by Clotilde Hryshko
The picture is of a bunch of Chioggia beets, destined for Rachel and Shale’s house. They are my favorite beet for summertime beets, though not for winter storage. You slice thinly – no peeling! – sauté with garlic, and add a dash of plum vinegar. Serve warm or cold.
But this isn’t about beets, except they made a great picture the day my elder daughter, Marya, was helping me with CSA prep. People seeing them for the first time easily mistake them for radishes – unless they look at the leaves.
This is similar to the mistaken identity summer has in my mind. Long days mean more time to work. Heat increases my exhaustion and irritability. It takes family meetings to come up with a plan of how to spend time together and what we want to do.
I haven’t written for over a month now, not what I was planning but we all know about the heat waves in July. July started so cool – cold in fact – and the basil got its typical copper colored leaves in response by the 2nd. The last burst of St. James Bay air seems longer than 3 weeks ago. Reading the weather discussions we knew what was coming – at least through July 10th. I prepped for that first week of heat by baking while the Canadian air mass remained in place. Three days in a row I made a double batch of “24 hour” bread. Stockpiled it for breakfast – toasted with fresh strawberry jam. Jim made grilled sandwiches one night with the last of it – pesto and our tomatoes making it more special.
The time set aside for CSA day setup coincided with the time our grill is still in the shade. I grilled baskets of zucchini then, and stored them in the frig. This was used on grilled pizzas and on the aforementioned sandwiches. We made lots of ice cream for fresh raspberry shortcakes, and cooked the biscuits on the grill as well. Hummus made with peanut butter, Thai basil, parsley, and lime juice was a great lunch on a Saturday. By the end of that first week I was pleased with how my body acclimated and that I could sill be found in the fields in the late afternoon.
I am going through this list because now, the last week of July, they seem like accomplishments. I am out of homemade frozen baked goods, out of precooked frozen garbonzos and pinto beans. Out of will, too, it seems. I have plenty of inspiration; I handle the “raw goods” every day. My mind can still wander to what I should be doing with typical July bounty, and most evenings I accomplish it, but it certainly feels less joyful in the hazy humidity.
Only this brings me around to some memorable moments in the past month. Weeding in the cabbages with the puddles from the last rain still pooled on the bottom leaves. (They were especially pretty on the red cabbages.) A drop of water broke the stillness of one, causing the silent ripples. It was actually a drop of sweat that had fallen from my forehead. I was refreshed twice.
I also had the opportunity to hear about myself through someone else – back to that beet bunch destined for another household. Marya mows the lawn at this house and is one of those rare young teens capable of conversing with adults. Rachel was relaying how much she enjoys Marya’s company. Then the conversation turned and could be summarized as “You realize, Clotilde, that Marya’s rebellion is that she is subtle; Clotilde, you are NOT subtle”. I responded that I fully appreciated “emotional evolution.” I repeat this because I giggled over it for days, enjoying the truth and humor. It is also part of the daily reality of working alone – this was better than a compliment; someone actually noticed something real.
Lastly, I leave a sandwich recommendation – one easily digested in the heat, with a decent amount of protein and veggies. Peanut butter, cucumber, and tomato – it works well on soft wholegrain bread (I like to add salt). Lettuce makes a nice addition too, and then can be called the PBC-LT. In this weather, it accumulates in my food chain. (Photo by Marya Merriam)