Summer has arrived, and with it, the familiar elements of the season: kids out of school, hot days and hot nights. With evening temperatures lingering in the 90s and beyond, my house is much too muggy to consider turning on the oven to make dinner.
Spring is flourishing in the Valley! The trees throughout my neighborhood are in full bloom. Many varieties of local greens are in abundance, and ads in the paper tell us asparagus is in season from Valley farms. The cold nights have all but gone and the days are soaring near the 80s.
With access to fresh produce year round from local grocers, it’s easy to forget we’ve been without locally grown vegetables for much of the winter.
On a visit to the big city this weekend, we stopped off at the food co-op for some tasty snacks. Upon leaving the car, we noticed a group gathered in a grassy lot adjacent to the store. A community garden workshop. I heard Carrie Brownstein from “Portlandia” singing in my head: “Community garden workshop. Teach me to rake and hoe-oh.” I looked at my husband. He was hearing the same song in his head. We smiled and chuckled.
I don’t buy into the whole new year’s resolution thing, making big promises to myself to change old habits or start a strict exercise regime. I’ve learned, over the years, it doesn’t work for me. I start strong but wane after a few days. Time and age have brought wisdom, and I now only aspire to be a better me, a more true version of myself, a kinder, more compassionate me. I aspire to make fewer mistakes, say what’s in my heart and support those people I care about.
Thanksgiving is a significant and meaningful day I look forward to every mid-autumn, with the leaves all but fallen and cold nights settling upon us. Since as far back as I can recall, I’ve anticipated the lavish feast to be prepared, as the grocers’ shelves fill with supplies and ads appear for fresh-baked pies at my favorite bakery.
With autumn upon us, my focus moves from light veggie-based meals to hearty dishes that sustain and satisfy. Soups, stews and casseroles instantly come to mind. Indeed they are satisfying, and a perfect comfort food for these chilly days. But I’m searching for something else.
Creamy tomato, potato bacon, white bean and sage, posole, mushroom barley, clam chowder. Mmmmmm! Soups!
Summertime calls people to the open road and brings distant families together. This month, every weekend brings a different visiting relative to our home. Not one for going out for meals, except on the rare occasion, I want to make some fresh, yummy and impressive meals for our visitors, without spending hours in the kitchen and heating up the house.
Rhubarb. The name alone inspires me. Rhubarb. Fun to spell and tantalizing on the palate. A tangy, rosy bite, a lovely balance of sweet and sour, when properly sugared in pastries and savory dishes.
After a long inner struggle, I now know the benefit of living with less, and have accepted the fact that our diets and habits must evolve with our changing planet.
Browsing through an old bookshop in the back streets of Bristol, England, I came across a series of books, reprints of old cookery books by historic and well-known food writers from across the globe. One of the books I picked up intrigued me by title alone: “The Campaign for Domestic Happiness,” written by Isabella Beeton.
Naturally, my first mistake was made in baking. I assumed that because we speak the same language, the meaning of the words would be the same. How wrong I was has become more and more apparent as our months in England pass by.
I started preparing myself for the move weeks before the actual departure, taking every possible opportunity to experience the Italian life. Waking early before work to walk into town for a cappuccino, cornetto and bit of Italian conversation, picking up an extra can of my favorite tuna in olive oil and a few balls of mozzarella di bufula and hunting down a bottle of local, sweet and tangy dolcetto wine.