Salad Days

Last Saturday was a gorgeous day, perfect for visiting the Farmers' Market.  And the market was hopping.  "In-season" was lettuce, salad greens, rhubarb and an abundance of potted plants for transplanting to the garden.  Wake Robin Farm is one of my favorite vendors and last summer I grew "Black Krim" and "Bull's Heart" tomatoes with good luck, considering the many weeks of wet weather.  Monstrous they were, too.  This year I am trying a cherry tomato called "Chocolate Cherry" - super-productive and 70 days until I can have my chocolate fix and vegetable serving at once.


Cute Food

When we lived in Maine, my partner Mark used to say that you'd get an interesting reaction from the locals – or at least get their attention – if you asked, "Do you know any good loon recipes?"  To someone from New Hampshire or Maine, that's akin to asking the President of the United States if s/he knows any good bald eagle recipes. It goes beyond raising eyebrows – it raises ire!

Well, you get similar reactions from certain people when you admit that you eat "cute" food.  "Certain people" includes some dear friends and, of course, some of you.  As I was thinking of a way to admit to you, dear readers, that I do eat cute food,  I realized that, at some point in my life, I have eaten almost all the favorite and beloved storybook characters of my childhood.  I am embarrassed to name them...

I have dined on Bambi, Thumper, Lambchop, Piglet, Daffy and/or Donald.  From The Little Mermaid, it was Flounder, Sebastian and – if she was, indeed, an octopus – Ursula, the Sea Witch.  (Well, I thought Ursula was cute in an "evil-destroy-the-world" kind of way.)  The hardest one to admit to is Winnie the Pooh.  Yes, I ate bear – bear jerky, in fact – when I was a Boy Scout.  Happily, I have not knowingly eaten Flicka, Nemo, Kanga or Roo.  Or Tigger.  Now, living in the Southwest,  I must admit my relief that there are no adored characters based on quail.  They are just so darned cute.  Dumb, but cute.  Noisy, but cute.  Cute, but tasty. 

So today's recipe is for Grilled Quail with Rhubarb Compote inspired by a recipe from Arrows Restaurant.  We served it with mashed potatoes and a light salad of Belgian endive and parsley, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.  And we ended the meal in our garden with some beautiful, fresh strawberries dipped in Grand Marnier. 


The Understudy

Do you follow that voice in your head?  The one that tells you to do - or not do - something.  When I actually pay attention and listen, that little voice has never failed me.  On the day I was preparing this, I had also steamed a two pound bag of mussels.  Beautiful indigo mollusks from the neighborhood fishmonger.  "Take photos" said the little voice, "take photos in case you need them".  Typically I haven't taken photographs unless I'm planning to use them in a post.  No doubt, that's the novice blogger in me, but this time - I snapped away.

A mere week later, with mussels patiently waiting in my camera, I had a "mishap".  I fell.  Really hard.  I wish I could tell you that I had been on some great, exciting adventure.  Cave diving - or maybe bull riding.  Alas, no.  I was in my Sunday finery carrying a tray of strawberries.  Three hours later, I left the ER with crutches, a leg splint and a PCL avulsion fracture.  I hope the strawberries were somehow saved.


Cinco de Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo.  Living in Arizona, this should be a great day of celebration of Mexican heritage and culture.  But this year, due to the recent state legislation, I am saddened this is not the case.  Honestly, I cannot imagine our beautiful Southwest without its Mexican influences of art, architecture, music, color, food, and myriad traditions. Cinco de Mayo and El Dia de los Muertos are just two Mexican holidays that have become very important to the non-Mexican people who live here.  We have adopted – with much respect – these traditions, and we celebrate them and the people who brought them to us.

In case you don't know why we celebrate this day, it commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla (Mexico) on 5 May 1862.  Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico and has limited significance nationwide there, but is observed in the United States and around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.  This past Sunday, our neighborhood celebrated this festive occasion in appreciation of the culture, joy and enrichment added to our daily lives by our Mexican friends and neighbors.  Margaritas poured freely and a lively Mariachi band played favorites.  These chocolate cookies, infused with ancient Mexican flavors, were our contribution to the feast.