Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Happiness

Every season has it's joys, summer though is so full of joy that it's hard to not to get lost in the long warm June afternoons. I think I love the season of warmth more because of the garden and mine is overgrown as usual. I always plant too much, I try to show restraint but I love the little flowers and this year I planted seeds among the plants so that I could cherish the joy of discovering what new flowers will pop up between the herbs and the few tomato plants I planted this year. I didn't mark the seeds so I would be surprised what new leaf pattern and color combination would make it's summer appearance and I recognize the sweet peas twirling it's sweet tendrils up the side of the trellis and I can't wait for the pinks to appear.

One of my favorite ways to spend summer is to find something to cook that will define the summer. My unusual find this year via the amazing Ina Garten is the most amazing chicken stock one could imagine finding. She just throws this little recipe out there now and then and because the summer garden is so full of herbs I thought I'd try it. Her trick? She roasts the chicken or pieces of chicken first in the oven and I think that's the miracle part of it because it removes any extra chicken fat and all you really get after is this amazing golden broth that only a jewish mother could make. And how does this relate to summer meals? Well it's the lightness of it, making it thai by adding a little fish sauce and some egg noodles, chopped up peanuts and lots and lots of fresh cilantro. Cilantro grows like a weed and will make anything taste like a summer evening. You make this Italian by adding basil and maybe a half a can of chopped tomatoes. It's wonderful with loads of vegetables and it's comfort food of the highest order. It's easy too, just roast the chicken parts or the whole chicken, put it in a large stock pot and start to layer the flavors, carrots, celery, parsnips, two large spanish onions, and the best part? You don't even have to peel, cut the skins off anything, almost no prep work involved here, just cutting it up with a few heads of garlic, just cut the whole things in half, no need to remove the skin here either, a big batch of dill, some parsley a little sprig or two of rosemary and let it boil then turn it down to a summer for a few hours, and strain, take out the chicken and shred it and you can keep it all separated until you are ready to have dinner and throw all the rest away. It freezes for a quick meal and it's pure summer joy.

Bravo will make summer fun as Jeff Lewis is back and just the promos are fun. The summer fun movie? Hangover2 which is not quite as funny as the first, but hilarious all the same and I've seen the first about 300 times and it still makes me laugh.

Summer is the time to find a new OPI color and paint your toe nails, wear sandals and spend at least 20 minutes a day worshiping the sun. That is what I miss most in the winter, not being able just to sit outside without a coat or shoes. I am painting a series of canvases to make a new headboard and found some wood butterflies to make a mobile for the kitchen. If the sun makes an appearance today I will wander to the garden and take some photos to post. The Summer book this year? Little Bee by Chris Cleave about a girl who escapes Nigeria. You can find it on amazon used for about $4 and it's a true page turner as I am on my second reading and admit I missed a few things the first time around because it was so compelling. When I am done I will find his first novel and anything else he's written and put it in my head. If books make up who we are, I am glad to find this one. The compassion he writes of here between people who are almost strangers is lovely.

The stores here stopped selling my favorite Black currant tea so I am looking for a new brand. I just purchased a few different brands online and when i find the new perfect cup of brewed wondrous goodness I will let you know. I went to a few international markets near Chicago and found a few boxes written in Polish. Both were too purple, too bitter and not the black currant flavor I love. I did buy a bottle of black currant syrup that I have been adding to plain iced tea and although it does add a little too much sweetness, its lovely.

Last summer my favorite flower was the cosmos. I know why Alice Walker would find a field of those purple beauties to be worth writing an entire book around, but this year I think I am taken with the lilies. I owe someone a Lily poem and I am working that through my head. The come back every year and they are so beautiful, each like it's own painting, each worthy of a moment's pause on a June afternoon, and in colors so rich, it's hard to pick a favorite.

My novel is almost finished, the story finding it's way home. I am making jewelry again and while not consuming my life it does make me happy. There are a few lingering health issues but I am feel as though I am healing, love does that I think, finds a way to heal us. I am fostering some baby kittens from a local animal shelter and the mother and babies are a comfortable addition to the house. I like their little mewing. I will post some photos of them as well, their eyes just opened today. I took them out on the deck with me for awhile so their little faces could feel the warm sun, the momma just climbed the tree and sat in a branch looking down at me until I put them away. Life is good.

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