Allergy Friendly · Dairy Free · Dips and Sauces · Friendship · Side Dishes

Our People, and Summertime Fruit Dip

Dear Joey,

One of the hardest parts about moving was putting distance between ourselves and our people. But one of the easiest parts about moving is being close to our other people again. But my heart is divided because to be there means being with those people. To be here means being with these people. I love them all.

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There are people here, there are people there–shoot, we have people all over the place. We have people right across town, over the hills, up the valley in Napa and down the road in San Diego; we have people in the Midwest and people up North and down South and people all close enough to the Atlantic to go for a quick dip if the mood struck them. Our people are everywhere.

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But distance makes it difficult to see them very often–even the ones across town–and proximity matters when it comes to building friendships. It’s the people nearby that we end up living our lives with. Friendship is forged in the trenches of the daily, and enough small talk over time builds into something much bigger. Strangers turn into people we trust enough to pick our kids up from school in a pinch, and before we know it, they’re the people we live with, lean on, and love. It’s hard to say goodbye to that sort of security, even harder to start over.

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When I think about all our people, I wonder which ones will dissolve into a fuzzy memory as the years continue to slip by and which ones will remain a fixture in our hearts and home. Whose kids will our Goobies remember growing up with? Which ones will eek their way into their hearts and become their people? Who will we call at midnight when an emergency jerks us out of sleep? Which ones will hop on a plane if tragedy strikes? Who will show up to wave goodbye if our story leads us elsewhere and we move farther away than just across the hills? Who would pick up the phone at 10pm to settle an argument over cult classic movies and laugh with us as we bicker over whose favorite nostalgic movie was more important in the scheme of things: Mall Rats or Shag: The Movie?

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People move, and people move on. Out of sight, out of mind because what’s right in front of us demands our attention more than keeping up with people who aren’t in our immediate, day-to-day circle. The demands on our time shout loudly above the need of our hearts–to connect–and sometimes, friendships falter because of it. Keeping up with all the people all the time is hard. I wish I could be in both places (or really, all the places), all the time. I can’t, of course, but I think about all the people all the time. And I also wonder what new people are out there ahead of us, waiting for us to open our circle and extend our hands to them.

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Maybe that’s why we made the hour long drive to see our not-so-far-away people to swim and grill and indulge in their hospitality, pretending we’re far away and on vacation together. Maybe that’s why we keep asking our local people to come play at a moment’s notice, grilling and letting kids play outside until well after bedtime. Maybe that’s why I’ve made this fruit dip so many times this summer: when I’ve felt displaced, unsettled, and uncertain about where to plant my heart, this dip steadies me. Some people look at old pictures of the people they love (I seldom remember to snap them); others pick up the phone and call (I always feel like I’d be an inconvenience), but me? I cook because making recipes like this one is like grabbing the hand of an old friend while extending the other hand to a newer one, and I am safe, balanced right there between them both.

Love,

Scratch

Summertime Fruit Dip (GF/DF/NF)

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When one of our people came to visit this summer, it just felt right to whip up a batch of fruit dip–a creamy, dreamy wonder to which she introduced me well over ten years ago (thanks Felicia!). I couldn’t make her dip the conventional way (with regular old cream cheese), but I found a way to make a dairy free version that fooled my own mother. I’ve made it several times since that early summer morning well over a month ago now and one thing proves true: everyone loves it (not just the kids: it’s become a guilty pleasure among adults in our circle who tend to have difficulty with self-control around this stuff.) I recommend the Trader Joe’s brand Vegan Cream Cheese because I’m pretty much devoted to its clean, non-vegan flavor, but you could certainly substitute other brands that are accessible nationwide (such as Daiya), or just use regular cream cheese if your people don’t have issues with dairy. If you use another brand, taste and tweak as needed until the end result suits your fancy. 

Ingredients:
  • 1-8 oz. tub Vegan Cream Cheese (such as Trader Joe’s)
  • 1-7 oz. tub Jet Puffed Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Method:

Whisk together all ingredients until fully combined. Chill for an hour or so to help firm it back up again. Serve with an assortment of fruit (strawberries, pineapple and cantaloupe are our favorites).

 

Dips and Sauces · Eat Those Veggies · Faith Journey · Growing and Changing

Peace, Plenty, and Zucchini Hummus

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

-Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

Dear Joey,

Emery doesn’t ask to go home anymore. In the first several weeks after finally saying goodbye to that empty shell of a house on the other side of the hills, he wandered around this new house perplexed, unsure why we were sticking around so long, and wondering why we hadn’t gone home yet. “Where’s Bubba’s house?” he’d ask. “I go to Bubba’s house.”  No, bud–this is our house now, we’d say, and his quizzical eyes questioned ours. It broke my heart every time. And so, he walked in endless circles around here for weeks, disoriented and trying to figure it all out.

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The girls were quicker to understand the idea that once we waved goodbye to that little house on Broadmoor, we wouldn’t be going back. There were tears, but lots of giggles too. They thought it was pretty funny that all their stuff ended up in Papa & Nyome’s house, saying that it wasn’t their home, and unpacking their dolls and dresses here didn’t make any sense. I made light of it all, of course, telling them this year is a fun adventure, like a long vacation while we wait for our new house. In the meantime, they settle in a little more each day, and their new room becomes more their own and less the room I slept in when I was a little girl.

