I should call this the Monet salad. I’m teasing, of course, but whenever I see varying tones of green and purple with touches of blue, I think of French Impressionist Claude Monet’s most famous and recognizable series of paintings — Waterlilies.
When I created sass & veracity more than four years ago, it was to give myself a space to write about my life as it relates to food — with just the hint of a smirk on my face. The chances of my being completely serious about it never occurred to me at the time even though I’ve always been someone who is passionate about food. I wanted to be light-hearted about it all, never expecting that I would be writing precise directions for recipes or searching for just the right light to shoot photos of the food we ate on a day-to-day basis.
What I did expect was stories — stories connected to life’s often pivotal moments and weaving it all together. Stories about pregnancy and Monday night post Lamaze class burritos. Sunday morning hamburgers and Charlie Chan. Or stories about why cold yams and spilled milk will always remind me of one of my grandmothers. Biscuits and old boyfriends, raw shrimp cocktails and romantic dinners at home, and an old, dear doggo who loved tortilla chips. Stories just like that. And in the process, I thought perhaps I’d keep myself (and my best friend) focused on a diet we’d promised ourselves we’d go on, thinking if it’s written down, then we’ll stick to it.
Right. When pigs fly.
I also thought that considering the number of cookbooks I own and food magazines subscribed to, trying new recipes and talking frankly about them would be a fun diversion. After all, it’s what I’d done for years minus a food blog. With my youngest son just beginning high school at the time, and mulling over a stay-at-home-mom status for the first time in my life, I knew I’d look forward to that diversion. There was no real hustle bustle in our small family of three, no school lunches for little kids to pack, and nary a picky eater in residence to cater to. Instead, my life-long affection for cooking would continue to grow, fueled by new found time to experiment with flavors I’d not tried before, and techniques I’d been too busy to find time to learn. So I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.
My husband rarely calls me by my given name — a boy’s name my mother decided upon after she heard a woman in a grocery store call her dog. A big dog. I’ve always thought it would be a great name for a dog since they’re more like people than animals anyway. It was going to be Deborah, like so many of the girls born then. Deborah Ruth, I think, after my mother’s mother.
No, my husband has instead come up with quite a few other loving endearments over the years I’ve been happily attached to him, but none of them come close to sounding like Kelly. I’ve tried to remember the first one, but getting caught up in the order of it all misses the point: that I’m deserving of these little jewels of lovey-doveyness from him.
I could have a completely different attitude about them, mind you. Someone who looked a gift horse in the mouth instead of considering the lovely source that my husband is.
These little somethings usually come with a smile or tone that suggests nothing too important will follow. He’s just getting my attention. Sometimes they appear on the cards he gives me instead of the giant heart with a capital “K” filling the inside. Other times, they appear as greetings in occasional emails sent, reminding me of something I said I’d take care of because he knows that I’m easily lost in my day on most days, so might never quite get around to doing whatever it is I said I’d do.
Sweets. Can you look around for my checkbook? It’s not in my car. You know, because doesn’t everyone keep it there?
Or arriving home at the end of a long day, he’ll ask, How was your day, Pear? Yes, he always asks, and then when I forget to ask about his, he continues to tell me what it was like. I need better manners.
More recently, I have been Pear Petunia when he’s lounging in his chair on the weekend and caught up in a football-soccer-basketball-hockey game or two on television. He absent-mindedly extends a hand for me to grasp in passing and squeeze once or twice. I seize the opportunity to remind him that Petunia was a pig and that being shaped like a pear isn’t exactly ideal, but being a pear-shaped cartoon pig is a bit much. We laugh.
He’ll disagree, but I think it all started with Pie. Yes, he called me Pie all those years ago, and I know I’m in good company when it comes to this because pie is always good, isn’t it? Especially when the crust is oh, so flaky and the filling a perfect combination of tart and sweet.
And so I made him little fruit pies the other day with blueberries and sugar plums I’d frozen.
He liked them with or without the powdered sugar, but you decide.
Perfect as Pie.
Much has happened since I last posted and ironically, most of it has had nothing to do with food.
Shocking, isn’t it?
No, I haven’t stopped cooking and yes, our waistlines confirm we’ve continued to eat, but I’ve chosen not to: 1) take time to jot down notes about a recipe when I’m fiddling around with it; 2) shoot process steps and results, and 3) upload and edit photos. Do you have any idea how completely fabulous it is to eat dinner without having to do any of that?
But I digress. I haven’t lost interest — I’ve wanted to squeeze as much out of this last summer as possible having my youngest son at home before he ventures off to college, so have saved some time for family instead. Even the big guys have been around more than they normally are. It’s been great having a house full of menfolk again, if only for a few evenings, and sometimes, when no one’s looking, I’m a bit of a mess. You know, having trouble with the stiff upper lip and all.
I’m not quite back in the thinking-about-food-all-day-every-day mode, but I’ll get there — I’m busy processing how different my life will be from this point forward. I’m a bit drifty, a tad obsessed with organization, and taking yet another look at my diet and the amount of exercise I subject my body to. For those of you who know me, I understand you’re thinking, so what’s new?
Right. Shall we talk about food? And because I’m avoiding carbs, and anything baked in particular, let’s discuss pie.
Perfect little lingering wisp of summer fruit pies.
This past Christmas, my husband’s sister had the idea to surprise their parents with a trip to England. For as long as I’ve known my dear father-in-law, he’s wanted to travel there, so it took little effort to consider cashing in our points, and settling in to plan. It’s been several years since our first trip there, and it remains the only place where I’ve vacationed that I didn’t want to leave. Although we barely saw London that trip, we did manage to cover about 750 miles driving through Devonshire, Wales, and the Cotswolds. My husband’s white-knuckled grip never completely adjusted to the need to drive on the opposite side of the road, but we did find maneuvering the roundabouts hilarious after a time, rarely missing a turn off when one was called for. Although it was equally terrifying to be the navigator on the trip at times, I was more likely to enjoy endless views of rolling green hills and quaint villages, each more picturesque than the last.
As much as we think of scones being breakfast fare here, we only had them once on our trip, and not for breakfast. We happened into a small restaurant just before closing time in Harlech, Wales, after a day of sightseeing and castle exploration. We had some tiny scones and other treats with the cream tea the staff was kind enough to serve even though they’d clearly finished for the day. It was a perfect break considering we’d come from Conwy, in Northern Wales, early that morning, and were headed to Milebrook House near Knighton on the English border, about 100 km away. It’s funny to think about now, and I refer to it as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but it wasn’t humorous at the time.
Hopefully, the trip I’m planning this time won’t be as hectic. It should help to have a spry, natty octogenarian with us.