The strawberry gelato vanished last night. The kids, husband and I each had a small serving, The Incredible Eating Nephew had a substantial one. There was still enough for everyone to have one more. And then… there wasn’t. My nephew looked quite content, though. I can't blame him. It was fantastic.
Happily, (considering how much I would spend on take-out with the Incredible Eating Nephew in the house, and also, I have to do lots of it, anyway), school ending seems to have restored my desire to cook. So at least it feels less like a chore and more like noodling around and having some fun. I had about two and a half pounds of beef to prepare for tonight that I marinated in a rosemary-soy-lemon verbena sauce (Herbal Kitchen recipe) that amounted to superfancy (and super tasty) teriyaki sauce. It seemed like a lot of meat when I bought it, and yet... there was not a scrap left. I served it with short-grained rice (lots), and a green bean salad with a soy-shallot vinaigrette (Tom Douglas), followed by a strawberry tart (with a vanilla custard, pictured down a ways, made largely by winging it with what was around). The only thing left are the green beans. The Incredible Eating Nephew doesn’t eat things that are green (I’m not kidding. The kid was suspicious of ranch dressing). Half of the tart went to the husband, my dad, my kids and myself. The other half went down the gullet of The Incredible Eating Nephew. He did, (thank GOD) at that point, say that he was full. I wasn’t sure what to feed him next if he was still hungry. Curly? She’s awfully nice to have around, even if she is a bit deranged. My crazy neighbor? She doesn’t smell very good. Speaking of her, she’s been a little vocal lately. She and I had a kind of funny interaction the other day (in both senses of the word), when I... caught her throwing dog poop into my yard (yum). Here’s the conversation.
Me: [crazy neighbor proper name deleted], don’t do that.
Crazy Neighbor: Do what?
Me: Don’t throw dog poop into my yard. It’s not nice.
CN: I didn’t do nothing!
Me: I saw you do it. Please pick it up.
CN: Is not mine! [disgusting note: given her enthusiasm for using excrement, the declaration that it was not actually her poop was a small source of relief]
Me: It’s not mine, either. Please pick it up.
CN: You shouldn’t put it in my yard! You shouldn't do that!
Me: I didn’t put it in your yard. Please don’t throw it into mine.
CN: And you need to do something about that clover! You have to use weed killer on your lawn! I never had no weeds before and now I have clover!
Me: I don’t use weed killer on the lawn. The children play barefoot on it.
CN: You have to do something about it! You need to use weed killer on that clover! I never have no clover in my yard before! You need to use week killer on it! Or else! And stop putting poop in my yard!
Me: We don’t use weed killer on the lawn. The children walk barefoot on the grass. I didn’t put the poop in your yard. And you shouldn’t throw it into mine.
CN: (putting hands over her ears and turning her back on me) I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you! [not joking. She really did. And, by the way, during this conversation she had a little dust mask thing over her face, glasses and a hat, and taped to the brim of the hat were plastic baggies, fluttering in the light breeze]
Me (walking around to face her, and bending over to eye level) [name omitted], look at me. (Crazy Neighbor ducks head down. Me, louder:) Look at me. (Neighbor looks). You shouldn’t throw poop in my yard.
CN: Is not mine! You stop putting it in my yard!
Me: It’s not mine, either. I didn’t put it in your yard.
CN: Well… (long pause) How’d it get there?
Me: People let their dogs poop and don’t pick it up. It's not very nice. It happens to us, too.
CN: I didn’t know it wasn’t yours! I thought you put it in my yard!
Me: We wouldn’t do that. It’s not nice.
CN: I didn’t know it wasn’t yours!
Me: Now you do. Please pick it up.
CN: (waves hand at me to go away and grunts).
I don’t think I came out of that discussion ahead. I think she might have picked up a few pieces of crap, but given the number of flies (and the smell) that suddenly appeared in the yard of the neighbor on the other side of my crazy neighbor, well... I have my doubts that she put it in the trash. Later, she came outside for a little serenade, crazy neighbor style (“Whore! No good whore! Nothing to eat! Nothing to eat! Nothing but garbage, that’s what you are! Garbage! Garbage! Whore! Nothing to eat!” and so on), her usual sort of song for a pretty summer evening. It wasn’t clear if it was for me or the neighbor on the other side.
Anyway, moving on. During the afternoon, before I geared up to produce what seemed like enormous quantities of food that were destined to be leftovers (and yet, there are no leftovers), all three of the kids and I got together and made the custard for Fran’s chocolate ice cream. I know. I’m turning into a serial cheater on Lebovitz. But you can’t buy Fran’s ice cream right now because of a change in Washington State regulartions regarding how commercially sold dairy products have to be handled and pasteurized (legal bla bla bla… sn-sn-snore), and that is some good chocolate ice cream that Fran’s makes. The custard is chilling now. It looks promisingly dark. Although I have a suspicion that ultimately, the best frozen chocolate offering of the summer will be from Marcella Hazan’s recipe for chocolate gelato. I think that given the intensity of chocolate flavor I want, the lightness of gelato will be better suited than the richness of French-style ice cream. While I was prepping the strawberry tart, I chopped up an extra few pints of berries to make another batch of gelato, since ours evaporated faster than I'd expected. Which means that a half flat of strawberries just bit the dust at my house today. And several pounds of meat. And… lots of food, really. I need to go to the grocery store again tomorrow.