Happy

April 16, 2014

Linking up with MamaKat today answering the prompt: Tell us what makes you happy.

 

~ This picture of the still vibrant, still funny Phil Donahue, taken at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop this past weekend.

 

~The EBWW conference itself. 1,000 times different (in a good way) than BlogHer. So many funny, genuine, unpretentious people. Even the big guns, the hot shots–amazingly welcoming and sincere.

~This little riff by Miss M.: (throwing a ball of dirty, stinky socks across the room) “Hey, Mama! I got a pair-a-socks. Not a paradox, mind you, but a pair-a-socks.”  It’s official. She is from Jupiter.

~A warm day and a glimpse of Miss D. catching air (photo is old but she’s still flying)

 

~The return of Game of Thrones (nerd alert!)

~Dinner with two amazing ladies, who drove down to rockin’ Dayton, Ohio just to sip margaritas with me.  I’d never met them, but they’ve been with me/my blog from the start, when I was on rickety legs and doubting every word. Our hearts know each other, and that’s what matters.  I laughed myself silly.  Meeting readers is just…wow.

~ladybugs. They’re back.

~This.

~The way I feel every time my husband walks through the door after a long day of work. My heart just shimmies a little every time. If only I had a tail to wag…

~Speaking of tails. This naughty, delicious, effervescent dog of mine. I’ve never owned a dog and never understood dog people, but now I get it. I am a FOOL for this damn dog. I have even become the crazy lady who whips up special snacks for her dog in the kitchen. What has become of me?

 

 

~Miss M.  She still asks for hugs. Oh my heart.

~Thrice-weekly emails from a dear friend, ever since my special week with Fuck You Linda. Her emails are full of news and funny things and, best of all, her “daily happy.”  She’s inspired me to find my daily happy, too. It forces me out of myself and keeps my heart and eyes open.

~Re-runs of Firefly. (nerd alert #2)

~The news that I am the closer for Listen to Your Mother Boulder! Wow! I never expected to close anything in my life except a lot of doors. I am so honored and excited. If you are in my neck of the woods, I’d love to see you on Mother’s Day!

 

 

~Another Mother’s Day with Mama. Fuck cancer. She’s kickin’ it.

~Y’all. You rock my socks.

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Easter Veggie Explosion

April 15, 2014

 

Although we aren’t a traditionally religious family, we celebrate the heck out of Easter.

It’s about the arrival of spring to us, and after a long winter, spring deserves Big Stink of a party, don’t you think?

There’s just  one leeeetle problem, though.

At least half the time (it seems) it snows on Easter. Or there’s snow on the ground.

Snow=Egg Hunt Buzzkill.

As the Minxes see it, indoor egg hunt=castrated egg hunt.

The last few years, they’ve had to settle for the castrated version, and it’s made them a little cranky, particularly Miss M., who loves egg hunts so much that she begs me to keep hiding eggs for weeks after Easter Sunday.

I usually oblige, because Eggapalooza is kind of cute, although like most adorable things, it gets a bit annoying. The way I figure it, though, is that endless egg hunts aren’t nearly as irksome as two games of CandyLand, so it’s a winning proposition.

When I sat down to plan my Easter menu, I began missing Greece and the wonderful sights, sounds, smells and tastes of that drop-dead gorgeous country.

 

It’s been four long years since I stuck my toes in the waters of the Mediterranean, but if I close my eyes and quiet myself, I can almost feel those warm turquoise waters lapping at my heels.

I think we need some Greece this year.*

This “salad” takes a little time, but it’s worth the trouble. Nothing makes vegetables sing like a sizzle on the grill, some fresh herbs, a sprinkle of creamy feta, and a bath in good olive oil.

It’s absolutely stunning and will have you craving ouzo and old ruins and Rembetika music in no time.

I’m hoping for warm weather this year. Winter has totally overstayed her welcome, don’t you think?  I want to give her a big old kick in the ass. And while I still yearn for Grecian shores, if pressed, I’d have to say that my heart is exactly where it wants to be this weekend. At home.

Grilled Mediterranean Vegetable Salad
serves 6-8

2 small, firm eggplants
2 zucchini
1 large red onion
1 bunch cherry tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, roasted and seeded
salt
pepper
olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup basil, chopped
good balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Heat grill to medium-high. Slice eggplants and zucchini into 1/4-inch slices. Sprinkle eggplant and zucchini slices with a healthy handful of salt; place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes.

