If you want to know what the weather in the greater Seattle area is like this time of year just go stand under your shower with the lights off. I know there is no point in complaining, this happens every year and every year we live through it and in fact start to ignore it and then one day it is sunny and warm and lush and everyone is all smiles and hugs and it’s like the rain never even existed expect to unobtrusively water all the wonderful greenery around. It’s like all that greenery gives off some sort of “forgetting” spell and everyone says it’s so worth it and it wasn’t really that bad anyway. Kind of like giving birth actually. Except I remember giving birth and I remember the dark, dreary rain, though I wish I didn’t care. I wish I were the type of person who did not look outside when deciding if I want to take a walk or run or to stay indoors, but I am, unfortunately, a lover of dry warmth. Not that I would complain to the natives here, as they are completely incredulous that one would alter plans because of some piddling rain. It’s just rain they’d say under REI gortex as they biked on over to the nearest trail to hike. Before moving here I really considered myself an outdoors person, but now I know better, there are real outdoors poeple here, ones that actually look forward to camping and don’t mind not-warm not-dry weather and wear clothes that at any moment will facilitate a jaunt of a nearby mountain. I’m more of the really-like-to-be-outside-when-it-is-nice kind of outdoor person, which doesn’t count for much here. I can’t help it though, the rain makes me feel like staying home, being cozy, doing warm things like baking or else just being lazy. If you have had a lazy day I’m about to make you feel like a champion of productivity, because I do believe I summit-ed some kind of lazy peak today. After making it the grocery store this morning, I was moving food around the kitchen and filled up our ever disappearing pistachio jar with fresh ones when I spent a good five minutes moving the nuts around to find pistachios that had fallen out of their shell. It feels like such a bonus to find those that I just couldn’t stop~ so much salty goodness and I don’t even have to open the shells, awesome! Even if it isn’t the rain making me this lazy, the drastic difference in sunlight between now and one month ago is enough to have me lying in bed in the mornings until the last possible moment. I finally got some St.John’s Wort this past week~ it has seen me through about a decade of winters now. I have also been splashing myself with oragne essential oil which is a ‘happy’ scent and it reminds me that good things do come in winter too~ like satsumas. I’m ready for something orange, round and bright, and though I’d prefer the sun, I’ll settle for a satsuma. If only there weren’t that cumbersome peel…
The other day I made a garlic soup following, more or less this recipe from The Splendid Table. I went the potato route with it and it turned out pretty good, though pureeing soup is one of my all time least favorite kitchen tasks. If I make it again I’ll add more garlic than the recipe suggests because it was actually quite mild and I won’t make the same mistake of letting people try the soup without the croutons, because the croutons are by far the best part of the whole meal. First of all, the recipe calls for drizzling warm butter on the finished soup before serving but that seemed over the top so I ignored that suggestion. Then you add the croutons which changes the soup from a porridge consistency (that wasn’t well received in my house) with a more soup with crunch taste~ much better! Plus the way the recipe calls for making the croutons is far easier than I had ever seen. In the past I’ve always made them by coating cut up stale bread in oil, then stirring in herbs and salt and pepper, then sticking them in the oven with occassional stirring. This recipe just says to cut up the bread, any bread, into crouton size chunks, put some olive oil in a pan and cook them up on the stove for a couple of minutes. So easy and so good! I used fresh gluten free bread~ Maninis to be exact which is sliced nice and thick, and added only Mediterranean salts while they sizzled in the olive oil . It took five minutes tops and the soup will never be the same. I also used stale sourdough bread (not gluten free) for my husband’s croutons and he loved them. In fact he ate the croutons like a main dish and ignored the bowl of soup they were supposed to support. That’s what I get for serving it plain the first time. I have a feeling I’ll be adding these croutons to a lot more soups and salads now.
So many things happen as soon as that first school bell rings at the beginning of September. It has taken me about this long to get a grip on some time to write. Though it was a non-school day (teachers got to plan. They must be collectively sitting down and wiping their foreheads, grateful the moment to plan instead of react) the day is not free from school activities. My friend picked up my youngest while dropping off her oldest about an hour ago so our oldests could play while the younger ones attend a party of some school friends. It seems there is always something to do, and even in the quiet between moments there are reading logs to fill, homework to check, and playdates to arrange. It all goes by so fast, I’ve heard it over and over, and I’ve experienced the crazy blinks of years that disappear into camera phone videos alongside pictures involving forgotten teeth, stained favorite tshirts and long lost toys. The kids are actually agonizing to look at old pictures with because it is one long whine of “where did that truck go? I remember that lego set! Let’s build it again! We actually had a fire station like that? Where is it?” In this craziness we get distant reminders to stop and soak it in, and I do try, although I must admit that soaking it in makes me feel kind of creatively nostalgic so I end up taking black and white photos, viewing the world through my camera phone which is not exactly how I want to remember these young years of my boys. We all have our phones up to our faces these days~ either texting or tweeting or photographing…I actually want to make a movie with the camera phone in the middle of the screen the whole time, and on the phone’s screen you see the little darlings of someone doing all the average things we all do daily, then all around the phone there are all kinds of crazy, beautiful, strange things going on. So like there will be the kids at a park and on the phone’s screen, but on the big screen you see like a quiet but gruesome fight take place. Then the next scene will be the kids walking on a street and the phone’s screen just shows the kids and the sidewalk and all around on the big movie screen you see intense beauty~ Fall colors, amazing architecture, meteor showers. Anyway, I’m rambling. It just feels so good to be thinking about something other than the immediate. Oh, I need to cook dinner. So much for the revery, back to the immediate.
