It’s Raining Peaches!

August 27, 2014

 

I had lunch with a dear friend of mine the other day, and while it was great to catch up on all of her summer escapades and adventures, I was also meeting her for another reason: Peaches.

Every year, when school starts, her daughter does a fundraiser. And while I normally kind of hate fundraisers, I always look forward to this one, because we get to indulge in a big box of organic, just-ripe peaches from the Western Slope of Colorado, where peaches are primo delicioso.

In fact, those peaches are so delicious that I never even bother buying peaches at the grocery store. I just wait for late August, when I get to haul a gi-normous box of fragrant, juicy peaches home.

And then things get interesting, because we’re not a huge family, and neither my husband nor Miss M. are big fruit eaters, so I have to figure out how to use up a 5-pound box of peaches in ways that will keep things interesting.

Miss D. and I have been snacking on them au natural, but I’ve also been tossing peaches into salads, sizzling them up on the grill, spicing them up in salsa, and using them as a yummy topping for bruschetta, which you see above.

I love the way the sweetness of the peaches contrasts with the salty bite of the prosciutto and the creamy ricotta.

If you need an easy and delicious appetizer for your Labor Day barbecue this weekend, consider this recipe, especially if you’re in peach country. Peach season only lasts a few blessed weeks in my neck of the woods, so we’re making hay.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, readers!

 

Peach, Prosciutto and Ricotta Bruschetta

adapted from Food Network Magazine

makes 12

12 slices crusty bread

olive oil, for drizzling

2 ripe peaches or nectarines, sliced

1 cup ricotta or burrata cheese

4-6 slices prosciutto, torn into feathery pieces

honey and cracked black pepper

basil, sliced thinly (optional)*

Drizzle slices of bread with olive oil and grill until char marks form. Let cool slightly. Spread bread with cheese; sprinkle pepper over.  Top with prosciutto. Drizzle with honey, top with a few slices of peach/nectarine and a few threads of chopped basil, if desired.

*the first few times I made this, I didn’t add any herbage. Then I decided to add basil, and I really liked the result. Mint would be brilliant, too.

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The Electric Fence

August 22, 2014

It’s been over a month, and I’m still not sure I want to talk about this. I’m not sure I’ll be able to talk about this, not in the way I’d like to, because I’m still too close to it and just thinking about it makes me hammer-hearted and on the verge of throwing up. I still wake up several times every night, sucking air like a fish on concrete.

Then again, maybe talking about it will help me get over it. Okay, I doubt I’ll ever get over it, but at least I might get to a place where I can deal, where I can go through a day without these bouts of panic and regret.

This July, I almost lost my younger daughter, Miss M.  I almost lost my little white dog in the bargain, too, but it’s the near loss of my child that keeps me up at night.

It’s an unthinkable thing, the loss of a child, and now I can’t do anything but think about it. All the time.

I think about how it just took a second, just a wink of an open door, a flash of tiny white fur barreling down the street, to almost change everything.

Ack, I’m dancing around this and now it kind of sounds too dramatic, so I’ll just tell you what happened.

Miss M. and I had taken the Mozz-man for a late afternoon walk. It was a walk full of bunnies and birds and flowers to sniff and cut grass, ripe for rolling in. In short, it was full of all the things a puppy loves best.

When we got to the front door, I opened it and said to Miss M., “I’m going to get the mail, okay? You can take off his leash but shut the door, okay?”

And then I turned my back and walked to the mailbox.

Which was the bigger mistake? The way I mixed up the order of things by telling her “take off the leash, shut the door” or the way I turned my back on them before checking?

I don’t know and I guess it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that excited puppies are very fast and frantic 8-year olds are very fast and middle-aged women in flip-flops aren’t nearly as fast.

They shot across the street, and as hard and as loud as I hollered for M. to stop, her panic over the loss of her puppy rendered her deaf, and when he darted under a small opening under a fence–a fence facing a VERY busy street–she wiggled under it, too, hot on his heels.

I, of course, was far too big to wiggle under that fence. I ran to the next house, but they were fenced in too, and so was the next, and as I finally rounded the half-block, I saw a small white dog and a bare-footed little girl dash across that busy street. A street full of cars and screeching brakes and blaring horns. A busy street with 5pm rush-hour traffic and there wasn’t anything I could do but watch it happen. I had to watch it happen and I couldn’t do anything and just like that I almost lost them both.

“Please don’t tell Daddy,” she sobbed, limping home on bloody feet. “I’ll never do it again, IswearIswearIswear. Please don’t tell Daddy.”

