The house is chilly. I check the thermostat and find it’s 65. While someone on Facebook copped to turning on the heat for the first time ever in September, I use the oven today for heat. I resist the urge to wear a sweater, three quarter sleeve t-shirt and jeans, ballet flats, instead of short sleeve t, skirt, and sandals as far as I’ll go to acknowledge fall is in the air.

This morning I woke just after 6 feeling close to death, a dramatization, but the pain was bad. I had one of those migraines I used to get, sick headaches a good name for them..four hours later, I couldn’t imagine getting through the day, nausea, sensitivity to light, cold, movement, touch all laying me low on a day I hoped to get my act together, cook, shop, plan for a big party we’re having tomorrow, hang with my kids. Thank the good lord for Excedrin Migraine and a boyfriend who knows his medicine. I followed the useless early morning tylenol with a midmorning heavy dose, and soon was on to greener pastures, making frittata for the kids and me, first time since before Spain, chosen over Spanish Tortilla, which my daughter requested early in the week, mostly because the thought of the runny eggs in the ones we had in Spain came too close to triggering the nausea I still felt, and because of the abundance of frittata ingredients in our house, spinach from my gal’s stash for green smoothies, potatoes from the farmers market on our vacation, heirloom tomatoes on sale at the store, likely the last we’ll see this year, broccoli I cooked earlier in the week, leftover in the fridge, eggs, cheese, onions, garlic scapes pesto left from early summer, and herbs from the porch, still out there til temps drop a little lower and they have to come in or freeze. My kids and I enjoyed the frittata at the kitchen table, along with chunks of melon and conversation about the tastiness or lack of it with melon, this one particularly nice.

Moments like that confirm the research connecting family dinners with children’s success in life.

After I clean up from the frittata, its time to scour the cupboards for the ingredients for flourless chocolate cake, the treat I’ll offer at tomorrow’s retirement party for Alice, better than the sheet cake I think I ought to get, because it’s traditional, not because it’s great, and better for Alice, who goes gluten free. The batter in the bowl is soothing, as the veggies and eggs were sustaining. The chocolate in the cupboards is the good stuff, as the recipe requests. I have eggs, butter, vanilla, sugar, and that is all I need, plus the heart pan and paper to line it and the oven to bake it and the bowls and microwave and whisk, all the stuff we take for granted in homes that are used to baking in first world USA.

This week there’ve been critters in the compost. Two of four day care teachers have been sick. Babies have cried through much of nap time, unable to settle themselves to sleep. Kids have punched and fussed and spilled their milk. Paradise isn’t all perfect, even here in the first world USA West Family Day Care universe I love. I’ve missed my guy, gone since Monday after ten days together in Spain, gone this weekend to fight climate change on the streets of New York City, large world problem I haven’t got strength to fight, prefer to fight right here in Somerville with locally grown veggies, compost, and holding off on oil heat. Small things add up, my philosophy of midlife, when energy for protests and large scale movements is scarce.

Been a full week, Spain/Somerville, holiday/work, couple/single mom with kids. Transitions are tough, no matter our age. Whenever I feel one big-time, as I have this week, I gain empathy for the kids in our care, and their parents, some of whom feel the transitions every day with tears and tantrums. Not many do, but those who do really struggle, and it’s good to gain perspective.

Last Saturday I was in Spain. I woke near in the back bedroom of our friends house, after a late night at the circus in Avila, had breakfast on the patio, fresh figs from their tree the highlight of that meal, followed by fresh almonds taken from another tree and smashed open with a rock. We walked the dog in the country, picked blackberries, shopped in the local grocery, with Pulpo right out front, brand names and products we don’t have here mixed with plenty that we do, for a salad lunch we made in the friends’ small kitchen, enjoyed in the dining room with their son, before heading off to Avila for more circus festival, and dinner with the friends who introduced us a year and a half ago, a world away from Spain.

Now I’m back, here on the red couch with the white cat, son off to Improv Class, gal upstairs in her room. Home is a happy place to be, more so now I’ve made the transition back, a bit rocky midweek, settling down now, thanks to time, Excedrin, cooking, cake.