While eggplant and zucchini drain, coat bell peppers in olive oil. Grill, turning on all sides, until skin is blackened and charred. Remove peppers from grill and place in a bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

While peppers sit, cut onion into wedges. Brush with olive oil and grill until slightly softened and charred. Remove from grill.

In a grill basket, place tomatoes (drizzled with olive oil) on the grill and grill until slightly blistered. Remove from grill.

Rinse eggplant and zucchini slices and pat dry. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until slightly charred and softened, turning once. Remove from grill.

Remove skin and seeds from red bell peppers and cut into strips.

Layer all vegetables on a big platter, drizzle with good olive oil, good balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle feta and basil over the top.

Serve with crusty bread to lap up all of the veggie/olive oil goodness.

 

* Greece was the trip of a lifetime. We’ve been saving our pennies for four LONG years, intending to go back, but we had a change of heart and will be plundering the Italian coast and countryside in a little over a month. I’ve never been to Italy, and I’m so excited! Come along with me, will you? It’s going to be magical.

 

ps: stay tuned for all things Erma! I just need to catch my breath, and then I’ll blabblabblab.

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When was the last time you ate a radish?

Be honest.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Maybe since, like, childhood?

Last Spring, I served a plate of plump, scarlet radishes with a slab of unsalted butter and a dish of cracked sea salt as an appetizer. People were dumbfounded. They looked at the platter like I’d served up a mound of sweaty gym socks.

“Are those…radishes?”

“I can’t even tell you the last time I ate a radish.”

“I never even think about radishes.”

“What’s with the butter?”

I explained that the French eat radishes this way; dunk the radish in some lovely butter, sprinkle on a little salt, and eat.  Sometimes the French slice a crisp baguette, smear on a healthy layer of butter and top with thin slices of radish and a dusting of salt–and it’s great served that way–but I was too lazy to bother with the bread and plus, we are still on Le Regime.*

Yes, I am often guilty of being a lazy hostess. So stone me.

I guess I’m also an inconsiderate hostess, because I didn’t serve bread or anything else for an appetizer, so my hungry guests didn’t have any option but to try the radishes. Like a schoolyard bully, I stood, arms crossed, staring them down, daring them to reject the radishes.

“What? You’re afraid of something that’s teeny and pink, for Chrissakes?”

Much to my satisfaction, my terrorized guests consumed the radishes and declared them a delicious surprise.

If the idea of a radish gives you a flashback to a large, woody, overly pungent, bulbous thing, then I’m betting you faced off with a winter radish. An old, overgrown winter radish. And if that’s the case, I don’t question your trauma at all. Those radishes are, indeed, a little frightening.

Radishes are best in spring and summer, when they’re tiny, crisp, mildly tangy bundles of joy. Truly. I know you’re suspicious, but trust me on this one. They add beautiful color and a little zing to a dish.

This dish, specifically. This recipe is spring on a plate. It makes a delightful side to your favorite grilled meat or, if paired with a bit of bauguette, a lovely vegetarian lunch.

Come on. I dare you.

 

Pea and Radish Salad with Goat Cheese

serves 4

slightly adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

Dressing:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon hazelnut or walnut oil

1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (you can substitute 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar if you wish)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad:

1 cup frozen peas (or you can use fresh if you can find them)

1 cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame

1 cup sugar snap peas, stringed

1 1/2 cups butter lettuce or baby spinach, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

1/3 cup radishes, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 (6-ounce) package fresh goat cheese, crumbled (crumble it yourself rather than buying the pre-crumbled kind; it makes a difference)

1/4 cup toasted walnuts or hazlenuts (depending on the oil you used in the dressing), coarsely chopped

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add a few handfuls of ice; place radishes in ice bath and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook frozen peas 1-2 minutes (4 minutes for fresh shelled peas); remove with a slotted spoon and place in the ice bath with the radishes. Cook edamame in the same boiling water for 4 minutes; strain and add to the ice bath. Add snap peas and cook for 1 minute; remove and place in ice bath.  Stir vegetables until cool. Drain the cooled vegetables thoroughly and transfer to a large salad bowl.

Add torn butter lettuce/spinach to salad bowl and toss with dressing. Add crumbled goat cheese and toasted nuts and toss lightly again. Serve.

 

*Yeah, we’re still kinda on Le Regime. With all of this concussion business and being sick with the Plague, Le Regime got de-railed a bit. Expect some sexy spring veggie dishes in the coming month!

PS: I leave for the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference on Wednesday–wish me luck!

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