Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The vinegar theory

It's been a slow week for blogging, in large part because of the vast number of guests who've recently traipsed through our house. My parents were here, with Sam the Idiotic Poodle and Gabby the Wacky Spaniel Puppy. My uncle and his new wife - I'm having problems calling her my aunt, in part because it's so odd that the long-time bachelor uncle finally married, and in part because she's only six years older than I am - stayed with us for several days, too. And then my sister and her boyfriend, who live about a mile-and-a-half away, were over much of the time, along with their dog, Gigantic Lucy. So, counting us and Rocky the wonder shih tzu, that makes for eight people and four dogs. Which is a lot.

I got overloaded, as I tend to with that many people around, and turned completely functional: Do we have butter? Who's eating lunch here? Is everyone aware of the dinner reservations? (Yes, the family visit did revolve completely around food.) Spent much of Saturday - a gorgeous day, for once - laying on the couch with my eyes closed. Couldn't figure out if I caught D.'s miserable cold or if I was just playing dead to get some relief from all those people.

But it did lead me to a little epiphany: We tend to just lay around on the weekends, Sundays in particular. I often end the day feeling cranky, disgruntled and foggy, which makes for a lovely last evening before work. What I realized is that all that laying around - while it feels like relaxing - is actually counterproductive. I'd be much happier, and feel much better, if I actually got my lazy butt off the couch to take Rocky to the park or go for a run. So I gotta keep that in mind, starting next weekend.

One smart thing I did was to take two days off following the departure of the relatives. They were all gone by 10 yesterday morning, so I wrote the first draft of my accursed freelance piece and did assorted things that needed to be done - laundry, grocery shopping, ordered a new computer online since this one - made from components and bought from a friend of a friend - is a piece of unmitigated junk, balanced the checkbook and consulted with the guy who's painting the exterior of our house. That leaves today for a shower, a quick chat about the paint color and a trip to the library and the beach. Can't wait to sit by myself on the beach and read...

One last thing: Wanted to recap a bit of the food we pulled together for the hordes, much of which came from our farm share. We belong to a CSA, where we pay in the spring - when the farmers need the money for seed and repairs - and they provide us with fresh, organic vegetables for about 20 weeks starting in late June. We get our share on Fridays, and last week the harvest season really kicked in -- it filled an entire plastic garbage bag. We split the share w/ F. & S., but we still had an amazing amount of produce to use.

Friday night we ordered out for pizza - following our first-ever basement flood, we weren't up for cooking - and I made a gigantic salad, using salad greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, salad turnips and carrots from the farm, plus an avocado from the store, and an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. The salad turnips were a great addition - they've got a nice bite that contrasts with the sweet tomatoes and cukes.

Saturday we were much more ambitious, and came up with a dinner plan that would make use of lots of our excess. We bought enormous steaks, which I rubbed with a little orange juice and an amazing shiitake mushroom rub we bought from our local spice company. For side dishes, we had grilled squash - zuchini, yellow and pattypan squash - and onions, plus a tangy cucumber salad that used a combination of farm cukes, which were the pickling variety, and a European seedless cuke. We happened to have some really good Spanish olive oil that friends brought us from Barcelona last year, so I tossed the cukes, along with thinly sliced tomato and red onion, with that, salt, pepper and some white wine vinegar that also happened to be Spanish. It was, I thought, a perfect summer dinner - fresh, tasty and very satisfying.

And it reminds me of my sister's theory that, if you have more than three kinds of vinegar, you must admit the fact that you are a yuppie. I can count six varieties without even opening the pantry door - white, cider, red wine, balsamic, white wine, rice - so I guess we are doomed.