Beet balls (made with semolina and ricotta)

Beet balls

Beet balls

On the way back from the shore, we passed through long low fields of blueberry bushes, crazed orchards of wildly tangled peach trees, fields of dry golden wheat, and fields of corn, vivid and green, but still only as high as an elephant shrew’s eye. We bought some (obviously not very local) corn cobs anyway, despite the fact that Isaac currently only has one front tooth. The boys sat in the back yard and husked it. The soft pale corn silk covered everything, clinging like spiders’ webs. Today I tried to clear it away, but I couldn’t do it. I stood with a silky tangle of strands in my hand, and I thought that this morning it feels impossible to clean them away completely. But I know they’ll be gone, without my even noticing, they’ll dry up and blow away, or another rain storm will reduce them to pulp and they’ll disappear into the earth. And I thought about the winter, about how in January I’d probably like to find a wispy fragment of corn silk, because it would remind me of summer, but I won’t because it will all be gone. And that’s what summer is like.
Beet balls

Beet balls

Beets beets and more beets from the CSA! I wanted to do something different with them, other than just roasting them. Well, I roasted them, and then I mixed them with a batter of semolina flour and ricotta and dropped them in some hot olive oil. Beet balls! I thought they were delicious, and the boys liked them a lot, too. Light and tender on the inside, crispy on the outside. I flavored them with smoked paprika and a pinch of nutmeg. They’d be nice with any kind of sauce, either to serve them in or to dip them in. A creamy nut sauce, a simple tomato sauce, a pesto, a spicy catsup,

Here’s Yo La Tengo with Season of the Shark from Summer Sun, because we just watched Jaws with the boys. I was obsessed with this song for a while!
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Roasted butternut farro balls and rosemary walnut tarator sauce

Roasted butternut farro balls

Roasted butternut farro balls

It’s a very slow, cold spring. Everybody is upset by it, everybody is complaining bitterly, everybody is angry with that stupid lying groundhog. Everybody except me. It’s very strange, but I don’t mind. I’m not quite through hibernating yet. I feel like maybe something’s wrong with me! And you might agree, when I tell you that I’m a little anxious about summer. Not about the long, endless days with the boys, which are days that I crave. It’s hard to describe. I feel as though I’ve slowly pulled layer upon layer of something strong and warm over myself and my family, to keep us cozy and secure. And in summer the boys will burrow out and run like mad little things in all directions, laughing and glowing, with barely a glance back, and it will all go so fast and be over before we know it. It’s a very strange feeling, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like this before, although in retrospect it might have been creeping up on me with slow sneaky progress for a few years now. TS Eliot famously said that April is the cruelest month, I think that people frequently misinterpret this line. They think April is cruel because it just won’t be warm and sunny, dammit. Just when you’re ready for spring it’s all chilly and drizzly with those April showers. But what he really meant was that April is cruel because it wakes you up.

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

I suppose I’ve gotten too comfortable this winter, with dull days that please me so much and go by so fast–just keeping my family warm and feeding them roasted tubers, and then writing about that and starting all over again. It’s hard to do anything very important when you’re too comfortable, but I’m also convinced that the day to day of every day is as important as life gets, so I’m not easily motivated. I’m sure it’s just the chill and the damp that folds me in on myself. Already the slanting hopeful rosy light of morning and evening is rousing me from my wintery dormancy, but gently and kindly. When the weather is warmer on top of that I’ll feel all the old unspecified longings and yearnings, which must visit you no matter what your age. I’ll be ready to go on adventures again. And if the warmth won’t do it, Malcolm will! He’s so full of life and plans, he’s so curious and fearless. I want to be like him when I grow up, so I may as well start now! And maybe summer will surprise us, and we’ll stop in the colonnade, and go on in the sunlight.

In the meantime, we’re still eating winter squash, here at The Ordinary. And I’m still experimenting with the joys of grating and roasting it. It’s so nice and soft and crispy and sweet and savory all at the same time! In this instance, I mixed it with some leftover farro and some walnuts and made it into little balls. I fried them up in olive oil, so they’re crispy outside and soft in. The flavors are sage, smoked paprika and nutmeg – I suppose they’re flavors I associate with a sausage-y taste, so these could pass for vegetarian meatballs, or if you made them long and thin, they could be vegetarian sausage. We ate them with tender whole wheat flatbreads, which I’ll tell you about soon, arugula, which went so nicely with the nuttiness of the walnuts, and a creamy (cream-free) walnut rosemary tarator sauce. The sauce turned out very good, and would be nice with any kind of roasted vegetable – beets, potatoes, parsnips, any of those old dried tubers. In the summer, it would be nice with grilled zucchini and asparagus as well!! If you don’t have leftover farro, I’ve told you how to make it, and you can use the extra to toss on salads, or as a base for sauces and stews.

Here’s Nina Simone with Another Spring.

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