At the beginning of this year, I made a list of things that I wanted to prioritize in 2013. I didn’t regard it as a set of resolutions, a set of must-dos; I just wanted these things to guide my year, to set a tone.
Among those was a pretty strong desire to have more collaborative relationships in my work and creative life. Navigating this new freelance world over the last two and a half years, and working mostly alone and mostly from home, has been terribly isolating sometimes. I’m a person who deeply values alone time, but I have discovered the limits of my desire to be alone. It was making me kinda crazy. We are social creatures, and we need our people in life. That desire was crystal clear at the start of this year.
When I reached out to Stacy to see if she would like to help me in working on my cookbook, I was kind of in a desperate place: feeling overwhelmed, needing help. I didn’t approach it as a collaboration. But that’s exactly what it’s become. She comes to the table with her own expertise and wisdom, and is organized in a way that I may never be, and we get along marvelously. We share a similar philosophy around food, and her baking skills and attention to detail enrich the work that I make. It has been the most rewarding relationship in my book-making process. And I love that it’s grown into one of the things that I wanted most this year: a collaboration.
A couple weeks ago, I visited Blossom Bluff Orchards in the central valley. Bryce kindly showed me around the acreage, taught me a little bit about the value of weeds in an organic orchard, and I left with a bag of some of the most delicious stone fruit I have ever set my teeth into. Among them, a life-changing white peach. Undoubtedly these are the best white peaches I have ever tasted. (I was not the biggest fan of white peaches prior to tasting these.)
Working last week, we arrived at that point in the day when our appetites could no longer be neglected. Stacy and I pulled together a salad with what was on hand. She sautéed asparagus with lemon juice and garlic, a touch that I would not have considered, but one that deepened the flavors of the salad. She toasted almonds; I have gotten lazy about that and generally just throw them in raw. I love all the nuances in how we prepare food just a little bit differently, despite having so many affinities for the same things. And we tossed in those peaches from Blossom Bluff. And so a collaborative salad is born.
I am totally with Sarah of The Yellow House in the value of growing greens for easy salads nearly every day of the week. It’s among the most simple and rewarding of things to grow. Maybe six weeks ago I planted some seedlings: arugula, red and green lettuces, kales. They are bursting now, and make having a bed of greens to begin a meal almost mandatory. I love that. And I love the simple reward of gardening. So go make a salad, and enjoy this tiny window of time when we can celebrate both the best of spring’s late produce and summer’s earliest glory.
And PS: I am deep, deep, deep in book-land now. Eating, breathing, sleeping book – literally. It’s hard to come up for air. There might not be too much here over the next several weeks. But I’ll be back when it’s all done. xoxo
A SALAD OF WHITE PEACHES AND ASPARAGUS
Yield: about 4 servings
1 small bunch asparagus, sliced on the bias
1 teaspoon oil
Zest of one lemon, reserve 1/2 lemon for juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
3 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 cups mixed greens, such as lettuces, young kale, arugula
2 white peaches, thinly sliced lengthwise
2-3 ounces Feta, crumbled.
1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Flowering parsley for garnish, optional
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the asparagus in one teaspoon oil, stirring occasionally, for about four minutes, until bright green. Add garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute more. Turn off heat and finish with a squeeze of juice from half the lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Make the dressing by whisking together the Balsamic vinegar with the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk vigorously until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a large salad bowl, toss the lettuces with the dressing. Top with the asparagus, Feta, chopped almonds and finish with slices of white peach. Garnish with flowering parsley if desired. Best served immediately.