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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Spaghetti Squash?

Among other things, I'm afraid of heights.

The past month has been a whirlwind  of doctor appointments, blood tests, and ultrasounds. The battery of tests eventually culminated with a biopsy of a growth on my thyroid.  The entire process took about 3 1/2 weeks.  Ample time for thought and introspection. My response was to go on auto-pilot. I worked without uttering a  word of the process, leaving the thoughts to dance in my head. I shopped haphazardly and passionless, parking, shopping, and driving home. I cooked recklessly, but ate with abandon.  I drank and attended happy hours. I tried to be happy.  On auto-pilot. The entire time, a silent emptiness weighed me down.  What was the point of anything or everything?

During the last few days of waiting for the biopsy results, I found myself perched  on a very high precipice looking down on my life, love, and future. Heights.While emtionally teetering on the edge of nowhere, I slowly and methodically became  paralyzed by fear.  Fozen.  Numb.  Waiting. As I look back, I don't even recognize the me that was me, at the time. I thought I was fearless, brave, bold, and snarky.

Michael was a rock.

When the good news finally arrived, the world changed. My world changed.  Everything seemed softer,  sweeter, and clearer. Life mattered again.  I felt focused and real. I woke up. 

I was back.
I shopped at the farmers' market this past Thursday.  It felt different because I was different.  
Thursday morning, I left the house for work an hour early to have time to really enjoy the market, breathe the air, stroll around, and  talk to the vendors. I had the best time. 

The Thursday famers' market has finally come into its own.  It was bustling at 8:00 am. I loved it. Baskets of Roma Beans from Anderson County drew me in. "They're the first crop of the season.", she happily offered. I bought a pound.

Across the graveled path, Best  Family Farms had the most beautiful early season heirloom tomatoes.  I couldn't believe it. I asked Bill Best if they were hydroponically grown.  They had to be. Most of the market tomatoes were.  "Nope.", he muttered.  "I grow them in the ground, covered with plastic.".  "Growing them in the ground this early covered with plastic makes them taste like late August tomatoes." Indeed.

I made my way to the other side of the market.  After passing Kentucky grown peaches (who knew?) and tons of blueberries, I discovered the land of zucchini and yellow squash.  Wow. Must be squash season.  One vendor had yellow squash that was an incredibly deep yellow. Deep deep yellow.  I asked him why they were so yellow. Shrugging his shoulders, he simply said, " I don't know. They'er just yellow."  All righty, then.

While in the land of zucchini and yellow squash, I loaded my bag with small discs of patty pan squash and  gorgeous zucchini.
Michael and I usually don't eat a lot of zucchini. We've always attributed it to the tons of zucchini bread we felt obliged to eat from a zucchini-crazed former college roommate. I wasn't going to bake zucchini bread. Nope. I had a trick up my sleeve.

Zucchini squash. Spagetti squash. Zucchini spaghetti squash.

It was embarrasingly simple.

Using the finist julienne attachment on my mandolin, I sliced 4 plump zucchinis into fine pasta strands. 

 I got a cast iron skillet smoking hot before drizzling it with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  When the oil rippled, I tossed  the zucchini pasta into the skillet, seasoning it generously with salt and pepper.  I sauteed the zucchinni  for exactly 1 minute before twirling it onto our plates nestled beside  panko-parmesan-encrusted pan fried chicken smothered in San Marzano tomatoes and oozing fresh mozzarella cheese.

That was it.  A different take on pasta.  A huge departure from traditional spaghetti squash.  It was zucchini squash spaghetti.

Crisp, al dente, and fresh.
Just as life should be.

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