Tomorrow will be the biggest party I’ve hosted in awhile, over sixty expected for potluck in the park, to celebrate Alice and her many years working with children, who turned 70 last week. The first cake is on the counter, the second will be soon. Shortly my daughter and I will do the shopping, for day care and home groceries, plus raspberries to turn into sauce to top the cake. Low key Saturday is just what the doctor ordered, surprising me once again midday as the gift that keeps on giving, time in a quiet house with a cat and the couch and the keyboard and a small story and plans for things to come.

Forgot to say John Prine was also part of the medicine. The man does restore my spirits, almost had me dancing while I baked.

Here is the recipe for the flourless chocolate cake, tried and true for several birthday parties so far, new for a retirement bash, at least for me. Any thoughts on decorating it to rival the usual grocery store sheet cake?

And for frittata, its more procedure and ingredients than recipe, but here is a rough idea, in case you’d like to try and haven’t yet:

Chop some vegetables and slice some cheese and beat some eggs and preheat the oven to broil before you begin to cook.

Today I used 8 eggs, for three of us, plus leftovers.

In the medium, nonstick frying pan, I sautéed one onion in some olive oil til soft. Next in were chunks of red potatoes, then after they were nearly cooked, chopped broccoli, tomatoes, leftover corn, and garlic scape pesto (could have used chopped garlic in the beginning, but this is easier and was on hand). When all that heated through, I tossed in some salt and pepper, some fresh, chopped basil and parsley from the porch, and a few chopped leaves of spinach.

Over that I poured the eggs, beaten with some milk, and spread slices of cheddar cheese. I cooked that a few minutes til the eggs at the edge began to set, then put it under the broiler, not too close, until the eggs puffed, the cheese melted, and I could see some golden brown.

I let it cool a few minutes, then cut and served the wedges with chunks of cantaloupe melon, more fresh ground pepper and salt, yum.

I’d share a John Prine song, but none in particular stand out. Try The Missing Years album if you just want a great collection. In this day and age, that ought to be a decent lead.

Today I’m in my kitchen. The dishwasher is running, already full after less than twenty four hours at home. Last night we ate homemade soup with salad, bread, and cheese, left in our kitchen by Liana as a welcome home gift. Today I’m here, making albondigas, meatballs in three stripes, regular, sans gluten and lactose, and vegetarian, for the ones I love. Tonight, as I hoped, my two kids and one gal will join me for dinner. Richard’s gone home, after over two weeks away, Somerville, France, Spain, Somerville. The house is quiet, save the noisy “quiet partner” dishwasher, misnamed from the beginning, noisiest machine ever, but a sound that is familiar, here in this house these twenty some years with me, noising it up.

Frances the cat was lonesome I believe. She tore small holes in the living room upholstery, left twisted strands of fur on the ottoman, coatings of white fur on several chairs. When we first arrived, she stayed on her belly under the dining room table for awhile, til I called to her, gave her some love with the comb. Then after dinner, as I waited for the bread machine to do its thing, she came to visit on the couch, more petting, more love.

I took quite a lot of pictures while in Spain, even while in the air returning home. I didn’t write much at all, something small day one in the notebook I brought thinking I’d write more. I didn’t read much either, in spite of traveling with my usual pile of books. I came home with a new book I love, which I read for an hour or so at the end of the flight. It’s from an exhibit on playgrounds which we visited at the Museo Reina Sofia, museum we could see from the bedroom window of our apartment in Madrid.

The right stuff found us this trip. I feel like I’ve been away and I’m happy to be back, letting it all soak in.

Once upon a time I thought I had been born in the wrong time and place. I should have been a hippy. I should have been born in a country whose diet was based on rice. I should have stayed in New York City and taught in a progressive public school when progressive public schools existed. Thoughts like that have captured my imagination and stuck. These days I’m accepting child of the world status, learning to take in the times and places when things were different, wondering when things might feel right again, when children and the right to play will have the respect they deserve, when rich and poor won’t live such different lives, when shiny and well-loved will take their proper places, when the artists’ and farmers’ and mothers’ and elders’ voices will be heard. All that occupies a mind on vacation in Spain in 2014, a place of economic crises, class divides, great art, a circus festival in a walled city and a new school on the edge of the view, sun streaming in through newly installed windows on extra shiny toys, color and white and wood and sand and stone each taking their place in the child’s world with bureaucracy, anger, love.

