This is food from a family lunch a couple weekends ago, where a family friend prepared the chicken. They diced garlic and put it underneath the skin, along with other seasonings, and let it sit for a while. The asparagus, salad, potatoes, and chicken were just right for an end of summer meal: light enough for a warm day but hearty to satiate that natural hunger I often find myself craving as Autumn draws near: root vegetables, oven roasted poultry, and gravies.
We decided to swing by Highrollers in Portland, Maine, for lunch: lobster roll with yellow mustard, lime mayo, and charred pineapple sauce; a lobby pop, which is a corn dog using lobster meat in place of hot dog; French fries sprinkled with Old Bay with side sauces: curried ketchup, charred pineapple, yellow mustard, red pepper mayo, jalapeño mayo; grass-fed cheeseburger.
There was one last party on the weekend of Labor Day to celebrate my birthday. It had been postponed before due to Hurricane Henri, and now the day happened: a day trip to Portland, Maine! Although I did not each all the food I planned to that day, I came close to it. First meal was mussels in white wine sauce with toasted garlic points, marinated beet salad, lobster and scallop cakes with pesto and orange chili sauce, and avocado chips with chipotle mayo. Dipping those garlic points into white wine sauce was probably my favorite part of the meal.
The baker I buy fresh bread from each week at the downtown farmers market gave me a pro tip on how to use my sage plant: grilled cheese. So today I had an early lunch: French bread, cheddar, tomato, mayonnaise, sage, and butter. My favorite part was discovering how to melt the cheese and not burn the bread. For an experiment I took one of the cheese slices from the sandwich and melted it in the skillet and got it to melt.
The result: crispy toasted points and a chewy bite. Sage has this deliciousness that mixes so well with the texture of fresh bread. I will continue my technique in melting the cheese effectively so as not to turn the bread too crispy, and I’m looking forward to making grilled cheese, maybe next time with thyme or basil and lime. Who knows?
My friend B and I met up over the weekend for lunch and thrifting and this time did not disappoint. My phone died before getting pictures of the entire food setup, which was extravagant. We had French onion soup with avocado mash, mushroom, and garlic on baguette, hummus with beets and pepitas, and Schrute farms beet salad. This meal was a true indulgence and I’m sure I ate more than my fair share of food, with plenty of leftover salad and popcorn.
My favorite part of the meal was the company, first and foremost. We have known each other since high school and I feel lucky to have known a person for as long as we have, as it allows you to be seen through a lifetime’s flaws and successes, which pull away from the idea that a person is entirely unknowable. It is the successful relationships over passage of time that I am so thankful for, as I’m glad I can be kind to people, as I know when a conflict arises, as so inevitably does, they would extend the same mercy to me.
In my knowing her she is as kind and limitlessly unconditionally accepting of me, and I love having someone like that, who might look myopically over at me, as though looking at a painting from a far point across a room, and call it an inspiration.
In the pursuit of living better and achieving goals, I’ve been using a food relationship management subscription over the past few months. Noom has a sort of continuing education feel with a supportive chat group structure to share lessons and give each other new ideas on how to creatively work with food to challenge or push back on old beliefs and walk into new rituals and ways of seeing the world. A lot of the most important parts of Noom for me has been creating a calorie budget, where I understand the parameters of how many calories I need to eat each day in order to either sustain or lose weight, and following the budget. The most fun I’ve been having lately is with plant-based substitutions for dairy and highly processed carbohydrates. In place of cheese, I use grated zucchini or summer squash on my eggs; instead of half and half I use Califia Farms coconut almond creamer; I use vegan shreds instead of cheddar on my burritos; I boil a cauliflower and mash it up instead of rice. What it does for me is help me use fun tricks to eat less calorically dense foods. Plant-based foods tend to have more water in them, and do not have as many calories as animal-based ones do. For example, heavy cream has 100 calories per 2 Tbsp. Half and Half has 30 calories per 2 Tbsp. Califia Farms coconut almond creamer has 15 calories per 2 Tbsp. That range gives me more options when I want to spend my calories in certain ways.
