freestyle fridays

in summer, the song sings itself. 
william carlos williams

the sweet sounds of summer

when i was a small child, my brother and i spent days with my grandmother.  late in the dog day afternoons of summer, she would have us sit inside with a cool washcloth to the back of our necks for 'quiet time'.  we didn't have to nap, but we did have to have time to unwind.  it was torturous for a child that liked to go ninety to nothing until she collapsed.  we had to be still (impossible) and quiet (most impossible) as she prepared dinner. 
perhaps that is why i remember, so fondly, that time when dinner was prepared and held, and we waited outside with my grandmother, for my grandfather's arrival home.  in fact it is still my favorite time of the day, when it seems the world has slowed down.  rush hour, for a child, is a far off thing; that time, for us, was when the neighbor children went in, and the front yards smelled of fried chicken and fresh vegetables, simmering on all of the stoves of the world, we thought.  for me, it was heaven thirty.  and it still is. 

what i remember about the sounds of that part of the day were the buzzing of the cicadas, or locusts as they were called (colloquially, and unscientifically, but that's not the point...) which i thought to be something of nature's alarm clock, announcing the time for my movie-star-handsome grandfather (the story is oft-told of his date with one ms ginger rogers) to come home to his movie-star-glamorous wife.  The songbirds signalling the end of the day proper, the beginning of early evening, and the tick-tick-tick-tick, tickticktickticktickticktick of the sprinklers--the early evening lawn waterings up and down the block.  these are the sounds that will always usher in the romance of summer for me. 
the irony of this all  is that my husband works nights.  he sleeps through the time of day that i always dreamed of sharing with my prince charming;  the evening's newspaper and a glass of iced tea on the front porch, dinner al fresco, mellow music (what he would call 'dinner music') wafting from the windows. maybe dessert of sliced peaches and cream when the dishes are done, and we're sitting quietly together, reading our books, occasionally sharing a passage with one another, in that peaceful time just before we do the evening milking and tuck all the animals in for the night.  sounds absolutely idyllic, doesn't it?  it is. 

because, even though, as i've said, he misses these evenings during the week, the weekend is another matter.  the weekend is sacred, and many saturday and sunday evenings are spent just as i'd always dreamed.  summer evenings are sweet for prince charming and me, after all.  they are ever-the-more precious due to their rarity, and our meals on these occasions are somewhat celebratory.  we've worked hard, and it's hot as hades here, so we won't want anything too hot or heavy (food!  what were you thinking i meant, for heaven's sake!)   but we won't be forsaking gustatory indulgence.  (sure hope dad's reading today--he's going to love that phrase. chip off the ol' block and all....)  what i'm saying is we still want a plateful of fabulous.  and this delicious, adapted-in-the-interest-of-health, crab louie salad will not disappoint.

crab louie for the 21st century
serves 4

 for salad
one head butter lettuce
one-two cups prepared alaskan king crab meat (steamed, shelled, chilled, chunked)
two small pickling cucumbers
one ripe tomato, quartered
handful of asparagus spears, peeled, steamed, sliced
one avocado, sliced
one hard boiled egg, sliced (optional)
kalamata and green olives (optional)

 for dressing
one stalk celery, chopped
one hard boiled egg, grated
one ripe avocado, chunked
2t grated ginger
1T concentrated tomato paste
1/4 c lowfat mayonnaise
1/4 c greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, to taste
1T grated prepared horseradish
1-2T capers, rough chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

compose salad

break lettuce head into fourths. lay at bottom of salad platter or bowl. top with remaining salad ingredients.  combine dressing ingredients.  allow to rest, for flavors to marry, about 30 minutes.  when lightly chilled, dress salad. toss at table. serve with a crusty sourdough bread, and perhaps a small chilled soup, like gazpacho or vichyssoise for starters.  pairs very well with champagne, if you're so inclined.
+traditionally, this salad dressing is made from mayo alone.  lots of mayo.  to duplicate the creaminess of the original, in a more health-conscious direction, we've substituted the avocado and grated egg for over half of the mayo.  for historical information about the traditional crab louie, and other famous salads and their origins, read more here.

superfoods we used:
besides ginger, tomatoes, and eggs,  which we've discussed in previous posts, we've used

alaskan king crab
bone builder
high in protein and low in fat, the sweet flesh of the king crab is spiked with 7 milligrams of zinc per 4 oz serving. zinc is an antioxidant that supports healthy bone mass and immune function.  several studies have linked adequate zinc intake to increased immunity and decreased incidences of respiratory infection. you can reap all these benefits by swapping one of your weekly fish meals for a four to six-ounce serving of crab.
source: center for human nutrition at the university of california and los angeles

this week from maggie's farm
what we harvested this week: green tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, peas, turnips, green beans, chives, basil, rosemary, sweet onions, spring onions, squash blossoms, squash, kohlrabi, beets, garbanzo beans, eggs, both chicken and duck, oregano, mint, and garlic.
what we produced this week: strawberry balsamic black pepper jam, strawberry lemon vanilla bean dessert sauce, plum jam, and pineapple cilantro butter.
what we tackled this week: atx (food)swappers event and the burnet county state fair, expansion of the chicken yard, fortification of the goat yard.  weeding. pests. weeding. pests. weeding. pests.  and 6 days over one hundred degrees.  
what we are thankful for:
we are so thankful for the hard work of every person for whose products we swapped at the atxswappers event. a big, happy shoutout for the 'bretzels' and olive tapenade from dionne, the anise pizelle from kate, the eggplant dip from megan, the handpies from betsy, the chouquettes from michelle, and the armload of goods i didn't get names for--chai tea jelly, salsa casera, mint syrup, rosemary syrup, hippie granola cookies, black rice pudding, and lemon nettle pesto, along with some delicious snacking at the event, too. thanks, also, to kate payne, author of 'hip girls guide to homemaking', for opening her home and for organizing the event, with megan myers.  hope i've not left anyone out!
words that inspire us:

lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

where there is hatred, let me sow love.
where there is injury, pardon.
where there is doubt, faith.
where there is despair, hope.
where there is darkness, light.
where there is sadness, joy.

o divine master,
grant that i may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
for it is in giving that we receive.
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
prayer of saint francis, attributed to st francis of assisi, 13th century


  1. Beautiful story Sweetheart. Now I'm looking forward to some more of that "gustatory indulgence" that you speak of. Happy Friday and welcome to a long weekend for ME!

  2. the cicadas are singing. i'll meet you on the porch with a tall glass of iced tea.


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