Tuesday, June 22, 2010

books books books books!!!!

Lacking the will to do anything about it, I hauled out my purse-size go-to-auction tape measure and discovered that there are nine feet of books on my bedside table. Granted, it's a large bedside table, an old mahogany tobacco twist parlor table with big top and a shelf below. But nine feet? That seems excessive, doesn't it?

In six stacks ~ four above and two below ~ there are cookbooks and novels and memoirs, travel books and language books, and of course a wide selection of books political. I am currently deep into The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom, and it fits my weepy mood. It is impossible to accurately put into words the wretchedness of slavery, but Grissom's book is a good effort, and her depiction of one mixed family's life is both inspiring and heartbreaking.

In between I'm trying to get through Leon Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution. Oh. Em. Gee. As seems to be the case with much of Trotsky's work, he is operating under the assumption that the reader is extremely well versed in world events of the early 1900s and fully acquainted with even the most obscure activists of the revolution.

Being anti-capitalist, I chose Trotsky from the boxes of classics I've rounded up to take to Mexico. I've successfully avoided classic literature since one hideous semester in high school spent reading Shakespeare. I'm a voracious reader, but not very discerning. The book has to grab me in the first chapter or two. But I thought I could improve my mind and possibly stave off dementia by plowing through these masses of books that everyone should have read by 53. And maybe I'll be able to concentrate if I've only got to get up, make coffee, and lounge on the porch all day.

So what about you? What are you reading these days, and are you looking for any books? I've got books and they've got to go. Media mail's cheap. Let me know.


Monday, June 21, 2010

salad days

Life is not fun at the moment. My dad's terrible. We had to put two beloved dogs to sleep Friday. My husband left me yesterday. There's another poor tortured dog at YCAA. And the heat. Not the heat so much as the humidity. And Bill the Jack Russell's little rear end problem has not resolved.

So can we talk about salads? Do you have a favorite summer salad? The best thing I've ever eaten was chunked very ripe heirloom tomatoes with basil, olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. And garlic! Lots of fresh pressed garlic. In high summer, when it's all fresh from the garden, there's nothing better. Unless you toss a few bits of a good, whole grain, rustic bread in the mix. Heaven in a bowl.

So yesterday I made this:
Torn butter lettuce
Diced mango
Diced avocado
Diced cucumber
Chopped cilantro
Ground pepper
Dressing: fresh lemon juice, olive oil, lots of garlic.

It sounded better than it tasted, at least with the ingredients I had. Missing my Progreso market fruit lady, who always picks out the best mangos and avocados para hoy? o manana?

The mango and cucumber were a little bitter, so I added some honey to the dressing and it helped. If I make it again, the mangos will be perfectly ripe, the avocado lightly salted, and I'll skip the cilantro and add pecans or toasted almonds. The dressing was great. Definitely one I'll make again for other salads.

So what green, crisp, fruity, savory growing things are you munching on this summer? I'm wishing for a perfectly ripe avocado with a squeeze of lime, freshly ground pepper, and Pick-A-Peppa sauce drizzled over it all. Or something with blueberries in it. What are you eating? Tell, please.