What is your favorite time of year? Has it changed over time?
As a child, I loved summer, but now early spring, hands down, makes me happiest. I started feeling that way on May 2, 1993, 22 years ago today.
Our first born, Megan was just over 2 ½ years old. I loved her fiercely and couldn’t imagine finding room in my heart for a second child. It was 5 am. Bob had called our next door neighbor and my parents. Harriet sat with sleeping Meg until her grandparents arrived. We passed them on the road and waved. We were on our way to The Birthing Center (“A Nice Place to Be Born”). I was in very active labor.
It took a lot of concentration to stay calm and centered during that car ride. As we passed the reservoir, the sun came up behind the mountains, illuminating the tiny celadon leaves. Mother Earth and I were giving birth at the same time. My heart expanded to make room for this new life; I felt a joy I have carried with me since that morning. I knew that within a couple of hours my family would be complete.
Our son, Brian, was born just over an hour later; his birth was beautiful. He was, and still is, perfect. We were back home in Warwick by suppertime. And ever since that day, I have loved this time of year, when our Mother gives birth, the time that marks the anniversary of the day we became a family of four.
Today, Brian is studying for finals, so he won’t able to get home to share this birthday supper with us. I made something he loves, and I’ll make it again for him when he is back in Warwick. Before I get to the recipe, I want to tell you a few things about my son. I am struggling a bit here; I could go on for pages and pages and gush and embarrass myself because I am so madly in love with him. I will try to be rational.
My son is a tall, lean, strong man, with a huge heart and a substantial presence. He adores his friends and is loyal to a fault. His spent his childhood making us laugh and still takes great delight in causing us to howl until our stomachs hurt. He has an incredible intellect, a nuanced, analytical mind, and a very well developed sense both of justice and of the absurd. He is deeply thoughtful and responsible, and he knows how to have fun. I don’t just love him; I like him and I admire him.
In two weeks, Brian will graduate from The George Washington University with a BA in Political Science. He loves DC, and hopes to get a job there and live in the District this fall. He is going to Europe for the summer, and I am enormously excited for him! I hope you will join me in wishing him Happy Birthday and Happy Graduation!
I used foraged wild chives and mint. You can grow, pick, or shop for yours, just don’t substitute dried!
Many tzatziki recipes call for drained yogurt and/or sour cream. I have found that if you use Greek yogurt and pour off any pooled whey from both products, draining the dairy is unnecessary. Draining the cucumber is not optional.
1 small cucumber, seeded, finely diced
¼ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
juice of half lemon
2 tbs. minced chives
2tbs. minced mint
salt and pepper, to taste (lots)
Place the minced cucumber in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle generously with salt. Toss. Let stand 15 minutes. Then wrap the cucumber in a kitchen towel and wring it out. When you’re done, wring some more. You will be amazed how much salty cucumber water happens.
Combine the all the ingredients. Don’t do I what I did and leave the cucumber in the towel and then remember it later. Unless you find that amusing, in which case, have fun, it’s your tzatziki! You can make it a few hours ahead and refrigerate.
I made kofta using ground turkey mixed with some lemon, cumin, a little olive oil, some slivered almonds, salt, and lots of cayenne pepper, mixed and formed into oval patties. They were grilled over medium high heat until they were just cooked through. Alternatively, you could use ground beef or lamb. Or seasoned, skewered, cubed meat. Or you could skip the meat altogether.
In addition, I grilled the following: haloumi, baby bell peppers, zucchini (we all know Brian loves zucchini), and japanese sweet potatoes. I just drizzled everything with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and chives and grilled until cooked. Then, I added tomatoes and avocado to the platter. You could add or substitute any of the following: asparagus, mushrooms, artichokes, sliced eggplant, onions, or leeks.
Feel free to accompany the platter with some lightly toasted pita, preferably homemade. That is, if you have an oven.
Serve the tzatziki surrounded by the vegetables. It’s very festive and communal.
Happy Birthday, Brian!!!