I love seasons. One of the reasons we moved back from St Thomas was Fall. We came back for a visit in mid September after experiencing eternal Summer for a couple of years and to feel the cool air and see the leaves in the bright oranges, yellows, and reds I knew I needed seasons again. I start getting over the current season a month before the arrival of the next.
Spring is my favorite season, followed by fall. I love the warming Spring breezes. The daffodils and tulips popping up. Sitting outside in the warm afternoon sun reading a book. All of the sweet baby animals. You can feel the Earth waking up. I love the starting of the garden with the anticipation of the future yields. I love Spring food.
Artichokes, Asparagus, Fava Beans, Cauliflower, Fiddleheads, Lamb, Leeks, Meyer Lemons, Key Limes, Morels, Spring and Vidalia Onions, Navel Oranges, Peas, Ramps, Rhubarb, Sorrel, White Peppercorns, Strawberries, Watercress, Zucchini Blossoms.
All the heavy, belly warming foods of winter are melted away and you have new, light, young foods awaiting. They are so delicate and full of flavor that they don’t ask for much. What could be simplier than a steamed artichoke with melted garlic butter or aioli? Or lightly sauted fiddleheads over a grilled lamb steak. Then there are morels, my favorite mushroom, on anything, but in a little cream sauce over some asparagus or fiddleheads or lamb or fava beans or peas (I guess that covers anything)= heaven. Strawberries! Strawberries for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Strawberries in yogurt for breakfast, over spring greens and navel orange with feta or ricotta and honey drizzled over for lunch or dinner, strawberry and rhubarb shortcake with creme fraiche, or just dropped into a glass of champagne. Zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat or ricotta cheese and or shrimp, lightly fried. Or added to a risotto with shaved Parmesan.
Oh I am starting to drool. I will be adding Spring recipes during the upcoming weeks. What are some of your favorite parts of Spring?
Hey all. I was recently interviewed by “My Life In a Pyramid”. It’s a great blog, even when I’m not on it, so check it out….oh and check out the interview while you’re there
When I first read the article about the little preschooler’s homemade lunch wasn’t up to the standards of the government employees standards and was switched out for a school lunch tray which included chicken nuggets I was so outraged I was quoting Mr T (“I pity the fool” who would to try that on my kid). As the story unfolded it was said that it was in fact the teacher who was nervous having the government employee coming into the classroom that day that had provided the lunch tray and the mother was not charged. I don’t really care in a he said/she said match, my focus is really on this supplementing children’s lunches. I took a step back to think why a rule had put into place, to see it from all angles.
Do I think that little girl’s lunch that day was the example lunch that the rule/law/whatever it is was created for? No, not even close. North Carolina has been hit hard by this recession. There is a lot of out of work households and a lot of parents just trying to keep a roof over their head and something on the table. This is not an uncommon story throughout the country. Add to the hype Michelle Obama’s platform “Let’s Move” and I can see why school lunches would be at the focus.
I don’t think the government has our best intentions (most of the time) when it comes to our food and I have actively stated my position on this numerous times, but in this case I am re-evaluating my stance. Gasp! I know. I would like to believe that this was created for the child who comes from the home where his/her parents are doing the best they can under the circumstances. Perhaps school is the only place this child gets a meal. For many children this is a reality. Perhaps one parent is working so they are just above the cut off for government assistance in school meals or they don’t dare ask for assistance. So that kid goes in with a lunch a parent has done their best to provide and the teacher steps in to fill in what’s missing.
Now, do I think a full tray of cafeteria food is what should be supplied? By no means- that’s just wasteful and disrespectful to the parent who did provide food. If a teacher saw a child, knew the circumstances, and made sure she gave him an apple or carrot sticks I would think the parent would be thankful. As a parent if I was trying my darndest to provide for my family and I had to choose between higher quality food or heat/electricty, I will choose the cheapest food and keep my utilities. That is where our messed up government comes in- told you I don’t agree with them- they are subsidizing all that cheap food and keeping the better quality food at higher prices.
Currently the opportunity to use food stamps at farmers markets is popping up and if this is something that interests you start talking to your farmers market now before the season begins to they can get a program in place. Many are even doubling the credits. This is an amazing option. We need to take a stand about the kinds of foods that are being currently subsidized and what is being served for school lunches (they go hand in hand). These children will be our leaders someday, taking care of us when we are old, don’t we deserve to give them the best opportunities?
So in this story of the homemade lunch vs the cafeteria tray with chicken nuggets I think was the wrong example for who this was put in place for, but let’s not take it away from the kid who really needs it.
4 years ago I was told that my nerves were so damaged that they wondered how I could even walk. 3 days ago was the first time I felt the actual diagnosis of that statement. For the past few years I have enjoyed waking up each morning able to run around and dance with my kid, walk to greet my husband home from work, driving my precious little car around. It has not been without pain. There has been plenty of pain over the years, but never until a few days ago did I feel that it was a “medical marvel”.
I have been to many doctors since the first time my foot just went numb and I was in the ER with a pulled tendon. The second time it did this I was carrying my 1 year old son down the stairs from his nap. His leg got caught under me and other than a 1 year old foot sized nasty bruise I was ok, he however I took to the emergency room as he couldn’t walk on it. I felt horrible, not able to comprehend that there was actually something wrong with me, just knowing that my baby boy had to have x-rays because of my clumsiness. I mentioned this to my doctor during my check up a few weeks later and she sent me to a neurologist. I was also experiencing headaches, dizziness, and later developed a case of shingles. She treated individul symptoms and gave me steroids and different drugs to try. I would report every month back and say my legs were still tingling, my headaches worsening, and yet another pill was not working.
