It’s testing time again at our school. That means taking an amped-up-for-the-end-of-the-school-year-knowing-summer-is-just-around-the-corner child and sitting them in front of a computer screen to answer math and reading comprehension questions. If you listen hard enough, you may be able to hear the groans and exasperated sighs, from both kid and teacher. But if you listen even harder – yes, put your ear to the screen – you will hear the sounds of joy from realizing hard work really does pay off. Again, from both kid and teacher. And just in time for the summer.
I always get a little nervous around testing time, hoping and wishing that the students put forth the brain power they’ve gained this year to show improvement. For some, I’ve even taken to practicing my willful ESP: choose A, you can do it, A, A, A, no – don’t change your mind! For the most part, the kids care so much, and want to do well, too. So, while the existential teacher side of me continues to send vibes, I fully well realize the kids are the ones doing all the work, and there’s no reason to worry. I love the look they get after getting those high scores – it’s a look I wouldn’t have gotten at the beginning, or even middle of the school year, but now their comfort level is such that their at-home personas are clearly visible. After seeing their own success, their eyes, body language, and even sometimes verbal expression give me a mixture of, ‘Wow! I’m aweeesome!’ all the while maintaining their oh-so-very-cool confidence of ‘See Ms. T, I tooold you!’
So being that it’s almost summertime, after all, and the kids are getting wonderfully spunky and saucy in their attitude and personalities, so am I.
Rob and I have been craving summer foods. Our Wintergreen Farms CSA basket should be arriving within the next couple weeks (from which my 42potatoes name came about), and we are antsy with anticipation. Summertime foods are down-right fantastic and our hunkering is even surviving the occasional cold blasts of coastal wind, still reminding us that where we live is not exactly considered “tropical.” But that doesn’t stop us. No Sir-ee.
Thinking about bar-b-qued food, the first thing that comes to mind is not chicken, fish, nor veggies – it’s sauce. Yes, sauce. Saucy sauce. Finger-licking sauce. Makes anything delectable, sauce. Makes the napkin tucked into a shirt a fashion statement, sauce. Makes evidence of devoured food on lips and chin sexy, sauce. You know what I’m talking about.
I’ve been all about the sauces lately, mostly because I’ve also been all about the BBQ. Rob and I have been grilling veg, meats, and most recently, chicken; and to the delight of our stomachs, our neighbors just made grilled moose burgers that were out of this world. It is putting us in the summertime mood, and making me just as rambunctious as my summer-awaiting kiddos at school.
As Rob stood over the grill last Saturday (looking very Tommy Hilfiger in his khaki shorts and flip flops, beer in one hand and oversized manly grill spatula in the other), the menu consisted of grilled spring and summer veg (zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, and mushrooms), chicken legs and wings, and peaches, all with their own special sauce. The veg got a light drenching of a sweet basil balsamic that was just tangy enough to have a mouth-fight with the smoky char from the grill. The chicken sat in my go-to dry rub for a while before being lathered and painted with an amazing sweet and spicy strawberry BBQ sauce. And then the macerating peaches got a hot caramelization from the grill and then cooled off with a frothy cream infused with honey and mint. The sauces were simple, easy, and made the simple main ingredients shine. And the smell of that BBQ… it just can’t be beat.
So, with summer vacation right around the corner and the hint of 72 degrees in the air, the kids will continue to get more saucy over the next week, I guess I will, too!
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 c very ripe strawberries, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp organic sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 c ketchup
- 3/4 c dijon mustard
- 2 chicken stock
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- couple sprigs of thyme
Let the butter melt over a medium pot sauce pot, and add the diced onion. Season with a pinch of salt, and saute until translucent. Add the strawberries and the sugar and let cook until soft and mushy. Add in the garlic, and stir until you can smell it, then add the ketchup, mustard, chicken stock, and herbs. Season with a bit of s&p and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then to a quick simmer, and reduce the sauce – stirring occasionally – until the sauce is syrupy and completely coats the back of a spoon.
Strain the sauce over a fine mesh strainer, smooshing the ingredients so that all of the liquid strains out.
Pour into a serving bowl and use on your BBQ favorites!