Oh heavenly berries

Finally, fresh strawberries are starting to appear at our farmers market. We bought a carton, and now I wish we’d have bought two.

I decided the best use of our berries was strawberry shortcake. I sliced the berries thin and sprinkled them with a few teaspoons of sugar. Then I set them in the fridge to make syrup for a few hours.

For the shortcakes, I went with this recipe, entirely because I actually had all of the ingredients on hand. It ended up tasting fantastic, and I will use it again for sure. It makes those sponge cakes you get in four-packs at the grocery store seem totally pathetic. I can’t go back now.

Then I whipped one of those tiny cartons of cream with a little sugar and vanilla in the mixer — voila, whipped cream.

The resulting dessert was one of the better things I’ve eaten in a long, long time. I savored every bite. It was FABULOUS. YOU SHOULD MAKE IT!!

For dinner I tried making chickpea burgers and they were fairly successful, too. The recipe is from Martha. With veggie burgers you always have to worry about them sticking together on the grill (in my case a George Foreman). These made perfect medium-thick patties with a nice crust. They tasted like you would expect – falafel-ish. Sorry for the bad photo. It looked better than this.

Then we had a bunch of potatoes about to go bad in our mold factory of a kitchen. So I boiled them up and made potato salad. I decided I couldn’t go wrong with a Smitten Kitchen recipe, so I grabbed this one. I used golden potatoes instead of red because that’s what I had. And instead of two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, I used my grandma’s trick and replaced one with pickle juice. It always does the trick.

Overall, I would say we had a perfect summer meal. And you better believe I’ll be revisiting that shortcake all season long.

Four years

“Either I’m really sleepy, or the bobblehead on this desk is spontaneously nodding at me.”

That’s how it all started.

Almost five years ago now I had taken Mike’s job when he moved to Pittsburg. A few months later when he returned in a different job, we talked every once in a while, but still hadn’t really connected.

Then one morning at work that message popped up in my inbox. I wasn’t expecting Mike to even be there, as he worked 4-midnight most days. But he was doing a special daytime shift across the room where I couldn’t see him. And for some reason, he decided to e-mail me. Boredom, I suspect. And curiosity.

I already felt an attraction, so this message was a step in the right direction for me.

“If it starts to talk, run…” I replied.

Four messages later, we had a date.

Four years later we’re still together. We’ve outlasted our previous relationship lengths, but that’s not really the point. Getting to this point was more difficult than I ever believed it would be. Full of challenges beyond our control, and some of our own doing. But it still feels good, and still feels right.

It doesn’t surprise me AT ALL that the night we were supposed to celebrate our anniversary by going to Iowa City for a concert, Iowa City was under feet of water and Iowa was in full-on disaster mode. I don’t think either one of us was in a celebrating mood at that point.

So we did what we have learned to do so well — roll with it. We decided on dinner at a new local restaurant instead. It was fabulous and we brought out our inner foodie geeks to examine each course. By the end of dinner, rain gave way to a rainbow framing the Capitol.

No one really writes love letters anymore, but I did save all the emails from our first week together. That’s probably the real reason I remember what day it was (the time stamps). Looking back it seems insane that by our second date we felt like a couple and by the second week we were dropping the L word. But I guess you feel what you feel when you feel it. Others have told me similar stories.

What we have now is much deeper, a respect we have for each other based on all we’ve been through together. When you find yourself running to the pharmacy because your partner has unexplainable hiccups or yanking gobs of their hair out of a clogged tub, you realize that the best part about being in love isn’t the giddiness, but knowing that someone would actually do that for you.

So, here’s to four years of adventures in love, and lots more to come.