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When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.
Today: A simple, salty-sweet lunch -- or breakfast, or dinner -- you'll want to pile high on toast.
I wake up at 3 AM and start thinking about the Climate March and ISIS and earthquakes and early girl tomato tarts and that BBC show Call the Midwife and how sometimes I wish I had just been brave enough to go to midwifery school.
And then I turn my undivided attention to the mother in me because yesterday I heard from one child: You are ruining my life. And I heard from the other child: You never ever let me do anything that I want to do so I'm just going to go to bed.
Last week, my son lost his new Star Wars water bottle. He didn’t complete his reading log. He left his library bag at home and wasn't allowed to check out books. I forgot that it takes a few weeks to get him into the rhythm, that he needs a guide, someone running behind him catching homework and shoes and lunchboxes, listening to the I’m so tired I can’t go to school, dragging him up up up onto his enormous sleepy feet.
So this week I want to be on it. That's when I remember that my son needs to have apples at school first thing in the morning because they are making fresh juice. Because it's freaking fall, people. And they're going to beat us over our heads with it's no longer summer by making sweet and earthy juice with a 19th-century apple press. It’s beautiful, this changing of the seasons business, but right now I need it all to stop.
He needs apples. No markets are open before 8 AM. We are screwed.
At 7 AM I start texting parents and friends, begging for apples. My son runs to my neighbor’s house and comes home beaming, bearing many apples and a bag of figs. I'm not sure what he does between my neighbor's house and mine but perhaps it involves cartwheels and ninja spins and a quick climb up a tree because the figs arrive almost unrecognizable. Halfway to jam. As he hands them over, the purple juice heavy in the bottom of the bag, I think one thing: lunch. My lunch.
I drop him off at school, watching him list to the left from the weight of the apples in his backpack, resisting the urge to jump out of the car to right him back up into his center. I drive home, break apart the smushed figs, toss them with garlic oil, feta, balsamic, salt, and thyme, pop the mess into the oven, and sit down at the computer to get my mama shit together. For real this time.
Serves 1 to 2
1/2 cup creamy feta (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for soaking the feta)
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
12 very ripe figs (any kind you can find)
1 tablespoon garlic oil (scooped from feta oil)
2 teaspoons aged balsamic or homemade balsamic reduction
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
10 or so mint or parsley leaves
Photos by Phyllis Grant