End of Summer Salads!

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If you’re like me, you started a garden for the first time this year, and it was more successful than you ever could’ve imagined, and you also get a CSA, and now you’re like “what the hell do I do with all this?”

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of salads. Must be something wrong with the types of salads I usually have. It feels like they’re always too dry, and it’s difficult to mix everything up. When Addie came over and announced she was going to make just salads for this post, I was not 100% on board. She assured me that I would learn some ways to use up a bunch of vegetables, notably tomatoes and cucumbers (guys, help me, I have TOO many cucumbers).

I need to give salad more credit. We all could probably use more veggies in our diet, and these are a terrific way to do so. They’re also super quick and easy. I’ll let Addie take it from here.


Macerated Tomato Salad

When I was growing up, I hated raw tomatoes. I was probably eating out of season tomatoes that had been kept in the fridge. I remember the first time I had heirloom tomatoes in peak summer, I almost felt embarrassed for being so proudly against tomatoes my whole life. They’re delicious! And treated properly, they’re like candy. This “recipe” is how I like to treat my large heirloom tomatoes. They’re too lovely to be turned into sauce, or baked (I still don’t care for baked tomatoes-too sour). The flavor is really more on the sweet side thanks to the copious amounts of balsamic vinegar, so it could be appealing for tomato lovers and haters alike.

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A note: This recipe is for tomatoes only without greens, but I often eat this served over arugula (which is abundantly in season right now and peppery and delicious!) or raw kale. If you’d like to serve over arugula, follow the recipe and top the arugula just before serving. The liquid that releases during the macerating will be the dressing. For kale, do a thin chiffonade and macerate the kale and the tomatoes in the same bowl together at the same time. SUMMER_SALADS-30

Ingredients

-Several large heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine are best, Valencia are great as well)
-A large handful basil
-1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
-Olive oil
-1/4 cup fresh feta
-1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds

Method

Slice tomatoes into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Douse with balsamic vinegar-more than you think you need. About 1/2 cup for 3 large tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper and toss. Roughly chop basil and combine with the tomatoes. Let sit at room temperature to macerate for at least 10 minutes up to 30 minutes. Crumble the feta and chop the almonds to top the salad. Sop up remaining macerating liquid with bread or store in the fridge for salad dressing.

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Cucumber Salad

It’s the end of August and cucumbers have been exploding for some time. Every time I’ve gotten out to my garden, I have at least 10 I need to harvest. It feels irresponsible to use them in a recipe that doesn’t truly highlight them when you have so many. Creamy cucumber salads can be a little tricky to get right-if the cucumbers don’t release enough liquid before dressing, the whole salad ends up watery and flavorless. So with that in mind, I’ve been making a nice light vinegar based salad this summer and it’s such a perfect answer to the over abundance of cukes. Goes really well alongside grilled meats as a side dish.

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Ingredients

– 2 large cucumbers, half peeled
– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar but red wine vinegar is more delicate if you choose)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon red chili flake (or more, or less)
– 8 large basil leaves

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Method

Half peel two large cucumbers. Slice in half length-wise and chop 1/4 inch thick. Toss in a mixing bowl with vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add chili flake to taste. Chiffonade basil and and gently toss together, and serve immediately.

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Green Bean Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salads have many variations, but its fairly easy to spot one when you see one. Nobody really needs another Niçoise recipe, but here’s mine. This is the only salad that requires any actual cooking. It’s also the only one that could realistically be enjoyed as a main course, so it’s worth the minimal amount of effort. It’s hearty and satisfying for a salad, and all of the different briny elements make for an incredibly satisfying meal. I usually use greens as well, but I wanted to make the green beans the star. If I were making this earlier in the season, I would swap radishes for the Sungold tomatoes.

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Ingredients

– 1 1/2 cups Green beans
– 2 eggs
-1/4 cup olives (I use Kalamata olives simply based on personal preference)
– 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (such as Sungolds) halved
– 1/2 can canned tuna
– Dijon vinaigrette
– Microgreens (for garnish)

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Method

Hard boil two eggs. While eggs are cooking, prepare green beans by trimming the ends and then rinsing. If the beans are particularly long, slice in halves or thirds. Be sure to use beans that are a bit thinner, as opposed to more mature beans that can be a bit woody. Blanch the beans to take out some of the starch and set aside. Halve the cherry tomatoes and roughly chop the olives. Make Dijon vinaigrette by whisking together a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Compose the salad by placing the green beans in a bowl, and arranging the tomatoes, olives, halved eggs, and half a can of tuna on top. I like Wild Planet tuna which comes a bit more steak-y and a little less shredded. Drizzle dressing over the salad and top with microgreens (I used radish microgreens).

