What a week! My Chicago daughter was here for a visit and for the first time in a long time I spent Mother’s Day with all three of my children and two of my five grandkids. My son invited us to his home for brunch on Sunday and the weather was beautiful so we sat outside and enjoyed a wonderful Spring day.
On Saturday afternoon my family assembled for another purpose. In January, 2000, we made a family time capsule. We all wrote letters to be read in the future (the year 2015) and added memorabilia to the box: pictures, magazines, the daily newspaper, whatever we thought would be interesting to us fifteen years ahead. Little did we know…the world has changed a lot since the year 2000 and so has our family. I was nervous because I couldn’t remember what I said in my four page letter. My children felt the same way and it was a little stressful to know that we would be reading these missives out loud, to everyone. But nervousness quickly disappeared as we started reading our letters and it was replaced by intense interest as we listened to each other’s sometimes funny, sometimes very touching and sometimes sad recounts of life in 2000. My daughter read letters from my parents because they weren’t there to do it themselves. That got some tears flowing. Both my son and I added VHS tapes of family activities to the time capsule but we don’t have anything to play them on! We never guessed that would be the case. I wonder what kinds of far out electronic devices we will be dealing with fifteen years from now, in 2030. It might be fun to make some guesses.
I’m sharing this little story because this was a big event for my family. We all shook our heads at how fast the past fifteen years flew by and how much life can change from one day to the next. It was an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our own lives and to celebrate the ups and downs in the lives of family members and how important each person is in the fabric of our family. We are talking about assembling another capsule for 15 years in the future. I’ll be 87 years old then…it makes me stop and think. If there are things in life I want to do I need to do them now. I’m working on my bucket list. If the idea of a time capsule sounds interesting to you and your family I can’t urge you strongly enough to do it. It’s a very powerful experience that has brought us closer together. And it was fun.
OK, so now on to dinner. One of my favorite summer meals is a large composed salad…one that can serve two people or a dozen. It can be made of whatever is in season and the salads I make are always different. A friend of mine gave me some eggs and the little quail eggs were a great garnish for the salad. The goose egg (top right) is about twice the size of the four duck eggs, and the little spotted eggs are from quail. I have seen them at the farmers’ market but have never tried them. All these eggs are richer than chicken eggs and have huge, dark orange yolks. I just hard boiled the little ones (4 minutes) and then peeled them and cut them in half.
We are just getting into salmon season here in the Pacific NW and I chose a big piece of Chinook for our dinner salad. Wrapping it in foil is one of my favorite ways to cook salmon because I’m not so likely to over cook it. That is the fastest way to ruin a piece of wonderful, very expensive, fish. Place the fish on a sheet of foil and season with salt, pepper and herbs (fresh dill here). Don’t limit yourself to this combo…you can use anything you like for seasoning. A garnish of lemon slices is nice and just before I close up the foil pouch I add a tablespoon or two of a dry white wine. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes. If you aren’t sure if it’s done open the top of the packet and lightly press the fish. If it feels squishy it isn’t done. It need to feel slightly firm to the touch. If it need more cooking, reseal the foil and bake for another minute or two. If you leave the packet sealed when you take the fish out of the oven it continues to cook. If it’s done, open the foil and let it cool slightly and then refrigerate.
What other ingredients you add to your salad is your choice: tomatoes, asparagus, French carrot bistro salad, roasted potatoes, radishes, eggs. Good alternatives are couscous salad, green beans, grilled zucchini, shrimp, chicken…endless possibilities. I usually pass a cruet of homemade vinaigrette or a light, creamy herb dressing just in case somebody wants it.
Big, fat asparagus spears are my favorite and I always look for them when I’m shopping. Apparently Costco customers like the skinny ones because they toss the packages of the big ones to the back of the display. Perfect for me. The big spears are usually tough so I peel them and they become fork tender. The large spears hold up better on the grill and get nice little char marks from being on the grill longer. Composed salads are perfect for summer entertaining because everything can be made and assembled ahead of time. Add some good bread, nice wine and a yummy dessert and you will have a great meal you can sit back and enjoy. With this dinner each person helps him or her self.