What’s the best thing a girl can do to a torn-to-pieces, totally pitiful construction zone of a house? How about boil a big pot of apple cider vinegar so it really smells like home…
Okay, I don’t want to hear it — the smell only lasted a few days, at most. And if all goes according to plan, this little stockpile of freshly-made relish will be with us for months.
Minus the flea beetles and, of course, what we’ll go ahead and call “the great squash scourge of 2015,” our first-real-garden adventure has been mostly successful. The blistering heat of late summer has us wishing, despite ourselves, that the rain would return… but the tomatoes are loving the sun. And we may even find ourselves with an eggplant or two by August’s end – having nursed them back to health in a post-beetle world.
… we won’t talk about the squash. They were so healthy… it all happened so fast.
Regardless, we’re still swimming in the stragglers… so I suppose if there was one thing we could spare…
But the bounty — of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and herbs — has allowed us to get a little more creative.
… and that creativity, thankfully, includes this big steaming pot of homemade relish and the sweet, sweet smell of apple cider vinegar in the air.
August is a lesson in slowing down. The heat and humidity set in and, against our better judgement, we find ourselves sitting longer, stalling more… taking the time to savor each moment as the last few days of summer drip away.
Would I love to have that guest bathroom back up and running after a month of staring at an empty room? I would. Would I like to eat a well-balanced dinner instead of a sweet, crisp, melt-in-your-mouth pile of buttermilk waffles with summer fruit and sweet cream?
… well no, actually I’d much rather have the waffles.
As our renovation drags on, slow as they come, the lessons in patience are piling up. But with the onset of August, it feels almost right that they should. The summer days are few, and the time left to savor them is fading by the day.
As a little girl, I remember sitting for hours in the grass, making flower crowns from wild daisies, and occasionally from my mother’s nasturtiums… the first time I realized that flowers could be food, it seemed almost too good to be true. Despite a propensity to climb trees and roll around in the dirt, the girly girl inside me knew that something truly special made it possible to put real rose petals on cake.
Flowers are such a simple solution in a time when everything seems complicated… no matter how many obstacles arise – and arise, they do – in our home improvements, the garden continues to grow.
Asbestos tiles? Have some squash. Warped walls? The tomatoes will be ready soon. Still battling bugs? Maybe they like all those vegetables on your counters. Hmm.
Lately it seems like our life is all new – new house, new job, new colony of bugs in our mailbox…
But there’s something exciting about the possibility of it all, so we’re rolling with it – and it’s forcing us to switch things up and try a few things we’ve been meaning to try for years.
Like, for example, making ice cream – maybe Mark’s favorite food on the earth. It’s practically a crime we haven’t tried it before.
For our very first attempt at the cold creamy stuff — ever (it’s just crazy) — we worked with Ford and their super-clever new series Switch it Up to use one of our very favorite summer ingredients – sour cherries. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
Be sure to check out the latest episode of Switch it Up — where in which Food52’s Merrill Stubbs challenges Joanna Hawley of Jojotastic to a new task — right here!
And follow along for our sour cherry ice cream recipe below!
I grew up on the coast, with a vast ocean just a few miles from my home. I felt strangled in my small town, and when I stared at the ocean in the clean, crisp, salt air, I saw nothing but possibility. I never even considered a school in my own state…
Instead, I moved to California… and I cried for months, missing my trees, until the desert sand and warm ocean waves etched a permanent place on my soul.
Still, I thought there must be more… my heart needed to wander. So I packed my car and moved to the east coast. Away from my ocean, away from my trees… and I’ve lived here in Maryland and worked in DC ever since.
Here, the beaches have boardwalks. The smell of Old Bay, malt vinegar, and sunscreen fills the air… and for Mark, that smell is every bit as nostalgic as my own.
There was a time when I thought we led a pretty minimalist existence — the little voice that told me I could live in a tiny house was strong.
Then I moved.
In moving spaces, it suddenly occurs to a person just how much stuff they’ve managed to accumulate over the years. Clothes, linens, props, 40 place settings for the occasional gathering.
… okay those last two might be unique.
But whatever you might keep stuffed in your own closets and corners, there is one thing we all share — we all have a lot of stuff we don’t really need.
The truly precious items, the ones we’d mourn if they were somehow misplaced in the move, are fewer and farther between. And that’s all the more reason to do whatever we can to make sure they’re protected.
… as we settle into our new home and I settle into a new job, a lot of feelings seem to sneak up and overwhelm me on a daily basis. Worry, excitement, general terror, elation… okay mostly just the two. But life and the people we love somehow feel more precious in these times of increased intensity, and the lost connection to those we’ve held dear more stark.
I have only a few items to remember my grandmother, who, growing up, lived just through a trail in the woods… and some of the most precious items I own are her handwritten recipes.
How do you like your eggs? I feel like this all-important question has haunted me since Runaway Bride. Because as much as I’d like to pick just one… I’m sorry, I like them all, and I like them pretty much every way.
Hard boiled on a salad or alone, fried on top of a sweet potato hash, scrambled on my toast, poached and smothered in hollandaise, or bathed in a beautiful red sauce with sausage and kale.
You might’ve seen shakshuka around – but you might not realize just how creative you can be with the dish. Since my vegetarian days have long fallen off the wagon, I couldn’t help but crave a little local sausage with my eggs.
… and since everything we’re eating is pretty easy these days – as in off a box (until Sunday!) and limited to those tools we can actually find – this dish fit the bill.
So, buying a house is maybe the biggest roller coaster ever… we’ve been so spoiled.
Our first experience, in buying our current home, was probably the dumbest, but also the easiest ever. We didn’t have a realtor, we didn’t look for days or months or get our hopes up only to have them dashed… not at all. In fact, we did nothing more than walk into a really awesome model home, dream about how we could ever afford to live there and then figure out how we could.
We put in a totally improvised offer (because it was just us, no realtor, and I’m sure we were royally screwed… though in looking back I’m pretty glad we bargained at all…) and then there we were — we were on our way to owning a totally customized, brand new first home… it was boring, but at least there weren’t any dirty little surprises waiting for an inspector to find.
… or, at least there were fewer dirty little surprises. Let’s not pretend that nothing went wrong. The sump pump would disagree.
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