The Teacup Chronicles

Minty Pea Pesto

There are so many things to love about June.

There are the long days of bright sunshine to spend laying in a hammock with a book or swimming in a lake or taking long meandering walks. There are the warm rains that make everything smell fresh and the passing thunderstorms to watch from the porch when the rain comes down in torrents.

There are the evenings that seem to stretch on forever, sitting outside with a glass of wine watching the twilight settle down. There are the fireflies at dusk.

There  is the perfume of a thousand different flowers carried on the breeze. There are irises and roses to admire, elder flowers to simmer in pots full of lemon and lime zest for elderflower cordial. Peonies to place in old glass mason jars and set on the table.

There are strawberries – juicy and crimson through and through – and rhubarb that is fragrant and tart and lovely. There are tender young lettuces and spicy radishes to crunch into, peas so sweet you could eat them by the handful.

There are friends who come to visit and friends to go and see.

There is the scent of cut grass and the hum of lawnmowers in the distance. There is riding in the car with all the windows down. Cold glasses of lemonade that taste so amazingly good and summer dresses that are cool and airy and make one feel pretty.

And there are the meals eaten outside – the picnics, the backyard barbecues, the lunches in the leafy shade and the late late dinners on the porch when the sun is going down and the fireflies and starting to twinkle. I would eat every meal out-of-doors this month if I could. Everything tastes better when it is eaten under open sky with the wind in your hair and the birds singing all around you. It really does.

Because I love the opportunity to bask in the gentleness of June as often and as long as I can, I try to make meals that are light and fresh,  intended to be eaten slowly, nonchalantly, lazily – designed more as an accompaniment to being outdoors than as the sole purpose.  I put out bowls of salad from the garden and let people make their own.  I make pesto with all of the wonderful herbs coming up in the garden to slather on crusty pieces of bread with fat slices of mozzarella or fresh tart goats cheese to crumble. Bowls of fresh strawberries with lightly whipped cream for dipping them in. All the sorts of things that taste exactly of June.

This is a pesto I made the other day using fresh peas – sweet and tender and wonderful – and mint from the garden. It is refreshing and light and just the thing for a warm and hazy day that requires something light. I served it with my favorite oatcakes baked into wedges, fresh mesclun greens from the garden and a handful of hot peppery radishes.

Minty Pea Pesto

Serves 4

  • 2.5 pounds peas in their pods – or about 1 pound freshly shelled peas  (you can use frozen in a pinch, but it won’t be nearly as good!)
  • 1 small bunch of fresh mint, leaves removed from stems
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan (optional)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • a good pinch each of salt and black pepper

Place the peas, pinenuts, garlic and mint leaves into a food processor with a pinch of salt and about half the olive oil. Pulse until the peas are broken up but still have some chunk and texture to them. Add the cheese, lemon juice, another pinch of salt and black pepper and pulse again, drizzling in more olive oil as needed until you have the consistency you want – it should be about the consistency of a thick hummus, with slightly more texture to it.

Check for salt and pepper and acidity, adding more of each as you see fit.

Serve with toasted crusty bread, oat cakes or a crisp, hearty cracker. Torn fresh mozzarella would be a good addition, along with a nice fresh salad – to make this more of a meal.

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Smile because it happened

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Just wanted to stop by for a minute and say hello – hello and thank you. I know I haven’t had a chance to respond personally as of yet, but I wanted to let you know in the meantime how much your comments have meant to me over the past few weeks. The words you’ve all shared with me have just been so heart warming and so staggeringly beautiful to read. And they helped me through some very tough days. I truly feel honored and blessed to have such wonderful readers!

I am back home now and settling into the rhythm of normal life. Wonderful friends, June sunshine, a garden full of delicious things and a most amazing family have been helping me through this process of change. As Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” So I am smiling, I am celebrating, I am finding that my father is not gone after all. He is everywhere. He is in my heart. 

I will be back soon with a new recipe (minted pea dip in case you are wondering) and I so look forward to continuing to share with you all here, and to have you share with me. Much love. 

Absence

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it:
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
–Mary Oliver

Yesterday, my father took his last breath and passed from this world.  I can find comfort in the thought that there will not be any more pain, no more sadness and despair and panic to witness in his eyes. That we were there to hold his hand, to let our tears fall onto him as his heart beat its last song to our murmurs of love and gratitude and consoling.

I can find reprieve in the stories we told and will tell. Laughing about his quirks, finding now that the things that used to annoy us – jingling his change in his pockets, his impatience, his knack for getting irritable about little things –  are so endearing and wonderful now that we might give anything to experience them again.

But when I walk through the house and I see his empty bed – see the place he always sat on the couch, where the cushions are worn and sunken in – the keys to his car on the table, his jacket in the hall. When the realization awakens within me that I will never again hear his voice, touch his hand, see him smile – something gives way within me that there are no words for. I hold it back because it feels if that dam of sadness and grief were to burst, it would shatter me in two. So I move through the hours with my heart in a vice grip, wondering to myself, how can this be, how can this be? Expecting that any minute now, I will hear his footsteps in the hall and my heart will never have to grasp this truth that seems wholly ungraspable.

And I realize that absence has a presence too. A presence that sucks the breath out of me and begins to grow beside me – a thing that is so palpable that it cannot be escaped, but so fathomless it cannot be known.

Thank you to you all for your kind words through this, your support, your warmth, your understanding. They meant so much to me and still they help to carry me through the moments when the bottom falls out.