How often must I remind myself to not be cocky? Here’s how my personality rolls:
1. Bad stuff happens.
2. Make a plan. Solve that stuff.
3. Move on.
It’s my 1-2-3 approach to Life. Unfortunately it’s never worked particularly as I’d hoped. It’s not the Black and White that’s the problem, there’s all that messy Gray stepping in to clog the process.
Which brings me to June. Michael died three years ago this Sunday, June 28th. Since then, we will all agree, I’ve woven together a wonderful life. Many people who lose spouses, loved ones or partners are not able to do that. For me, really bad stuff happened ending in a sad, unsolvable result. Truthfully, I was then so weary of being brave, part of me wanted to give up. But after my family and countless friends had huddled up and lent support for ten lengthy years, I felt an obligation to find my own Way.
Which brings me to this pesky month of June. In the past three years I’ve begun to happily handle his birthdays, our anniversaries (29) and special occasions. Each of those carry joyful memories that only make me smile. So I do. June 28th, not so easy. I’ve been unable to pull up anything to cause me comfort. Regrettably it’s always a time I feel unsettled and a bubble-off. Hate that.
I charged into this month brimming with confidence, determined not to cause my friends or family angst. No whining. This was my pain to conquer. Or, not. Mother Nature and I would be best friends. That’s where I could expend my energy. There was still food to be made and blog posts to be written. I vowed to do it all with a smile on my face, a joyful heart and eight hours of sleep every night. (You jest. It’s important, my friends.) Realizing it’s the anticipation more than the day itself that seems bothersome, I soldiered forth.
So, how’d I do. About 65%. Grade B-minus. Let’s call that a win. To honor Michael and for our Cottage Cooking Club this month, I made four mouth-watering recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. Michael would consider this a dubious tribute. He lived happily on meat, potatoes, Oreos and Hagen-dazs. That I am cooking through Hugh’s book with the Cottage Cooking Club, a group of international food bloggers, would give him pause.
This month I made Tomatoes with Herbs and Goat Cheese, Quick Couscous Salad with Peppers and Feta, New Potato Salad Tartare and Pistachio Dukka. As usual with Hugh’s recipes, all were unique and delicious. I’ve posted the dukkah recipe below and will send others upon request.
For lunch, I shared the tomato and new potato salads with The Gant’s front office staff. I received two complaints, “not enough” and “day off”. Taken as compliments. The couscous salad traveled to the authors’ picnic potluck on the opening evening of Aspen Summer Words 2015 festival. Not one to name drop, I might mention authors Richard Russo and Andre Dubus both enjoyed my salad. Empty plates. Pistachio Dukka, a twist on the traditional Egyptian combo of nuts, seeds and spices, is a tasty blockbuster and will be my summer hostess gift.
Enjoy these flavorful, healthy dishes and also Mother Nature’s healing photo contributions to my June life. Hooray and Welcome, July!
PISTACHIO DUKKA by Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg
1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
cumin seeds, 1 tbsp
coriander seeds, 1 tbsp
sesame seeds, 3 tbsp
dried chilli flakes, 1 tsp
fresh mint leaves, a small handful (A MUST!)
flaky sea salt, 1 tsp (I used Maldon)
bread and olive oil, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Scatter the pistachios on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes until they are just starting to turn golden. Chop coarsely
3. Dry-fry the cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan over medium-heat until they release their aroma (about a minute). Transfer to a mini-food processor or mortar and mix together until broken up but not fine. Lightly toast sesame seeds for another minute.
4. Mix everything together. Add chile flakes, chopped mint and salt.
5. Taste to see if mixture needs more salt before serving with crusty artisan bread and olive oil, for dipping.
The dukka will keep for two weeks at room temperature in a screw-top jar. Also try scattering it over grilled veggies, a simple lettuce salad or on “soft hard-boiled” eggs.
The Cottage Cooking Club is an international online cooking group cooking and learning our way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. The Club, led by The Kitchen Lioness, is ‘meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes into our everyday cooking, learning about less known, forgotten or heritage vegetables, trying out new ways to prepare tasty and healthy dishes, and sharing them with family and friends.’