watercress_FeedMeDearly

First, can I get something off my chest? I have five fingers, just like most people. I do not have a pig trotter in place of a left limb as this picture suggests. And now that I think of it, manicures for animals could make for an interesting business plan. Under the gun to get dinner on the table and snap a quick pic of our mystery food challenge, I didn’t realize how trotterish my hand looked until I went to edit the picture this morning. Thank you for letting me clear that up, now let’s move on.

Not everyone loves watercress. I get it. It’s got a little attitude, a little bite. And it tends to show up to parties uninvited. My husband’s order at his favorite Mexican Restaurant? “Chicken burrito, hold the watercress”. In his mind, watercress ruins everything. I respectfully disagree, but thought that I’d give the kids the chance to weigh in.

Their response was not surprising.

ME: OK guys, we have a new mystery food tonight. What is the green thing called?

LAUREN: Lettuce.

SAM: Brussels sprouts.

ME: No, it’s not Brussels sprouts, it’s not lettuce. What you think it is?

EMMA: I don’t know.

ME: Have you seen it before?

LAUREN: (laughing)

ME: Sam always likes his greens.

(Emma ignores the watercress and picks up some sausage on her plate)

ME: We’re not trying the sausage yet. We’re only trying the green thing right now.

LAUREN: Eeeew.

ME: Wait, Sam likes it right? I love it. I love it so much.

SAM: It’s kind of spicy right?
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shoes_FeedMeDearly

When I was a kid, I cherished the start of the school year. Fresh crayons; the faintly chemical scent of new markers; stiff, chalk-white notebooks that suggested hard work and promise. That feeling lasted for a few short weeks, until the binders no longer held their intended single subject and my locker filled with stray paperclips. And so began the long, slow march until June.

My kids didn’t inherit the same love-of-back-to-school gene. They don’t light up at the first sounds of back-to-school jingles in late August. Those August days are lazy days. Days when the big decision is whether to swim in the lake or snoop around the backyard for bugs. Anything that puts a damper on that lifestyle isn’t welcome, no matter how good the markers smell.

School means a lot of things. Of course there are friendships to rekindle and shiny new teachers, but there are also schedules, after-school classes, and the mad rush for dinner. It’s busy season, no way around it. At least for nine more months.

Last week, as I watched as friends post Facebook pictures of eager faces with hand-painted signs (First day of K!), I had a looming sense of dread that my three little ones’ spirits might not be so bright. Although spending a Summer at the lake – which held little in terms of structured activity – took some patience, it was a bonding experience for all. 

So it was with equal parts sadness, excitement, and trepidation that I walked the kids to their new classes last week. Brand new outfits had been laid out the night before to dampen the nerves. If crayons couldn’t get them going, maybe new cotton could.

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With a big hug, I kissed Lauren and Sam goodbye…

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And snuck off with Emma to a local French bakery.

sandwiches_FeedMeDearly

It’ll be our little secret that Preschool doesn’t start until next week. The backpack? Let’s assume that it was more of a training backpack. Her choice, not mine. Next week she’ll be a full-blown Preschooler, backpack and all; until then, we hang…

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emma-fence_FeedMeDearly
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Mondays are usually reserved for CSA posts, but out of town last week and with a failed attempt at arranging an alternative pick-up, I was left with no vegetable share.

Which was a blessing in disguise because, especially on weeks that involve travel, my share gives me cold sweats when I get back to a mound of vegetables only to pick up another mound a few days later. So I luxuriated in a week free of obligations, even ordered pepperoni pizza one night, and made the best of it. I was happily reunited with my Week #12 box on Saturday, so friends, you will be seeing a new CSA post in all of its glory up on the site next week.

Until then, let’s talk grains…

One of my first posts on the blog was about sad desk lunches and my efforts to end them. Sadly, I experienced my last desk lunch only weeks after I wrote the post, after deciding that an office environment was no longer for me. Or “happily” I should say, because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can’t put a price on the family time I’ve gained, and the happiness I’ve found from building a career on my own terms.  That being said, splurging on prescription sunglasses owns a close second place on the best-decisions-list because, well…vision is important too.

One of the best meals to make for portability (aka the desk job) is a grain salad. I make these salads with increasing frequency as the weather starts to chill because they’re a perfect vessel for whatever vegetables that you have on hand – light and summery to use up the last remaining crops from August, or rich and hearty for all of the beautiful squash and root vegetables that are about to hit the markets.

grain salad_FeedMeDearly

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indigo rose_FeedMeDearly

Aside from a slightly off-topic discussion about the feeding habits of bears, I’d say that our tasting of the gorgeous Indigo Rose tomatoes went reasonably well. I’m pretty well-versed in my heirloom tomato varieties having sampled all kinds of treats from the iconic Brandywines to the yellow Pineapples. But Indigo Rose tomatoes are one of my favorites. They’re sweet and fruity, with a wonderfully juicy texture; they’re my go-to summer tomato for salads, fresh tomato sauces, and bruschetta. And my sidekick Lauren, the other tomato lover in the house, couldn’t agree more.

ME: Guys! We have a new one.  What am I holding?

LAUREN: A tomato.

ME: A tomato, that’s right.  Does anyone remember the name of this tomato from the Farmer’s Market?

SAM: Uhhhhh….

LAUREN: I didn’t even read the sign.

ME: This is called an Indigo Rose tomato.  Why do you think it’s called that?

LAUREN: Uh because of the color of indigo in it?

ME: Yeah, it’s go that really, really deep bluish purple coloring on it.  Isn’t that cool?  Do most tomatoes have this color?

SAM/LAUREN: No.

ME: So when we see this color we know that we’re dealing with a very special tomato. I’m going to have you guys smell this because it–

EMMA: I don’t like tomatoes.

ME: It doesn’t matter if you don’t like tomatoes.  I still want you to smell it.

SAM: It smells like a normal tomato.

ME: Don’t lick it.  Ok.  Are you going to smell it for me Emma?  Let’s all do this together.

[smelling]
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