We were in Eastern Washington over the weekend. First, in Toppenish for the Murphy family reunion, which is 60 people if everyone comes. 10 Murphy children + partners, kids, and now a fourth generation. When I'm there, I'm a "kid" and always will be. I thanked my Aunt Mary for organizing everything and said how nice it was just to show up. I have to be an adult everywhere else. For better or for worse, isn't that the way it is with family? We're always who we were.
Then we stayed with our dear friends Sarah, Dan, and Baby Micah on their CSA organic beef ranch in White Swan. Wyatt and Yancey got up early to help Dan weigh and measure the cattle, and Wyatt will be talking about it for a year. He was very serious about bringing pants and a long-sleeved shirt so he could look like Dan during chore time. I am in awe of Sarah and Dan's endeavor. Their first grass-fed beef will be ready in August, and they've been so value-driven and methodical in how they have prepared the land and built relationship with their neighbors. Sarah reports that if a subsriber buys beef from one of their cows, they are helping save 4 million gallons of water annually (!!!) because of the sustainable way their cattle are raised compared to conventional beef.
On the way home, we stopped at a produce stand. I got a a big box of corn, tomatillos, tomatoes, peaches, apricots, zucchini, cherries and sweet onions for $23. Is there anything better than driving with a bag of fresh cherries on the console? I don't think so.
We were starving after the 3 hour drive, so I made a huge bowl of corn tomatillo salsa which we had with nachos and guacamole. Then I took the rest of the salsa and tossed it with pasta, black beans, and feta for Yancey's food at the station tomorrow.
Seeing all my family this weekend, I was more aware than ever of time passing. My aunts and uncles seemed ageless to me for so many years, but everyone looked older this year. I suppose some folks might find this depressing, but for me, it's more a reminder of how we have just this one precious life. And, like dear Mary (Oliver, of course!) says, "I don't want to end up simply having visited this world."
Blackened Tomatillo and Corn Salsa
This recipe makes a LOT because I used it for black bean pasta salad afterward. If you don't have those kinds of plans for it (though more and more of you report thinking like The Leftoverist!) you can easily halve it.
10 fresh tomatillos, husks removed
3 cloves whole garlic
10 roma tomatoes, finely diced
2 cloves minced fresh garlic
3 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
big handful fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
1 small sweet onion, finely diced
juice of one large lime (or more to taste)
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (seeded if you don't want your salsa spicy)
Place tomatillos and whole garlic in a baking dish close together, and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for about 8 minutes, until blackened in soft in spots. Remove from oven and cool. Then put the mixture into a food processor and pulse a few times until you have a chunky puree. Or you can coarsely chop everything.
Heat a skillet on medium-high, put a Tb. of olive oil in to heat, then throw in corn kernels. Saute for just a couple minutes--you still want them crunchy, but not raw. Remove from heat and cool.
Combine tomatillo mixture, corn, and all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add more of anything to taste.
To make pasta salad with the leftovers: Combine leftover salsa with one pound cooked and drained pasta. I used farfalle. Add a can of rinsed and drained black beans, a few handfuls of sliced green onions, a diced red pepper, some pickled jalapeno rings, and a handful of crumbled feta or cojita cheese. Dress with a little olive oil and more salt. The salsa will have accumulated lots of juice while it sits, so that's the main dressing for the pasta.