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Still, Addie sometimes sighs in the middle of a lazy afternoon and confesses she misses our old house, and then also says she misses her new house too. It’s sorrow and longing, clearly, missing what was and looking forward to what will be. Me too, I whisper through tears, and I scoop her up into a hug and she lets me hold her longer than usual. I ask her if she’s unhappy here, and she perks up and says, “Oh no, I’m happy. It’s fun here. I just miss our own house.” Living with her grandparents is cool and fun and cushy and all, but in spite of all that, she still keeps her eyes fixed on what she hopes for. Addie makes a universal truth so easy to understand: that this place is temporary and life here is fleeting at best. She is learning how to be content with what is, while still hoping for something isn’t. I think we are all learning that lesson.

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In the meantime, she’s adjusting. We all are. Addie still gets teary-eyed sometimes, Mia still corrects me whenever I happen to say “Ok Goobies, we’re going home now(“No–we’re going to Papa & Nyome’s house, Mama”), and every so often Emery asks where his old house is. But he doesn’t wander around confused anymore; instead, he runs with purpose and a sense of urgency unique to rambunctious little boys, living out the promise of adventure we’ve been preaching for months. As for me, I spend my time trying to make things functional and familiar enough in hopes of making these Goobies feel like we really do belong here.

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And so, we’ve gotten busy with the business of getting on with life. We eat fluffy scrambled eggs and piles and piles of sun-kissed strawberries around the same kitchen table we’ve always eaten around, this time surrounded by the in & out and to & fro of grandparents. Pajama clad, we tumble out into the backyard to feed the animals, then we weed, prune, water and pick. The girls and I pop tomatoes in our mouths, twist zucchini from the vine, and plunk velvety green beans into our garden baskets while Emery drives his yellow cozy cab back and forth, back and forth.

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Next we scurry off to swim lessons and play at the park and somehow manage to squeeze in a gymnastics lesson every Monday afternoon. After lunch I finally squeeze in a shower while the girls learn the discipline of quiet reading (and learn to love getting lost in a book). Then we ride bikes and play Scrabble and Candyland and Checkers; we come up with a thousand ways to use up every glorious bit of our summertime harvest, and slurp popsicles while the sun starts to slip under its covers for the night.

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There’s so much good all around us, both familiar and brand new at the same time. I’m learning how to be content with it. There are a million reasons why this season is sweet and beautiful and lovely and right, but there are just as many lies that twist those truths and tempt me toward jealousy and discontentment. I’m learning to ignore those voices, the voices of self-importance and jealousy that taunt me, saying my life isn’t good because I’m back here in the place where I grew up, again. 

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We spend a lot of time in the backyard, mainly because Emery is desperate to get outside practically from the moment he wakes up. Once we’re out there, I bide my time by tending to the garden, feeding the zucchini, pruning the tomatoes, and picking green beans, all of which had been doing well, happy in the place they’re planted and producing beautiful fruit. This week, though, I noticed the green bean bush is tangled and droopy with the weight of itself. I bent down low and looked beneath the cover of big, shady leaves to find that the well-established vines had grown thick and twisted, like a knot, far away from the trellis and up into themselves. The bright green fingertips of new growth poked out from under the snarl looking for a place to hold on to, clearly looking for the sun but unable to find anything but darkness. Those tender little things had wrapped themselves around the tangled old vines that were choking the life out of them. And so, I cut away the overgrowth, ripping out old and gently guiding the new to grab on to the security of the trellis, where they can be free to grow up, toward the light.

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As I did so, I realized the same thing happened in my heart. I’d been searching for peace in the darkness, grasping for it and finding it had been choked out by lies inside my own head–my perceived not enough-ness, the voice that whispers that everyone else has more, has better and is more, is better. Those old patterns of thinking returned with a vengeance one we moved here again, and were threatening once more to impede my ability to flourish in the place where I’m planted.

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I’m pulling out those old, snarled vines in my heart and making way for truth to take hold again. In the process, I’m looking to Paul as my guide. He learned what it means to be content in all circumstances–he didn’t instinctively know how to do it either. There’s grace for me–for all of us– in that. I’m not there, but I’m getting there, and I’m finding peace in the process. I am enough and this life is enough because Jesus is enough. Like Paul, I’m grabbing onto Jesus for support, because He gives me strength.

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Such lovely, life-giving things are right here, right now, in this place we find ourselves today. There is blessing and beauty and bounty in these moments, and I know it is a gift. It’s different than perhaps I expected, and I don’t know what’s next, exactly–but that’s ok. There’s peace here, plenty of it.

Love,

Scratch

Zucchini Hummus

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We have so much zucchini growing–enough to bake muffins and spin zoodles and grill and roast and more–and there’s plenty to share. The timing of it is perfect because I’m walking through some new dietary changes (Gah! Again!) and am leaning on the prolific veggie to help soften the blow of removing grains from my diet. (More on that another time.) Until then, I’ll say this: zucchini is a jack of all trades in the veggie world–it even knows how to make a truly delicious dip that my dad says he likes better than hummus. Even Emery (my two year old!) is a fan. Leave out the cumin & coriander and add 2 teaspoons of dried dill instead, or leave out the spices altogether and leave it plain. The decision is yours, of course. I won’t be bossy, but you should definitely serve this with grilled chicken and veggies.

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sesame tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (2 cloves if they’re large; 3 cloves if they’re on the smaller side)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Method:

First, prep the zucchini. Cut off both ends of the zucchini and peel off the green skin. Next, chop what’s left into 1″ cubes (or so). Plunk the pieces into a high speed blender or food processer and pile the remaining ingredients on top. Close the lid and process on high until the zucchini is smooth and the ingredients have emulsified–a good minute or two, depending on the power of your machine.

The dip is ready at this point, but is a little runny. Refrigerate for a couple of hours for a thicker dip, or drizzle over grilled chicken and veggies immediately.