Reader Bruce, wherever you are out there, thank you for the suggestion. I am now hooked on Ray Bradbury, halfway through Dandelion Wine. The spine of the book with the library tag calls it SCI-FI, which I am still trying to understand. Leo is trying to build a happiness machine, yes, and it's 1920 and the world is on the point of tipping straight into the mechanized future. But kids and dogs are running free all over town and Mrs. Bentley is buying everyone chocolate popsicles from the ice cream truck and the smell of fresh cut grass makes Grandfather sing. Aren't these the things that real, every day summer are and should be all about? Yes, I say, definitely.

Also, grilling. Fridays recently we've been cooking outside, because whether there are friends around or it's just us it keeps seeming like the right thing to do. I've been buying hot dogs from Tim at Cape Cod Organic Farm and ground beef from Seawind Meadows and today I went out on a limb and got some ribs and linguica from Tim. Grilling lends itself nicely to fridge cleanup, so Fridays before the Saturday market I've been pulling out the last asparagus and the handful of fresh onions and the last ear of corn and forgotten bags of green beans. Last night I searched around for a proper recipe that might work through a bunch of basil and two zucchinis and a bag of arugula, and what we came up with was a pesto and balsamic dressed salad straight off the grill. We ate it alongside hamburgers packed with more basil and some garlic, and Nora discovered the wonder that is anything dipped in mayo. Afterward we hosed her down and read some Uncle Wiggily, and now, finally, I have a proper recipe for you. 


The inspiration for this salad came from a grilled zucchini and summer squash dish in the July 1999 issue of Bon App├ętit. Balsamic and pesto go surprisingly well together, and the chickpeas make it a bit more filling.

2 medium zucchinis, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch thick strips lengthwise
olive oil
sea salt to taste
leaves from 1 large bunch basil
3 large cloves garlic
1/3-1/2 cup fresh Parmesan, thinly grated or sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large handfuls of arugula
1/3 cup chickpeas or other white beans

Arrange the zucchini slices in a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and grill, turning occasionally, until tender and blackened in spots, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the pesto by pulsing together the basil, garlic, Parmesan, and 1/3 cup olive oil in a food processor. Season with sea salt to taste. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a small bowl and mix in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of pesto. Check the consistency: if you want it a bit runnier, add more oil, if you want it thicker, add more pesto. Set aside remaining pesto for another use (pasta, caprese salad, sandwich spread, etc.).

Arrange the arugula evenly in a serving dish. Sprinkle the chickpeas over the greens and layer the grilled zucchini on top. Drizzle with the balsamic and the pesto-oil mixture and toss lightly before serving. 


SUMMER SALAD // elspeth

Lunch, Saturday. A trip to the Orleans farmers' market, bags full of arugula and onions and carrots. A container of scallops Alex brought home from the plant in the fridge ! A lone plum in the hydrator, skin wrinkled. A tiny wedge of Great Hill Blue tucked into a forgotten parcel of Bee's Wrap. Our usual dressing: mustard, oil, vinegar—a bit of sea salt. Scallops seared, the rest tossed together and eaten on the deck. A simple meal, and one of the best.


IN THE GARDEN // elspeth

A lot has happened since I last wrote. The sugar snap peas have come and gone. The six chicks we picked up in late May have moved from Alex's office out to a little coop, where we can hear their pecking and clucking through the yard. 

Nora has discovered salt water. We've picked our weight in strawberries and made enough jam to share with my mother and sister and packed forty jars of sliced berries into the freezer besides. The mulberries are ripe, and the first raspberries, and a handful of blueberries in the new patch we planted along the drive. The black raspberries look to be coming right on cue, just after the 4th of July. 

Meanwhile, it's getting busy at the restaurant and I have two girls who are almost two and almost five. They are frustrating and wonderful and terrifyingly smart, and I understand now what my sister-in-law meant when she said that as they get older you want to be with them more of the time. In some ways this part of parenting is the opposite of how I imagined it to be—exhausting and exhilarating and most days so consuming there are simply no other moments, none of that snatched quiet time.

We have our best hours in the garden, in the early morning or late afternoon. There are no meltdowns there, hardly ever tantrums or arguing or pinching. There is just dirt to play with, dirt and weeds and water, and therefore no fighting over toys. Sally has a patch she has claimed as her own, where she is growing beans and now a volunteer tomato we found in between the radishes and the beets when we pulled some out for supper the other night. Nora mostly plays in the path, moving mountains of dirt and digging holes and brushing her hair back from her brow until dust stains her cheeks and around her eyes. It is a respite from the world of summer that some days seems to involve constant arguing about snacks and manners and bedtimes; it offers everything and nothing at the same time. We had an excellent crop of radishes and are having success for the first time ever with beets and kale, and very soon it will be tomato time. 

I'm not sure when to expect eggs—September I've heard? October maybe?—but I'll be back long before that. I miss being here, and I have some proper recipes I'd like to share—these chorizo-laced mussels, for one, and hopefully a rendition of these whole wheat rhubarb scones. All in due time, I can hear my mother's voice. Everything in due time.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.