Sunday, August 1, 2010

Living with Elmo...What?

Why the title for this blog?

Yesterday morning, I went to our local Farmer's Market, held on the heart-warming square of a nearby town, with a dear friend. She and I pushed Matthew around in his stroller - amidst a happy sea of kids, parents, grandparents, and dogs - and perused the lovely wares. The stands connect all the way around the square, and in the center, a shady, grassy common area - complete with a beautiful fountain - hosts those who cannot wait one more second to sample that perfectly ripe plum.

So...back to the blog title...I bought all sorts of yummies: perfectly fresh local peaches (so ripe that the juice dripped from my elbows when I ate one), yellow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, a fragrant cantalope, and some scalloped squash. Just walking around, my mind was swirling with possible variations and recipes. I decided on a tomato salad, baked chicken, homemade biscuits, and a peach cobbler. When I returned home, Chris and Timothy were building the SkyFort (a wonderfully generous gift from's almost complete!). I made a quick pizza for lunch, put the boys down for a nap, gave the dogs haircuts and baths, and then - finally - turned to preparing dinner. And at this point, I wasn't even thinking about reviving the blog. I was just floating on air with anticipation of cooking with beautiful, fresh ingredients.

I sliced the tomatoes, drizzled some olive oil over them, added a pinch of sea salt and a few cranks of fresh pepper, opened my kitchen window and pinched a few leaves of sweet basil out of the windowbox (oh, be still my beating heart!!) and tossed them in. The colors just popped. So gorgeous. I put some chicken thighs (that looks so gross written out) in a large bowl, drenched them with Italian dressing and a few other ingredients, and set them in the fridge to marinate. Turning to the peaches, I peeled and sliced and mixed with brown sugar, cinnamon, corn starch, a few grates of fresh nutmeg, and some lemon juice and set those to macerate, also in the fridge.

Please venture with me down one more background-sharing bunny trail. Music is an inherent part of me. I've played the piano since I was 6. My mother loves classical music, and gratefully instilled this love in my own heart. While my piano-playing may be a bit rusty right now, two of my favorite pieces to play are Debussy's "Claire de Lune" and Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." Back in the day, before children and jobs and real-life responsibilities, I had those boogers memorized. Today, there's not room in my brain for 15 pages of sheet music, but someday...someday...I do plan to play them beautifully again.

So when I am in the kitchen cooking, I almost always have music playing. It is usually streaming out of my iPod docking station. What a wide variety of music is on that thing, from "Baby Got Back" (you cannot deny it's a great workout & house-cleaning tune!) to "Ave Maria" performed by Sarah Brightman to Ella Fitzgerald's "Dancin' Cheek to Cheek". But, my all-time favorite piece is Chopin's Nocturne in E minor, Op. 72, No. 1. It's beautifully mournful strains pierce my heart. And I love it. When it is playing, I feel more acutely aware of sights, sounds, colors, it is the perfect kitchen soundtrack. Now that I am fairly addicted to Pandora Radio, Mr. Chopin and I spend a lot of time together. So, five paragraphs later, there is the reasoning behind the first phrase of my blog title.

And living with Elmo? Well, lest anyone have false visions of my life and think that I am able to spend uninterrupted time in the kitchen (or anywhere else, for that matter), I thought I should add a description to let it be known that while I appreciate cooking and fine music, I also have two small children and no shortage of kid-stuff strewn about the house. And yes, my countertops may occasionally be dotted with jewels of peach cobblers and heirloom tomato salads, but more often you will find matchbox race cars, pacifiers, a partially transformed Transformer, and a dripping sippy cup.

Yesterday evening, after I had prepared the above-described meal, I was inspired by its gorgeousness and started taking photos. It was during this process that I decided to revive the blog. Not because I want to brag or show off, but because I want to SHARE. Share my heart, my dreams, my enthusiam for all things yummy and beautiful. And the realities (and hilarity) of life with small children.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Plated Deliciousness: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Baked Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuits

Let me just zoom out a little for you here, so you can see what was really going on as I snapped these photos.

That's our Matthew (16 months old). A few seconds before I took this, he had his right knee on the table and his left hand on the wine glass. And that was after he pulled the newspapers off of the chair and spilled the dog's water.

And a little more real-life for you: here's what I had to add to my beautiful dinner to ensure the boys would actually eat something.
That's right. Disgusting, rubbery, microwaved Easy-Mac.

Sigh. Life is so beautiful!


SundayClothes said...

oh sweet friend! i love love love love love this!!! I'm sooo glad you finally did it! what a treat for the world!
love, beth

Heather -Gathering Spriggs said...

I have tears in my eyes sweet dear friend. thanks for this peek into your world. your reality. your frankness and beautiful sensibility have me swept away from my own reality at the moment and i long to be in your presence , your gracious, fragrant, virtuous presence.