Feta and Green Onion Biscuits

These biscuits were definitely on the "pro" side of the list.

But along with the pros, there were some cons this week. My spiritual director loaned me a rock to meditate with. On the outside, it's gray, bumpy, and rather unattractive. On the inside, it's a brilliant blue stone. She said life is like that, and we have to remember that it's a package deal--the ugly with the beautiful.

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The principal of my kids' school, one of the best leaders I've ever known, is getting promoted to the district level and won't be there next year. I cried a few times.

My dad lost his job of 30 years. It's a long and personal story, and obviously, a sad one.

I keep thinking of the bombing victims in Boston and those two lost brothers. The Catholic sister I was with last weekend would say the "blessing seed" deep inside them, the one that everyone is born with, was mangled somehow. 

But underneath the bumpy grayness, there's been some brilliant blue. Some of the things that made me smile this week:

  • Walking into the bathroom and seeing 4 years worth of Guinness Book of World Records on the floor. 
  • Seeing my clients find some sparks of light in some previously dark corners.
  • Getting a call from my nephew Ezra asking how my dog Padre was doing. I could bottle that little voice and sell it.
  • Taking photos with my new camera. Yancey said he didn't know it would make me this happy.
  • Bringing home an outfit for Loretta and her wearing it 3 days in a row. Home run. (She's getting picky these days.)
  • Sitting with my spiritual director on her deck in the sun, listening to the birds and knowing, in that deepest place, that I'm not in control of anything.

Some weeks, the cons outweigh the pros. Or they barely even out. Whatever kind of week you've had, I hope you can see the polished brilliance, still inside no matter what.

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good dog

P.S. Oh yeah. The food. These are a riff on my classic biscuits, and will elevate any soup to divine heights. The feta adds some moisture that makes them even fluffier, if that's possible, and the green onions add beautiful little flakes of color.

Feta and Green Onion Biscuits
Makes 6-8, depending on the size of your biscuit cutter. I doubled the batch for 6 people, and we had none left over.

2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 c. (1 cube) cold unsalted butter
1/2 c. coarsely crumbled feta
1/3 c. finely chopped green onions
3/4 c. cold milk
flaked salt and milk for tops

Preheat oven to 450.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in butter with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until butter is in pea-sized lumps. Add feta and green onions and gently mix with your hands.

Add milk, and mix with a wooden spoon until mixture just holds together. Knead a couple times in the bowl, then let dough rest for a minute or two.

Flour a work surface. With a rolling pin, roll dough out into a rectangle about 1/2" thick. Fold short ends toward one another, then roll out again until dough is about 3/4" thick. With a biscuit cutter, cut out rounds and place them close together in a pie plate on a cookie sheet. Roll out remaining dough the same way and cut out the rest.

Brush tops with milk, then sprinkle lightly with flaked or coarse salt. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until tops are golden brown and biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot with butter.

Chorizo Roasted Potatoes

Choizo potatoes

I've instituted a Monday night ritual around here. I make dinner for my parents, and it's a highlight of my week. They are an appreciative audience--tired from work, happy to not be cooking and cleaning, and complimentary. This week, we had sausages, these delectable potatoes, and an arugula and ricotta salata salad. I couldn't believe how fast we polished off that mountain of potatoes.

I've had some moments of uncertainty lately. We are so happy to be in Bellingham and feel to the core that this is where we are supposed to be. But it's still transition. I always say that I'd rather help others go through transition than go through my own! In the middle of it, here are a few things (in addition to Monday night dinners) that have given me pluck:

  1. Seeing Jason Quick perform at Wyatt's daycamp. He's a one-armed juggler, therapist, and circus arts instructor  who lost his arm in an electrical accident when he was six. He learned to play games by himself, and he learned to never give up. I was so inspired watching him and so sheepish about how easily I give up on things just because the red carpet might not be laid out. I'll give you a silly example. We just joined the YMCA, and am notoriously clumsy and bad at sports. But they have a rock climbing wall, and I want to learn. And they have a racquetball court that looks fun. Don't let me get away with not trying those things just because I might not be excellent at them. 
  2. The new grocery store in town, The Market on Lakeway. When I walked in and saw their bulk spices, deli, and walk-in beer cooler, I almost cried. Everyone I know is getting little bags of Cyprus flaked sea salt for hostess gifts in the next year. (Or a link of chorizo. The real kind.)
  3. Taking an early-morning spin class at the Y, sweating it out with strangers and feeling exhausted afterward.
  4. Some coaching sessions with clients when I can almost see them growing right in front of me. There is nothing better than that.
  5. Meeting my childhood friend Sam's little girl, who stole my heart immediately.
  6. Late nights with Yancey, eating our way through a bag of potato chips and talking about spray foam insulation, window packages, and flooring options. Our house closed yesterday, and the sledgehammers are poised.
  7. A visit from Emily and Ricky yesterday and some time with Emily to talk about our friendship and how we'll navigate this new terrain.

