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After two intense sessions of Worship and teaching, it was time to just be kids….

 

The manual lens had a hard time focusing, or maybe I did, but it did capture the essence of the evening.  Just playing, shouting, trying to touch the sky.

The sun was just starting to sink beneath the foothills.

 

Fun Times

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It’s official.  I may be going to France as soon asthis upcoming semester.  My plane ticket isn’t in my hands….. yet.

The canes now lie dormant, frost creeping up the brown stalks and ice capturing the pond.  Nonetheless, I came across a raspberry shortbread cookie and had a sudden longing for the crimson little berries.  Here is a little paragraph on the delectable ones up at our neighbor’s place.

“I had left the engine running while I stopped, hoping that it would keep me from stopping for too long.  Dew hung off the soft green leaves, quietly revealing that the berries were still cold.

from seventeenandbaking.com

 

 

I had firmly resolved I would only eat a few handfuls before heading home to finish off my early morning chores.   The moment that first burgundy berry made it’s way past my open lips and exploded into tart and sweet, I knew for sure I would be a goner.  Seven handfuls later, and red juice dripping down my chin, I managed to move only because another car wanted to pass on the one lane road.  Reluctantly I headed back home, the flavor of the little beauties still hanging in my mouth, occasionally made suddenly brighter by a tongue lick across my dripping chin.

Picture from 17andbaking.com

Butternut Tahini Salad-

From smittenkitchen.com

Yum!  The sweetness of the roasted squash combines with nuttiness of the tahini and the tang of the lemon juice, cilantro, and onion to create a delicious salad. Warm with a bit of a tang, this salad is a keeper.

 

For salad:
1 medium butternut squash cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

 

 

 

 

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic,  olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.

To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

Fog encased the house and a certain dampness in the early morning air seemed almost palatable.  If I shut my eyes hard enough the ocean seemed much closer than three hundred miles.  Little pangs quickly prick me, reminding me of my Grandma.  It isn’t too often, but when they come it hurts.  A foggy morning reminiscent of a recent trip, a recipe I want to share with her, or memories I want to remember, all make it seem that she is just visiting France and will be back soon, not sitting in a wooden box in our closet.

 

 

Rain beat down viciously and the wind swept from the ocean inland.  Waves crashed on the sand and seagulls circled the air overhead.  There are so many little things I remember from that walk almost a year ago.  The way Ben ran in the sand, the color of the sky, the pictures that we took.  But it is a few certain memories that feel like yesterday.  How we were walking in a line, Tera, Dad, Grandma, and I, and I grabbed grandma’s hand, all covered in a thin woolen glove.  The way I wondered if it was weird to hold her hand, if she would mind.  I murmured something about my hands being cold and clasped my hand into hers, warm and delicate.  How I felt somewhat awkward but enjoyed every moment.  Just writing about it I can feel the wind in my hair again, the sand crushing between my toes and grandma’s hand in mine.

 

A few months after she passed away, I received some Bon Appetit magazines.  One of my favorite things at Grandma’s house was to sit on the grey couch and read the spread of food magazines on her table.  Bon Appettit was one of her favorite.   She would pull articles out for me on bread baking or recipes I would enjoy.  For my eleventh birthday, a few months after we were home from France, my present was a French bread baking book and a recipe clipped from the Sacramento Bee, of which my Grandma was a religious reader, of apple-lavender muffins as we had been in Provance.  Memories like getting up at six on Thanksgiving morning and peeling potatoes for a new recipe she had found to go along with the turkey or breaking open a pomegranate from her backyard.  Within the last month I have begun cooking much more and a few times came across recipes I almost printed to send to her.  I wanted to call her up and tell her how delicious the carrot fries were, with just a touch of olive oil and some herbs de provance and ask if she had ever used brown butter for cookies.

 

Sitting cross legged on the floor and tearing paper doesn’t sound like a promising start. This simple act however started what ended in Avingnon.  I try to go back to my memory as a ten year old, remember what was right and what happened.  It is so foggy though, harder to see through than the clouded windows on the barge on the Sien.  That first day however, my mom, dad, grandma and myself sat leafing through recent GoAhead tours magazines.  Which country would I like to go to?  What a huge decision, incredible and frightening, to give a ten year old!  By the end of the day, I decided on France or Spain, and ultimately on France- because of the food.  We traveled across the ocean, with Grandma giving my little frame the aisle seat to stretch out, had our passports stamped, and arrived in Paris.  Little memories float to the surface, like using a French ATM, or eating pizza with a fork, or watching BBC while writing in our journals.  There is so much more that I just cannot recall.  Something about a play gym and an accordion player on a park overlooking the Mediterranean.  A cup of coffee and a big chocolate croissant mingle with vague memories of a Vivaldi concert up spiral stairs.  What happened next?  I want to ask questions, talk about it, retrieve them from the little box in my brain.  There is nobody else I can explain the hunt for the chocolate shop, or the spice market, or ask how good the bread in Avingnon really was.

 

 

As I am starting to get older, I think I would have become friends with Grandma, that our relationship would have shifted a little.  I could see us swapping recipes or cooking together, maybe even taking a trip to France.  When I could drive, I knew I would go on long Sunday drives up to Greagle and passing through Sierraville.   That was all decided when I was around nine.  We would have lunch at Wild Plum or maybe end up going to Lake Tahoe instead.  We would pack pasties, her favorite Cornish food, and then come back and soak in the hot tub.  Maybe chase down new recipes, or a new restaurant in Monterey, or some garden in Sacramento.  For now though, I’m off to make lavender muffins and remember the beach with a warm, gloved hand.

 

 

 

 

 

Time to begin.  Too much dreaming, not enough doing.  Starting Sunday, I will post once a day for the entirety of February.  

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