A Good Day at the Beach

by Esha Samajpati on August 23, 2014

Sherwood Island State Park. Westport, CT. Photos by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved

There are trips for which you shop and plan and prep for days on end, only to be disappointed by the end result. Then there are those trips, which happen spur of the moment. You wake up late, rinse some grapes while your husband makes a cheese and mortadella sandwich, grab a bag of chips from the pantry, an apple from the counter, throw in a couple of drinks, locate the beach umbrella, and announce “it’s a surprise” when the toddler of the group asks about the day’s destination.

So there we were, at Westport’s Sherwood Island State Park, Connecticut’s first, and well, I would say finest, if it wasn’t for a couple of things. Right after where you park is a stretch of grass where people were grilling and blasting music. The music, one can ignore, because the actual beach is far enough and ocean-y enough to drown out that noise. But the thing that cannot be ignored was the fact that the grass was strewn with poop. “It’s geese poop,” says my friend, who is a park regular.

The scene changes dramatically once you set foot on the pebbly sand. The gush of the Long Island Sound sets a soothing tone and you cannot wait to dip your toes into the cool waters. Not too crowded even on a weekend, we lounged in our chairs, took turns to wade into the water, snacked on our hastily-put-together picnic lunch, threw a frisbee for a while, and even took a shot at a nap.

The ocean music, as our son calls the roar of the waves is the only music I want to hear when I am on a beach. I don’t mind a few sharp shells and rocks here and there but kids will do better with water shoes. The sailboats in the distance made for pleasant viewing. The seagulls were well-behaved. The sun was up there the whole time. Our umbrella didn’t make an ill-timed attempt to escape. The grapes were plump and sweet. There was a cold drink in my hand.

It was a good day at the beach.

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A Plateful of Summer

by Esha Samajpati on August 18, 2014

Day 1 and Day 2 of Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta. Photos by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved

When asked about your summer, I am pretty sure you don’t launch into a step-by-step description of a certain one-pan pasta and how it defined an entire season for you. Food wise, that is. Well, neither do I. Also, when people compliment the potted basil in your kitchen, you don’t tell them that you got it to make sure you always had the herb part nailed down when and if you feel like making afore-mentioned pasta dish. No, of course not. What kind of a person does that?

Let us for a moment say that I am that person. Then you would want to know more about this seemingly superb pasta dish, wouldn’t you? So here goes.

The “difficult” part of this entire endeavor involves chopping a single white onion, around four cloves of garlic, and halving a handful of cherry tomatoes. After you are done with the chopping board, there’s really not much to it.

Pour yourself a glass of wine.

Then put everything you prepped along with a pound of pasta into a pot. Add a couple of glugs of olive oil, a pinch of salt, some pepper, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes (if you like some heat), and a couple of sprigs of basil. Then add 4-5 cups of water.

This is not your run-of-the-mill “boil water first and then add pasta” recipe. This is simpler. And it makes your kitchen smell like a herb garden, like “I want that in a bottle” kind of herb garden.

Turn on the heat, pick up that glass of wine, and wait for at least nine minutes. Depending on your pot, the heat, and other variables, your dinner will be ready soon thereafter. And when it’s done, scoop it off the pot, sprinkle on some parmesan and wolf it down before the cheese has a chance to melt.

That’s how I would eat it anyway.

Notes for those who may want to take a shot at this summer-y dish –

The original recipe (which you can find here) calls for four and a half cups of water. We had to add an extra cup. Also, we had a bunch of colorful heirloom tomatoes at hand so that is what went in, and by the way, we used whole wheat spaghetti instead of linguine.

The second time around we played around with the original ingredients. Not because there was anything wrong with them. We tweaked because we didn’t have the red cherry tomatoes and rigatoni is better suited for a toddler’s lunch. So we added roma tomatoes and one big beefsteak tomato instead of the tiny sweet bombs and topped off the spread with mozzarella and sweet basil oil.

Third time around we added tomato-basil chicken sausages for some protein action. Doesn’t photograph as well. Tastes divine.

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Pic(k) of the Week – Blue Pitchers and Bird Houses

by Esha Samajpati on August 13, 2014

Silverman's Farm in Easton, Connecticut. Photo by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved

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Oh Dear! Oh Dear! I am Late!

by Esha Samajpati on August 6, 2014

Silverman's Farm in Easton, Connecticut. Photos by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved

Not too long ago, there we were, sniffling in the cold and hoping for summer and sunshine. And before we could put down our chilled lemonade and say didgeridoo, here we are, in the first week of August. Summer is slowly slipping away. So to make the most of what is left, we thought it wise to spend some time in a farm amongst ripe peaches and bumpy hay-rides, and sleepy animals.

We went to Silverman’s Farm in Easton, which is a cozy-looking town in Southern Connecticut. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of where we live, the drive in itself is worthy of its own post. Putting aside the quest for infused oils and plants for the later part of the afternoon, we made a beeline for the animals. There were llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats, fallow deer, emus, long-horn cattle, rabbits, chickens, ducks, pigs, a Sicilian donkey, and a big bird cage. I am not sure the peacock was comfortable in that cage because I have always seen them run freely in open fields and I doubt it had room to spread its tail which is what makes it so gorgeous.

Our two-year-old liked the residents of Silverman’s, and after he was done feeding them and talking to them, he spent a good amount of time in the play area at the back. Because, well, they had a tractor! He also showed a keen interest in any and every water body within the animal enclosures, troughs of dirty water included. “Want to go to the water” was a common refrain heard throughout the day.

On our way out, we came upon what they call Bunny Town, where my son took one look at the rabbits and exclaimed “Oh dear! Oh dear! I am late.” It’s his version of White Rabbit’s “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” He is not even three years old, and we already share a favorite book.

Thank you, Lewis Carroll.

Thank you, part-cloudy part-sunny August day.

Thank you, Silverman’s Farm.

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