Our dog, Perry, died six weeks ago. For the past five weeks, I was writing a post in dribs and drabs about him, my sadness and how I was cranking up the oven in the middle of summer to bake loaves and loaves of bread in which to drown my sorrows.
Perry and I were together for over a decade. He saw me through moving to another state, getting married and having a baby. He was a good, old guy. The best. But believe me when I say I am sparing you by not publishing that post. I think writing it was really just for me, a way to muck through my feelings about losing my dearest beast friend.
The thing about being sad is that it's really hard to dwell on it when you are busy. While our family had some down time right at the end of June, things quickly sped up to the point where I've had a hard time keeping the days straight. This is probably a good thing.
Our days lately have been filled with trips to San Juan Island and Lummi Island, parades, birthday parties, graduation celebrations, farm camp, nature camp, play dates, potlucks, war canoe scrambles, helping the local triathlon club to put on an Olympic-distance race, and so on.
Inside, I can still feel that thread to Perry flutter whenever I have a quiet moment. I miss him. No matter what, he had the ability to shake things off, live in the moment and feel joy in the little things, like having his ears scratched and his belly rubbed. Or, taking a quick walk through the woods. I've decided to honor him by moving forward in that spirit, trying to keep it simple and enjoying the small moments.
In addition to spending all that time writing the aforementioned "Horribly Sad Post," I found myself doing a lot of reading. Maybe it was a way to distract myself, who knows. Whatever it was, none of my summer reading so far probably makes much sense in terms of being either beachy or breezy. Here's a partial list:
- In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson - Pre-WWII Berlin, Hitler's rise to power.
- Regeneration by Pat Barker - WWI, the effects of trauma on British soldiers and officers. Truly, one of the most outstanding books I have read lately. Ms. Barker, you certainly outwrite the best of them.
- About a Boy by Nick Hornby - Not exactly breezy, but so funny and filled with heaps of pure heart. About how friendship and connection from unexpected places can transform you.
Like others around here, we've also been getting out to see friends. With summer being so much about backyard barbecues and potlucks, I thought I'd include a salad that we've been eating a lot of lately. It's from my all-time favorite cookbook, Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries. I love salads that contain both cooked and raw elements like this one. It is so full of freshness and flavor. I hope you'll try it and even bring it to your next get together.
May your summer be full of friendship, love and well-constructed salads. Here's to holding onto memories of our dearest friends past and present, enjoying small pleasures and reveling in the simple moments. Cheers!
Chickpea Salad with Feta and Herbs
The herbs here add a fresh punch while the chickpeas and feta make it savory and satisfying. You can cook the onion-and-garlic mixture a day or two ahead. If you do that, you can throw the dish together in no time. The salad also keeps well for a couple of days once it's made. I've mostly just made adjustments to the quantities of the original recipe so that it could feed more people. Otherwise, it's pretty true to the original.
Serves 12 as a side dish.
3 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight then cooked OR 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
1 cup olive oil
2 medium red onions, chopped
10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
6 scallions, green part only, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
juice of 2 lemons
black pepper, finely ground
Drain and rinsed cooked/canned chickpeas. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet and saute onions. When they become translucent and are starting to take on a golden color, add salt, garlic and chile flakes and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool.
Add onion and garlic mixture to the chickpeas, stirring together. Add feta cheese, scallions, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Combine gently. Taste and adjust for salt. Add black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature, or cold.