And I haven't forgotten. Here's those potatoes.

Chorizo Roasted Potatoes
Heat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash 2 pounds small yellow potatoes. If they're on the small side, halve them. If they're bigger, quarter them. Put them in a large bowl with a couple big glugs olive oil, a generous pinch of kosher salt,  a teaspoon of cumin seeds, and a big handful of chorizo sausage coins. (Spanish chorizo--the cured, ready-to-eat, usually bright red sausage, available at good delis.) 
Dump the mixture onto your baking sheet, and bake for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and chorizo is crisped up. Mound on a platter, and garnish with a handful of chopped parsley and a handful of sheep's milk feta. And a little more salt.

Strawberry Hazelnut Salad with Sesame Dressing

Strawberry hazelnut salad

Oh, how I love June strawberries. I've got my kids trained, too. Driving through town this week, Wyatt said, "Mom! Pull over! There's a strawberry stand!" We've just been eating them fresh--out of hand, over yogurt, in smoothies. They are so yielding and RED. The very definition of red.

I had lunch alone today. Yancey and the kids were running errands, which seems like all we do lately. Run errands, unpack, take yet more $%# to Goodwill, and sign paperwork. We are awash in paperwork over here. Turns out, if you sell and buy a house in the same month, the entire universe requires your signature. So we have disclosed and been disclosed to, locked in interest rates, and become best friends with our insurance brokers. I'm not complaining--all of this is a giant gift. But I'm ready for things to slow down.

And lunch alone at home is my favorite, as you probably know by now. I like it better than making mac and cheese for kids (surprise) and even like it better than going out. I've never lived alone (What?! Yes, it's true) so I have to fake it every once in awhile and please just myself.

In this case, it was bounty from Joe's Garden--pointy spinach leaves, big leaves of Italian parsley, sweet shelling peas, toasted hazelnuts, sheep's milk feta, sliced strawberries.  For the dressing (this serves one), mix 1 Tb. of honey, kosher salt, pepper, thinly sliced green onion, sprinkle of sesame seeds, and 1/2 Tb. of red wine vinegar. Whisk in 1 Tb. of sesame oil and 1 Tb. of olive oil, and add more of anything to taste. Happy Alone Time!

 My big girl

Green Spaghetti with Greens

green on green

No, I didn't grow the basil for this pesto. In Seattle?! At this rate, my basil won't be up until Halloween. I cannot believe the absolute lack of sunlight we've been experiencing. But Trader Joe's basil will do nicely. (If you're soaking up the sun in some other clime, I sort of don't want to hear about it).

The greens, however, did come from my garden. A huge pile of tender arugula, spinach, and baby kale, chopped up and thrown into the hot pasta till it's just wilted. It might have been a more accurate description to say "Greens with noodles." I've wondered about iron deficiency lately because of all the fatigue I've been experiencing. My Mom said, "There's no way you could be anemic. You eat too many greens." Case in point.

This has nothing to do with green noodles, but I can't write tonight without saying what a fabulous birthday celebration Bethany and I had yesterday. We (belatedly) celebrated our June birthdays with a ritual day at Olympus Spa (aka"Korean Spa"). Usually, we're extremely lucky to get 10 minutes on the phone before one of us has to break up a fight or ration snacks. Oh, the conversations that can happen in eight whole hours! And the bi bim bap and pajeon to be had at Lynnwood Korean restaurants! In all the moments of uncertainty or frustration that are certain to come down the pike between now and my next birthday, I'll pull these hours out. I'll draw strength from them and remember that, in the end, loving and being loved is all there is. (Okay--eating's somewhere in there, too). xoxo, Bethany.

Green Spaghetti with Greens
Serves four. Making your own pesto couldn't be easier if you have a food processor. But you could certainly used purchased pesto here. If you do, add a clove of minced garlic and a little extra salt, as I find it to be lacking the punch that homemade pesto has.

1 lb. spaghetti (reserve 1/2 c. of the cooking water)
1/2 c. homemade pesto or purchased pesto (and maybe  more to taste)
1/2 c. heavy cream
salt
pepper
1 c. halved cherry or grape tomatoes
Big bowlful of coarsely chopped washed and dried greens--at least 6 cups. I used arugula, spinach, and baby kale.
1/2 c. crumbled feta or shaved pecorino or parmesan for garnish

Boil spaghetti in lots of salted water. Reserve a little cooking water before draining it.

Dump drained pasta back into the pot, then add pesto and cream over low heat. Use a wooden spoon and tongs to gently incorporate all the cream and pesto into the pasta. You want every noodle covered. Add salt and pepper, and taste to see if you want to add a little more pesto. Add a little of the cooking water to loosen a bit if needed.

Gently fold in greens and tomatoes, stirring until the greens are wilted. Turn off heat.

Mound into pasta bowls, and top with crumbled feta and maybe a drizzle of olive oil.