My strategy is to eat as many low calorically dense foods (see also: cauliflower, asparagus, lettuce, spinach) throughout my day so that I can conserve the higher calorically dense foods (see also: cheeseburger, bread, chips, butter) strategically. I like to plan my day, and I find my calorie budget really helps with planning out foods I’ll eat. Sometimes I have a general idea in mind. Other times I have prepped food for the week and play it by ear on which foods I’m craving. Last weekend I made cauliflower mash, boiled butternut squash, and corn from a local farm stand. I’ve been using these foods interchangeably throughout my week. To be quite candid, I’m nearly sick of eating some of these foods, and I will be glad when this weekend comes so I can food prep some new combination of foods. I picked up beets from a farm stand the other day and so am excited to work with that. I’m not sure if I’ll pickle them or what.
To boost flavor I’ll start out eggs or a burrito base with sautéed white onion and garlic and sprinkle fresh herbs on top. Thyme and basil are two favorites. I have a sage plant but not sure how to prepare the leaves. Do I dry them or just let them be fresh and cook with them? I dunno! I’ve been thinking about taking string and wrapping a sage smudge for the end of the summer. In keeping with new tradition, it would be amazing to burn that smudge through a space and have it cleanse the palate for future seasons. Sage burning is something I have seen used for clearing blocked places, summoning old ancients, and meditation.
*Update** I enjoyed sage sautéed into cauliflower topped with salmon and didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did. Sage has this flavor when I close my eyes that mimics meat, but it brought out a flavor when combined with cauliflower and seafood that was lovely. If I can work sage in with vegan chorizo or tofu I’ll probably try that next.
If a time were ever so set in stone as my favorite time of all time, it’s in the 1990s and my best age is 17. I’m in love for the first time, have friends who finally get me, and truly feel like a golden boy, or girl, or whatever that turn of phrase may be. Stay golden, pony boy? I’m pretty sure that applies here.
Either way, over the weekend I had a get together with some of the girls from high school and I had the best time. We didn’t have an all day event or even a sleepover, which is probably what my younger self would have been able to tolerate, neigh first choice, but our afternoon lunch was plenty for my current self.
If I am able to convey the importance of the origin story, it is this: my oldest friends share the ultimate gift, which is those origin stories of my younger self. The meaning is that you were both there when it happened, and that is what binds you to them. That is what makes life so meaningful. I had waited so long to meet up with these girls and I’m not exactly sure why. I learn in sometimes the hardest way that avoidance no longer works for me as an effective approach, but rather now more and more these days that life is for the living and that includes me and everyone in it. So I try and recall some of those oldest friends from my youngest times in life and reconcile the shortcomings or downfalls, if possible. Getting to the place where you can all enjoy BBQ and watch their children play in probably the finest time to be alive, your current self will thank you.
I am not quite sure whether it’s these turns of phrase or just the recent reminiscence of olden days gone by, but I’m recalling now some of the required reading I had in high school: The Once and Future King. Its title captures an idea of this moment. Reading the book is an entirely different matter, as I am sure I only recall sad remnants of the way actually reading it in high school made me feel, but through this experience and by the appearance of the feelings it expresses to me, I am the once and future king, and I have found my people again.
I brought a cooler, 20 lbs. of ice, grapefruit and black cherry flavored zero calorie seltzer, hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns. I also brought a mint pea pecorino salad which stayed in the cooler and corn on the cob, but we didn’t even need that food. We had so much to talk about and share with each other. I so enjoyed listening to the old stories of times gone by and relating with those young girls now. It’s better than talking to our old selves, as we have so many new stories to share, dating stories, figurative war wounds, new relationships, actual careers. In the only way I have been able to maintain any sense of order, I tend to talk how I think, which is a stream of consciousness style, so it’s no surprise that I got pretty long winded when making a toast. I kept dragging on about something about divesting from Facebook, but ended up saying, to all the people in the room and in this house, we’re the cool people. To the coolest people ever! Which is not my best work, but it did for the occasion.
red grapes, cantaloupe, low fat plain yogurt, sugar free raspberry jam
Fruity Pebbles glazed donut is my favorite new flavor.
left to right: Fruity Pebbles, glazed, apple cider, chocolate butter nut
Favorite things: charcuterie boards
left to right: egg scrambled with shredded zucchini, cheddar, fig, two types of homemade chocolate chip cookies, watermelon, tuna in olive oil