Deny, deny, deny. That is what I was thinking as a I trudged up a hill during my run last night. Deny this feels bad. Do not even think about this misery. It didn’t work. I stopped and walked.
Denial has been on my mind all week. Not so much the denial of hard and fast realities that demand attention (i.e. big hills on a run and paying the bills), but the potential experiences I have denied myself by putting imaginary obstacles in my way. I’ve traced this thought train back to its station - a Catfish episode (I know, I know I just mentioned the show) - that moved along the tracks after I learned something equal parts happy and sad, took a risk, and learned some more.
Allow me to indulge by talking about the show for a moment. The opportunity to watch deeply personal situations in strangers’ lives play out on television (with a healthy dose of editing, I’m sure) has, somewhat surprisingly, given me an objective viewpoint to realize the little things I think are of huge importance might not really matter all that much to the people who care about me. Or who would maybe care about me a little more if I actually gave them that opportunity.
You see, there was this girl who really wanted to meet this boy. He said he wanted to meet her too but then never did anything about it. This went on for 10(!) years. With a little help from the digital-love-age’s Batman & Robin – Catfish show hosts Nev & Max – the boy responded to the ultimatum that it was now or never to meet this chick.
My first thought when I saw the boy come out of the house was, “whoa, he’s big.” The kid was overweight. Big time. And he knew it. It was one of the first things he called attention to. “Hey, look at me, I’m huge.” He didn’t want to meet this girl that he really liked because he was disappointed in himself, and he didn’t want to disappoint her too. It was sad.
Let’s start again. Same character profile. Girl wants to meet boy. He says he wants to meet her too but makes excuses that go on for years (only eight(!) this time). Nev & Max put the smack down, and boy agrees to meet girl.
His issue? Money. He did not have enough or thought he did not have enough or some combination of the two. She didn’t really seem to care. Hmm.
Are these two stories exceptions? Yes. Most often people lie through their teeth and then claim they never meant to hurt anyone. Um, come on, what did you think was going to happen? That you were going to get a hug and a kiss for your ability to play pretend? That’s some big time denial.
As for me, I am just looking to get out of my own way for once. Should it matter that the balance in my bank account is not quite as high as I might like? Or that the number on the scale is actually a little higher than I’m used too right now? If only I could swap those trends…
Those things matter to me, but I’m starting to realize that a spirit of being honest and genuine might balance those other things out. Maybe. Hopefully.
I imagine the only thing you are looking to get out of the way is the abundance of summer squash that pops up this time of year. This summer squash, ricotta and lemon thyme is a good place to start. It is an easy dish to pull together with a lemon flavor that really shines through.
I opted to use a sheet of puff pastry I had leftover from the Carrot & Goat Cheese Quiche as the crust, though I think the traditional crust called for in the original recipe might be a better option. Its firmer texture would compliment the soft cheese and squash a bit better than the light, flaky pastry crust. The high temperature (and the use of puff pastry) might warrant a little extra attention to the baking time if your oven is as finicky as mine. If the edges and top of the crust are golden in 15 instead of 20 minutes, by all means take it out of the oven.
My one beef with the recipe is that it calls for five ounces of ricotta cheese. The idea is to use homemade ricotta, but those who wish to purchase their cheese will probably only find it in 15 ounce containers. I suggest using the five ounces requirement as a guide more so than a hard and fast rule. As long as you spread a decent layer of cheese along the bottom of the crust, all will be well.
In need of other ideas? Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla has posted a sensational summer squash round-up of 20+ recipes. There are plenty of savory recipes and a few sweet ones to choose from, so there’s no need to go hungry this weekend. Enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 lemon, zested
- 5 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 medium to large summer squash, thinly sliced (I used a combination of both yellow squash and zucchini)
- olive oil
- pinch smoked paprika
- 4 sprigs fresh (lemon) thyme
- ¼ cup shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
- Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the puff pastry to fit a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
- Press the dough along the bottom and up the sides to form a crust, and trim any extra dough from the edges.
- Stir the lemon zest into the ricotta cheese, then spread the cheese mixture on top of the puff pastry crust.
- Arrange the squash slices on top of the cheese in a circular pattern, overlapping the edges a bit.
- Drizzle the squash with olive oil and sprinkle on the paprika.
- Strip the leaves from the thyme stems and sprinkle them over the tart as well.
- Now scatter the shredded cheese over the top of the tart.
- Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes until the edges and top are golden.
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus additional for sprinkling
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1, ½ cup stick cold butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons ice water
Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a medium bowl. Rub in the pieces of butter to form a crumbly mixture that resembles sand when incorporated. Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture and stir with a fork until it forms into a ball. Press the dough into the tart pan just like you would a sheet of puff pastry.