Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to School

School starts back next week.  Some of my young mother Facebook friends have posted how eager they are for that event.  I refrain from leaving them a comment.  If I did, I'd say how much I enjoyed the summers and holidays with our boys.  The school years were busy.  I alternated years being a room mother in their class.  I served on the PTA board.  I was at almost every function.  Both boys played soccer and I would chase from one end of town to the other to watch at least a part of their games.  Adam ran cross country in high school.  That is a hard sport for spectators but I was there to catch a glimpse of him as he sped by--a blur!  Stefan played the cello all the way to first chair in junior and high school.  I was there to give him a standing ovation at every concert.  I was "Volunteer Vera" in my Volvo for so many of their activities.  I enjoyed them all.

Summers were, for the most part, relaxed.  Late breakfasts.  Mornings at the neighborhood pool.  My viewing, their doing.  Weekly movies for children at Charlestowne Landing followed by a picnic were a part of their elementary years in Charleston.  There were trips to our neighbor's beach house on Sullivan's Island where they could dip their toes in the Atlantic and build sand castles.  I didn't want summer to end.

I was at Target earlier.  Surrounded by mothers and children shopping for back to school, I got nostalgic and choked up.  I wanted to have my two little boys in tow.  Arguing over  discussing what needed to be purchased.

When they would arrive home with their lists, I'd grab the car keys and off we went.

So much to choose from.  Did they have that much twenty years ago?

The answer is still "no" Adam.  You may not have a box of 64 crayons.  Your teacher says it takes too long to decide on a color with a box that size.

Fresh notebooks to be filled with math, English and creative stories.

Um, I think a bookbag from L. L. Bean is probably a better choice.  Today, I'd just let the two of you chose what you wanted.

Shaun White outfits?  Thankfully skate boarding did not become a big part of your growing up!!

What do you think of plaid?

These shorts are a bit more understated.

Stefan, I know you'd prefer Vans.  Do they still make them?

Adam and Stefan
First Grade
(different years)

Eggplant and Tomato Appetizer

If you can't pack up and spend and spend a few weeks with Susan Herrmann Loomis at her cooking school in France, the next best thing is reading her memoir "On Rue Tatin".  Susan, with good humor and deliciousness, recalls the miraculous restoration she and her husband did on a dilapidated convent to turn it into their home.  The book is riddled with wonderful recipes and anecdotes about the wary neighbors that finally welcomed them into their community.  It is a good read on a summer porch or by a winter fire.

I'm giving you this recipe today because its deliciousness relies on the freshest of ingredients.  Hopefully you all have access to a Saturday farmer's market.  I think you'll find yourself well rewarded with little effort in the kitchen.  The recipe is easily halved.

Eggplant and Tomato Appetizer from Susan Herrmann Loomis "On Rue Tatin"

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
Fine sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 pounds fresh firm eggplant, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inches slices
2 to 3 Tbsp good olive oil
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

1.  Combine the tomatoes, salt, sugar and vinegar and transfer to a fine sieve set over a bowl.  Allow to drain for an hour.
2.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
3.  Brush the eggplant slices generously on both sides with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and bake in the bottom third of the oven until they are golden on one side--about 10 minutes.  Turn the slices, sprinkle with more salt and return to the oven until golden and tender.  This will take an additional 8 to 10 minutes more.
4.  Arrange the eggplant slices on a warmed platter.  Top with the tomato sauce and garnish with the basil leaves (unless you forget all about them as I did this time!!).  Serve immediately or at room temperature.