It’s really, really good to be home again. I find it hard to believe, but over the past year, I’ve spent four weeks living out of suitcases. For someone who claims to be a homebody, that’s a long time to be away from home! On top of that, there were about two weeks during which my home was dismantled and packed into a moving truck. All of this homelessness makes me so grateful for weekends like this one where there are no suitcases involved and my most ambitious goals involve cooking delicious dinners and working on my grant.
Yes, a grant! This summer I’m applying for at least two grants to support my research. I’ve had these grants in mind for a long time now, so I’m excited to begin moving forward with the applications. To be honest, I’ve been bored at work lately, mostly because my work had become very repetitive and not at all interesting. But things are picking up again and I’m optimistic that the summer will be a productive and data-rich one. Today and tomorrow I’m planning to spend a few hours working on the specific goals of my grant application, which I’m sure will spark some ideas about what I should be doing right now to make these projects happen.
Despite my plans to do some work, it’s still great to have a whole weekend to myself. I’m mostly recovered from my trip to Chicago—the laundry has been done, the refrigerator restocked, the bed rumpled from my sleeping in it—but there are still two empty suitcases waiting to be put away. I also still have some Chicago photos to share with you, like the one up there at the top. I took that photo while standing on one of the train platforms downtown in the Loop. I love the angles of that shot and the way the tree is interlacing its branches and leaves around the lamppost.
I have a few announcements for today, so here we go:
1) Project Olive Oil is not dead! I know it might seem that way because I haven’t reviewed a new oil in four months, but there’s a reason for that. I purchased an olive oil that turned out to be a real dud in the flavor department. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t very interesting. I had such high hopes for that one too—it was a Texas-produced oil and it was a bit pricey. I thought about reviewing it here anyway, but I didn’t have the heart to write about a disappointing product.
I’m getting back in the saddle, so to speak, and I’ve got a few ideas for oils that you might like to hear about. There’s a good one I found at my unfancy grocery store—I’ve even mentioned it once before—and I’ve also got my eyes on the oils from Pasolivo. Pasolivo is an olive ranch in Paso Robles, California. Paso Robles is better known, I think, as a wine-producing region, but I think we both know that grapes and olives have a long history of growing in the same places. Pasolivo’s olive oils are expensive and presumably (fingers crossed) outstanding because they are made from hand-picked olives grown in a single place. Because I would have to mail-order olive oil from Pasolivo, it becomes a better deal if I order more than one bottle of oil, so I’m thinking about ordering a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil and one of their flavored olive oils, like tangerine. They recommend using tangerine olive oil in brownies—doesn’t that sound dreamy? I can’t wait to try it!
2) The heat has arrived in Texas. Wow. I feel sweaty just thinking about it. I thought I’d be able to hold out until June to turn on the air-conditioning, but no such luck. I don’t keep it running all the time, but I sleep better if I’m not lying in a pool of my own sweat, so I like to run it in the evenings and then turn it off before I go to bed. Likewise, my cooking has involved minimal amounts of heat. Two dishes that have been making me happy are this Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado and an old favorite, my Avocado Corn Salad. (I’m sensing a theme here…) I had the distinct pleasure of making the carpaccio with a plump zucchini picked just a day earlier by my work friend Christopher. I told Christopher I could be his first CSA customer, and I mean it. I hope he takes me up on my offer.
Two notes about the zucchini carpaccio recipe: toasted sliced almonds can be used deliciously instead of pistachios, and a bit of crumbled dried thyme is a decent substitute for fresh lemon thyme.
3) Today is Life, Love, and Food’s birthday! It’s been three years since I first tried to find the words to describe what I planned to do with this little blog. Now we’ve got three years worth of recipes and stories in the archives—my recipes for life in and out of the kitchen. I’ve got a fun treat planned for tomorrow, so stay tuned and make sure you’ve got some chocolate on hand.
Happy birthday, little blog, and happy weekend, dear readers. It’s always a pleasure to be here.