I don’t think I’m ready yet to make sense of what I took in in a way you’ll understand. I’ll share some photos soon. That may help. Or not. We stayed with fine people, were hosted by another in a lovely air b and b. We walked the streets and parks and even el campo, sat in our friends’ patios, shared meals in cafes, visited more exhibitions of art in one week than I have since I visited Paris and Barcelona nearly thirty years ago, drove between Madrid and Torrelodones, Moralzarzar, Segovia, Avila, and back, rode subways and trains and cars, walked miles over stone and concrete, dirt and tiled floors, cooked a little bit but mostly ate out or were fed.

So today, its a good day for home, for cooking for my kids and man, for washing dishes and clothes, for paying bills and depositing checks, for unpacking if I’m ambitious, for writing a few minutes here, for a short walk around the neighborhood, later for dinner and a grocery shop, maybe television before bed. As always for me, it’s great to get away and it’s great to come back home. Hugging my kids and my guy feels good no matter where we are, but at home it feels just right.

Here is a link to the Reina Sofia exhibit, Playgrounds: Reinventing the Square, which includes a podcast, video, and description of the book I bought, as well as a little explanation of the exhibit that I loved. Lucky me to see it just before it left:

And here, at the request of my daughter, at long last, is the recipe for tofu albondigas, just for you, or anyone you know who likes tofu in a meatball. So far, all of us do:)

Start with:

1 pound tofu, mashed with a fork in a medium bowl


Two eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs (I make my own by putting stale bread in the blender. Good bread a bonus)
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon minced parsley (we are out, so meatballs won’t get cooked until after I run to the store:()
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix together with a fork. Preheat broiler. Roll meatballs and place on broiling pan. Broil until lightly brown, flip, broil other side. Serve with favorite tomato sauce and pasta. Currently my gal loves rice pasta, but whatever you like will do. Tofu meatballs are also pretty good on their own, sort of a falafel sized piece of protein with a yummy cheesy garlic taste.

If you are a meat lover, you can make the same meatballs with meat! Instead of the pound of tofu, use 3/4 pound ground beef and 1/4 pound ground pork.

If you are lactose intolerant, use lactaid. If you are gluten free, make bread crumbs of your favorite gluten free bread. For my guy, I do both, and the meatballs are equally delicious. Yum. I can hardly wait til dinner. It’s been awhile since I cooked a real meal.

Today I have a full day at home on my own. My children and I returned last night after days and weeks apart, after long drives, traffic, a scene that required more of us than expected. This morning when I woke shortly after 6 the scene replayed and I got up to start the day, to cover the brand new outlets installed in the day care while we were away, to drag the trash and recycling accumulated from the last week of day care to the curb, to put our kitchen together, to drink a cup of tea and answer e-mail, to install a new to us air conditioner in the day care window above the outlet the electrician installed just for it.

As the kids were about to leave the house the rain began. I searched out raincoats from the pegs and basement and sent them off and then the rain began in earnest. It came down hard and fast and when I looked outside, there was a flood and then there were my children driving through it in our new car. I screamed as I had last night during the scene I won’t describe here, this time at my son, who couldn’t hear me through closed doors and hard rain, but soon they were through the flood and parked in front of the house. Later they were back on the road and the house was quiet upstairs, full of kids and day care teachers below. 

More desk work all morning, and laundry, and now I’m restless as can be. Time for ratatouille, first batch of summer, inspired by my favorite table at the Northampton farmers’ market this weekend, offering baskets of ripe tomatoes, mixed peppers, french squash, small potatoes. It’s cooler and less humid than it was when I woke up, though the storms are predicted to return. I’m listening to Krista Tippet interview a young artist for On Being, feeling good to be up from the table where I worked a long while, hoping the batch of ratatouille will be a good one, if a bit small, that it will be a fine meal for my kids and me tonight, second dinner of the week, last week we’ll be together at home for awhile, planning to make the most of it, fridge full of local produce, blueberries, veggies, eggs, mind less full of plans for cooking than of hopes for meals together, conversation, companionship, kindness, family in my home.

Here is a photo of the flood on our street, along with a link to the Krista Tippet pod cast with Dario Robletto, and if I am ambitious, the recipe from Moosewood for Ratatouille, should you be hungry, too.

