Tag Archives: dad

Surprise!

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Easter EggWhen I was four or five we had a jellybean hunt instead of an Easter egg hunt. File that away for later.

At the age of fourteen, on the Saturday before Easter, I snuck out of the house at 10pm, after everyone had gone to bed, and rode my bike down the hill to the local Dairy Mart. I purchased four dozen eggs, several dying kits and one package of those plastic, shrink-wrap collars that cling to the egg when submerged in boiling water.

Back home at 11:00PM I hardboiled and decorated each of the 48 eggs. They were dyed brightly, names added with the clear, wax crayon, and the Paas stickers, including the turtle and the little, golden cross, placed carefully.

Well past midnight I snuck quietly out into the backyard and hid each of the 48 eggs before creeping up to my third floor bedroom and drifting off to sleep, smiling, knowing I would wake to greet my family with this wonderful surprise.

I rose Easter Sunday about 1 hour after my dad, who was up early to let the dogs out. I came down and announced, beaming, the prior night’s mischief. Dad, looking worried, walked me out into the yard. “Do you remember,” he said, “when we had the jellybean hunt for Easter?”

“Of course,” I replied. It had seemed so different and magic at the time.

“We had planned an outdoor Easter egg hunt that year too, but when we let the dogs out, they ate each and everyone of the eggs. I suspect they did the same thing this morning.”

Sure enough, the eggs were gone. Every one of them. All that was left were pieces of shell and the chewed plastic shrink-wraps. Dad and I walked back inside, and he let me help hide the two dozen eggs we had decorated as a family the afternoon before.

NOTE: For those of you worries about the dogs, our two labs were just fine, despite looking a bit smug that morning.

Spinach Frittata

Spinach FrittataIngredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound spinach leaves, stemmed
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp cream
  • 1/2 tsp
  • nutmeg
  • cayenne
  • white pepper

Directions:

  • Warm oil over medium heat in a 12″ skillet. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add spinach to pan and cook until wilted and most of the water has evaporated. About 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove spinach to cutting board and chop finely.
  • Whisk together eggs, and cream. Season with salt, a few grinds of pepper and a pinch each of nutmeg and cayenne.
  • Return pan to medium heat and melt butter, swirling to coat the bottom and edges of the pan.
  • Sprinkle the spinach over the bottom of the pan, and gently pour the eggs over the top. If the eggs don’t spread evenly over the pan, gently tip the pan to distribute.
  • Now, stop messing with the eggs. Don’t stir them. Cover the pan with a lid and let them sit for 5 minutes or so. Take a quick look, and if they are nearly set, move a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the frittata. Return the cover and cook until the eggs on top are set.
  • Once finished, remove from heat and loosen the frittata with a rubber spatula and slide it onto a cutting board or serving plate. If it feels like it won’t loosen from the pan, cut it into wedges or squares and remove it piece by piece. Either way, it tastes awesome!
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How this all began.

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I spent the spring of 1996 living at home with my parents. Those four months were the most influential out of the past 18 years I’ve spent cooking and entertaining.

I grew up cooking with Mom. Her meals were fresh, simple and healthy, and I cook many of those same dishes today. That spring, however, was different. I was 21, had just graduated from Colby College at the end of January, and was bored and lonely. A few months earlier I had gone to dinner at the home of some older friends, arriving early enough to enjoy a glass of wine with them in the kitchen. Leaving, I realized I had memorized the recipe for the pasta sauce they had served – rich, and trendy, with artichoke hearts, capers, portobello mushrooms and fresh basil. I went home and began cooking it for anyone who would eat it.

Now it’s March, I’m home, the spring season is beginning at my family’s garden center and I have Tuesday’s off. I think, “I’ll cook dinner  and give Mom and Dad a break.” Week one is the pasta sauce. Week two is tacos. By week three I’m sitting down at 10AM with a cup of coffee and a stack of cookbooks. I head out around 1PM with the shopping list for a 5-6 dish menu. I visit 3-4 grocers and farm stands, buying strange new ingredients. Back home I  cook through these overly ambitious menus, serving my exhausted parents around 9PM.

We would choose dishes depending on the menu, and gather flowers and greens from the yard to decorate the table. I discovered Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. I learned that wines had names and could be magically paired with food.

I’ve learned a lot since then. I still love (almost) every moment I spend in the kitchen. but that spring I jumped off the cliff, and I’ve never looked back.

Better together.

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My parents own a business, Tarnòw Nursery. For most of my life it has dominated their schedules, as a small business often does. They worked most weekends, right up to each holiday, and called in frequently when away on family vacations.

Nine years ago, the summer I moved to DC, I started getting these calls. “Good morning. We’re taking a day (or two) off. We’re sitting at the end of the driveway and trying to decide whether to turn left or right.”

I realized after a few of these calls that the direction truly didn’t matter. Where they were going wasn’t the point. They were off to spend the day together and nothing was more important than that.

Mom and Dad are the model for my relationship with my husband. I have come to realize that what I was witnessing was their feeling that the worst day spent together was better than the best day spent apart. Every moment, good and bad, was improved by each other’s presence in their lives.

Happy Father’s Day Dad. I know you and Mom will enjoy spending today together.