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Monday, May 21, 2012

Early Summer

Freshly picked Radishes
Within just a few days, Spring seems to have subsided and Summer has made an entrance.  Its softer, warmer, and satisfyingly longer days of growth affects us just as much as it affects plants.  We rejoice in the warmer nights and bask in the beauty of each sunny day.  Our skin tone changes and we glow from it.  Just as we love the longer days of summer, our plants too respond to these long days.  My broccoli rabe and bok choy, planted just weeks ago, are already going to seed and flowering.  Too hot too soon? Lettuces are in need of a trim, as they too are not long for this world.  They will either be eaten or go to seed as well.   Such is the impermanence of the growing season, as it echos our own impermanence in this life as well.  Our children grow from an infant to a toddler, and before you know it, they are off to college or married with children.   Just as we pick fruit from the tree when it is ripe, we let go of our children in small ways at first, then larger as they set off on their own and push us away with their newfound independence and strength.

With daily reminders that we are different from moment to moment, there is wisdom in knowing our daily rises and falls.  Our own wisdom allows us to know when we are being too greedy or too passive.  Too ebullient, or too negative.  Just as a plant knows what kind of a plant it is, deep down, our own wisdom knows these things.  How does a pepper know its a pepper and not an eggplant?  How do we know when to slow down or when to speed up? When I look at the miracle of a seed and the sprout, with all of its genetic make-up in one tiny little package, it reminds me of a baby, a smaller version of us, but not quite us.  Its own unique and special individual.  Are plants individuals too?  They must be.

Often people are referred to as being in the spring of life, the autumn of their lives, etc.  It is obviously a metaphor, but its one that I think brings comfort.  To know that there is a season for everything. A time to be young, loose and fancy free, a time to be busy with focus, a time to relax, a time for raising children, a time to retire, a time to pass on.  It is nice to know that I can slow down if I want (not just because I am older, but that helps make the decision more clear)

I was just reading an article about Isabella Rosellini's new movie Late Bloomers, a comic film about aging.  Its a sign that the baby boomer generation is getting older and noticing it, big time.  Eyeglass companies are booming and it has probably spilled over into the hearing aid department as well.  As we accept each stage of our lives with open arms we don't have to fear the consequences of what is happening.  It is just what happens when you get to a certain age.  It is life, so to speak.  There is a certain grace that comes when you accept.  You can even see and sense the uncomfortable ones out there who aren't so comfortable with aging.

Late Bloomers, is probably just the beginning of the films we'll see out of hollywood on the subject, a place where it is rumored that you wouldn't recognize a 50 year old woman if you saw one (because their faces and bodies are so altered).  Is 70 the new 50?  As the director Julie Gravas (Costa Gravas' daughter) says, "...reaching 60 is a no man's land in between ages that need inventing-not as young as one thinks one is, though not as old as others may think."  I like that way of thinking, I will ponder that one as I go back to my summer gardening.

Homegrown Roasted Potatoes with Celery, Radishes, Cucumber and Herbs
This recipe can be made several ways, but tastes great with freshly plucked potatoes out of your garden.  If you have never grown them before, take some that have started to sprout and just stick them in the ground, about 6" under.  They will adjust themselves accordingly and before you know it, will sprout leaves above ground.  Keep watering the plants until they reach maturity, about 2ft high.  Pluck and watch the potatoes fall off the plant.  Dig a little so you aren't missing any below.  Its like a treasure hunt!

8 small white or yellow potatoes
Celery. 1 rib, finely chopped
Radishes, 2-4 thinly sliced, then finely chopped
Cucumber, 1/2 English or Persian, partially peeled, then finely chopped
Parsley, 1/4 cup finely chopped
Chives, 1 bunch, finely chopped
Shallot (optional), finely chopped
Olive Oil
White Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Roast the potatoes in the oven for about 30 minutes on 400 degrees.  You can also boil them. I usually quarter them first so I don't have to handle them when they are hot.  Either way they are tasty.

In the meantime, prepare the dressing by drizzling about 3/4 cup olive oil into a salad bowl.  Then drizzle about 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk.  Finely chop 1/8 cup of fresh parsley and a whole bunch of chives, the celery and the radish and if you are opting for the shallot.  Whisk again to saturate the herbs in the dressing.

When the potatoes are done cooking, gently add them to the dressed herbs.  Be careful of the hot potatoes!   They will absorb a little more of the dressing if they are warm.  You can then lay them over fresh greens, or leave it by itself, or even add it to a nicoise salad.    Happy Cooking!   Tricia

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