Currently moving platforms. Pardon the mess, under construction…
We just got back from a family’s house where I heard some interesting information in the most unlikely setting. All the kids were settled in front of a huge outdoor screen watching Toy Story 3 while the adults sat around the porch table sipping adult drinks and chatting after a long summer week, when the subject turned to wheat as is often the case at any eating/drinking event where I show up. I don’t instigate it, usually, it is just what happens~ some friend or family member will inevitably say, “you should try this…oh, can you eat this?” and a discussion ensues about what is (blank) made out of and does it contain wheat…? Tonight it was scotch which began the “is it or isn’t it” discussion. For those wondering, scotch is apparently made from barley which is indeed off the gluten-intolerants’ list of OK to ingest, so I did not get to try the “you gotta try this” drink of the night. But that is fine~ there was wine and I was happy and it led to a fellow there saying that there are small farms planting the ancient wheat varieties which have been completely out of the food system for the last 40 years, replaced by the current wheats that are stock full of gluten and harder to digest. According to this guy who seems to have been following the wheat news of late, people who are gluten intolerant may be able to digest these ancient wheats! I don’t know~ I’ll have to do some research, but not tonight…For now I’ll go to bed with a bit of hope of eating a real wheat bread again, maybe someday.
Everyone knows tastes change, but it is really strange to watch someone’s tastes change radically and suddenly, as my oldest’s have been lately. He has always been a huge fruit eater. On his first birthday his big treat was letting him eat as many strawberries as he wanted, (and then the next day taking him to the doctor for diarrhea. Oops. But I figured if people let their one year olds stuff their little mouths full of as much cake as they can eat, how bad can strawberries be…) And then when he was four and I put him on a rotation diet for about a year as his food sensitivities settled down, fruit was an absolute life-saver. Whenever I thought there was just nothing I could feed him, fruit, any fruit, could always be served and he’d be happy while I scraped together something else to fill his little belly. His love affair with fruit has continued, unquestioned, until last week when something abruptly changed. His morning side bowls of strawberries started returning to the kitchen untouched. He didn’t like the blueberries this season, which means I got to eat them all and I can attest they are awesome, as always, this year as opposed to my son’s critique of, “they taste kind of rotten.” To his nearly constant statement of “I’m hungry” I have offered apples which he’s refused, and this kid has eaten one to three apples almost every day of his solid foods life! Even he is perplexed by this change, offering, with a shrug, “maybe grapes?” But no, the grapes were barely eaten and actually fruit isn’t even all of the newly unloved food, suddenly he doesn’t like quesadillas with beans anymore, a staple for years! I guess this should all give me hope that my younger one will suddenly start liking other things than the few foods he allows to pass his lips, but it is just so sudden it leaves me a bit unsettled.
I wish I could say I was the one who came up with that clever little nickname for June in the Pacific NW, but I didn’t. I overheard it at the crafts store yesterday and thought it was more than appropriate considering the rain fell in a continuous torrent all day and the temperature never got above second-layer-necessary. A friend of mine at school said her parents are ready to move because of the weather~ they came here six years ago to be close to their only child and hence only three grandchildren, but even those family bonds can’t compete with the lure of sunshine and warmer days. There is some sun peaking through the clouds today, and I see hopeful people walking around in short sleeves but the truth is summer historically hits here on July 5. It’s a common thing people say, and it’s true more often than not. Once summer gets going, it is unbeatable here~ not too humid, only a few days where it gets too hot to be enjoyable outside, lots of light and greenery and all-around-loveliness. But we wait, and wait, and wait, not so patiently, and plan our escapes to Florida until summer blinds us with beauty once more. I am very curious to see if my friend’s parents are still itching to move in September. Meanwhile I’m at a loss in the kitchen~ stuck somewhere between salad and soup. Maybe I’ll cook up some kale chips and see if I can add anything else to the warm oven…feeling in a rut. Time to troll for recipes I guess. On a gluten free product note, the whole family loves kinnikinnick’s graham style crackers. Their first ingredient is pea starch! How’s that for unique?! They are really good.