A Special Guest.

Somehow my weekends always end up rolling over into Monday- a 3-day weekend…every weekend.  Monday always derails me and I wake up on Tuesday wondering how I managed to get absolutely nothing done in the way of blogging or homework. Or laundry. This can be a huge problem (if I had a list of tasks I wanted to accomplish), but sometimes it can also be a blessing. Yesterday, it was a gift from God.

Enter the most fabulous thing that ever graced the sunny side of Broadway:

Also known as my culinary soul mate and dear friend, Patricia. She called me on Saturday to ask if she could take a train out the next day after work. As if I’d ever say no.

Patricia and I met at The Barking Dog- she was waitressing and I was managing. I still marvel at how many wonderful things came into my life through that place- it’s really a testament to that age-old saying: everything happens for a reason.  Patty left the restaurant before I did, but we cultivated a friendship over coffee and brunch at Lalo a few times each week. Before Jack was born we had a ritual: lunch at Lalo with giant salads, coffee, olives, cauliflower, a rich dessert, and long conversations about men, fashion, life, and art. Those were some of the best lunches of my life.

Since moving to Newtown, I haven’t been able to see Patty as much as I’d like, but we do get together about once a month. Of course, it’s as if we were never apart. One of the things that we both love is fresh food and cooking- Patty is vegan as well- so when we get together there are usually a lot of vegetables flying around. This weekend was no exception- I scooped her up from Hamilton and zipped up to Solebury Orchards.

I have been dying to get Patty up here, but it’s been tricky because they’re only open Thursday-Sunday and it’s a 30-minute drive. Worth it for the fresh peaches and apple juice/sauce/butter/cider, though, not to mention the scenery.

They also have a picking garden. We are big fans of that concept.

Aside from being a great friend, Patty is also a great Tia. I have to say that having her help was a real treat- usually I’m by myself chasing Jack around a barn, Carolyn bouncing on my hip. Not this time!

Ah, the luxury of having someone else fix Jack’s shoes! I’m a lucky lady.

We had so much fun loading up on peaches and plums that the only picture I managed to snap inside was of…the tomatoes. Go figure.

Solebury Orchards also sells cider ice, which is just shaved ice with their freshly made cider poured on top. It’s delicious. Jack loved it so much, he even ate mine! Womp.

He’s lucky he’s so…perfect. 🙂

After Solebury Orchards, we headed back toward Newtown where I shared my favorite farm with my favorite cook. Can you guess where?

Milk House, indeed. P.S., check out the adorable swatch of lacy fabric Patty pinned into her hair. Gorgeous!

Jack even got to hang out with his new friend Salem, possibly the sweetest cat ever.

We ran around like maniacs dumping armfuls of veggies into our shopping bags, and left just in time to beat the thunderheads that were rolling in.

The storm really made the night. It was so fun to go home, tuck Jack into bed, and cook with Patty.

Eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and peppers- all ready to roast!

We also sauteed mushrooms (to stuff) with potatoes and more cherry tomatoes. Yum!

Patty and I have very similar tastes in food. We both love VEGGIES, especially veggies from farms. She is the only person I know who shares my ardent love for figs, and we both consider eggplant swoon-worthy. I think we may have twin stomachs.

Monday got off to a rocky start. Due to complications at work, my brother missed his flight in from Ohio. Bummer. It was so great to have Patty visiting. I was disappointed and frustrated, but I would have felt so much worse if she hadn’t been there to keep me in the right attitude.

I drowned my sorrows in more produce. We stopped in to Shady Brook for berries and figs and discovered a huge area with four different swing sets for children to play on.

Jack had some fun of his own climbing, swinging, crawling, and jumping around while Patty and I took turns chasing and snacking. They even had this little play house, complete with loft!

I encouraged Jack to explore…

…but he wasn’t having it. He really likes a routine and familiar activities.

He is partial to ladders and slides. Patty, meanwhile, seemed to prefer the swings.

After we had all had our fill of the awesome playground, we went back to Milk House for the 10,000th time this week. Patty had cooked with some of their garlic the night before and fell in love, so of course we had to get some for her to bring home.

I’m sure that by now I seem like the most boring person in the world, spending so much time at farms buying vegetables. I could care less- to be surrounded by such beauty, there really isn’t room in my heart to do anything other than just give in to the experience.

Farms, to me, are so alive. Between the cultivation of the plants and all of the animals, I feel very much in touch with myself there. I also get a serious affirmation of my values and lifestyle- it is the greatest feeling in the world to put my hands on a cow or a pig or a chicken and look them in the eye and know that I mean them no harm. I feel connected– I feel alive.

I hope for Jack and Carolyn- that they too will feel that surge of living and connecting with the world around them. It’s more goodness than I ever imagined I could hold in myself.

And if none of that is enough, let it just be enough that we can take a walk through the field and spend some time with the llamas.

These guys were having none of my nonsense today, and refused to venture out into the heat. Intelligent creatures.

We finally said goodbye and went back home to cook. More.

Concord grapes, teeny tiny tomatoes, basil, eggplant, peppers, lemon balm, red scallions, crackers, and caramels. We actually used the lemon balm to add some flavor to a cantaloupe and fig salad.

This was so unexpected, but delicious in its own right. The lemon balm was very mild, but it added a great leafyness to the juicy cantaloupe. All of the flavors were light and melded together perfectly, with the figs bringing a touch of exotic sweetness. I have a small honeydew sitting on my counter right now, and I see lemon balm in its future…

More eggplant with basil and cherry tomatoes. We’re eggplant fiends.

Patty also made a salad with fresh farm corn and sauteed peppers and onions. This was some of the sweetest and most delicious corn I have ever tasted. We did not make nearly enough of this, rather instead making enough mess for four people.

Though at this point, we’re both accustomed to cleaning up kitchen messes.

I cracked out the french press. I rarely drink coffee at home (or, rather, at all nowadays), choosing instead to save my coffee consumption for special times (the art studio and Patty visits are so far the only “special times”). And you know what? This was some of the best coffee I have ever had.

I have to say, Patty and I know our way around a kitchen. Though while I calculate, measure, and weigh obsessively, Patty has an ethereal haphazard attitude in her cooking. It is wild and beautiful, and it gives her food an indulgent feeling. You’re almost pulled in by the flavors, but it’s all delightfully light and healthy. It’s magic in the kitchen, I’m telling you.

We ended our day with a movie in the sunroom- ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ I read the book, and had been wanting to see the movie (read: see Javier Bardem in the movie). Patty and I had fun swooning over his everything at the end of the film (seriously, he’s the sexiest man ever), while the kids and I got our snuggle on.

Then it was time to take Patty to the train, and I died a thousand times.

Having her come to visit reminds me that there is goodness in the world. There are people who love me- really love me, across time and distance. I am very fortunate to have such people in my life, and I take a moment each day to recognize them and the important role they play in my happiness and well-being.

Good friends are like good food- often times it’s just what you need, with the power to warm you from the inside out.

I ended my day sitting with Jack, Carolyn asleep in my lap, watching the sun go down and listening to him babble on about his day, and toot-toots, and trucks, and Dada. I focused on being present with him (and the snoozer), and really focusing on our few moments together.

Jack has an innate appreciation for beautiful views, and he was captivated by the gradually changing colors.

And I, in turn, was wholly captivated by him.


4 thoughts on “A Special Guest.

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