I would love to be writing you a luscious, well-tested recipe.
It’s not that I am too busy, exactly, though I can’t really say I am idle. I am supervising the battle raging in my kitchen between the fruit flies and the peaches–armies of approximately equal numbers–for control of my mind. As I supervise that, I am also listening to the sounds of my eldest flinging things into boxes and bags as she prepares to leave for school, and I am trying to decide if what is on the dog’s head is smelly enough to warrant the trouble of washing her. I am attempting to attend to the magical, life-changing tidying up that my middle child would like me to attend to, and I am also trying to get some work done on the towering piles on my desk, without much success. I am furthermore seeing what I can do, if anything, to attend to my youngest in these last days before 5th grade scoops him into its clutches on Monday.
What brain cells remain unoccupied by the forces listed above, and by the laundry that they all produce, are thoroughly engaged in convincing myself that I DID NOT DO ENOUGH SUMMERING WHILE THE SUMMERING WAS GOOD. There’s a big booming voice in my head that never tires of saying things like this. It never tires at all, frankly–it’s a 24/7 kind of entity.
The voice that wants to remind me that I did what I could, which is a corollary to my dad’s favorite quote, “you can’t do better than the best you can,” is a smaller sound, and it often comes in a semi-audible form from the being pictured above (known to many of my readers–possibly all five of them!–as Dog A). Unlike Dog B, of smelly head fame, who is a melancholic, neurotic, sky-is-falling, doomsday type, Dog A is generally enthusiastic about life, and especially appreciative of any effort made to brighten up his agenda.
His general enthusiasm means that his bar for day-brightening is set pretty low. This low bar is often mistaken for low IQ, when in fact it is evidence of very high ZFL (‘Zest For Life’).
While it is possible to score high in his regard with a car trip from the top of the driveway to the bottom (“check ‘car ride’ off today’s bucket list!”), his happiness (and the happiness of the other mammals who come along) skyrockets with, for example, a ten-minute jaunt to the river:
And we went all out last week with an overnight to what is possibly the finest place a person could go with their dogs, as long as the person’s standards for what constitutes acceptable housing are more or less set at mutt level.
With some very game friends, we went to a tiny little island, about the size of a beanbag, in the middle of a lake. We had the island (so gorgeous) and the cabin on it (not so gorgeous, but mostly not at all relevant to how much fun we had) completely to ourselves. At a stately pace, my son (“I love a tiny island!” he said when we got there– #bestthingsaidallsummer) could walk from coast to coast on this landmass in about a minute.
Here’s the thing: dogs can’t really get into a speck of trouble on an island of this nature. Even worrywart Dog B, who did not share or approve of Dog A’s George Washington/Delaware attitude about the rowboat ride that constituted the last leg of the journey out, had a blast every minute of the trip except for the eight spent rowing, and the sixteen she invested in anticipation/dread/attempted denial of the return row.
I have a few notes on food from our trip, and then I have a few other people’s notes on food to distract you from the fact that I have nothing else to say about food at the moment.
- Travel at all times with a minimum of three Greek persons. Maybe I don’t need to be so specific. Travel with people who think the correct number of eggplants to bring on an overnight is 6, and the correct number of lemons is 11.
- Make absolutely sure that none of the dogs you are traveling with eat something that does not agree with them right before they get in the car (see above, “there was plenty of eggplant about.”) It is an ironclad law of the universe that the dog who cannot tolerate nightshades will find both some eggplant and a taste for it right before you depart. Here I am protecting the privacy of Dog A, who has no ability to distinguish “food” from “probably should not eat that diaper.” Dog B, who is much more discerning–speaking of low bars–is part goat and could probably digest a tennis shoe, though she would never stoop to try. It was Dog A who ate the thing. For reference, the amount of time it takes a fragment of charred eggplant to reach the canine ileum (“gas factory,” in lay terms) is exactly equal to the amount of time it takes to miss your exit and get stuck in traffic.
In case you are thinking about how winsome and adorable Dog B looks in this action shot from the traffic jam, wherein she appears to be saying, “are you aware that we have a fume issue in this section of the aircraft?” please be aware that she was pressing her tender larynx against the back of the seat, causing her to begin making a strange hornking/graxing noise right after this picture was taken. While you might earlier have been thinking, “Dog B sounds a lot more clever than that silly Dog A, who eats any old thing!” you should also be aware that one episode of the press/grax cycle was not sufficient to convince her not to lean so hard on the seat. Though she leaned and pressed until the cluster of increasingly deep graxes incited a sneezing fit, causing her to spew droplets of indeterminate origin (‘is this spit or snot?’ said no person in the line of fire ever) all over the passengers in range (read: EVERYONE)–well, after sneezing? Yes, that’s right. She pressed again.
Travel with dogs is pretty glam, is what I am saying. Not pictured, for example, is a fun moment on the trip out, when one dog stepped on some sensitive area of the other one and two dogs suddenly became one snarling, growling, vicious tumbleweed of toenails and fangs all over the once-peacefully sleeping passengers in the back seat.
And yet. I’m ready to do it again in a heartbeat.
As for the things other people have to say about food, consider these:
- Have a lot of tomatoes around? Make this now. Go ahead and double the amounts, because the roasted tomatoes may have a hard time getting past your mouth to get made into sauce. Put a pinch of aleppo pepper or chile flakes on them before you roast and you’ll be happy, I bet.
- Is it corn you can’t get enough of, or ahead of? I keep intending to make this, if only just so I can say it’s what’s for dinner, and I am determined to make good on that promise before the last ears are gone. Or this. Or just eat more corn and keep planning.
- Is it just generally a lot of garden stuff that you have around? This quick pickling guide should help.
- And this crazy delicious salad! Make it! Substitute what you must (I perceive some wiggle room in the type of cheese & the type of cuke, e.g.). Then make twice the amount of dressing and PUT IT ON YOUR HEAD. That’s how tasty this is.
- If you are in the upper right corner of the USA, it’s pretty much a given that there is a lot of goldenrod somewhere near where you are sitting. If you have been meaning to try herbal witchcraft this summer, here’s a quick fix to help you check that item off your bucket list (as well as a carefully-reasoned reminder that no one is allergic to goldenrod) while you stock your toolkit for whatever winter brings.
- If you plan to barbecue, roast, grill or skewer any protein that doesn’t come from a bean, you should read this. Everyone should read it. No one wants to hear it, but we all know it to be true and it is well-said and hard to deny in this lovely, motivating piece.
- If you travel with eggplant people, as I counsel above that you should, maybe reserve one of the spares for this. Just don’t give my dog any.