Logan, Sadie and I sat on top of the wide, smooth boulder and looked out over the flooded park. The wood chips were submerged on the east side, where the swings and slides were, and visible but dark and waterlogged on the west side. We ate our snack of snap peas and popcorn as the clouds like mountains rolled overhead, occasionally slipping a few rays of sunlight on us and our rock.
“This is the best day I’ve ever had,” Logan said.
I hugged him and smiled. “Me, too,” I said. Despite the periodic showers all day and the deluge the entire past week, the weekend had been wonderful. We went to the beach, played baseball in our backyard, swam in the pool, went to a birthday party for one of Logan’s daycare friends, swam some more and now had come to the park. We enjoyed a rare treat of watching TV — Scooby Doo, my favorite– since we all needed to relax a bit after such busy days.
Not that they had all been perfect, of course. I’m slightly groaning because I know all these fun activities means the house didn’t get cleaned (again), and I’ll be stressed all week because my bathrooms are filthy and I’ll be too tired after work to clean them. My husband is grumbling slightly because the yard once again didn’t get weeded and still looks like a mini rain forest.
And dinner Saturday had basically been a disaster. Sadie and Logan came down with a case of the giggles, squawking and babbling and repeating “poopy butt” over and over (and over). Sadie refused to eat her vegetables and instead mashed them up with her teeth and spit them out, laughing while green zucchini juice ran down her little chin. Logan did better, eating everything on his plate, but still whined until I spoon-fed him his veggies. Still, I suppose I have to count it as a win because I was asking him to eat a zucchini salad that he’d never had before, and usually he flat-out refuses and screams about anything new.
And I wasn’t sure how it’d go over, either. I thought I’d done a decent job making it, as my cooking challenge this week. The recipe seemed easy enough until I started actually making it, of course. “Grate the zucchini and onion and let them drain for 30 minutes,” I read, which made no sense to me at all. I mean, it’s not like a pot of pasta.
But I did it, first figuring out how to work my food processor (which is a major victory in itself–the first time I’ve used it by myself since receiving it as a wedding present eight years ago!) and then figuring out what “julienne” meant for the red bell peppers (I ended up just dicing them anyway. No need to get fancy.) I even chopped two tablespoons of fresh mint, which scared me to death because the small leaves and wide knife were a poor combination in my clumsy hands and I was sure I’d slice my fingertips off–but also sort of had a calming effect because it smelled just like a mojito (though I’m not sure mint is supposed to remind people of alcohol).
Anyway, the recipe, from the Body Ecology website, is:
Zesty Zucchini Insalata
- 1½ pounds zucchini, grated
- 1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1½ teaspoons Celtic sea salt
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- ¼ cup raw, organic apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons mint, chopped
- Celtic sea salt, to taste
- Grated lemon zest from one small lemon
Smell and taste, it reminds me of a side dish that some distant, great-aunt twice removed or other extended relative would have brought to a Fourth of July picnic when I was a kid. Usually a memory of grandmother’s cooking is nostalgic or wholesome; unfortunately, not for me. I remember my kitchen as a kid being full of microwavable vegetables and Chef Boyardee, so any food like this always scared me. Honestly, scared me. I can’t imagine having willfully taken a bite of anything with vinegar in it. Which makes it even more impressive that Logan–and I–had no complaints (well, almost none. Logan did say he didn’t like it, but he continue to eat it as long as I put it on his fork., and I thought it was better as a sort-of dressing to a salad of raw kale to cut the vinegar taste a bit.)
Raw kale. That just might be the polar opposite of the Hot Pockets I lived for in high school.
And it didn’t occur to me until just now how drastically different my eating habits have become. I ate raw kale today. I made insalata and tilapia for supper this evening. And earlier I sat on a rock with my children and munched on sugar-free snap peas. We circled the retaining wall holding in the soggy playground and looked at rocks and dropped sticks in puddles. We trailed a family of ducks before Loki chased them away. And we all agreed, it was the perfect day.
Feeling: Very grown-up