Mighty Salads! and a bit of re-entry burrs-in-butt

We got home around 10pm last night, after leaving Lake Charles just before 2. The children were, shall we say, rambunctious, and I have not, in a long while, been so glad to insert my ear plugs and call it a day as I was last night when everyone was tucked in.

Our trip home was wonderful, and I admit to crying on and off all day yesterday. I'm sure I was primed for tears not only because of a happy week in the sun with my parents but also because just before leaving for the airport, we all went to visit the graveyard in which Nanny is buried.

I miss her always, but rarely do I get to sit atop her grave, rearranging the pebbles into an obvious heart and talking with her. 

This morning I began the pleasurable task of sorting through a week's worth of mail. In it I found my new Maxine Waters "Shade" shirt, which delights me to no end, as well as two new books: Down and Out in Paris and London (Orwell) and 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: A Memoir (Kim Stafford). 


Additionally, the new Food52 cookbook, Mighty Salads was just released, and I am very excited to have a recipe featured in it: my Farro and Golden Beet Salad with Chive-Sage Oil

The book has so many delicious dishes in it- salad for dinner without going hungry is the mantra. Woot!

Although some cooler temps remain in our forecast, today was beautiful, sunny and hovering around 60 degrees. I got a burr in my butt to not only plant everything Mom sent home with me (amaryllis and calla lily bulbs, indigo, lemon grass, and something that now escapes me) but also to remove two Nandina bushes that irritate me and whose absence would make room for something wonderful. I got it all done. So therapeutic and fun.

In the meantime, the boys, tired as all get out from the trip home yesterday, played and bickered, bickered and rested. This evening, after getting them to bed, I found this note from Ol to Jack. I'm going to be honest- it cracked me up. Just what I needed.

A) Jack kind of was an ass today. But so was Ol.

B) I love the "Dear" leading into the "you suck."

C) Who is Carrot?

Old-school Em-i-lis

The past couple days have found me yearning for leisurely hours in the kitchen. It's been a long while, too long, since I've felt I had any significant amount of time to relax in there and play around. I miss it, and have noticed that when rushed, dinners become more chore than pleasure, and I cut culinary corners in ways I don't like. 

Our spring has, so far, been an awfully wet and chilly one. There have been glorious days of warmth -heat even!- and sunshine, promises of lemonade stands and relaxed evenings on the deck with a cold glass of wine. But by and large, those times have been elusive, and most days are still "pants and long-sleeve T's, boys" rather than shorts and sunblock ones.

That said, it's spring somewhere, and the produce of the glorious season is starting to roll our way. It's the right time for rhubarb, and those beautiful pink and green stalks are showing themselves at our local farmers markets as are greenhouse tomatoes and herbs and the earliest strawberries. Asparagus is in its prime.

At the grocery, fava bean pods glow green and swollen, and plums, peaches and apricots are finally being trucked in from places north of Chile!

Perhaps I should thank the mostly-gloomy days of the recent past, for they have offered me quick moments in which to steal to the markets and have then shooed me back inside when the rains return. During the latter periods, the beautiful beans and fruits and tomatoes and greens beckon to me, and I have gone to them.

Shelling beans is an always-pleasant task, meditative, productive and grounding. Favas and borlottis are my favorites to hull, because my reward is a bowl of vibrant green or cranberry-speckled beans that only nature could conjure. Favas beg to be smashed with mint and pecorino and olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, slathered atop grilled bread slicked with more oil. Nothing this beautiful can be anything but healthful or a pleasure to eat.

fava bean and mint crostini

fava bean and mint crostini

The smell of tomatoes alone is thrilling, but then the juicy pop of each orb's taut skin is the happiest salvo. The crisp crack of each asparagus spear's end breaking off at just the point that woody and fibrous gives way to silky and tender. 

the freshest pizza 

the freshest pizza 

All of these ingredients make such delicious dishes but without much effort; that is the gift of real, fresh, seasonal food.

velvet apricots

velvet apricots

Today, I made my black velvet apricot and Cognac jam. It is as delectable as it is pretty; looks rather like a jewel, really. I love recipes that freeze an ephemeral ingredient in time for later enjoyment. It's why I make mango butter even though straight-up mango, peeled and sliced, is our favorite way to enjoy them, especially the Ataulfo, or champagne, variety that comes out in late April each year.

I also made some old favorites this week including my farro with golden beets, candied pecans, feta and a sage-chive oil and oven-roasted rosemary salmon, and, perhaps most thrillingly, treated myself to this Meyer lemon tree on Mother's Day. I'm positively over the moon about it, and will feel equal parts Cher (from Clueless; remember when she reaches out of her father's office window to pick a fresh lemon for his tea?) and Martha Stewart when I pluck a fresh lemon from its boughs.

farro with golden beets, candied pecans, feta and chive-sage oil

farro with golden beets, candied pecans, feta and chive-sage oil

Now, if only the sun will come out a little bit more and help us all dry and grow and ready ourselves for the next marathon of cooking and growing and rooting, it'd be swell!

Slow Sunday, haircuts, deliciousness all around

Although I was delighted to be up until 2am and then sleep with J in the basement for some inexplicable reason, I paid for it today y'all. Just call me space cadet Em. I fell asleep in the middle of Oliver telling me a story and later, at the market, forgot one of my bags at the checkout counter. It is with immense relief that bedtime is nigh. How cute is Mr. O at the barber? Usually Tom cuts the boys' hair, but it just wasn't happening, so... Doesn't he look like a blanket mountain with a head?!


J had a stomach ache all day, and was asleep by 6:20 tonight; he turned down the jelly doughnut I brought him -unprecedented- and we only read one chapter of 20,000 Leagues before he said, "That's good for today, Mom." It is such a great book so far! I hope J's not sick but simply in need of a great night of sleep. Poor kid has been calling out, loudly!, from bed for the past two hours. He's out like a light but dreaming? hurting? Fingers crossed for a healthful Monday.

This evening I made the Brussels sprouts, shallot and speck pasta again because I wanted to write up a recipe for it. It was delicious again and the recipe is posted now, in Pastas.


You're welcome! ;)

Other fab food from the past week...