Anna Watson is the author of aliceandmolly, an evolving Lifestyle Journal that promotes simple, sustainable, affordable ideas for home and lifestyle.
Anna is based on the West Coast. She has a long standing background in education and an interest in writing (Cloud Nine), painting, and learning. Life should be lived, a canvas of beautiful beginnings and endings.
Summertime and the living is easy . . .
It was officially summer vacation when the rules softened. Time stood still. Days felt as if they’d last forever. There wasn’t a lot of organization. A few families added swimming lessons to the calendar, most did not. It was expected we’d wander off and play. Usually we headed to the forest.
Each morning, we packed a paper bag lunch. We planned. A prearranged agreement was the only rule. Friends gathered at the end of a designated driveway, kept a respectful distance from the front door (unless it was open). Phone calls of confirmation were unnecessary. No knocks, either. Just a promise to “show up.” A curtain slid, a freckled face appeared at the window. Old fashioned stealth.
Always, there was an officious mother with a loose safety plan. Our Watchtower Mom was a tidy lady; a woman who moved with purpose, bustled through the day, a whistle on a string dangling from her neck.
When the whistle blew, we knew it was time to head home. Two blasts signalled warning, three: “You’re late.”
Popsicles are synonymous with summer.
You’ll need a blender and Popsicle moulds or paper cups and wooden sticks.
Choose one-two cups of seasonal fruit: fresh or frozen
e.g.: Mixed berries or pineapple, orange, mango.
Add one cup of plain or vanilla sweetened yogurt.
• add a small amount of juice to the mix if you feel it too thick.
Blend and pour into a popsicle mould or paper cups. Freeze.
Littles love. Bigs, too.
Home Cooked Meals
Often, summer offers up time to plan and ponder. The days grow longer; locally grown produce is plentiful. It’s time to gather.
As tomatoes ripen, lift them off the vine. Shave corn from the cob. Pick a pepper or two. Pull garlic from the soil. Gather what you grow. Support a local Farmer’s Market. Visit a local grocery. Tomatoes, garlic, and corn are the base for a delicious meal. You can add turkey or keep the dish vegetarian.
Ground turkey – One package
Bacon- 6 slices (optional)
Two limes- optional
Two cloves of garlic- peeled and diced
Olive oil- 2 tbsp.
Cilantro- for garnish (optional)
Salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, cumin, to taste
Two tbsp of brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock- I used store bought.
One can (28 oz.) of diced tomatoes or two-three cups fresh.* If you use fresh tomatoes, you may want to increase the stock to 2 cups.
1/4- I/2 cup dried tomatoes, diced or snipped (Kitchen scissors work.)
One can of pinto beans- rinsed and drained
One cup fresh (sliced off the cob) or frozen corn
One red pepper, seeded and chopped into bite sized pieces (If you prefer “heat,” add one diced and seeded poblano pepper.)
One large, sweet, onion
Two leaves of sage
In a large element safe pot, heat 2 tbs of olive oil
Add two cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
Dice one sweet onion. Add it to the pot.
Cook on low for several minutes. Allow the onions and garlic to soften.
Add the sliced bacon and shredded turkey. Cook for ten minutes until the turkey and bacon are cooked through.
Add salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin to the above mix. Cook for several minutes until spices are fragrant.
Combine the diced red pepper, poblano pepper, diced tomatoes or fresh off the vine, dried tomatoes, corn, brown sugar, and bay leaves. Cook several minutes. Stir in the chicken or vegetable stock.
Bring chili to a boil. Place the lid on the pot. Reduce the element heat to low and simmer the chili for two hours, until turkey is thoroughly cooked.
Slice the limes to wedges.
Set a simple table. Add a vase of blooms or branches, a found and empty bird’s nest, and depending on the ages of your guests, expect: Caterpillars in cups, Rocks, and Buttercups. Play soft music to suit. Fill glasses with lemon wedges, lime, blackberries or cucumber- mint water. Chill the drinks. Use a mix of dishes.
Make beautiful memories. Any occasion to gather friends and family is good enough reason to elevate the everyday. It is the genuine act of pausing, gathering, and connecting with one another that grows and enriches us.
If you have “Littles” in your life, place a paper placement (printer paper, roll paper) on the table. Add an assortment of crayons. Let them draw, colour, chat (i.e.: “Show or Tell: Two stars, one wish.”) Stars are all the positive moments in our day. A wish might be something we need help with, a goal, a concern, a hopeful thought. This simple strategy gives non verbal and verbal children a framework for expression. Together, work through the wish (make a simple plan, reassure), focus on the positives, the stars.
Simple dinnertime routines. The table being the structure we gather round, the meal prepared with thought and love, the circle we choose, the place where we are seen and heard.
Remove the sage leaves.
Ladle chili into bowls.
Sprinkle with shredded cheese, top with a dollop of sour cream, garnish with cilantro. Place a wedge of lime, fresh squeezed goodness, on the side.
Slice a baguette. Absorb the deliciousness.
Begin or end the meal with a simple message of gratitude.
“Life is so much kinder with you in it.”
Dessert is on the way.
Posts of Interest
Feb 24, 2020
Jeffrey Klein is the author of Curious Botany, the most-read blog about rare plants on the internet.