Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lazy Saturdays of Summer

It's been a good day.  This morning I took the girls over to the pool and we spent a couple of hours practicing their swimming and diving, and just having a lot of fun.  The pool is way too warm, and tastes really strange, but spending time with them in the water is great fun.

After lunch, I introduced the kids to the formative movie of my own childhood: Star Wars.  I saw that movie fourteen times in the theater, in the year it came out.  I was Luke Skywalker for at least three Halloween's running.

I hate to admit it, but they weren't blown away.  I expected amazement.  I expected awe.  I expected them to see it the way I saw it, in 1978.  But no.  OK, they liked it.  They want to see it again.  They want to see the rest of the series.  Sure.  But to them, this movie will not be the iconic picture it was for me.  Maybe it's the dated effects.  Maybe it's the way so much is left implied and unstated.  Or maybe they just didn't like it as much.  Whatever the case, it left me a little deflated.  But we did have fun together.

I spent some of the afternoon cooking; one of my favorite pastimes, as you readers will know.  Tonight's dinner is called, in the cookbook at least, "Lombo di Maiale Coi Porri."  We just call it pork loin with leeks.  Couldn't be simpler, really.  Cut up the soft parts of four leeks, and braise until wilted in a little water, butter, salt and pepper.  Once that's done, brown the loin in a little butter for a few minutes, add some white wine, salt and pepper, to de-glaze the dutch oven and gather all those lovely brown nibbly bits on the bottom into the sauce.  Add the leeks back in, put on the lid and simmer for two hours.  Done.  The leeks go all buttery and sweet, the pork stays tender.  So, so good.

Here's the finished dish. The leeks, all reduced and scrumptious, are just left of the pork.  We've added a slaw of cabbage, apples and cilantro, dressed with lime juice and olive oil, and topped with roasted peanuts. The pork dried out a little, but otherwise, YUM.

We took advantage of the cool summer evening, and had dinner outside tonight.

Two nights ago, we made one of our other summer favorites: grilled vegetable stack.  You can make this with any vegetable that will grill up nicely.  That night, we used red peppers, zucchini, eggplant and green beans.  For the eggplant, it helps to slice it, salt it, let it stand 10-15 minutes, then rinse well.  This removes a lot of the bitterness, and tenderizes it a bit.  Then brush everything with olive oil, season to taste, and grill it until it gets those nice scorch marks, softens and sweetens.  We add a sauce made of reduced red wine, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, then add dollops of goat cheese spiked with oregano and basil.  Delicious, and easy.  Make enough of it, and you've got a meal.  Or add something else, like spaghetti with meat sauce, as we did.

The kittens are passing the day in their usual way.  Nap, scamper, wrestle, purr, eat, repeat.

They've grown very tolerant of our little boy, thank God.  He has a tendency to hold them in his lap and pet them, and hold them some more, until they're squirming and meowing to be released, and then hold them a little longer.  But they don't bite or claw him, and the next time he goes to pick them up they usually stay put and let him.

Thor is learning, through extensive, untiring practice, to use his paws in new and creative ways.  His latest feat (pardon the pun) is opening cabinet drawers, in order to build himself a ladder up to the countertops.  We're training him to stay down, through liberal application of a squirt bottle's stream, but he's a determined little puss.

So, swimming, watching movies, and cooking, and eating outdoors.  Spending time with the kids on this clear, warm, beautiful afternoon.  It's been a GOOD day.

Food log:

Breakfast: oatmeal, with cinnamon, brown sugar, cashews and dried cranberries.

Lunch: Peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich on whole grain bread, baked chips, bananas.

Snacks: granola bar, a Dove single.

Dinner: pork with braised leeks.  Slaw of cabbage, apples, cilantro and peanuts.  Half a piece of whole grain bread.


  1. Food looks fabulous. Now I'm hungry again. Thanks...

    But the cats are lovely. I adore the tabby striped one. One of my favorite cats looked like your little guy there. I miss him.

    Funny how the kids can maim the kittens and they don't get scratched. How is that???

  2. Thanks, Julia.

    That tabby is Thor. He's a GREAT cat. Playful and affectionate, and not at all destructive. OK, he does beat up the little stuffed, catnip-filled toys we made for the them, but that's what we made them for. :-)

    I don't understand why our son isn't covered in bite marks and scratches either. He's NOT gentle with these kittens. But apparently they've come to think that this is normal, and to be tolerated. Thank goodness.

    The food...ah, yes, the food. We do eat well in our household. I'm very proud to be giving our kids a sense for the benefits of growing your own produce, then cooking it with love.

    Thanks again!