While we were in France, eating and drinking with gusto, Stephanie started to pine for the lighter fare she hoped I’d make when we returned home…to Fresno! Of course the home we returned to has no kitchen—only a refrigerator (because renovations), so for the last four weeks (and likely three still to come), I’ve been making a sort of insalata caprese alla California for dinner almost every other night.
It starts with a handful of arugula (enough to mostly fill a small disposable paper bowl while our things are still in storage). Sure baby kale could work, but arugula is smaller and more flavorful, in theory (somewhere along the way, I feel like its peppery bite has been breed out; note to self: grow my own). Then I halve enough heirloom cherry tomatoes so there’s nice coverage in the bed of greens. I cut 10 small balls of fresh mozzarella (aka ciliegine) into eighths and divide them between the two bowls. The tomatoes and mozzarella get a healthy grind of sea salt before I halve and distribute 10 pitted Kalamata olives. Each salad gets half of a sliced avocado, sprinkled with a little more salt, and a generous broadcast of pine nuts. I garnish with several coarsely chopped basil leaves, and then the whole affair is drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s basically all of our favorite things together in one bowl. And with so much in flux right now, it’s comforting to end our hot and occasionally hectic days with something so reliably satisfying.
It’s been a long time since I posted one of these, but a few weeks ago I received a comment on the aforelinked post that read:
…just saw your qr code on episode 1 of Amazon Prime’s Jack Ryan. It was on the back of Greer’s CIA ID pass. Still got it J!! —Baddie
At the time I was in the middle of a Wilderness First Responder course (more on that later), so I didn’t have the mental space to actually watch the episode, but thanks to Stephanie’s Prime Student account, I “fast-forwarded” through it on mute until I got to the scene where James Greer’s ID badge flips over as he berates Jack Ryan—around minute 26:35. (Note: I still haven’t watched the episode, so I don’t know what was really going on.) The only problem is that given my laptop’s resolution and/or the video quality that Amazon Prime Video sends to laptops, I wasn’t able to verify the QR Code as mine (despite my best efforts to enhance it).
We got to Ocean Beach a few minutes before sunset on our last evening in San Francisco. When we moved from the Mission to the Sunset a year and five months ago, I didn’t anticipate developing such an affinity for the quiet streets and wild oceanfront of the city’s western flank. In search of a change of scenery and cheap rent, we landed there mostly because it was near SF State. Now I joke that I can’t see myself ever living east of 42nd Ave.
It was hard to return to work after hiking the JMT in 2016. Usually when I get back from vacation, I feel refreshed and excited. I’m not sure why this time was different. Perhaps it was my approaching 4-year anniversary at Sincerely—I had never worked anywhere longer. I had the itch to go off on an adventure, perhaps attempting something like the PCT. There was only one problem: Stephanie had just started her first semester at SFSU, with 2 years to go before she’d complete her degree.
I was sick the week of Thanksgiving, so we didn’t leave for Death Valley until Friday. Stephanie was instrumental in making sure we got out at all. Tradition! Though I helped with some of the food planning (yogurt, granola, dried fruits, and honey for breakfast; pre-cooked rice and veggies with curry simmer sauce for dinner), she packed our clothing and camping gear and did all of the driving that day.