Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer Love in Pasta

Summer is the best time to fall in love. Its all that exposed skin, and extra hours of sunlight. This summer I have fallen hard for this Summer Orzo Pasta Salad. The lovely B introduced us back in June and we have been almost inseparable ever since. It makes me feel nostalgic for my Mom's version of Marcella Hazen's rice and chicken salad (also delicious, but slightly more labor intensive - though, now that I am re-reading the recipe, I might need to make this soon too).

For the Orzo salad - I have made some modifications:

  • Add olives. I've been using jarred kalamata olives, but I bet you could use anything. I normally add about 3/4 of a cup of sliced olives, and then a few more - because you can never have too many olives.
  • Add red bell pepper. Or green or orange, whatever you want. Red just ends up being the one on sale most of the time. I use about half a pepper.
  • Leave the tomatoes up to the person eating. I get annoyed when tomato guts are mucking up my salad, so I often wait to slice them up and put them on until I am about to serve it. Its super delicious even without the tomats.
  • You can skip the basil and the mint if you so choose. I refuse to buy herbs at the store since we started growing them, but the hot sun has not been kind to our plants - so this most recent time it was a much smaller handful.
  • It is an aggressive amount of dressing. I end up only using 3/4 cup of olive oil when I make the full amount, but you can half the amount of dressing and still have enough to dress the salad (especially when you're adding big flavors like the olives). But as B. will tell you - do not leave out the honey. It is the key ingredient.
  • Chicken broth is not necessito. I cannot really tell the difference between when the orzo is cooked in broth and when it is cooked in water, and it seems a colossal waste to just cook in broth and then drain it all out.

The lovely thing about this recipe, is you could totally add other awesome shit to it. Chicken? Yes. Grilled asparagus? Yes. Artichoke hearts? Yes, please.

It makes enough for a week of lunches - and as it sits around in that puddle of dressing it only gets more delicious. I don't know if you could really call it healthy, but it is better than a salami and cheese sandwich with Duke's mayonnaise which I had an unhealthy fling with back in early July (because every summer requires a few bad choices).

Thursday, July 23, 2015


My Mom had this story that I heard over and over about how she and her friend Betsy had once, impulsively hitch-hiked from Boston to Hyannis, hopped a ferry to Nantucket, and arrived unannounced at my Great-Grandmother's (my mother's grandmother) door.

The story was a lesson about always finding opportunities to be impulsive and adventurous, but also call before you show up so you don't make the matriarch mad.

This story once got re-told in front of Betsy and she laughed, "I remember that day, we were so out of our minds stoned."

The story was a lesson about how we don't always share all the details, and when talking about the 70's, you can safely assume that everyone was stoned all the time.

Everyone needs a Betsy.

We need a Betsy to laugh at our miserable faces the first time we take a sip of whiskey sour punch.

We need a Betsy to send us the largest fruit and cookies basket in the known universe when Grandpa dies and the world comes tumbling down.

We need a Betsy to remind us that our parents were young and stupid, just like us.

We need a Betsy to tell us over and over again, how lucky we were to be born into this loud, drunk, completely insane family.

We need someone with her optimism in the face of the worst hands a life can be dealt.

We need her snark, and her joy, and her cut-the-bullshit.

We need her life story of perseverance, and getting shit done, and love when least expected.

I am so grateful that I got to have a Betsy. I am so grateful that my Mom got to have a Betsy.

"Oooh, that whiskey sour, it is punch with a punch, you'know what I'm sayin"

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Firsts and Forevers

In a moment of rudeness, I once asked a girl if there was anything that made her sad or regretful about getting married at 22.

"I sometimes get sad that I'll never have another first kiss."

Recently, a few of my gal pals have embarked on some really exciting love journeys. Exciting in that stones-deep-down-in-your-belly and high-pitched-squeals-and-shivers-in-your-shoulders type way that feels like maybe (maybe?!), this time it is forever (or, maybe its not, but either way, this is the most fun part - the physical reactions to this much potential). 

And I have been feeling 100% excitement, with just a dash of jealousy. Its a silly, grass-is-always-greener-somewhere-else jealous. The kind that you can talk about openly and make fun of yourself for, but still stays.

I will never be at a table for eight with just that one other. I will never brush hands with someone and feel that lightning bolt travel through my body for the first time. I will never have that first walk through the rain. I'll never have another first kiss.

I shared these feelings with Boyfriend, who laughed at me, patted my head, and said, "I am going to make tuna boats for dinner."  

Those first days and weeks when you're carrying around a wicker picnic basket of happiness are the best, and I highly recommend writing all your emotions down in a place where they are easily accessible eight years down the line. But what we have now, with the lying on the porch all day reading books, and making things that sound funny for dinner, and going on adventures around the world and to the Pier One clearance sale, and the non-stop slumber party with jokes and snuggling - I feel like maybe (maybe?!) it is even better. 

She's pint-sized and amazing.