Every Saturday that we are at the farmers market, I wish I could be there with my mother. She'd get a kick out of the scarlet queen red turnips, the juicy strawberries and the soft squash blossoms. My dad would enjoy strolling down the painters row filled with gorgeous watercolors or photo representations of the city, the beach houses and everything Charleston.
This coming Saturday, it will finally be a reality. My parents are arriving tomorrow and staying throughout the month. I can't wait. It's been almost a year since I last saw them and due to work, family circumstances, health and other, it has not been possible for either of us to get together. But tomorrow....oh tomorrow...all the hugs and kisses from my mama will be mine!
I can't wait. Even though work won't stop while they are here, I am looking forward to my mom taking over in the kitchen here and there. Her food is legendary good and she will have as much fun at the market as I do every weekend. I can't wait to see my dad's familiar frown and pondering face as he explores the art and exhibitions during the Spoleto festival starting up soon.
I'm just looking forward to just be with them and take every minute they give me. I know there will be a small period of adjustment. That's to be expected. I often found that those adjustment times are quickly solved with a walk on the dock to see the sunset, quietly making dinner together, having breakfast on the back deck overlooking the water. All these moments where we let distance and time apart quickly fade and find each other again.
So many things have changed since they visited last March. More work. More accomplishments. More friends. We have many things to celebrate and many new friends to celebrate them with. I am thrilled for my parents to see some old friends again and to meet new ones. My day-to-day is often what makes my parents the happiest but that's often what I fail to talk about on the phone once we're done with everyone's news in the family.
So this trip, it's all about saying thanks for the big things and celebrating all the little things. It's about hugs. Growing up. Being my own and being their child.
I realized how much a combination of both my parents I was this weekend while leading a workshop in Sante Fe on food photography. I had the seriousness of my dad and the "well, there's a plan, but it's ok if we change it" attitude of my mom. I realized how far I had come and how much I'd still had to go.
I will post a longer recap of the workshop once I go through all the pics I took and gather posts from the other attendees about their own recap of the weekend. In the meantime, you can check this portrait gallery I made of the attendees and look through Ace Camps Facebook pics. To say that I had the most incredible time would be an understatement. Everyone worked so hard during the weekend and all their efforts truly paid off. There were many a "ha ha" moments around and I am only glad I was able to help others enjoy food photography as much as I do.
When I got off the plane yesterday evening, B. asked if I wanted to grab a bite in town. Non, pas vraiment (no, not really) I said. I wanted to get home, hug my pups silly and be quiet for a while. The fridge was pretty bare but we had eggs and chives which turned into an awesome omelette for two. We had an avocado, a handful or radish sprouts and a couple of tomatoes. Paired with some bread chunks and we had an incredible panzanella salad.
I also pulled a tray of Brown & Wild Rice & Feta Stuffed Squash Blossoms that I had made the week before. I gave them a quick sautee in a hot pan and we sat down to an incredible makeshift feast. My favorite kind of meal.
Every Spring that the farmers market starts, I can't wait for squash blossoms to pop up on vendors stalls and they seem to be coming in earlier than usual this year. Obviously it does not bother me and we have enjoyed them simply sauteed with salt and pepper, crispy fried and stuffed with all sorts of delicious market leftovers. I have to say that this filling combination of brown and wild rice with feta, thyme, oregano, garlic and a touch of lemon is my favorite so far.
It made this "so happy to be home after traveling all day" meal that much more delicious. A nice change also to the usual quiche and salad tradition we have in the family when people travel. Although I might fix one for my parents tomorrow. Who knows...
I am curious though. What is your favorite meal to cook or eat when you get off the plane after a long day of traveling?
Brown Wild Rice & Feta Stuffed Squash Blossoms:
Serve 4 as an appetizer
1 cup brown and wild rice blend, cooked and cooled
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
zest of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
12-16 squash blossoms, washed and patted dry (some I get come with a squash attached which I cut close to the stem and stir fry separately)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Combine the rice, feta, herbs, garlic, lemon zest together in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
In a large saute pan, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.
Delicately fill the inside of the squash blossom with about 1-2 teaspoons of the filling. When all the blossoms are filled, place half in the sautee pan and cook about 2 minutes per sides until golden brown.
Remove from the pan and keep warm under a piece of tin foil. Heat the other tablespoons of oil and sautee the second batch of stuffed blossoms.
Crispy Fried Squash Blossoms:
Serves 4 as an appetizer
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup flour superfine rice flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg white
3/4 cup beer or club soda
12 to 16 squash blossoms, washed and patted dry
canola oil for frying
In a medium bowl, combine the flours, salt and pepper. Add the egg white and beer (or club soda) and whisk until smooth.
Heat canola oil in a medium deep pan (I use a 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cast iron skillet) until it reaches 375F.
Dip the blossoms in the batter and fry 2 or 3 blossoms at a time in the hot oil. Do not overcrowd them or it drops the oil temperature down which makes them cook longer, soak in more oil and get soggy.
Heat at once!