June has been for me the culmination of five months of introspective work. I took a workshop that has completely changed the way I approach my day, that made me reflect and look ahead in new ways, setting new goals both personal and professional. It’s been a really meaningful and necessary period of course correction. The program was mostly centered on partnership and work-life balance. As it was coming to a close, I was reading a book my husband gave me called Letters to a Young Farmer, curated by the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. These lessons about agriculture kept circling back eerily to everything I’d been learning within the four walls of my office. It all came down to growth and betterment.
If asked to choose one job to have for one day only, I’d easily choose farmer. I’m aware that I don’t have the physical wherewithal to make a life of farming, but there are few professions I have a deeper respect for. One of the personal goals I set for myself this summer was to get my hands dirty, so I did some volunteer work at Brooklyn Grange one afternoon—the first of many, I promise! Among the weeds we pulled were errant greens, arugula, bok choy, and more that we plucked from the patches where they didn’t belong and got to take home and enjoy for days to come. Everything has its time and place. Our rescue salad:
I’ve been learning these last months to know and value the skills I possess, and further, to recognize that they’re not finite. There is always something more for me to learn, and that excites me. My kitchen is my favorite classroom. Cooking with an ingredient I’ve never used before is thrilling. Improving on a dish I have made before is uplifting. There’s only up from here.
This month I substituted chopped up garlic scapes, my favorite novelty, for regular garlic in a dish of sautéed swiss chard with lemon and Parmesan. I also made a successful first go of cooking escarole, braised in white wine with cannellini beans, garlic, lemon, and red pepper flakes. Meanwhile Jon has had his own revelation: perfect kale chips. Spicy, crunchy, and lemony tart, no amount is ever enough. We used to complain that we got more kale than we knew what to do with, but now we’ll never turn away another bunch. I’ll share the deliciously simple recipe soon.
And today, he invented an amazing soup with collard greens, broccoli leaves, and yellow squash, topped with cotija cheese and lemon balm. It may be hot as hell out there, but I was too in love with this experimental soup and the adventurous man who made it to care. I went for seconds immediately.
Last week, my cousin came into my room and told me he was in the mood for a homemade meal, in his words “food from the old country, something rustic.” Game on. I knew in my heart and my stomach that it was time for tarator. For my whole life, tarator has been the dish that signaled the start of the summer. I got straight to mixing yogurt and water and grating in cucumbers and garlic. It went in the fridge right away to be cold and ready for dinnertime. When it was time to eat, I topped it with freshly snipped dill from our CSA and watched summer come to life before my eyes.
Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep eating.