We have a zucchini plant in our garden this year. Just one, as we have learned from years past that zucchini quickly becomes overwhelming. Fried zucchini blossoms are one of our favorite summer treats, and one of the most cost-effective ways to get our hands on them is to plant our own zucchini plant.
Apparently, though, there is something mysterious in our soil because that one zucchini plant has grown to monstrous proportions. It’s the tomacco of zucchini plants – each leaf is the size of a cocktail table.
We are diligent about seeking out the zucchini and picking them when they’re either still flowers or at a reasonable size, and we’ve been eating a lot of zucchini fritters and zucchini bread this summer. However, occasionally one will escape our notice, hiding under a massive leaf, until one day we discover this Godzilla-zucchini, and have to figure out what to do with it. They’re more watery and less flavorful than the little ones, and the seeds are enormous, too.
Staring at these enormous zucchini this weekend, I was struck with inspiration. What do you do with any excess vegetables? Make soup. But since it is July, and it is going to be 101 degrees at my house tomorrow, chilled soup is the game.
Around these parts, it feels like the glory days of summer. The tomatoes are (finally) ripening! The Nuni has finished summer school and is now living out my nostalgic old-fashioned childhood summer dreams at day camp where she gets to swim and ride horses and do archery and build forts and generally have a grand old time. We have been working diligently at our summer bucket list (last weekend: farmer’s market and train ride. Next up: s’mores, and the obligatory weekend hammock time). Hard to believe we are back to school in a month!
1. From the archives:
Tomatoes are finally peaking at the farmer’s markets (and if you planted yours earlier than I did mine, in your garden), and now is the perfect time to capture that ripe goodness in a jar. Sweet tomato jam might sound weird, but the flavor is just wonderful – familiar and exotic all at once. This one tastes exactly like the one my great-grandma used to make.
Get a look at this amazing house (just purchased by Andy Samberg) in LA’s Beechwood Canyon featured on Curbed LA. Mary Astor and Charlie Chaplin once lived there, and it’s a Moorish fantasy, with ornate ceilings, Moroccan tile designs, stained glass, a door with carved camels on it(!) and a cave(!!) near the swimming pool. There also appear to be white subway tiles in the kitchen, if you’re worried about the hipster cred. I’ve been totally obsessed with Moroccan tile designs lately, so this is right up my alley and some serious eye candy.
If you haven’t read Bossypants by Tina Fey, you have to. Rebecca Traister (whom I have long loved) wrote a great piece on being a woman in a man’s world that’s worth a read, and makes excellent use of one of my favorite anecdotes from Bossypants.
I wear glasses almost every day (my job involves a lot of computer time, and if I wear my contacts, I’m crying uncle by 4 pm), and have to recommend these frames. First of all, Zenni is generally awesome -I buy prescription glasses from them all the time, but these, which I totally bought on a whim, get complimented EVERY SINGLE TIME I WEAR THEM. Seriously, I have gotten compliments on them from the other moms at daycare, my daughter’s teachers, my boss, the checkout guy at Trader Joe’s, my dental hygienist. And they only cost me $50, WITH LENSES.
I know the World Cup is over and nobody in the US cares about soccer anymore, but I, for one, have a newfound love of the sport. It’s so dramatic! Every time a player gets a scratch it’s a federal offense! It’s a lot like living with a seven year old, frankly. Anyway, NPR covered this phenomenon beautifully, and asked the question: What if we lived life as if we were in the World Cup?
When it comes to mothers, mine is (almost) always right.
When I was a little girl, I, being a child of the 80′s, wanted nothing more than crap for breakfast. I watched the beguiling commercials – Super Golden Crisp! Pop Tarts! Leggo my Eggo! - and I asked, nay, begged my mother to give me this super-sugary stuff of my dreams for breakfast. My mother, having come of age in the crunchy late 60′s and 70′s in California, wisely turned me down. I had to eat healthy breakfasts, which always included protein. Cream cheese, peanut butter, whole grain breads – on test days I always had eggs. Protein in the morning was her mantra. I, sulking, vowed that when I had children, I would buy Cocoa Krispies for breakfast!
Of course, my mother was right. One day she gave in to my pleading and let me have pancakes for breakfast (though it’s possible my father had a hand in this disaster). 2 hours later the school nurse called her – I felt awful – headache, stomachache, you name it. My mother crisply told the nurse to feed me some cheese and lo and behold! I felt better! Low blood sugar. (I wish I could say that from this day forward, I happily ate my eggs and turned my nose up at Lucky Charms, but, sadly, it took many years of collegiate hangovers and maturity before I submitted to her wisdom.)
Now I am a mother, and Karma is an ahole, because I have the same battles with my kids. Every morning (or every weekend mornings, because weekdays I have learned enough not to ask), the girl says “Please! Can we have pancakes? You never make pancakes!” and the boy, who worships his sister, pipes in with his little voice, shouting “Pancake! I wan’ Pancake!” and then adds, hopefully, “Frosting?” (Because cakes have frosting. I am clearly more relaxed about sugar than my mother was. Pancakes do not, however. I’m not THAT relaxed.) And I repeat back to them my mother’s mantra, and try to wangle some sausages into them and the whole thing, is frankly, exhausting.
It’s the summer solstice! The longest day of the year! The official first day of summer, which, by some magic, is also Midsummer. No matter how you slice it, today is the day when even your most pedantic friends can’t deny that summertime is here, and with it, summer cooking. We’ve already been going crazy with the stone fruit in our house (my children are fruit bats, and I keep finding half-gnawed nectarines in the oddest places) and last week I broke out the first official BLT.
Here’s a list of great Savour Fare recipes to get you in the mood for cooking this summer!
I live 2 minutes away from where I grew up. This was a combination of happy chance and deliberate decision making – we knew we wanted the kind of beauty and community my hometown provided, and when we decided to buy a house, the first one we looked at happened to be here, in this neighborhood, 2 minutes away from my childhood home. What that means is that to some extent, my children are living my childhood – playing in the same park, reading in the same library, walking the same streets.
My childhood comes back the most vividly for, me, however, when I’m in the kitchen, with my daughter (who is truly my mini-me), making dinner from my mother’s recipes. Cooking together is a thread that links the generations of my family. One of our family’s favorites is meatloaf – the recipe is forgiving enough for little hands to help, and we can work together – chopping, mixing, shaping. I let her choose the McCormick spices we add (within reason), and she has pride of ownership when the meal comes out of the oven, “Daddy, I MADE UP this recipe.” The meatloaf becomes hers, as it has been mine, and my mother’s before me. When we gather outside to eat (because we are Californians, and we eat outside three quarters of the year), I hope that my children feel the strong sense of home that I felt, that brought me back here, to my home town, to my neighborhood, and to the family table. That is American Homemade to us.
Based in Los Angeles, Savour Fare is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!