Forward and Onward
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was nice to be in the kitchen again, after that crazy lovely stretch in New York and a busy week after rushing about with taxes and car issues and prescription refills. Of course a good life is busy, and mine is both, but a good life is also dappled and threaded with calm and thoughtful days, and seems you always know when it’s time for one, and it has been.
So it’s Earth Week, and Earth Day, and I’ve never been a gardener or a flower person, though I have thought about it, and most often put it on the shelf titled “Future Things.” You know, that place in your mind where you slide all the things you are drawn but there isn’t much space in your life for them in the present because of all the other things pulling at you (kids, work, bills, meetings).
But I do give thought to those Future Things. I plan gardens in my mind. I look for recipes for soufflés and homemade cheese and Scotch eggs. I sketch out building plans for The Treehouse. I consider what it would cost to build a real wrap-around porch. There are conversations about names for the grandchildren, and for another dog, and what kind it might be. And I imagine how tall an oak might be when the grandkids arrive were I to plant the tree today.
A young man in town died last night. A sweet young man, and I won’t go into how or why because I don’t really know, but what I do know is that if you saw a herd (or clutch or toddling or rush) of spring chickens, I would not be among them. He might have. And now he isn’t.
And, given this, and the writer Gary Snyder’s words, “Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there,” today is the day. To try my hand at Scotch eggs. To sit down with Mr. S about The Treehouse AND the porch. (The grandchildren can wait, just sayin’.) To find that soufflé recipe I’ve had for 20 years, and get the stuff to make it, and to take a walk in the woods, and there among the bloodroot and moss and ferns, plant a tree. Little tiny oak tree. Today. Earth Day. Because tomorrow is pretty likely, but it ain’t a sure thing, and one way to make it more possible is to do something in its honor today. Forward, you know? And onward.
Here are two good recipes to lighten it up a bit for snack time or lunch on a warmer-than-usual spring day. Greek food, good for you, simple and fine.
Tzatziki (Cucumber Dip)
2-3 cloves garlic, more if desired
1 16 oz container plain yogurt (nonfat works fine)
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
Salt to taste
1 T wine vinegar or 1 tsp lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
2 tsp olive oil
Line a sieve with a double thickness of dampened cheese cloth (a coffee filter will work fine, too). Spoon in yogurt and set the sieve over a bowl. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until yogurt is about half its volume, thick and creamy.
Shred cucumber or cut into julienne strips. Place in a colander in sink or over a bowl, and sprinkle generously with salt. Mix well and let drain for at least half an hour. Rinse and gently pat between paper towels.
Use a garlic press, and squeeze garlic into a bowl. Mash it with a bit of salt, and add the thickened yogurt, cucumber, vinegar or lemon juice, pepper, and olive oil. Mix well. Refrigerate up to 2 days so flavors will mingle. Stir again, and serve with pita bread, or chunks of dense fresh bread from the bakery.
If you’re a fan, adding 1T dry dill to the mixture or as a garnish is a nice variation.
1 can chick peas
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup fresh baby spinach
2 T lemon juice
⅛ tsp cinnamon
Rinse and drain beans. Put everything in a blender or food processor and let ‘er rip. To thin it out a bit, add 1 T water. Serve with pita bread or crackers.