She eventually tried to put me anti-depressants claiming they had worked in similar situations. Similar situations? After I said enough to the drugs that they just didn’t work she finally started ordering cat scans, mris, spinal taps, blood work, everyone coming back without answers. Every month I would go in to my appointment and walk out just wanting answers. She then ordered an EMG. During that test another technician came in and did the same test over again. Meeting with my neurologist the next time she was baffled after all these drugs, tests, finally an EMG had given a result and she called me a “medical marvel” that I could walk. Ok. I could walk. Tomorrow I would wake up and maybe I wouldn’t be able to. It was a start. I was a mom of a toddler and I was an active person not walking wasn’t an option.
I reached out to my family tree in hope that someone shared a symptom. Every one came up empty. There was no one to shed a light on what was wrong with me.
She ended up putting me on 4 months of doxycycline to see if I had picked up some crazy form of lyme. All I did was throw up my meals and gain 40 pounds in that time, to add insult to injury. At the end of that one she finally said she was sending me to Johns Hopkins. She had another patient who had been showing symptoms of Parkinsons but was believed to have Lyme. It was a new study.
I was at Hopkins for a year, once again doing monthly EMGs, trying drugs, doing bloodwork, having scans done, even nerve biopsies. Once again to no answers, just a longer drive to process it home. When I was given a drug that had me in the emergency room for being so violently ill and I called my doctor to tell him that I had a severe reaction to the drug and when I googled it it said not to take if allergic to aspirin (which I am- my skin heats up and melts off, but that’s a different story) and he denied it having to do with anything from the drug without seeing me I was done with Hopkins.
I was lost. My neurologist had passed me off. I had seen the top of the top in the neurology department at one of the top hospitals in the country, if not world. And other than a few dress sizes up, a few scars, and a huge stack of medical bills I had nothing to show for it. They knew something was wrong, but throwing drugs at it wasn’t working. I was told I “must just fit into this group of 30-55 year old women who have unexplainable pain”. I returned to my general practioner in tears. Where did I turn? How could I stop the deteoriation of my nerves? How could I make sure I could always run around with my kid? And vainly, how could I get rid of this weight gain?
My doctor sent me to an acupuncturist, who my insurance company originally told me they would cover. But when he actually started to work, my headaches were gone, I was able to sleep through the night as the immense pain had subsided enough to let me sleep I was told they would not cover the costs. This was the same time where my husband was being diagnosed with melanoma, a much more serious disease. I stopped going to these appointments, our medical bills shifted names. He became my focus. I needed to be there for him as he had been for me all these years. It was his turn.
We bought our house a few months later, many miles away from our old home. A joyous time. My husband’s cancer had all been cut out. Life was good. I still had pain, but it was pain I lived with for the past few years without answers nothing needed to change.
Then 3 days ago my son had been out of school due to a power outage. We had gone to the bookstore then the movies to spend the day since our house was without heat due to the same power outage. We had just gotten home and my right leg just stopped. It was a pain I had never known before. I lost all feeling from behind my knee to the tips of my toes. I called my husband crying, begging him to come home, something in all these years of pain I have never done. I had to pull myself along on the floor. My son had to make himself dinner. When my husband arrived home he had to throw me over his back just for me to go to the bathroom.
This time was different. It was real. It was the moment that has been lurking in the background for the past few years. I am still hobbiling around now and fortunately thanks to some medical marvels am able to put weight on it. I have lost all feeling in my pinky and ring toes. I just hope I have at least another three years before the next stage. But if I don’t I know I have amazing strength in my boys. They have an amazing support and an incredible amount of love to keep me standing tall. And no matter what I am the luckiest mom and wife to ever live.
Every day I am thankful I have enjoyed waking up each morning able to run around and dance with my kid, walk to greet my husband home from work, driving my precious little car around.
After sitting around last year with a special dinner getting cold this year I wised up. We celebrated on Sunday, my husband’s day off. On Saturday I prepared Ana’s Short Ribs, a favorite dish of anyone who has ever eaten at Casablanca in Cambridge, MA so that they would have some delicious flavor by Sunday.
These short ribs are a very rich food so sides were simple- mashed potatoes made with stock, any extra richness not necessary in this dish, and broccoli. The broccoli I boiled the when cooked, but still had crunch I removed and put in a bowl, drizzled some olive oil hit with a little salt and pepper and it was good to go.
How to make these delicious short ribs:
Ana Sortun (chef/owner of Oleana’s in Cambridge) made these legendary when she was a chef at Casablanca in Cambridge.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
4 large Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp black pepper2
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 whole start anise
1 bay leaf
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cook onions with salt and pepper in a large oven-safe casserole in oil and butter on med-high heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to med-low and cook another 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove onions from the casserole and set aside. Pour vinegar, soy sauce, wine, water, sugar, garlic, anise, and bay leaf into the casserole and bring to a boil. Add short ribs and cover them with onions and return the liquid to boil. Cover casserole and transfer it to the oven. Cook for 5 hours at 275F.
Refrigerate meat and liquid separately overnight. The fat on top of the liquid will solidify. Carefully lift it off and discard. Combine as many shortribs as you are serving that day with some of the balsamic soy liquid and simmer on the stove top until reheated.
For more of Ana’s amazing recipes check out her cookbook, Spice