. I'm sure he'd concur that herbs .. and vegetables .. and flowers are an awful lot like people
There are good days and bad. Trust the process. Water + sun +
an awful lot of faith
A fresh take on classic pasta salad .. one that reminds me not only of summer .. but of the friend who's a wealth of culinary project suggestions
If you invite her to a picnic .. barbecue .. housewarming .. or black party .. odds are she'll show up with a pasta salad. She'll wheel it around in a cooler and when the time is right .. she'll flip the top and pull a cornflower blue bowl from the ice.
The bowl is what I noticed first .. ceramic with a flower detail on the inside rim. It's part of a set I remember seeing in my grandmother's kitchen .. so very long ago. Hers is medium-sized and always makes its appearance with plastic wrap across the top .. secured with a rubber band.
Macaroni salad has been on the menu a couple of times this week .. and this is by far the favorite. A sauce with a base of greek yogurt .. its bright flavors from dill and orange. Beyond that I added some smoked salmon .. celery.. tomatoes .. scallions .. and stopped there.
A final note: I'd encourage you to really taste and adjust as you toss this salad. The general amounts in the recipe are a great place to start .. but keep adding sea salt .. pepper .. dill .. and orange until the flavors really pop off of the pasta.
~ Adapted from Lunds and Byerlys | Real Food Summer 2016 .. here
- 8 oz bow tie pasta ** Choosing a gluten-free pasta will make this recipe gluten-free overall
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh dill weed, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 Tbsp orange juice
- ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 oz smoked salmon
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 medium scallions, chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions
- In a large bowl, combine the greek yogurt, dill, orange zest and juice, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and combine
- Chop the salmon into bite-sized pieces and add them to the bowl
- Add the celery, scallions and tomatoes
- Add the pasta and toss to coat
- Chill until ready to serve
% Protein: 20
% Carbs: 72
% Fat: 10