I open up this time so I can feel all the other time around it. I can see it in sharp focus: a difference of this or that, the light or the dark. I am choosing the light. -Sarah Gerard (Sunshine State)
 

Adulthood is a funny thing. You may think that you’ve attained this coveted status, but the borders can be shockingly amorphous. Maybe you manage to pay the bills, to buy groceries, and to jump over all the necessary hurdles, but it can still be a struggle to keep the ship running tightly, let alone to stay afloat. Take me, for instance: even though I enjoy cooking, I sometimes experience hunger and wonder what in the world there is to eat. Although I am very conscious of the fact that I am the one who will (at least 90-95% of the time) have to prepare the food, there can still be a brief moment of surprise when I realize that it is going to take both effort and time. The same can be said for when the dust and laundry accumulate and the dog hits her bowl to be fed: you might be in the middle of something else, a TV show,  a book or even another house-related task, and look around to wonder who will take care of this additional thing. It can be disheartening to realize that, if a mirror were present, you’d easily have your answer.

Maybe it’s simply because of summer–the heat and the raging allergies–but I’ve been feeling tired lately. This could also be due to the fact that the Greek recently flew off to his homeland to attend the wedding of a college friend and, while he was off celebrating and swimming (no resentment, Brownie’s honor!), I was in Delaware, managing not just the details of our daily life, but those of my mother and canine sibling. While I try not to get overly personal on this blog (there should be limits to one’s [over]sharing of a life), this was not the easiest thing. And that, given the fact that my mother has MS, isn’t entirely well, and can also be picky to boot (or maybe it’s just that mothers are supposed to criticize their children when dust and laundry accumulate?), I felt the weight of my additional responsibilities acutely. This is how, despite the fact that my mother does have MS and should not do unhealthy things like smoke, I ended up at a convenience store on her birthday, trying to get the exact pack of cigarettes that she prefers. When I tried to figure out if gold or silver bands on a packet meant that one was healthier than the other, the woman behind the counter laughed as if I had said something truly funny. Her response: “No, gold, silver, they’re all going to kill you.”
 

Lovely.

Given that my mother and I are night and day, Jekyl and Hyde, Oscar and Felix all rolled into one, I also had to explain to her one day why we’d be eating chickpeas with carrots and couscous for dinner instead of the pizza she was requesting. I also attempted to limit her sugar consumption, an act for which I was deemed a “bossy tyrant.” The words “food weirdo” may also have been used. Just to be clear, I consider both a compliment. But, as you can imagine, it’s no wonder I started wondering what exactly makes an adult an adult…and trying to figure out if I could, Ivan Karamazov-style, “return my ticket” for something simpler and better, maybe even for the days when I was the child fighting against carrots and other vegetables, not to mention the tons of garlic that would perfume our food?  For now, however, I guess this, life in all of its messy glory, is going to continue to be the way of things.
 

Since things have been busy, I thought now was as good a time as any to offer some food for thought; this collection offers articles both old and new, as well as, as I always hope, something illuminating and interesting for you all. If you’re not a fan of links, then I can at least offer you my take on Lisa Fain’s recipe for Houston-style green salsa, a recipe that I make often and also one of the things that I made when my mother was visiting and that she really enjoyed (we may be opposites in a lot of ways, but we do share a love of Tex-Mex/Mexican cuisine).
 

The beauty of the Grand Canyon during a rare weather phenomenon. 
 
After a bit of a reading draught, I recently devoured the incredibly short, but moving My Name is Lucy Barton. Next up is a collection of essays about Florida, a state that has long seemed an enigma not just to me, but to a large majority of Americans.
 
In high school, I was obsessed with Edith Wharton and, in college, during the finals period before I would leave for a semester abroad, I recall sobbing like a baby in my dorm room as I frantically finished reading The House of Mirth (poor, beautiful Lily Barton, mistreated and misunderstood by all!). My personal favorite, though, is The Age of Innocence, which is why I was excited to find this article about what that novel could teach readers about marriage. If nothing else, it reminds you that rereading a novel can really enhance your understanding of it. 
 
You can find hundreds of lists of “all the books that you should read,” but this one from Esquire actually includes a wide range of authors and not just the usual suspects.
 
Is ESP real or is the scientific method simply broken?
 
So many cookbooks contain flaws–layout issues, recipe errors and recipes that ask too much of the home cook–but some, as Paula Forbes recently wrote in Lucky Peach, are simply leakproof. 
 
How to make shrub syrups at home. 
 
Some seasons of Girls were definitely better than others, and there were times when the Lena Dunham craze drove me crazy, but the show was edgy, funny and not afraid to depict the despicable side of millennials. RIP Girls
 
Speaking of female-driven narratives, it was high time the eccentric and talented Emily Dickinson got a movie of her own
 
On the risk of paying too much attention to Donald Trump and the rise of everyday punditry.
 

Why standards, rather than partisan zeal, are essential to a healthy political system.

 
Cultural appropriation is a term that is thrown around a lot these days, but a burrito truck in Portland, Oregon seems like more than a bit of a stretch. That said, calling the method of making tortillas “intellectual property” also seems to be more than a bit of a stretch. I really don’t know where one draws the line when it comes to complex matters like these, but the preparation of certain foods in the age of globalization simply takes things too far.
 
 
When you think of wine country, you think of California, Italy, France–not Texas, but Food & Wine recently suggested that perhaps it’s time to reconsider the Lone Star State’s offerings. 
 
I plan on writing more about Portugal soon, but Saveur beat me to it, arguing that Lisbon deserves more attention (even though I want it to remain just as it is and not become overcrowded by tourists). 
 
Later this summer, I will, for only the second time in our marriage and relationship (the first is right now, at a science compound right outside the midwestern splendor of Chicago), take advantage of my role as a science wife by accompanying the Greek to a conference in Florence. I feel very lucky and plan on eating all of the gelato. I’m pretty sure that, by then, I will have more than earned it.
  

Houston-Style Green Salsa
 
Adapted from Lisa Fain’s excellent The Homesick Texan Cookbook
Yields about 2 cups of refreshing and tangy salsa
 
I am a huge fan of the tomatillo, so much so that I have planted both green and purple ones in my garden this year, which is why it is not at all surprising that not only do I love this recipe, but I also add more tomatillos than Fain calls for. This perhaps leads to an extra tangy salsa, so do feel free to modify the following recipe according to your tastes (Fain calls for 3/4 pound of tomatillos, but I usually use a pound). 
 
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed 
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
2 jalapeño peppers, stem removed and seeded (unless you like extra heat)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
juice of 1/2 lime (add the other half if the salsa needs more of a boost)
1/4 cup of cilantro
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
 
 
Turn the broiler on and line a baking sheet with parchment. Rinse the tomatillos and dry them, then slice them in half. 
 
Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil the tomatillos for 5-8 minutes on one side (or until blistered in places), then flip them over and broil the other side for an additional 5-8 minutes. 
 
Once the tomatillos have cooled, add them to a blender with the other ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavoring if necessary. 
 
Enjoy on eggs or tacos or with tortilla chips. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s