Peas in a pod. That's what we've been here for the past week or so. Five of us, together, nearly every day, around the clock. With no power and no air conditioning, we ended up congregating in the coolest places -- on the porch, in the basement -- so that even though we had plenty of space to spread out in this house, we were never far apart.
And it was too hot to do much besides sit around and try not to think about how hot we were. All those summer projects that I had on my list seemed much less critical with the temperature hovering at about 100.
Summertime has a togetherness rhythm anyway, with vacation, lots of time at the pool, and weekend outings. But this year, we got thrown into our togetherness in a hurry.
We were together all day for three days straight, had a one-day interlude and then were together for the Fourth of July. Most of our time was great. We turned the dining room table into a ping pong table, spent time together at the pool, played games, went to the movies, and read and read.
But the togetherness wasn't always ideal. At times our nerves wore thin, patience waned, and tempers flared. I led the way on that one. One afternoon, I found myself arguing with Chloe, one of those ridiculous arguments that escalated beyond the point of no return. Afterwards I had to remind myself that I am the adult and need to set a better example, rather than acting like the 7-year old that I was arguing with. Now I can't even remember what our argument was about, but at the time it all seemed so very important.
And one afternoon, as we set out to stay with our super wonderful friends who offered to take us in to their air conditioned home with dog and all, each of the kids decided to test our patience, whining, complaining, fussing. One at a time, they pushed our buttons, almost breaking us.
We lectured them all the way over to our friends' house about gratitude and giving us a break. I'm not whether it really sunk in, but we needed it. And it does seem that things are improving.
I feel like we're moving in synch now. Not without our challenges. Not without needing a little break apart or a series of long, deep breaths. But slowly it is coming together. We're coming together again.
2009: Lentil and Feta Salad (we still love, love, love this recipe)
2010: Red Wine Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Crostini
2011: Fresh Pea and Potato Gratins
This song has been running through my head while writing this post. Does anyone else remember it or am I showing my age here?
The Whole Beet Sauté
Serves 6 as a side dish
15 minutes preparation time
30-60 minutes cooking time
Beets and goat cheese are a classic combination but we used a soft goat's milk cheese with a rind rather than the usual chevre for this recipe. If you're in the D.C. area, you may be able to find it: Cherry Glen's Monocacy Gold. But even if you can't find it, try another soft goat's milk cheese that is a bit different.
The beets can be roasted in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
1 bunch beets, with their greens
2 garlic scapes, chopped (or 1 garlic clove, chopped)
a splash of balsamic vinegar
a couple of slices of goat's milk cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash the beets and cut off their tops. Wrap the beet roots in foil and layer the wrapped beets on a baking sheet. Bake them in the oven until they are tender. The cooking time will depend on the size of the beets, but could be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
When the beets have finished roasting, let them cool until you can touch them. Unwrap them and remove the skins with your fingers. Cut the beets across their middles and then into quarters so that you have small wedges.
Wash the beet greens and cut the stems off the bottom. You need not remove the center stalk of the leaves; they will become tender when they cook. Chop the greens roughly.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the greens and the scapes, along with salt and pepper. Cook until the greens wilt, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. If the greens begin to brown, add a splash of water.
Add the beets to the greens and cook them until they heat through. Add a splash or two of balsamic vinegar and stir to loosen any caramelization on the bottom of the pan.
Serve the beet-green mixture onto individual plates and top with a slice of the goat cheese. Eat it while it's hot.