Valentine’s Is for Cookbooks!

Because I was still recovering from the sniffles this morning, Husband set up my present for me before I came downstairs: a cookbook! It looks wonderful and I wanted to share it with you all. Her website is here: http://www.simplebites.net/my-cookbook-brown-eggs-jam-jars/ While making a cookbook isn’t one of my aspirations, it’s always so lovely when a fellow blogger realizes this dream. Check it out!bejj-cover-final-e1421631517405

Food Memory: Chips and Dips on the Water

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I have an ache in my heart pretty much constantly for the beauty and restlessness of the ocean; during the winter, it gets even more acute. This memory is extra special: after a long day on the beach with Husband, we wandered back into town and found this restaurant with a balcony that was literally right over a causeway. We watched people pilot their boats and we ate spinach and artichoke dip and cheesy dip on crisp, perfect pita chips – I have not felt deeply relaxed in other places the way I can feel when I’m out at the water, eating something unhealthy and cheesy.

A daily staple: Husband’s salad mania

I know that the core of most healthy people’s diet is salad of some form – replacing some of those calorie-dense carbs with a bed of lettuce of some kind or another. I also know that I’ve yet to crave such things – I am the last girl to ever look straight at the salads at a restaurant. Still, Husband has been making them for me for years now, so I am very familiar with his way of doing things:

Husband’s formula for salad:

Start with good greens: Husband doesn’t like iceberg lettuce, though more power to you if that’s how you get in some salad time. He tends toward mildly bitter lettuces, like spring mix from the grocery store, though we’ve recently been getting local butterhead lettuce which is even earthier (i.e. dirt-flavored). 

Add all the veggies in the house: his staples are peppers, carrots, bell peppers, and mushrooms.

Dress with balsamic and oil: Husband has a comically huge jug of balsamic vinegar he got on super-sale one time last year, and we always go through a lot of olive oil, so instead of a dainty bottle of dressing he’s always got these two jumbo containers to contend with. 

Add cheese: Husband will put a generous topping of whatever cheese we have in the house, which I always ask him not to do with my salads. Why would I put one of my favorite foods on top of my least favorite? If I have to eat salad, I want to feel like I’ve won a medal for healthy eating. He, on the other hand, actually enjoys it. 

I really love that he can get excited about salad, especially since it gives us nice tasks; if I’m finishing up a pasta dish, he’ll come in to the kitchen and prepare two salads, usually not giving me a choice, one with all his favorites and mine with no mushrooms and no cheese. It’s a labor of love, I’m sure, to get me to eat my raw veggies, but he’s doing it.

 

Mindful Moments in Kitchen and Garden

A few grateful moments lately, in no particular order:

  • I take a moment, after the kettle has boiled and I’ve filled the french press to make coffee, to go outside. I pick 3 cherry tomatoes, I pull the squash vines back through the fence where they are sneakily attempting to get into the neighbor’s yard, I pull other vines out of the driveway and off the alley so that they are trained in directions that keep them out of harms way. I pick a leaf of mint, rub it between my fingers, sniff. I go inside before the mosquitos find me so I can make breakfast.
  • I cut up celery, 3 or 4 stalks at a time, with a sharp knife. Some of the celery goes into a new batch of chicken salad, because I now seem to crave chicken salad whenever life feels overwhelming. I chop up the rest of the celery and a few carrots and package them together in a plastic bag to be frozen, for a future soup; not that I need to make frozen veggies, but mostly for the pleasure of continuing to chop.
  • When watering in the garden, I take extra care with the fledgeling pepper plant, the lone survivor in a bed that was laid waste by marauding nasturtiums. I yank those terrible sneaky vine weeds off it, carefully disentangling before viciously yanking.
  • The local community garden delivers a cardboard box full of zucchini and squash to my door, and the older couple who run it recognize me from the time I interviewed them about their work. Husband and I bask in the bounty, wondering why such lovely produce is so inexpensive for us, and with free delivery. Why isn’t it treasured?
  • I take a break from cooking to go pick basil or cilantro; cilantro gets thrown in with the black beans for a taco night; basil gets shredded to top the pasta on another night. Husband talks about making a little balcony garden just for herbs next year. We sit outside with a citronella candle burning, surveying our yard and dreaming up next steps.
  • Husband made a bar-height table out of an enormous butcher block a year ago; now, my last step to really clean up the kitchen is to take a scrubby sponge to the surface, removing coffee grounds, a stray onion shaving, all the creeping detritus left after days of cooking. I turn out the light, and go upstairs to sleep under the summer stars.