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2012 August

Two Little Things

I think I’m getting maybe slightly better at snapping pictures during the week, and these are two that make me really happy. This is last night’s dinner: summer on a plate. Peppers stuffed with corn, tomatoes, and cheese. The peppers are kind of…exploded, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Those colors are what make this season the most delicious.

I saw these mushrooms poking up their little heads on Wednesday, and I just could not believe how much they looked like perfectly toasted marshmallows, rising right up out of the ground. It made me smile. Happy weekend!

Zucchini Carpaccio Salad

I am racking up a nice little array of cold salads for this hot summer, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The heat isn’t going to abate anytime soon, so bring on the cool and crispy! I found this gem in the archives of Smitten Kitchen, and it is my New Favorite Thing.

It’s so wonderfully simple, and so unexpected. Zucchini sliced paper thin and salted for 20 minutes (and then rinsed) results in something completely surprising: light and supple, crunchy yet flexible. I did not know that this state of matter was possible for zucchini, and if you live in a place where you have to lock your car doors to keep people from leaving zucchini inside, this is the recipe for you. I would gladly eat this every week (and I have so far).

It doesn’t hurt that it also involves arugua, which is my most beloved salad green. It’s sharp and nutty and spicy, and nothing else tastes close to it. I love rinsing a huge bowl of it for this salad.

The lemon juice and olive oil give it a hefty tang that is so perfectly suited for these fruits of the garden. The name of this recipe originally comes from Gourmet, and carpaccio is used playfully here, since it usually refers to thinly sliced meats served in italy. But this salad is also a cousin of ceviche, because the lemon juice continually cures the zucchini and makes it even more supple. Next time I make it, I think I’ll throw in some lemon zest too. Happy summer!

Zucchini Carpaccio Salad
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 pound zucchini (about 3 large)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound arugula, stems discarded and leaves cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips (6 cups)
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated (on large holes of a box grater; 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Special equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer

-Cut zucchini crosswise into paper-thin slices with slicer. Toss zucchini slices with one teaspoon salt in a large colander set over a bowl and let drain 20 minutes.
-Rinse zucchini slices well, then drain, pressing gently on slices to extract any excess liquid. Pat zucchini slices dry with a kitchen towel.
-Put arugula in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over greens and toss. Arrange zucchini slices over arugula greens, then drizzle with remaining oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and pepper.

August 2012 Goals

I am having such a blast doing these monthly goals. I’ve recently gone back and updated the past ones–you can see June here and July here. I have been thinking a lot lately about the expansiveness of time. Even when things are hectic, I’m so encouraged to find that there are always moments to be snatched here and there. And I love it when ideas come to me when I’m in the middle of something else entirely. It’s everyday magic. My goals for this month reflect that view of time, for sure, and hopefully I’ll be squeezing them in in all those in-between moments.

This past weekend I finally bought pillow forms to make pillows for the couch. I’ve had the fabric for months, and I just haven’t gotten to it. But this is also part of a larger project of making the living room more hospitable. When you want to read on the couch, you need a pillow to prop your head up! So hopefully they will be in place by the end of the month.

I’ve been fully luxuriating in Saveur’s Mexico issue, which highlights a vast array of bright and colorful regional specialties. It’s the understatement of the year to say that what we usually see in Tex-Mex restaurants doesn’t scratch the surface of the real cuisine. I’m really taken with the idea of trying to get comfortable with a few of these Mexican dishes. We are so well poised for it here: every week at the farmer’s market squash blossoms are on display, as well as more varieties of pepper than I can identify. I want to learn the ingredients and techniques and take advantage of sharing a climate with such a vibrant culture and cuisine. I’m heading to the library for some cookbooks! Recommendations, anyone?

I think I’m going to keep the 365 Project on my goals list for the rest of the year–I need the reminder! It’s a fun thing to work on on a Sunday afternoon, and I am always glad to have done it. I am still running about a month behind, but hope springs eternal.

Reading on the couch is a simple one: it’s lovely, and I don’t spend nearly enough time there. Hopefully this will be a reminder to step away from the computer every now and again.

I could never overestimate the importance of having an easy knitting project going. I love doing complex stuff too, projects that require a lot of counting stitches and focus, but I also relish being able to pick something up while Eric and I are watching stand up comedy or something and keep my hands busy. I have been working on this cable knit blanket since…January? February? I am getting close to finished (read: running out of yarn), and when it’s done (and it’s longer than I am tall), I’ll have the pleasure of placing it on the couch (alongside the new pillows) and picking out a new project. Fun! (As a funny side note, I have a wonderful aunt who is a talented fiber artist. She once worked so long on a quilt that, when she finished it, her friends started saying, “It’s a quilt!” They may even have gotten her cigars saying as much. I am going to say it to myself when I finish this project: “It’s a blanket!”

On the making the house a home docket, now that I know we don’t have to move this August (yay!), I want to hang a bunch more stuff on the walls. I have been wallpapering my walls with pretty things since I was in middle school (though back then it was Beatles posters and pictures ripped from magazines), and I don’t intend to quit anytime soon.

And, finally, of course, I am planning to document it all with tons and tons of pictures. See you in a month to see how I did!

Update, September 2012: Yay, I did most of these things! The couch pillows are done and can be seen here. The Mexican cooking has been going well, as can be seen here, here, and here, and there is more to come. I am holding steady at about one month behind on the 365 Project, but that is better than being six months behind. I have been working on it in two-week spurts here and there, and I only have a few months before I hit 365 on my third year of the project. There has been a bit more reading on the couch, for sure, but I think that should be an eternal goal. The blanket is not finished yet, but I only have three skeins of yarn left, and I’ve had a lot of fun working on it this month. I’m still not sure what my next project is going to be, but I am excited for it. We were actually working on hanging stuff on the walls this weekend, and I’ll be getting a few things framed in the next week or so that have been in that queue for a long time. I hope there will be enough wall space left when they are done! And finally, of course, there have been lots and lots of pictures. So, not bad at all!

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