I’m not able to cut and paste the recipe, but if you google Moosewood and ratatouille, you’ll be all set:)

And now I can’t do the photo, either..but here is a link to the podcast! I’m technologically challenged today. Time to go back to the chopping board, hands on learning where I’m at. Well, even the podcast link won’t copy..ugh..maybe later it will. Google Dario Robletto On Being and you’ll be all set:)

Last Friday our good friend the four celebrated his last day care day with us. The last hour of our time together, I brought out the china tea set and we had tea, a small group, three twos, a three, a four, and a five, fanciest cups for the older three, fiesta ware for twos, not a dropped cup, and only a bit of spilled tea. It was dark and we were warm and when the boy left, I asked for a hug, and he agreed, both of us acknowledging that is what folks do when saying fond good-byes.

This weekend the snow arrived in earnest. My son and my beau were here to help me shovel out the heavy stuff, icy layer on top of heavy laden snow. This morning Liana and I braved the back yard with the youngest ones. I tamped down the icy layer with my big boots and the help of the five while Liana tended the baby in his slippery suit and the twos wondered what the heck had happened, ground slipping out from underfoot every few feet, backyard dishes buried in snow, nothing terribly familiar. Finally I was able to get the sleds. The five and a two and I tested a threesome down the tiny hill under the tree house. Several twos were just happy to have solid ground under their seated bums and turned their sleds into boats. The baby even lay on his back on a sled where I tried to feed him round two of his rejected bottle.

When the day ended, many families were late. The snow came down again, this time swift and all at once, fluffy, but so much so fast that traffic was stopped. I asked another single mom for advice on timing the shovel (to conserve my energy) and she recommended waiting til about 9, which I did, giving me time after the last kids left with families and Liana left on foot, choosing to walk home rather than dig out her car and sit in traffic. I explored the fridge, found kale, mushrooms, wondered what I could make in the world of soup, turned to The Moosewood Cookbook, wedding gift of twenty some years ago, remembering as I read how much Moosewood loved the mushroom.

One recipe struck me and called for just what I had in the cupboards and fridge, Curried Squash and Mushroom Soup, requiring two squash, which I had, one from Hadley, not far away, and a pile of mushrooms, which I didn’t want to go to waste, left her from Thanksgiving and still good. I roasted the squash while I ate dinner by candlelight, leftover soup, rice, and corn muffin spread with maple cream from the farmer’s market near my mom’s, while I shopped online for some more of the things on my list, then took it out to cool while I shoveled and shoveled and shoveled, off the porch, down the stairs, across the sidewalk, up the driveway (finishing only part) and around the house to clear the sidewalk on the other side to the back porch and door. Then it was time to come in from the cold, dry my boots and finish the soup, puree the squash, mix it with broth and orange juice, sauté onions in butter with curry spices, then mushrooms, mix it all together, and eat a bowl with slivered almonds, leaving the yogurt topping for bowl two to be eaten, if all goes as planned, with my kids tomorrow. Luckily, the two squash the recipe required produced twice as much pulp as needed for a single batch of soup, so I made a double, enough for the kids and I with bread and a salad, which I can make from the contents of the fridge, leaving time if the gal comes home, for lighting and decorating the tree.

Here’s the recipe in case you’d like to try it. The first bowl made me very, very happy, surprisingly yummy for a soup I’ve never heard of or tasted before. Just as delicious as the apples we had for lunch and snack picked from one of our twos’ grandparents’ tree, with history and cared they shared with me via e-mail tonight. I do love good, homegrown, homemade food, and preparing and sharing it with good people, little and big.

Someone on the internet put the recipe into a word document, so I’ll copy and paste it here for you. Enjoy:)

Curried Squash & Mushroom Soup (Moosewood Cookbook)


2 medium butternut squash

2.5 cups water or vegetable broth

1 cup orange juice

2 Tbs. Butter

½ cup chopped onion

1 medium clove crushed garlic

6 oz. Mushrooms, sliced

½ tsp. Ground cumin

½ tsp. Ground coriander

½ tsp. Ground cinnamon

¾ tsp. Ground ginger

¼ tsp dry mustard

1 ¼ tsp. Salt

a few dashes cayenne pepper

juice of one fresh lemon (just before serving)

sour cream or yogurt(topping)

toasted chopped almonds (topping)


Split the squash lengthwise, remove seeds and bake face-down in a 375 degree oven on an oiled tray 30-45 minutes or until soft.  Cool and scoop out the insides.  About 3 cups worth of the insides is required.  Put in blender with water or stock and puree until smooth.  Combine in a kettle or saucepan with the orange juice.