Of course, I immediately went into the house and called Daddy, crying and keening like a lunatic. And then I called Mama, knowing she’d understand, because when I was a little girl, I darted in front of a car, too. The driver barely stopped in time and she was horrified and furious, and Mama threw me over her shoulder, beating on my backside the entire way home.

I never forgot it.

I’ll never forget this, either, no matter how hard I wish it away.

The day I almost lost my daughter (and her little dog, too), I called about an electric fence for our yard.

It’s taken a few weeks, but the fence is in, and now we begin the arduous process of training Mozzy not to cross the fence. We try to train him not to cross the fence before we activate the sucker, so hopefully he won’t have to get zapped much. Even though it’s not a high-voltage zap or a dangerous zap, it’s still sorta sucky for a dude to get zapped, so we’re trying to do things gently.

Although if I’m honest, if it prevents him from ever running into the street again, zap away. Zap him until the cows come home, as long as I never, ever…

Well, you know.

If I’m scarce around these parts, you can find me in the backyard, with a leash and a bulky shock collar and a little white dog.

Me, a dog, and my lucky, lucky life.

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Readers, I meant to post this last week, but things got crazy. Better late than never, right?

Okay, do you remember my little rants here and here about the PTO and the way they try to be “creative” with the teacher luncheons/dinners in our school district? And how “creative” = Pain in Ass?

I think someone new is in charge this year, because when I got the email about providing food for the Back-to-School Teacher Luncheon, there wasn’t a theme or a creative twist in sight.

This should be good news, right?

It is good news, but the bad news is that the new person in charge isn’t making things any easier. When I looked at the sign-up sheet, my jaw kinda dropped.

Instead of signing up for a dish to bring (to feed 12 people), we now have to sign up for a dish to feed 25 people. Whaa? 25 is a lot of people to feed. Can you imagine the price tag for the poor fool who signs up to bring a meat/cheese platter to feed TWENTY FIVE? We’re talking at least 50 bucks–which probably explains why that slot on the sign-up sheet is still empty.

Actually, a lot of slots on that sign-up sheet are still empty. I’m pretty sure everyone took one look at that sheet, became completely intimidated at the prospect of making a dish to feed 25 people, muttered “&%^$ it,” and got out their checkbook to make a donation instead. I considered that option, believe me. School starts in a matter of days–everyone’s running around like a crazy person trying to get things in order. Making potato salad for 25 probably isn’t something anyone needs on their to-do list right now.

But I couldn’t just send off a check. I felt guilty even thinking of doing that. Because our district employs seriously dedicated, talented, caring, kick-ass teachers. We are so lucky to have them and they work really hard, and they deserve a nice Welcome Back! lunch. They do.

So I signed up for my pasta/potato/bean/grain salad option and then had a little panic attack, wondering what the heck I was going to make to feed 25 people that a) wouldn’t take forever to put together and b) wasn’t going to destroy the wallet.

I immediately nixed the idea of potato salad. I am not peeling potatoes for 25 frigging people, no matter how kick-ass they are. I toyed with pasta salad, too, but the idea of cooking 5 pounds of pasta in summertime heat wasn’t very appealing, either.  Couscous or quinoa was doable, but I hate both of those things, and who wants to bring something to a potluck that she wouldn’t eat herself? Wild rice salad? Oh, wait. A single batch of wild rice takes an hour to cook. Nope.

Eventually, I settled on this white bean salad. Beans are cheap (even the ones already cooked in cans) and easy and if you gussy them up with some artichokes and tuna and a few other things, you’ve got yourself a pretty nice lunch. Settled. Although I must admit, there are more glamorous salads out there. This one’s a little beige, but hey. Beggars can’t be choosers. It tastes good, so there!

I won’t post the recipe that feeds 25 people, but if you ever need to do such a thing, just multiply the ingredients called for by about SIX and you’ve got yourself a winner. Then all you need to do is run out to buy a gi-normous Tupperware container to hold the stuff.

Welcome back to school, readers. Miss M. is apprehensive and Miss D. is depressed and downright scared. We’re going to need some luck and some positive vibes coming our way. Fingers Crossed.

 

White Bean, Artichoke and Tuna Salad

serves 4

 

2 (15-oz.) cans white beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed

2 cans water-packed tuna, drained

2 stalks of celery, chopped

3 shallots or scallions, chopped

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

 

Combine beans, artichokes, tuna, celery, shallot, sun-dried tomato and parsley in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and a dash of salt and pepper. Add to the bean mixture and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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August 18, 2014

Oddball Tomato Salad

August 8, 2014