Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dinner For the Soul

Some people jump out of planes; others put faux wings on their backs and jump off of a cliff, others try to hike up an enormous mountain in the dead of winter and try not to get caught in an avalanche- (we could list a million things that people do for a momentary thrill) however, here at Sweet Pickles Farm, we believe in being very careful with our gift of life, but still we love the delicious feeling of living life to the full.  For us, the awakening of spring, with delicate green heads of plants planted a few years ago, almost forgotten, but with a strong will to live and prosper, emerging from the soil and being applauded by the ones who planted them, and then promptly experienced brain fog and could not for the life of them remember what they were.  They seem to love us nonetheless, and delight us with their presence each spring; perhaps this is one reason we were impelled to begin a blog- our memories are not the sharpest tools in the shed these days.  (Which reminds us we have some maintenance to do on our garden implements--but that is a digression). 

Funny how a garden can bring up memories- just as a smell, (such as created when a tomato leaf is brushed against), a sight, (corn always reminds us of our kids chasing each other through the corn stalks towering about their heads), or a sound (a tiller motor always means spring is here) can transport one back to a moment far back in time, but deep inside the mind and heart.  It really is a special experience for anyone willing to savor the moments.

Poppy and Mamie have so many great memories with their children.  We were fortunate on a limited budget to be able to go to New York and visit Bethel, also the top of the World Trade center shortly before it was no more... and to visit many towns such as Eureka Springs,  Arkansas; Coffeyville,  Kansas; where the Dalton brothers robbed the bank and kissed life goodbye, and  Mansfield, Missouri; where we visited the last home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband, Almonzo.  Lovely memories of whale-watching and eating lobster with butter and lemon in Maine, and of course, the frivolous but lovely memories at Disney World, Florida.  (Oh, and how we had to force our son onto the rides that he ultimately loved!)

However, after the kids left home, we had to figure out who we really were as a couple, and what truly floated our unique boat (or should we say raft).  We realized a love of the land, gardening and preserving, cooking and bumping into each other in the kitchen suddenly meant so much more than some of our younger "bumping around".  With our fur-babies at our feet, finding out we have some talents that were long hidden in the fervor of raising a family, were a delightful surprise to us both.  Also being so busy helping our friends when they are low, and when unexpected trials beset them-it truly is a busy life; but one we would not trade for a minute with someone about to jump out of a moving plane...give us a hoe and shovel, a stove, and a bottle of vino and we get the same thrill :-)

Well, with that autobiography out of the way...

Tonight we only had a short window of evening, since we had to work and all that lunacy, to make dinner and enjoy unwinding at home.

Mamie wanted to make sure there was something sweet to be had tonight so she started with dessert.  She took out her beloved cookbook, "Around My French Table" authored by Dorie Greenspan.  She had made the apple cake called "Marie-Helene's Apple Cake" before, and it sounded like the perfect thing for dessert tonight- easy, and not too sweet.

By the way, if you love to cook, (and read) this cookbook is a fun one to have.  We have made many recipes from it and enjoyed each one.

                        It even looks pretty when you are making it....

We did not have any rum called for in the recipe, so we made do with what we had!

Then we decided to use up some more Chard, and before we knew it, we had made a conglomeration of pasta (although tonight a store-bought tortellini), and simmered tomatoes with basil and garlic and fresh herbs, and the addition of cannellini beans, cheese, and finally, fresh basil on top.  

And our beloved grilled veggies- a mix of eggplant, zucchini, asparagus and red pepper with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper & salt...

Can you smell it?

It was delicious!  And when you add the sounds of Enya and Jack Johnson in the background, and a nice glass of chardonnay, you are making memories for the near future when you can't remember what day it is....

Of course, we always look forward to when these empty chairs are filled with our kids that were just tikes yesterday, and their mates who are now like our own son and daughter to us!  And we need to add a highchair!

Bon appetit!

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  1. I just love your outlook on life in the empty nest. I'm not interested in jumping out of planes or scaling mountains, but I agree that each day can be an adventure and should be enjoyed while we are still blessed with good health.
    Your dinner looks fabulous and so does that pretty cake. My idea of a perfect day is spending time working in my garden followed by a nice glass of wine on the patio as the dinner cooks on the grill.
    The cookbook looks great. I love cookbooks that have lovely pictures in them.
    Your photos are all so pretty too. I couldn't help but notice the blue and white platter. Gorgeous!

    1. :) Isn't life and family a blessing? We have had such limited time lately to do our yard work that we have to fit it in when we can...we put up a few more pots tonight, and hopefully tomorrow we can add some mulch. And yes, to sit back and survey a hard days putter with a glass of wine and the birds singing is wonderful!