Heat the butter in a skillet and add the garlic, onion, salt and spices.  Saute until the onion is soft.  (May need some water if it sticks.)  Next, add mushrooms, cover, and cook 10 minutes.


Add the sauté to the squash, scraping the skillet well to salvage all the good stuff.  Heat everything together very gently.  Taste to correct seasoning.  You may want more cayenne or salt.  And, since this is a fairly sweet soup, you may want to spruce it up with some fresh lemon juice just prior to serving.


Serve topped with yogurt and chopped, toasted almonds.  Makes 4-5 servings and takes one and one-half hours to prepare.  Flavor continues to mature with additional simmering.

This afternoon I’m mixing up three pots of soup..all asparagus, one with chicken broth, one with veggie broth, one vegan. The asparagus this week tasted like spring. Asparagus soup is all I could think to bring to book club, given that someone else offered salad and dessert.

The snow flakes are enormous this afternoon after a morning of cold rain. The house is warm and stocked with food for the week. Pandora Steve Earle is playing all sorts of music in the kitchen, while my kids are quiet as the snow.

Tomorrow is back to day care and school. Winter is still here. Soon spring will come. There will be more asparagus, irises again, and less soup. For now, the shoots and the stove combine, another good recipe from Cooking Light. Though I would have been just as happy with heavy cream as one percent milk and butter, the cookbook is where I turned this morning before the shop.

Enjoy the recipe. Winter into spring is on the way.

Last time I remember this soup was in a bowl in the dining room of my host family’s house in Quito, Ecuador when I was fifteen. It was made by Maria, the Andean cook, who looked like an old woman, but was probably younger than I am now.

And a poem from Writer’s Almanac earlier in the week to help me manage the quiet of an adolescent and a teen behind closed doors:


The Cord

by Leanne O’Sullivan

I used to lie on the floor for hours after
school with the phone cradled between
my shoulder and my ear, a plate of cold
rice to my left, my school books to my right.
Twirling the cord between my fingers
I spoke to friends who recognised the
language of our realm. Throats and lungs
swollen, we talked into the heart of the night,
toying with the idea of hair dye and suicide,
about the boys who didn’t love us,
who we loved too much, the pang
of the nights. Each sentence was
new territory, like a door someone was
rushing into, the glass shattering
with delirium, with knowledge and fear.
My Mother never complained about the phone bill,
what it cost for her daughter to disappear
behind a door, watching the cord
stretching its muscle away from her.
Perhaps she thought it was the only way
she could reach me, sending me away
to speak in the underworld.
As long as I was speaking
she could put my ear to the tenuous earth
and allow me to listen, to decipher.
And these were the elements of my Mother,
the earthed wire, the burning cable,
as if she flowed into the room with
me to somehow say, Stay where I can reach you,
the dim room, the dark earth. Speak of this
and when you feel removed from it
I will pull the cord and take you
back towards me.

“The Cord” by Leanne O’Sullivan, from Waiting for My Clothes. © Bloodaxe Books, 2004. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Tonight no one but me is home and that is just fine. My fridge had been bursting with produce from my last two trips to Western Mass. Both times I could feel the end of summer coming on and couldn’t resist bunches of beets and bok choy, deer tongue lettuces, bags of corn, baskets of tomatoes, squashes, eggplants, peaches, apples. You get the picture. My fridge can barely hold it. What’s more, I’ve been away and working a lot and haven’t had time to do much cooking or eating while at home.

Tonight I found the time. Instead of making plans with friends, I made a date with myself, found some recipes for roasted corn and tomato soup so those two ingredients wouldn’t go bad, cranked up the On Being with Krista Tippet, took breaks to wash and dry and fold the laundry, to clean out the cat boxes, to answer e-mails, eat dinner, wash the dishes and wipe the counters.

