“If you are always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you are in?”
I caught myself on Monday doing the very thing which this year I vowed not to. I had just finished checking a few much needed “to-dos” off my list, and turned the page in my planner only to see another looming inventory of yet unfinished projects and errands scrawled over the first few days of next month.
How can I already be behind in things I need to do in a month (and season!) that hasn’t even started yet?!
I sighed and squeezed my eyes shut, envisioning another ‘better’ place and time. I thought forward to this Friday, when I’d be on a plane on the way to fun wedding weekend in the mountains, and then to October, when I’d be savoring the nostalgic flavors of the Fall season, and then finally to this Winter, where by day I’d be hitting the slopes, and by night cozied up to a fire.
Essentially, I wanted to be anywhere but Monday, with just an hour to spare before work and with untied ends and various odd jobs creeping into the periphery of my mind. It took a moment to center myself, and remember a post I had written about being more present. I dug through my archives, not really recalling the exact details or the recipe attached to that entry, and was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite dishes of last Winter pop up onto my screen – a plate of shaved brussels sprouts, with the savory strands studded with plumped up sour cherries and punctuated with salty crumbles of thick cut bacon.
As I scrolled through the post, memories of cooking sock-footed and in sweatpants with a roaring fire in the background made me yearn even more for the Fall; for a season of renewal, feelings of freshness, and the triumphant return of some of my favorite footwear – my boots. But as I drifted further down the page I saw that way back in February – on the Valentine’s day entry of that post, to be exact – I wanted to be right here.
Well, maybe not exactly right there on a Monday, but I pined for “bare shoulders, open toes, a suntan, and the return of the farmer’s market” — four things that, at that very moment in time, I realized I had. My worn in Rainbows had etched a sort of permanent flip flop on my bronzed feet, a sure sign that I’d spent just a bit too long in the sun at the pool the weekend prior. My top was decidedly more tank than tee, and I was suddenly aware of the fact that my shoulders have spent more time exposed this summer than they have since high school. And there was a paper bag brimming with ripe plums holding court in my refrigerator, proof that our farmer’s market is not only open, but is in the throes of the most beautiful and bountiful season that exists, as far as locally grown Colorado produce is concerned.
At that very moment, on just an average Monday headlining a usually busy week, I had everything I had caught myself wishing my days away for over six months ago. In one way, it was unnerving to make that realization; if I was at the here I had wanted then, than why was I longing for somewhere else?
I spied the quote at the top of this post on the ever-inspirational Pinterest, and it couldn’t have been more accurate at noon on a late-August Monday. I dug those ripe plums out of the fridge and got to making this gorgeous plum tabbouleh for lunch, so that I could eat it outside in the heat of the day while sitting on the steps of my deck. Plums won’t be around much longer, after all, and by charging forward too much and daydreaming about pumpkin pies, jewel toned leaves, and NYFW2012, I could easily blink and miss all that I’ve got right here, and right now.
I am right where I want to be, after all.
Makes 4 servings (4-5 cups)
Barely adapted from Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard, by Nigel Slater
The only drastic change I made to this recipe was swapping out 8 sprigs of parsley for 10-12 leaves of basil; I’m not wild about parsley, and though I know it’s a very traditional tabbouleh ingredient, I thought that the Summery flavor of basil would go well here. I really love the way it came out.
I ended up using the juice of about 1 and a half lemons; feel free to adjust the amount to your liking.
Bulgur wheat is great in that it just requires a soak to be ‘cooked,’ similar to couscous. It is done when it is chewy but tender, with no hard spots in the center of the grains. If you want to speed up the process, you could simmer it in 2 parts water to 1 part bulgur on the stovetop, and drain the excess water as soon as it is tender (this takes only a few minutes, as opposed to the soaking method which takes 20-30…your choice). You can read more about preparing bulgur here.
1 cup bulgur
6 large juicy plums (or more, if they’re small)
6 green onions
10-12 leaves fresh basil
a bunch of mint (or about 8 bushy sprigs)
a small red hot chile (I used a fresno chile)
the juice of 1-2 lemons, to taste
Put the bulgur in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover it by about 3/4″. Cover, and let the water absorb for 30 minutes or so. After a twenty minutes, check to see how tender the bulgur is; if all of the water has absorbed and the bulgur is not tender, add a bit more hot water and let that absorb. The bulgur is done when it has a slight chew to it but is not hard or underdone when you taste it. Drain any excess water, if need be.
While the bulgur soaks, finely slice the green onions, and chop the mint and parsley. Mince the chile finely — you may want to use only half of it at first and add more if to your taste – and add to the onions and herbs.
Halve, pit and coarsely chop the plums and add to the onion-herb-chile mixture. Squeeze in the lemon juice, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and a generous seasoning of salt and black pepper.
Rough the bulgur up with a fork, making sure it’s absorbed all the liquid (drain any excess liquid to avoid a wet or mushy tabbouleh). Pour the bulgur into the plum-onion-herb mixture, and taste – stir in another glug or two of olive oil and/or more lemon juice if you like (I like it lemony). The mixture should not be wet, so take care not to add too much oil/lemon.
Add more salt to taste, then serve. Tabbouleh keeps 2-3 days in the fridge.