~After a long break, my new site launches with this end of 2019 summer virgin post on KitchenLit101.com.
Writing against the grain these days. Thank you for being here! ~ Steph
I read recently that when you have one foot in yesterday and another foot in tomorrow, you’re just pissing on today. That makes sense in every way to me, except in this moment when I’m looking back at all that’s happened in 2019, in nostalgia and gratitude for most of what I recall in these past 8 months. I used to scoff in cynicism and criticism at the silly named “Cafe Gratitude” here in L.A. until I became part of a “gratitude” chain with some fellow ladies over the last few months. We practice gratitude daily, shared through a text chain, connecting our wide range of experiences with a common theme of gratefulness. If you’re here looking for advice, take this first bit and implement it with a few like-minded friends.
I’ll be over here in gratitude for summer melon, zucchini and tan lines.
Summer seems to create this much needed distance from schedules and expectations, and by the time it’s over (or nearly over), just like most things, I’m eager to return to stricter routines. We have this brief moment left in this year’s sunny break, and I’ve yet to, in my life, embrace it this closely. Two days left here in paradise, in Malibu where we’re gifted a retreat with family, and I’m soaking up every last peach and tomato I can get onto these blue and white plates.
I haven’t been very good at taking pictures lately, since (you know) living, but an example of summertime Malibu lunches is this weird mix of Hampton’s like beauty mixed with roll and rock boys and girls mixing up fresh air and salads with holed up, den-like creativity.
Fresh tomatoes with raw purple onion and Pearly’s Aussie touch of malt vinegar and salt, prosciutto wrapped peaches drizzled with orange blossom honey, basil and s+p, an egg salad made with a touch of curry, mayo and mustard, served with a warm salted baguette and a charcuterie (if you can call it that) plate of cold cuts, Jarlsberg, brie, a few salami stacks, pickled onions and sweet gherkins. And fresh soldier cut watermelon.
Summertime is truly the best time. Not just for swimming breaks and binge reading sessions, but for me, its produce mostly. Blindly farmer’s market shopping by touch and smell reaps the most reward. Somehow pulling it all together, setting the table, herding the misplaced loungers from the pool and scattered quiet zones around the property can take a minute. In that minute, I’ve become skilled at brewing some form of non-alcoholic drink that rivals any Syrah or Riesling. I finally called it quit on the booze last December after a few years of see-sawing on and off the wagon; my taste buds, dreams, relationships and mental state are thanking me on the regular for this privileged decision to stop something that doesn’t serve me any longer. So enter Seedlip, FreWines, Ariel Cabernet, Vignette, Crodino… and every NA beer I can find that doesn’t suck.
I’m a steadfast endorser of non-alcoholic drinks, so to say Seedlip is a gamechanger in the the “spirit-free” world is an understatement. Not only can that gorgeous bottle rival any on a bar shelf, but the taste and smell are shockingly similar to a clean gin, without the painful bite. Served with a lovely tonic water or soda, a bit of cucumber and lime, it won’t matter that you’ve not got a buzz on. These drinks scream summertime by the pool…when you’re taking a break from the Whispering Angel Rose… Seedlip is “what to drink when you’re not drinking.” I have come to realize that drinking alcohol is like pouring gasoline on my anxiety. So coming up with alternatives has not been a chore, but a delight. I’m sharing versions of my faves on an instagram handle @clubsodala. Just a few…
This year to date, looking back through my personal photos, it’s hard to believe how much has happened, yet how little we have to show for it, publicly, since we’ve been living above documenting. Of course, there’s the trick… how much to share, how much to keep private? In a culture of scarcity (not of product but of heart), what is enough, what is too much? However, also in a culture of abundance and immeasurable gifts, we’re proud of what we do. And perhaps need the acknowledgment to persevere. Most valiantly, we all just do the best we can. By not pissing on today, perhaps I can look back and ahead, and share a bit of what’s been between; a glimpse of a life you probably don’t care about. But it’s mine. And it’s awesome. If the only people who read this are my mother and my therapist, I’m good. Two readers! Self published!
Anyway… summer salads.
I’ve been in a deep dive with salads all year. Nothing new about this, but staying creative in general, let alone with different versions of a plate of lettuce, can be a wormhole. I’ve been a dressing snob for years whipping them up from scratch, but I’ve newly embraced store bought, wholesome ingredient dressings as a way to minimize panic to serve. Strange what surrender feels like, even in the world of salads. Short cuts are okay. No one got hurt. No one is dead. No one cares.
The 2019 short list goes like this: Bye bye alcohol, hello living. We got a dog named Roger. I organized a LOT of clients homes and offices. I fell in love with Brene Brown. One kid turned 5. Another turned 10. Phantom Planet reunited. I enjoyed catering a few events. I fell madly in love with chocolate. My husband played the Super Bowl (casual). Finished two (about to be three) Prolon fast mimicking diets and never kept the weight off (don’t care, but trying once more starting Friday). Went to Cabo with nearly every friend we know. Went to Big Bear where Flynn had his first ski lesson. Went to Florida for Spring Break. Sold our House. MOVED. Read more books this year than in the last five. Was a damn good mom. Fell in love all over again with Sam. Lost a dear family member, while dealing with unresolved family trauma. Saw and loved Billie Eilish. Survived (still surviving) summer break. And did it all sober. I wish I could easily add a strong arm emoji here, but you get the point. Without pride or self righteousness, I’m just stoked.
I’m still working on how to incorporate the “101” logo into the site. I chose the image that looks like a lady showing off her muscles. Seems fitting for the missing emoji.
Also fitting is tying up this first post with a banana split bow. Nothing makes my heart beat faster (without anxiety) than family hands reaching into the same bowl of a rainbowed dessert heaven. This right here, above all, is everything to me. Family, a sweet treat, community, abundance.
And above all gratitude.
Peach and Tomato Salad
2 fresh yellow peaches, pitted and sliced
3 heirloom tomatoes, varying colors, cut into 1/4 inch slices
handful torn basil
drizzle olive oil
drizzle balsamic (if you want!)
Plate the tomatoes and peaches, sprinkle torn basil over dish
drizzle oil (and balsamic if preferred) over fruit
season with s+p to taste