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Up North

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Last week we had a grand experiment called “Bring the Baby to the Cabin and See What Happens”. It turned out OK… In the the days before we left, Alex suddenly had issues getting back down to sleep after his middle-of-the-night feeding. I’m talking screeching and howling when I leave the room. This caused panic and concern in me, because 1.) we’d be sharing a room with him and 2.) we’d be sharing a cabin with 9 other people, so letting him cry it out didn’t seem like an option. The only solution I saw was that I’d have to be up with him, possibly for hours, until I could get him back to sleep in the most peaceful way possible. So that’s what I did. Every night I was up for at least an hour, usually more, confined to this tiny dark room. To be honest, it was hell. BUT. There were lots of good things about our trip. Time with grandparents, fresh air, the weather was leaps and bounds better than the forecast promised, plenty of lake time, beautiful sunsets, and so, so much more. And having so many hands on deck meant I could claim at least an hour or two of morning z’s.

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NOKKK

I barely have the words or energy to talk about what’s going on lately. I am paying attention and I am as engaged as I can be. I’m spending a lot of time thinking about how best to raise my child in a world where Hate is becoming a norm. What a horrifying reality. I also recognize that as a white person, this is a first for me, but for POC it’s always been their normal. I’m sorry. I have a long way to go. I’m listening and I will show up. I know this is on me. I will help. I will fight.

Because seriously Fuck Nazis.

My new design logo

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A little while ago I was in the throes of obsessively updating my portfolio and creating some projects for myself while I get ready to go back to work, usually in the hours between Alex’s bedtime and mine. One night I was like “maybe I should make a new logo for myself.” Whoa! My old design logo was one I’d had since 2011, before I graduated from school:

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It’s not bad, really, for how shoddy my illustrator skills were at the time, but it’s pretty far away from who I am as a designer now. Then I was an obsessive anglophile and I loved royal history and crowns. Didn’t have much to do with my design, though. Still, I hung onto this identity for a long long time.

While trying to devise something new, I wanted to make sure I went minimal, and probably more type focused. I searched around for the inspiration to hit, and I started thinking about trees. The kicker is that I used up a bunch of good ideas in my blog logo. I’m still not very good at saving my process so I don’t have any to show, but I eventually arrived at this super simple tree/chevron design:CRD_IDENTITY3CRD_IDENTITY4

I love that it’s very much “me”. It’s minimal, it’s bold, it conveys nature and design simultaneously, and it’s a standalone icon as well as part of a wordmark. I love when design can do double – or triple – duty.LOGO_2017

I’m mulling over the eventual consolidation of both my design and photography businesses into “Caroline Royce Creative” or something, but for now I think this bridges the gap nicely. CRD_IDENTITY

The Sweet Summer

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Now Alex’s nap schedule has been evened out, and when everything works out, he has two naps at 1.5 hours each, with 3 hours of awake time in between. That kind of predictability is BLISS. Having this longer time in the morning is particularly nice because it means I get to take a lovely walk with him in the peaceful morning, before it gets too hot and lots of other people are out on the paths.

Having a young kid has completely flipped my expectations about the seasons. It’s revealed things I didn’t know I liked. Having a baby in the fall, I thought, would be a wonderful experience. Part of it was, but then having a little helpless creature throughout the winter was a cold, isolating experience. I remember a lot of darkness, and it didn’t help that this last winter was so disappointingly UN-winter like.

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I’ve never been a lover of summer. I hate being out in the sun, in the humidity, sweating, chafing, squinting. UGH. But I really love certain aspects of it now. The green lushness of my surroundings, maybe even a humid afternoon if it’s overcast. Drinking iced coffees on a morning walk. Daylight extending late into the evening. The smell of the lake.

It’s August now, which, after our annual cabin week, is usually when I’m thinking about fall, and getting excited. Fall means a lot of different things this time around. Alex will start going to daycare in September and I’m going to start working again. We probably won’t get to take as many walks. He’ll be turning 1. All these things I’m scared and excited for will happen with the end of summer. It’s a little heartbreaking.

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A thing I have a real problem with is living in The Moment. I had a whole therapy session about this yesterday! When things are happening, even if they’re nice, and I can stop and appreciate them, it’s always making me think about the future or reminding my of the past. I’m thinking back to when my baby was a little smaller and less mobile, but I’m also thinking about a future where he can walk and run around. I’m thinking about how this summer is coming to a close, faster than I would like, and I’m wanting to just hold onto it for a little longer. It’s hard just stopping and appreciating the present.

How do you stay in the present? How do you stop yourself trying to live in so many different times at once?

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