Beet, arugula and French feta salad with pine nut, lemon, rosemary sauce

Beet, arugula and French feta salad

Beet, arugula and French feta salad

Most years we just grow a few tomato plants and a few herbs, basil mostly. We have a small yard and rambunctious boys and a berserker dog and it never seemed wise to pin our hopes on healthy intact produce. Last year we didn’t grow anything at all. The ground lay fallow. This year we have the best garden ever, entirely thanks to David. He built raised boxes and we have a summer’s worth of beautiful things growing in our yard.
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It feels so hopeful, to look out at it and imagine the days unfolding and the vegetables ripening. Herbs to eat now, in large quantities, tomatoes and eggplant to ripen with the full roundness of the summer days, salsify and scorzonera to eat in the fall. I love our garden! And because I’m a lunatic, I think of the vegetables almost as people, with separate personalities of their own. We planted fava beans, and David made a trellis of twine for them to wind around. We don’t know how tall they’ll get, and we wanted to give them plenty of distance to travel, plenty of encouragement, our full faith that they’ll reach all the way to the top, but we didn’t want to set up unrealistic expectations for them. The salsify and scorzonera seem very social, standing together in long graceful lines, sharing the light that glows through them. The cilantro started sad and timid, but now it’s just taken off, it’s bolted into tall, feathery, beautiful flowers, and maybe in the fall we’ll figure out what to do with the coriander seeds. The pepper plants seem like underachievers; they haven’t grown much since we’ve gotten them, but they’re working so hard on making beautiful vivid little peppers. They’re concentrating on their art. The eggplants generously share they broad leaves with some little bug that repays the favor by turning them into lace. The tomatoes are full and frank and happy standing together in the sun.

Tarragon

Tarragon


And then there’s the tarragon. I love the way tarragon grows. It spreads along the ground in a pretty fragrant sprawl. If you weigh down a sprig so that it touches the earth, it will take root and form a new plant attached to the original. It moves and travels, it has an unruly wildness to it, but it sets down roots everywhere it goes, it makes a new place to start from, and it stays connected to its roots as well.

Beet, arugula and French feta salad

Beet, arugula and French feta salad

We got some more beautiful beets from our CSA. I thought I’d make them into a pretty salad, with their best friend arugula, and some mildly delicious French feta I splurged on at a local market. I also added half an avocado, because I’m putting avocado in everything this summer, and a scattering of pine nuts. I made a tarator sauce to drizzle over the top, with lemon and rosemary, a bit of dijon, a few capers. You could use any herbs you like in this. Tarragon would be nice!!

Here’s Jimmy Smith with Root Down (and get it)

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Golden beet and pine nut purée

Golden beet and pine nut purée

Golden beet and pine nut purée

It’s my birthday!!! AAARRGGHHHH! And I’m only telling you this because…I’m telling everybody! I’m like a little kid when it comes to birthdays. Except that I’m not, really, I’m the exact opposite. I overheard Isaac telling Malcolm, “Mommy doesn’t want it to be her birthday,” which as a birthday-obsessed seven-year-old is a concept he can’t fathom. It’s not the birthday itself I have a problem with, of course, it’s the getting older part that’s hard, that’s putting me in a blue mood. I was thinking the other day that I might come across as a somewhat cheerful, hopeful person, here at The Ordinary. In truth, I’m a moody old cuss. I’m discouraged by the strangest slightest things. And it might seem like I’m a patient mother, but I yell at my boys more than I thought I ever would, and I’m short-tempered with them sometimes even when they’re sweetly trying to get my attention to tell me nice and funny things. Sometimes I just want some quiet to think my own thoughts. Sometimes I just want to look out the window. And my boys don’t like all the weird food I make, though they are almost always kind enough to taste it. They don’t always eat healthy meals, sometimes I just let them drink sugar water, not because they’ve persuaded me that they’re part hummingbird, although I might believe that, but because I’m powerless to stop them because THEY DON’T LISTEN TO A WORD I SAY! And I do genuinely want to love and care for all people, like Alyosha says to do, but I have a noisy foul-mouthed inner misanthrope fighting to get out. I do honestly believe that success should be measured not by good grades or a big salary, but by how happy you are with what you do, day-to-day, and by the way you make your life as creative as possible in all the small moments, and how you notice and remember everything. But I get in foul moods when all I can think is “everything I’ve ever tried to do has failed.” And where am I going with all of this downwardly spiraling self-pitying birthday confessionalizing? I dunno. I think I want to tell you that I woke up this morning and my foolish birthday blue funk had lifted. I feel sanguine and hopeful. I have a lot that I want to do–small things and big big projects, and I feel excited about trying, whether or not they get done. I feel happy about thinking about them, even just thinking about them. I feel good about writing, just writing, whether anybody reads it or likes it doesn’t matter, I feel good about putting thoughts in order, and stringing words together, and surprising myself with all the odd phrases that come out of my constantly surprising mind, which you think I’d know better after 44 years of constant company. Last night in the car I had thought myself into a despondent mess, and Isaac said, “Mommy!! Guess what? Somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping…all over the world, right now!” And this morning Malcolm gave me a birthday letter that began “Have you ever wondered how the earth was created, God or science?” and ended, “P.S. Are crab apples edible? Because Charlie likes them and I want to try.” In the face of all of this blissfully cheerful existential information, How can a person stay cranky for long? Well, she can’t, and I won’t.

Beet greens with golden-beet pine nut sauce

Beet greens with golden-beet pine nut sauce

Golden beets, man. They’re pretty! And so darn tasty. We got some more from the farm, and I recently went on a ridiculously indulgent birthday shop and bought pine nuts and all sorts of other pricey items. So I decided to make this golden beet and pine nut tarator sauce. It’s got grated toasted beets, sage, rosemary, pine nuts, garlic, and a bit of balsamic. It was very tasty and surprising. Moreish, as the British say. We dipped fresh sweet peas in it, and crackers, and then I mixed it in with sauteed beet greens. It would be good with roasted vegetables, or tossed with pasta, or as a dip for chips, or any other way you can think of using a creamy flavorful sauce.

Here’s Big BIll Broonzy, who has a birthday today, too, playing Hey Hey, which I know I’ve posted before, but, hey, it’s my birthday!
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