“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” ~Erma Bombeck
Yes, I know that the fourth of July is a faint memory as summer’s time whizzes by. But I ran across this quote somewhere and couldn’t help feeling that it summarized my last week so completely that I had to share it with you readers. Our Monday was a day filled with some of my favorite things; dogs, children, friends, neighbors, and food. Have I mentioned lately how fortunate we are to be surrounded by awesome people? A random conversation one day suggesting a cookout soon turned into a gathering of old and new friends, two- and four-legged family members, laughter, culinary treats, games, smiling, sparklers, beer, and happiness. We may have overeaten, but celebrating my community is a pretty good way to commemorate the fourth. Here’s evidence of the event.
think it is safe to say that all enjoyed the day. I mean, what’s not to love? My friends are fabulous cooks. The
dogs children are always well-behaved. And the conversation always ripples through, punctuated by laughter. A good evening, ended with a walk to the Park of Roses to watch Clintonville’s firework display. The Philosopher ended up with a wide-eyed 5-year-old in his lap. I don’t know if the flies died from happiness, but I suspect few faces fell asleep without a smile on their lips.
Tuesday’s CSA pick up was an exciting event as summer squash had arrived. I received another huge head of lettuce, a bunch of beets, kale, a kohlrabi (with leaves), 2 yellow squash, and one zucchini. While my own plants are beginning to show signs of life, it’s nice to be able to trust the Sippel’s to keep my refrigerator packed. I recently rediscovered cornmeal in my house. Since our detox diet eliminated corn, I had buried my supply deep in the recesses of my basement. I recently unearthed many lovely treasures and found them loving homes on my kitchen shelves again. The zucchini was calling for polenta. I just knew it. I made two 8″ round (but square pans would work well also) of polenta and popped them in the fridge around lunchtime. At dinner, I heated them in a large skillet lined generously with oil. I sauteed an onion and a few cloves of garlic in a separate skillet until the onions were soft and added the zucchini, cut into 1″ pieces, and a large can of crushed tomatoes. (Just think, my time of canned tomatoes is nearly reaching it’s end!) I also added fresh basil and oregano from my garden, red pepper flakes for some heat, kosher salt, and a bit of agave for some sweetness. When the zucchini had begun to soften, the polenta was golden brown. After topping a piece of polenta with the veggies and adding a sprinkling of basil on top, the season’s first zucchini reached my lips. Welcome summer! In your kitchen, feel free to make the polenta the night before and keep it in the fridge until it’s time to make dinner. You can also simply put the pans in the oven or under the broiler. I suggest spraying or brushing the top with oil so the top browns nicely. It will likely take about the same amount of time, but if you are like me, you are staying far away from the oven these days!
The week ended with the lovely celebration of my nephew and father-in-law’s birthday. Again, the afternoon was filled with the excited sounds of children; on bicycles, helping to open presents, and enjoying a story together. My brother-in-law who is stationed in Las Vegas in the air force had arrived the day before to surprise his parents and attend a friend’s wedding. A few hours in the sunshine with important loved ones strengthened the bonds and commitment of this caring family. I couldn’t help snapping a few shots to help the birthday boy remember how his birth caused such celebration three years later.
Few occasions aren’t improved by a dinosaur cake and the gift of a sword. As the long-distance aunt, it’s amazing to see the transformation of my niece and nephew into little people, with their own unique personalities. Each visit, each year, each celebration shows a little more of them. Who they will be, what the will become. It’s a great honor to be a part of such a magnificent process.
And the remains of our CSA found a good home at another fabulous evening as last night we gathered with fellow CSA friends and other members of our extended Clintonville circle to enjoy a delicious meal. I had the kohlrabi, beet greens, and lettuce remaining from our share this week. If you are not familiar with kohlrabi, don’t be alarmed. I think my neighbor said it best when she asked something like, “Who would have ever looked at that thing and thought to themselves, ‘I should eat that’?” Well, I don’t know who that person was, but I gladly accepted the fruit of their ingenuity. I found this recipe on Epicurious and thought it was a perfect use of my leftovers. I made some changes, obviously. I didn’t have the kale, so I used the kohlrabi greens and my beet greens. I also felt it need a little more crunch than my one kohlrabi could offer, so I added the better part of my head of lettuce. Finally, I used sunflower seeds as they were already in my cupboard. It was a perfect side dish to the falafel, tzatziki sauce, and french bread made by our hosts and was followed by a lovely banana cream pie. What a great way to share in our kitchen skills and produce. Eating with friends makes everything taste a little bit better! A nice balance of texture, punch of lime juice, and garlicky goodness made this a pleasant summer salad. Don’t have an alien-like kohlrabi laying around? I would try this again using a small head of cabbage, I think it would still be lovely.
I hope your week was filled with a form of patriotism that makes you proud. Proud to be a citizen. Proud to meet and mingle with all those other citizens. Proud of the good feelings you get when we come together. Proud to serve as both leaders and servants in the rest of the world. Proud to learn from other nations forging new paths forward. Proud of your own families, friends, neighbors, and communities. We may have overeaten, but we truly found a way to honor the occasion.