Eye of the Beholder

For its grower,
a zucchini deemed bulbous
and well past its peak.
Destined for the compost pile.
She demurred against my choice
when offering zucchini from her garden.
But for me,
this oversized, lumpy,
baseball bat of a squash
all but shouted “zucchini bread!”

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Subtle Signs of Change

Local corn piled high on roadside stands.
Tomatoes so lush they weigh down their stalks.
Basil begging to be gathered to form a perfect triumvirate.
Humidity still rules, coaxing us to spend our days
in the shade of a tree or at water’s edge.
But subtle signs of change lurk just below the surface.
Daylight ends a bit earlier each day.
Acorns litter the deck. A not so subtle reminder
that barefoot days are numbered.
School bells ring out with a beckoning call to arms.
Nature just beginning to prod us from our summer slumber.

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Phone in Hand

simple yet profound
a moment in time captured
memories preserved

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Two Weeks at a Glance

Two weeks in South Carolina.
A vaccinated nod to normal.
Daily beach walks capped by
glorious sunsets over the water.
Filtered sun through moss draped branches.
Rainbow hewed Charleston single houses.
Sweet memory of soaring pelicans,
and the sheer delight of countless plates
of the world’s best oysters.

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Simple Cajun Shrimp

Sometimes I like to include a recipe on this blog simply because we really liked it, and I want to remember to make it again.

This dish requires a pound of shrimp, a medium onion, a red, orange or yellow bell pepper, one or two cloves of garlic, about a half cup of frozen corn, a 15oz. can of chopped tomatoes, and Cajun seasoning.

Sauté the chopped onion and peppers in a little olive oil. Add the minced garlic and corn. Stir for a minute before adding the can of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Heat to combine and set aside in a bowl.

Wipe out the sauté pan and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the shrimp until pink. Only takes a couple of minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper, and a teaspoon or more of cajun seasoning.

Return the veggies to the pan with the shrimp. Toss to combine. A squeeze of lemon juice brightens things up.

Serve over rice. A sprinkle of parsley adds a touch of freshness.

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Tentative Steps

Buoyed up by faith in the vaccine.
Dipping our toes in the sea of normal.
Indoor restaurant meals.
Weekend away to spend
long anticipated time with family.
Hugs held more closely.
Walks along familiar trails
long out of our home-bound reach.
Eyes wide with wonder at the newness
of all that was once routine.

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Serve at Room Temperature

I’m musing rather than documenting here. It occurs to me that I rarely follow a recipe as written. Baking is different. That’s science and needs to be followed, but a meat or seafood dish, soup or salads are often open to individual technique or substitution.

Case in point. I recently came across a recipe for a dish that included roasted vegetables and Israeli (pearl) couscous. I was reminded of Yotam Ottolenghi’s dictum that dishes that include roasted vegetables and grains were most flavorful served at room temperature, so it seemed like something that would be good as part of a cookout or a buffet.

The directions for the original recipe were fairly complicated. I have a tendency to zero in on the essence of a recipe and simplify the process whenever possible. In this case, I broke it down to the following steps:
1. Follow the directions on the package for a cup of couscous, substituting chicken broth for water. Set aside when done.
2. While the couscous is cooking, slice the top off of a head of garlic, drizzle a bit of olive oil on the exposed cloves and wrap tightly in foil. Put in a 375 degree oven while making the dish. Softening the garlic takes about an hour.
3. Slice a medium to large onion. Sautés it in olive oil until it is caramelized. Set aside.
4. Cut about 8 ounces of cherry tomatoes in halves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast them in the same oven that already houses the garlic. They should soften and start to caramelize in about a half hour. By then, the garlic should also be soft. If not, leave it in a bit longer.
5. Once all ingredients have been prepped and have cooled somewhat, combine the couscous, onions, and tomatoes. Squeeze the softened garlic from the bulb into the dish. You might not want to use the whole bulb if it’s really large, but sweet roasted garlic has lots of uses, so it won’t go to waste.
6. Stir ingredients. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Let flavors meld for at least an hour. Serve at room temperature.
7. Will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, but bring back to room temperature before serving.

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The Library

The doors to the library are open today.
Really open.
Not a call ahead and pick up your books
at the front door kind of day,
but a climb the stairs
and peruse the new books collection
and lose oneself in the stacks
poised to find a old friendly treasure kind of day.
Sheer delight after a year away.
Still masked and socially distanced,
but most of all grateful
and keenly aware of the simple things
we once took for granted.

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New Hope

First day of Spring.
A time of promise.
Yes, it’s about traditional signs.
Flowers responding
to the warming sun.
But this year,
it’s all about the vaccine.
Hopes pinned to science
that will allow us to shed
not only winter coats and hats,
but also isolation
and fear of contact.

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The Angel

For most,
a mere paperclip.
For one creative soul,
an angel.
A gift dangling
from a pink ribbon
on the branch of a tree.
Poised to delight
a bike path wanderer.

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