Earlier today I spent several hours at the dining room table paying bills, preparing refinancing documents, answering more e-mails, keeping the books, filling out paperwork for this and that. In the middle I spent several hours with Jen and the kids downstairs and in the yard, answering more e-mails and doing more paperwork during nap, after nap dishes and feeding and talking and helping kids with diapers and clean up and organizing. That’s a good day for me, getting all the ordinary stuff done, keeping the steady peaceful energy going as things unfold.

For now, I’ll give you some links to Krista Tippet’s On Being. Today I listened to one on The Science of Healing Places, one on The Vitality of the Struggle and one called Driven by Flavor. The food for thought enhanced my preparation of food for the body, made the whole experience feel like food for the soul.

Here’s how I made the soup, in case your fridge is bursting with delicious local produce, or you are on your way to the Farmer’s Market to collect some this week.

Roast Corn and Tomato Soup

6 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cob, cobs reserved

2 large tomatoes or 1 pint small tomatoes

1 or 2 bell peppers

2 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder

olive oil

1 cup heavy cream, if you would like a richer, creamier soup

avocado and sour cream for garnish, if desired

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Roast the tomatoes in a glass or ceramic baking dish in a bit of olive oil until they brown and crackle, about 30 minutes. Roast the corn kernels in an oiled baking sheet until the edges brown, about 15 minutes. Roast the pepper(s) either over a gas burner or under a broiler, turning regularly until evenly charred. Place in a brown bag for 10 to 15 minutes, remove skin, chop coarsely.

Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in oil in a soup pot. Add the roasted vegetables as they are ready, reserving some corn for garnish. While vegetables are roasting and sauteeing, simmer the corn cobs in the broth in a separate pan.  Remove cobs and add broth to soup pot to cover vegetables and simmer until they are tender. Add chili powder and salt. Add cream if desired and heat gently.

Puree the soup using either an immersion blender, a food processor, or in batches in a blender. Serve, garnishing with roasted corn, avocado, and sour cream if you like. YUM. Your house will smell delicious and your mouth will sing. I’m looking forward to my second bowl tomorrow! Wish I had delicious bread or rolls for grilled cheese or dipping. Next time I will:)

Here are the links to On Being, in case you want a little peace and inspiration while you cook:

The Science of Healing Places with Dr. Esther Sternberg:

The Vitality of the Struggle with Terry Tempest Williams:

Driven by Flavor with Dan Barber:

As I’m on a boy who’s gone tear, I decide to write again, this time not about my boy, but about the deliciousness he’s left behind..

This morning, before doing more chores, I decide to do some cooking. The kitchen is cool. My kids are here. Guests are coming for dinner, old friends we haven’t seen in too long. I make muffins from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, recipe my mother used to use. This time I add blackberries from our garden, frozen by me before our vacation, picked by my daughter for her older brother, one of two going away gifts, this one he couldn’t finish the bowl was so big, the harvest so abundant, so we’ll enjoy some today, the other cup later. While the muffins are baking, I decide to prepare the chicken, three small packages I had intended for a small dinner for my meat eating boy and me, or my beau and me, summer too hot and busy for cooking chicken, I’ll cook all three packages today. Last time I remember cooking chicken was for my boy’s graduation party. I made so much then I filled the biggest pot as it was marinating in this rub. Today I cut some in chunks for kebabs like on that day, marinade some split breasts, bone in, as that is what I’ve got.

Here is the recipe for the rub. There is a salsa down below I haven’t made, because the ingredients require a trip to the store, not on today’s agenda of being with friends and kids and doing chores around the house. Enjoy the chicken. If you have blackberries in your yard, I bet Betty Crocker’s got a muffin recipe on line for you to try:)

James’ Chicken Rub/Marinade:

1 table spoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Half teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Half teaspoon ground cumin
Quarter teaspoon black pepper
One and one half pounds chicken breast boneless

Basically mix it all together and stir the chicken cubes in.

You can increase the recipe depending on how much chicken you want to cook.

The salsa recipe is:
Quarter cup red onion diced
Two cups diced nectarines or peaches or mango
Half cup diced red pepper
Two tablespoons cilantro
One and half tablespoons lime juice
Two teaspoons minced jalapeño pepper
Quarter teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Half. Up diced avocado

This afternoon my after school guy brought a recipe which he had copied onto an index card from a book he was reading. The kids made the cake and it’s in the oven. While we wait, we’ll share the recipe with you. It smells delicious.


