Chris is traveling for a few days to the coast; he will tesseract the heat waves from here to there, hardly knowing the oven of
from this furnace called Home. He’s all packed; various bags and grips and satchels holding equally-various things stand propped on edges of tables and lying on chairs and ottoman. There are stacks of cool clothes, in the bags, with piled extras for the changing in the damp heat; there are toiletries and spares and medicines, machines and music and a Sunday outfit for church with his Mama. Alabama
This time, I made only a cake---all the usual Things in Dishes seem fated to a dismal droop in such heat, and not even Coleman and hourly-ice could keep them safe in this blasting, hovering cone.
These are the usuals, from a former trip:
Cake is safe and cool for now in its heavy baking pan, lid snapped tight over the pretty frosting, but it will have to be coddled with air-vents and covered for insulation during rest stops and meals on the road.
I’ll probably make some of my own Things in Dishes for such a lengthy just-me-time, but they will not remotely approach a stove, for there will be no egg salad, no potato salad, no fanciful pastas with all the crisp green vegetables. There are two packs of extra-sharp Kraft---those tee-ninecy thread-shreds, as well as a bright jewelly jar of pimiento, a smooth-hipped little jar of Durkee’s, and some marvelous Worchester Pepper, which gives the tang and the nip, but not the brown color, to Paminna Cheese.
Right now, I’m just whiling away the morning, sitting in the almost dark of drawn curtains and lights turned off, but I hope to stash away a couple of cans of rinsed Pintos with salsa:
or black beans, with minced peppers and onions, corn, tomatoes, cilantro and lime:
A bag of frozen whole-kernel, just thawed and not quite as watery as canned, to be mixed with minced red peppers, green onions, maybe a little homemade sweet pickle, in a Splenda-and-cider-vinegar marinade.
A big crisp apple, to put with pale thin clear pickles into the chopper-bowl, coming out fine and ready to be stirred with the finely-minced celery and several well-drained cans of Chicken of the Sea water-pack, with just a thought of powdered sugar in the Blue Plate.
A bowl of what my Mother always called TRASH, and is labeled Summer Salad up here---chopped cucumber, onion, various colored peppers, halved grape tomatoes, tossed in a simple vinegar-and-salt brine, and snugged in the fridge to mingle all the wonderful flavors, and to make a FABULOUS cup or so of juice, for the Last Serving. That special bit and all the little bits of vegetables left in the bowl will be tossed with a few toasted croutons of heavy bread or even better: cubes of crispy cornbread edges, for a fantastic countrified version of panzanella---even allowing for the “bread” translation, I sometimes think of this as a “black-skilletzanella.”
Cornbread version---kinda smushed up like Chris likes it, with just a touch of Blue Plate:
There’s always bulgur for Tabbouleh, though the mowers scalped most of the mint. A quick boil of the electric kettle, a pour over the little sandy shards of wheat, cover with a tight stretch of Saran til cool. The tiny grains become plump and chewy, like small bits of al dente pasta, ready to absorb the lemon and olive oil, and the flavors from the tiny cool cubes of cucumber and onion, the shower of refreshing parsley and mint, into a perfect Summer dish.
You can lay on grilled or sautéed shrimp or chicken for a platter you could set down for royalty. Sitting around a communal platter of such an age-old dish completes a history somehow, of the what-you-had and the basic, simple food of our Befores.
I think every small town in our area of the South had several Mid-Eastern families, some of whom had restaurants, so we grew up on tabbouleh and kibbeh and dolmas and other good dishes which soon began to be included in the BM/D Church Cookbooks.
And Perhaps, just perhaps, when Caro’s gone to work and I can sneak upstairs into her kitchen with the good ceiling vent, I might brave the steam for a quick pot of pasta, for a delicious, long-keeping Asian noodle salad with soy, sesame oil, and garlic and Turbinado, and long carrots shredded to match:
AND, from a fond memory of Dear Johnny Cash: whatever you Do Dah, DO DAH, I wish everybody in the world could spend July with THESE: Cool in one tight, juicy, golden globe.
This was written on Thursday, when the house was just still and quiet, and I had such vast intentions.
I didn't do any of that. I made one good-sized dish of Tuna salad, and every now and then, I get out the pack of rice cakes, or the box of Premiums, or maybe make a sandwich with 12-grain bread.
I haven't touched a single closet, store-room, pantry shelf---I think my Good Intentions have all melted.