I’m at the point in my pregnancy (that being the point where I look like I have a prize winning watermelon stuffed under my shirt) where people have started to ask me if I’m nesting like crazy. More specifically, everyone wants to know if I’ve started madly cooking and freezing meals to stock up.
It’s a completely reasonable question because that is exactly what I expected would happen to me. I expected absurd quantities of food preparation and hoarding. Casserole upon casserole upon soup upon more casserole. But, I’ve been experiencing quite the opposite. That is, none at all. I could blame this on the fact that we don’t even have space in our freezer(s – we have an extra chest freezer, but there’s no space in that either) because they are full of foraged herbs for gin (have I mentioned how our life is just really not normal anymore?). But, the real reason is, I can’t think of anything to prepare and freeze; I can’t even think of what to make for dinner tonight. That part of my brain seems to have gone dormant, and instead I obsess over how I wish the paint colors in our downstairs rooms were different and over swiffering up the endless supply of dog fur that gets shed upon our floors daily.
I must still be cooking dinner because we still eat dinner daily, and we haven’t been going out or ordering takeout more often than usual. But, I truly have no idea what I’ve been cooking. Nor can I figure out what on earth I should buy when I go to the farmer’s market or grocery store.
Because I have a breakfast psychosis, a month or so ago I made a long list of things I wanted to eat for breakfast, and that has been guiding my breakfast preparation daily. I really wish I had thought to do the same for suppers. Had I but known.
Joel swears we’re actually still eating well, which is good to hear. I guess it says something about how you can develop a pretty decent autopilot from years of practice. Probably even more so, it speaks to the generosity of summer and its produce, which needs only minimal preparation – hallelujah. I think we’ve just been eating a lot of grilled chicken and vegetables and salads from our garden, which does indeed equate to eating well. But, it’s still super weird to feel so disembodied from the accomplishment of it. Swiffering on the other hand, I’m there…
One thing I do remember from this last week of dinners is this corn salad. Probably because I photographed it. But, I’m so glad I did because that means it’s there for the sharing.
Sweet corn has been extremely slow to come into season this year, so I’m hoping the season runs long because the small list of things I’ve actually come up with that I’d like to cook all seem to involve sweet corn. This salad is the first thing I’ve been able to cook with actual Minnesota sweet corn, and so I wanted to leave it as true to itself as possible.
Inspired by this salad, I cut off the corn kernels (which always makes the most enormous mess ricocheting around the kitchen!) and left them sweet and juicy and milky and raw. I combined them with a load of other raw vegetables we had, cool cucumbers, skinny little sweet peppers, a couple renegade cherry tomatoes, and handfuls of arugula. To soften the crunch and edge of all that rawness, I doused the vegetables with a creamy, tangy buttermilk dressing – a version of this one, but with extra herbs – and sprinkled in crumbles of salty feta.
It was wonderfully fresh and summery and easy. And apparently also memorable.
- Buttermilk dressing:
- ¼ cup finely minced red onion
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. each chopped fresh basil, dill, flat-leaf parsley, and chives
- 1 very small clove of garlic, minced
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 Tbs. sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the Salad:
- 4 cobs of corn, kernels cut off
- 4 small sweet bell peppers (or 1 large one), seeded and cut into small dice
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into a small dice
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- several handfuls of arugula
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- To make the dressing, first combine the red onion and lemon juice in a jar or bowl and let it sit for five minutes (while you chop the herbs!). Then, add the rest of the ingredients - the herbs, mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, and salt and pepper. Stir or shake well, taste and add more salt and pepper to taste, then set aside while you prepare the salad ingredients.
- Combine the corn kernels, diced pepper, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl. Toss with half the dressing.
- Add the feta and toss with as much more of the dressing as you desire. Toss in the arugula at the last minute, or serve the salad over a bed of arugula - whichever you prefer.