How -To Prepare Whole Squid

Moorish Roast Squid with Smoky Tomatoes and Saffron Couscous (c)2013 La Domestique

 

It was a cold and drizzly Irish morning at the Cavan Farmers Market. Making my usual rounds I took a mental note of everything on offer– must get a couple of éclairs from The Mason’s Apron to bring home for breakfast, don’t forget to grab some eggs, the kale is looking good today—I saw the fishmonger was showing the fresh catch to another customer and something unusual caught my eye. I had never seen a whole squid, but there they were, a pile of ink-stained bodies and tangled tentacles. I had bought squid many times in the American grocery store, Whole Foods, but they were already cleaned and portioned. I was used to seeing neat rows of wingless calamari bodies, all exactly the same size, displayed over a mountain of pristine crushed ice. It was all so sterile, those neatly organized remnants of such weird and wonderful creatures.

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The Last of the Summer Wine

View Out My Irish Window (c)2013 La Domestique

The weather has turned cooler and a bit blustery here in Cavan. We’re coming up on my favorite time of year: autumn. I can feel a change in the quality of the light, more golden and soft. My focus has shifted inward, away from long summer drives and tending to my little herb garden. Instead I’m examining my nest, stocking up on home decor magazines and tidying up around the house. The nesting urge is stronger this year than it has been in a long time. Not knowing what to expect from an Irish fall and winter, I prepare myself for the darkness that will come and the damp chill I’ve been told will settle in. It all sounds so dismal, but I love bad weather — taking shelter in my warm, cozy home with a cuppa tea and a good book.

For now I’m enjoying the last of the summer wine. I’ve been greedily grabbing as many tomatoes as I can from the vegetable lady at my local farmers market in Cavan. It’s important to be first in line at the market, because the tomatoes go fast. I try to leave a few tomatoes for the other customers, but it’s hard to resist the lumpy heirlooms and rich plum tomatoes. I carefully carry several pounds home and my kitchen is filled with the musky aroma only a sun-ripened, garden-fresh tomato gives off.

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Poached Fish with Tomato-Saffron Broth and Garden Vegetables

Poached Fish with Tomato Saffron Broth (c) 2013 La Domestique

Back in April I arrived in Ireland with all my worldly possessions packed into two suitcases, including my cherished copper fish poacher. Snatched up at a second-hand shop, it’s one of my favorite finds. I especially love the detail in the handles shaped like fins and the tiny metal fish perched atop the lid. The hours leading up to our flight were fairly traumatic as I tried to stuff the few belongings I hadn’t sold into our unforgiving luggage. At the last minute clothes were thrown out and tough decisions were made as I lingered over what I couldn’t bear to leave behind. It’s a strange thing, parting with all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. I dove into the process head first, fully committed to the idea of starting over. In the end, it is “just stuff,” but to this day I do grieve letting certain things go. A friend advised us not to put our home in a storage unit because that makes it harder. She said keeping memories stored in the States is like keeping part of your heart there and you’ve got to make the leap into a new life without reservation or you’ll never have a fighting chance. Our possessions mean home, and home is where the heart is.

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Cook in the Moment: Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil

Grilled Squid with Tomatoes and Basil (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

This year more than any other, I’ve been reveling in summer. Time passes so quickly, it’s easy to blink your eyes and realize you’ve let a whole season go by without stopping to enjoy it. I’ve been working hard and playing hard lately. After working through the weekend trying to meet deadlines, I decided to spend an hour this afternoon lying by the pool, just to remind myself it is summer, after all. It’s important to do that, you know. To stop, to slow things down a bit and take a look around, savoring the season. Don’t take it for granted that you’re going to get another summer. Life is so fragile.

Photo above taken by photographer James Anderson

I’ve made a little list of what summer is to me, and I would love for you to share what summer is to you in the comments section.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Tomatoes

Panzanella (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Today I join Food Bloggers for Slave Free Tomatoes in an effort to raise awareness about injustices in U.S. tomato fields and to gain support for the Fair Food Program, which asks supermarkets and restaurants to pay a small price increase for fairly harvested tomatoes. It may surprise you that slavery exists here in the United States, where Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy once called Florida’s tomato fields “ground zero” for modern-day slavery. In the past 15 years, over 1,000 people have been freed from slavery in U.S. tomato fields.

Recipe for Change is a campaign led by the International Justice Mission targeting three major supermarket chains: Ahold, Publix, and Krogers. We are asking these companies to support the Fair Food Program and promise to shift purchases to the Florida tomato growers who abide by these higher standards. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have already made the pledge to sell slave-free tomatoes.

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