1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 t. vanilla

1 1/4 cup self-rising flour, or 1 1/4 cup flour plus 1 3/4 tsp baking powder plus 1/2 tsp. plus a bit more salt

1. Set the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter 9 inch pan.

3. Mix butter and sugar together.

4. Add eggs and mix one at a time.

5. If desired, add vanilla.

6. Mix in flour (with baking powder and salt mixed in already).

7. Put batter into pan and bake half an hour.

8.Eat warm with milk.

We’ve taken photos and eaten it. The kids pronounced it a winner and took a piece to the boy’s teacher, as he had found the recipe in his school book.

Today I’m puttering in the kitchen during the quiet part of nap before the baby wakes up. Some kids are playing with cars or looking at books in the back room. The newly arrived first grader is reading Bone on the couch. Two fours are at the table, where they have been working nearly an hour with paper and crayons, scissors and tape. They are speaking softly to one another as they work, which strikes me, and I comment.

“You two are awfully kind to one another while you’re working.”

“What?” they ask.

“You two are kind when you’re working with one another.”

“Yes,” says one four to me and to the other. “We’re talking to each other because…”

And the other four picks up where she left off, “we love each other and we don’t want to die, right?”

The first four pauses, then, “Yeah. A long time ago I forgot that people could die.”

The two are still there working. There is a two who has come to join, having had a quiet rest and played a few minutes with cars. He is cutting a small green square into bits.

“You love to cut, right—-” comments the four.

“Yeah, I love to cut.” And I think of how pleasurable it is to be known, how companionable to work beside a friend or friends who love what you love, doing it in his or her or their way, noticing what you do and appreciating you for your love. Our children here are lucky in many ways. This is just one.

Just returned from the Union Square Farmers’ Market, after waking this morning wishing I was in Ashfield to go to the market there, to stop at my favorite farm stand beside the road for fifty cent cucumbers and fresh sweet corn, to visit the Peach Lady and gather a big brown bag of seconds peaches for a dollar a pound to get me through August.

Instead it’s a Somerville weekend and my first trip to the Union Square market, where I run into my kids’ former teacher, catch up on her news, buy some delicious, three dollar a pound, and no more when we go back for more after running several errands and discovering how delicious they are, peaches.

My friends have requested a a recipe for Ratatouille. This reminds me to buy eggplant, peppers, and to use the fine tomotos I bought last weekend in Ashfield, nestled on the shelf of my end of August, freshly cleaned fridge.

Here is the recipe, in case you, too, have been to the Farmers Market and have a load of vegetables to cook. It’s from Cabbagetown Cookbook, which I believe is out of print. Mine has been with me since college, where the Cabbagetown Cafe was one of my favorite treats, my first exposure to vegetarian cooking, delicious homemade whole grain bread, salad dressings with lots of fresh garlic, soups and chili to die for, and friendly Ithaca hippies running the place.

Cabbagetown recommends using this ratatouille for filling an omelette. I love it with brown rice and a grating of parmesan, or as a side dish, warm or cold. YUM.

Happy End of Summer Cabbagetown Ratatouille:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 eggplant, cut in bite-size cubes (6 cups)

1 zucchini, cut in bite-size pieces (3-4 cups)

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cloves of garlic

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, chopped

2 green peppers, cut in fairly large pieces

1 quart canned tomatoes or 6 fresh ripe tomotoes, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon dried or finely chopped fresh thyme

1. In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Add the eggplant and zucchine, and saute for about 5 minutes, until tender. Grind in a little black pepper. Remove to a bowl.

2.  Chop together the garlic and bay leaf to make a paste.

3.  In the same frying pan, heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add the onions and peppers and saute for 2-3 minute, until they just begin to become tender. Add the garlic-bay leaf paste, then the tomatoes, then the basil and thyme.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Return the eggplant and zucchini to the vegetable mixture in the frying pan.  Simmer for about 20 minutes to blend the flavors.

5.  Keep simmering over low heat.

Yeild: 8 cups. Filling for 12 omelettes, or serves 6 as a vegetable dish.

I also make smaller batches, though the Cabbagetown folks say it’s not worth your while, that you should always make a huge batch of ratatouille, and either freeze it or eat it leftover. Do as you wish. Either way, enjoy!

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