“On ira chez Louisa,” (We’ll go to Louisa’s house) I told Lulu as I was trying to get her ready.
Remove her pajamas. Brush her teeth. Dress.
Such straightforward activities in the day, I’ve quickly learned, even if simple, can take a long time. Oh yes they do…
I knew I shouldn’t make an issue of it. I didn’t want to focus my attention on it, reminding myself, as to help, that many of my mum friends also say that It always takes for ever to leave the house in the morning. Our little ones are persons with strong opinions.
But hints like Garden. Louisa. Outside. Soquette the cat. I knew these would work like magic.
Instantly, my words piqued Lulu’s interest. “Jardin ?” she repeated, looking excited.
The change happened right there. Lulu removed her pajamas without fuss. She brushed her teeth and agreed to the clothes we chose together. She even let me braid her hair.
She was ready.
So as promised, I drove her to her little friend’s house, to feed Soquette, sit in the little chairs at the back of the house, and then collect peas, tomatoes, zucchini and beans, since I am looking after my friends’ garden while they are vacationing in France.
And oh how much fun the two of us had that morning in Louisa’s garden!
We found beautifully sweet green peas, delicious cherry tomatoes and zucchini enormous in size. And as to the beans, I could not get over their dramatic deep purple color.
Lulu started to help with the beans but fairly quickly showed a strong preference for the peas. She was a champion at collecting them.
“I found one!” she’d exclaim every time she’d spot a pod. “Open it please!” she’d add.
She was quick at making the peas disappear inside her mouth as soon as we added more in our white colander.
I was smiling while watching the scene. I couldn’t help but feel moved as I remembered my mother and I sitting in our garden in France when I was Lulu’s age. Every summer, we’d be sharing the exact same pea activity. I knew I used to be as skilled as Lulu at the eating part.
“Tu m’en laisses pour le dîner de ce soir, d’accord?” (You will leave some for tonight’s dinner, ok?) I eventually told her.
“Oui,” she replied casually without stopping to eat. She wasn’t listening.
She was enjoying a delicious mid-morning snack moment that I simply could not interrupt.
“I’m doing it toute seule!” (I am doing it on my own!) she added proudly every once in a while, between peas.
It didn’t matter if there would not be many peas left. I was already thinking that dinner would revolve around the idea of a medley of spring greens.
Since I had fava beans and green asparagus from the market, I would steam them with the peas in a very simple way, and then I’d serve the veggies with millet and a vinaigrette with piquant.
It’s a dish I’ve prepared a lot this season. One that I absolutely love for the cheerful hues of green it offers on the plate. For its simplicity and freshness.
So that’s what we ate.
Lulu, in particular, was paying attention to the peas. “C’est toi qui les a ramassés,” (You picked them!) I told her when I served her some on her plate.
That immediately brought a happy look on her face.
She was carefully choosing each pea before bringing it to her mouth. Her engagement in her food showed that she was really enjoying it.
And by watching her and hearing words like I did it maman slip out of her mouth here and there, I knew she’d be talking about our morning at Louisa’s garden again. She’d be telling me about how much fun she had had when she ate the peas, when she tried to catch butterflies and when she petted Soquette the cat.
I knew that she had created a memory around all of these.
Give body to the vinaigrette with mustard, lemon and garlic; and tons of garden flavor with mixed herbs: dill, parsley and basil were the ones I chose.
Serve it with the steamed greens and millet, and ricotta salata and slices of prosciutto on the side.
Humble food that fits perfectly the mood of a hot summer day. And oh so delicious!
For 4 people
- 1 cup dry millet
- 1 cup fava beans
- 1 cup shelled green peas
- 16 green long asparagus stems
For the vinaigrette:
- Sea salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon honey-flavored mustard
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pistachio oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil, dill and parsley