Just a few more week until Carlsbad opens its strawberry fields to the public. You’ve never tasted a strawberry as good as the one you pick yourself (although I assume if one knew how to actually grow strawberries, those would be even better. But in the Gonzo household that’s a moot point).
Growing up, chicken potpie meant a Swanson’s frozen dinner, pulled hot from the oven before my parents escaped for a night of freedom. Those nights meant freedom to my sister and me, too: babysitters!
Now that the rain storm has passed and the ocean breezes are warming up again, I’ve got grilling on the brain. Or more specifically, I’ve got Mr. Gonzo doing the grilling on the brain (despite his heroic efforts to teach me to grill, I still can’t do it).
Tossed in everything but the kitchen sink…a few ounces of whole wheat pasta, four ounces prepared chicken, a couple of tablespoons prepared Tabbouleh, some sliced almonds and a handful of edamame. Lots of protein plus energy and some healthy fat, not to mention a ton of satisfying crunch. Happy Gonzo!
Plitvice Lakes in Croatia – That’s me & my mom on the left with the other moms & daughters on our trip
Growing up, I could always find my mother in the kitchen. She wasn’t necessarily cooking in there; it was more command central for afternoon cocktails with friends, list writing or perhaps (most likely) a place to escape from us kids.
That’s not to say she never cooked; believe me, she did. She was an early proponent of old school California Cuisine and taught my sister and me the importance of fresh, local, lean ingredients that could be simple or complex, but always delicious.
So here, in honor of my mother, is my response to Mama Kat’s Writing Prompt Ten Things I Learned from My Mother (in the kitchen):
1. Cocktail hour begins at 5:00 (time can be adjusted accordingly).
2. Grilling is a great way to get out of the kitchen (with the added benefit of making it harder for short people and hairy dogs to find you).
3. Buy regional cookbooks when you travel, even if you don’t understand a word of the native language.
4. Snack foods can be dinner, too. Ditto for cereal.
5. Eat fruit for dessert.
6. The best way to celebrate family and tradition is with a huge meal shared together in the dining room.
7. Drink low-fat milk but eat full-fat cheese.
8. When all else fails, make pasta smothered in butter and Parmesan cheese.
9. If you need comfort food while traveling, order pizza. It’s a taste of home no matter where you are (I’ve tested this theory in Cairo, Zagreb, Taipei and Tokyo).
10. There is grace in small rituals, from setting the table with candles to serving food on plates handed down through the generations.
Love you, Mom!
Yesterday I took little Gonzo Girl to the Carlsbad Farmer’s Market, hoping to inspire her to try new foods (she’s very vegetable averse, my little one). She tried bitter chocolate, licked a slice of Bartlett pear and made friends with the balloon clown. We spied these radishes early on but “forgot” to buy them on the way out. I did pick up some cosmetically challenged strawberries and a date and spice granola that will be perfect spooned into Greek yogurt.
Posh bar nuts are one of those cookery tricks that every girl should have up her sleeve. The first time I ever had fancy nuts was at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua in Maui, on a surprise trip with Mr. Gonzo (then a mere boyfriend). Served in a tiered silver dish, the nuts were meatier, saltier, richer than I’d ever had before, no offense to Mr. Peanut, whose roasted peanuts had been a family staple growing up.
Spaghetti with pesto is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. The fresh zing of garlic at the end of each bite, the ritual of scooping the oil into the ribbons of pasta, cleansing the palette with red wine before going back for more; it’s something familiar no matter where you are.