I Don't Like to Steal


Dear Reader,

I have a klepto streak. Mostly it’s fruit and flowers that I pilfer. Mostly.
Yes, I did steal the quince branches above. Those orangey-pink flowers screamed my name (or maybe that was one of the neighbors yelling at me as I drove away….)

I did not steal my neighbor’s persimmons. I wanted to. I was tempted to. For months I walked by my neighbor’s prolific persimmon tree and contemplated taking a few--especially since he had hundreds and my tree had a meager two. When I couldn’t hold back any longer, I gave in to temptation but I did the right thing and traded him some cookies I baked for a bag of persimmons. (If you’ve ever eaten anything I’ve baked, giving him those cookies might have been the real crime.)

I also might have, sort of borrowed someone else's recipe. I couldn't help myself! Janet Fletcher brought the most delicious appetizer to a friend’s party. It was a platter of baby gem lettuce leaves filled with a spoonful of a feta-yogurt-garlic mixture that was topped with cilantro and dill and was utterly irresistible. I hoped the recipe might be in Janet's book, Yogurt, but it was actually from NYC restaurant Shuka. The next day, before I knew its origins, I recreated it as a dressing for salad and have made it several times since. (see below for my version the stolen goods).
And because I’m coming clean and it’s cabin season, I can’t help but admit that this recipe for smashed potatoes was inspired by Jacques Pepin.
And because it’s cabin season, I wish I could eat those potatoes at one of these A-frame cabins.
And because it’s cabin season, I wish I could move to Norway, where cabin-design seems to be the country’s pastime based on this cabin and this cabin.
And because it’s cabin season, I’ll share my worst nightmare here. (Don’t look if you are afraid of snakes!)
Now to get those snakes out of my head, I’m going to finish The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, then pick up one of my all-time favorite books, Straight Man by Richard Russo and re-read it.  I plan to toggle between it, Thrill Me by Benjamin Percy (who read one of the chapters in his deeper-than-deep voice at the Tin House Writers’ Workshop last summer) and I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel.
A Shuka-, via Janet Fletcher-inspired salad

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head butter lettuce torn into bite-size pieces
A few leaves of radicchio, torn into pieces
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
4 dates, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup toasted pistachios
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons loosely packed dill fronds
Put the vinegar and garlic in a small bowl. Let sit at least 20 minutes.
Whisk the yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice into the garlic and vinegar. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the lettuce, radicchio, feta, and dates in a large bowl. Tear the cilantro leaves slightly and sprinkle over the salad. Sprinkle the dill over the top. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat the lettuce. Top with the pistachios and serve.

What are you eating?