From [God’s] fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. – John 1:16
This post is going to highlight a walk right here in Wake Forest, and a couple of summer cooking ideas I think you will enjoy.
We are slap in the middle of an extended run of super-hot days in North Carolina. But we are on vacation so we decided to go somewhere and walk regardless. It is – as our daughter Naomi said when she surprised us by tagging along for a strenuous hike in Alaska – “What Mauls do.” Well you can’t argue with that.
So Rebekah and I headed – before lunch – to Joyner Park where there are wonderful swarths of grass, extended walkways, and enormous shade trees.
It gave us a beautiful, serene place to walk, together, quietly; to sit and simply be together; to be – importantly – out of our normal rhythm of life.
I got into a couple of my favorite recipe books; one classic Italian, and one – a marvelous compendium of regional deliciousness – by celebrity chef Vivian Howard (“Deep Run Roots”).
The Italian salad was for lunch, simple and wonderfully flavorful. On a bed of romaine lettuce, place a couple of sliced Roma plumb tomatoes. Then arrange several circles of fresh mozzarella cheese, top them with fresh basil leaves. Lightly salt and pepper the salad, drizzle with olive oil (Italian, of course), and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve with a few crackers on the side.
And that is it. Very simple. Light, refreshing, and summery. But here is something you should know: all balsamic vinegars are not created equal! We used up the last of an exquisite bottle we purchased in Assisi and I am going to have to search carefully to replace it with something anywhere near as delicious.
Supper was a dish Vivian Howard calls “Crispy Ginger Rice.” One trick is to start with rice cooked the previous day – it helps the consistency and the crispness.
Sauté some mushrooms (I used a gourmet blend); add the ginger; then more butter (Vivian loves butter!) and the cooked rice; press it into a thin layer that covers the entire surface of the pan and – this is important – leave it alone for several minutes. Add onions (or leeks) chili, salt to the top of the mix. Once it is getting golden underneath, mix in all the stuff on the top and press it down again. Cook for a few minutes and remove from the heat.
Then fry a couple of eggs, lightly, and serve the rice with a runny egg on top. It’s wonderful!
My focus here in this post is the extra effort to make everything special. Not doing nothing because we’re on vacation but doing things out of the ordinary, special, extra; even if it means hiking on a 90-degree day. “It’s what Mauls do!”
Stay tuned! – DEREK