Summer is on its way, Readers. The Minxes are nearly done with school–summer officially begins for them mid-week. After the miserable whirlwind that was our April and early May, I am so grateful for the arrival of lazy mornings and days at the zoo and swimming pool, where our biggest worry is applying extra sunscreen.
This weekend, we had Daddy up for our second official Sunday lunch without Mama at the table, and I have to be honest: it still feels sad and strange and more sad without her. He asked me if I wanted her old, battered recipe box and of course, I said “yes.” Then we got a little teary and sentimental, because her recipe box is loaded with so many childhood memories and scribbled scraps of paper, revealing the keys to family-loved dishes. That’s gold right there, her recipe box. I also requested her collection of vintage aprons, even though I’m a heathen and never, ever wear an apron in the kitchen.
“Why do you want them, then?” Daddy asked. “If you never wear aprons yourself?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I just want them. I feel like I’m meant to have them. I know it makes no sense, but I do. Jesus. Nothing makes sense anymore.”
Even though there were sad moments, it was wonderful to spend the day with him and I made a big batch of Mama’s (in)famous Orange Potato Salad and insisted that he take the leftovers home, along with a batch of Oatmeal Chippers. It gives me a sense of comfort to be able to send him back with a few yummy things to nibble on, even if it’s in solitary fashion.
I’m pleased to report that he’s planned a few trips in the coming months. Daddy-o loves to travel, and I’ve definitely inherited his wanderlust. Mama was always content just to snuggle in at home, but Daddy gets itchy after a while and longs for a change of scenery. I’m with him on that one.
He’s planning a trip to Cuba with a friend in October, right before his birthday, which will be one Hoo-Boy adventure. I can’t wait to hear all about it. We also have a family trip to Hawaii scheduled over the Thanksgiving holiday, where we’ll be scattering Mama’s ashes into the Pacific.
We all decided that Thanksgiving would be too painful to spend at home this first year without her, and I know the beauty and majesty of Maui will give us all some welcome relief. Hawaii is our happy place, and we’re lucky to be able to go there together. We’ll lick our wounds a little, but ultimately, I think it’s the right call.
As the days get warmer, I start to get excited about eating fruits and vegetables again. Let’s face it, winter produce is nothing to crow about. I don’t want to look another grapefruit or parsnip in the face, do you? I want juicy peaches and sweet corn and buckets of heirloom tomatoes. We have a few more weeks until those things come into season, so I’m filling the interim with grilled zucchini and snap peas–this particular recipe for snap peas, if I’m playing favorites. And boy oh boy, am I playing favorites.
I tried this recipe two weeks ago and I became so enamored with it that I’ve been eating just this (like, almost the whole batch by myself) for lunch and dinner several days a week. If a girl is content to pig out on a plate of vegetables, those are some sexy vegetables. That’s right: sex-y. These snap peas are sexy little blistered beasts. They have so much going for them, people. They’re flung into a screaming hot pan until they get all charred and toasty, and then some chiles add a lovely slow burn, and lemon and fresh mint tie the whole thing together in a fresh and bright and irresistible way. If you’re of a mind to, gild the lily a little and add some toasted cashews to finish the dish. You won’t be sorry. I mean, let’s be real here. When are toasted nuts ever a bad idea?
I also love that this dish is best served barely warm or at room temperature, so you can make it ahead and fuss with other elements of your meal while they just hang out and get more delicious by the minute. That is, if you decide to eat anything else. Frankly, all you need is a crusty baguette and you’ve got a meal, in my opinion.*
Ah, summer. You can’t get here fast enough.
Blistered Snap Peas with Chile, Lemon and Mint
slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3/4 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and strings taken off
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1-2 red Fresno chiles, minced (depending on the level of spice you like)
2 scallions, sliced
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon fresh mint
2 tablespoons toasted cashews, broken into pieces (optional)
Heat a heavy large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the oil and get the pan screamin’ hot. Add half of the snap peas, half of the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook until starting to blacken and blister on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn the snap peas over and blister the other side, another 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and repeat procedure with remaining snap peas.
While the snap peas are still hot, toss with the scallions, chile, lemon zest and lemon juice. Let cool slightly. Add mint and toss.
Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, topped with cashews, if using.
*Except for one leeetle problem. I might not be able to eat crusty baguette anymore. *sob* I’ve been going through digestive assholery for many, many months now, and it’s finally gotten to the point where I have to get the damn thing scoped and biopsied and tested, because I cannot handle vomiting every 3-4 days. I just can’t take it any longer. I also will be very, very unhappy if it turns out that I cannot eat delicious, delectable gluten for the rest of my years. I live for gluten. Life without baguette and pasta and pizza? Suckage. But so is throwing up every few days. I go in for my fun little gastrointestinal scope on Friday, so stay tuned.