Friday, September 2, 2011

Summer Squash Tart with Olives

Morgan's Minute...or Two

Ever had this happen before?  You get all energized, decide that this time things are going to be different because you're going to "buckle down", keep a tight schedule, watch TV less, get more organized.  Your heart is in it and so is your mind.  This time is different.  You are going to be able to write that article, finish that blog, study for that exam, start a new hobby, etc.  Then, somebody poops, stubs their toe, bites another person (a temporary Dracula moment), the phone rings and the dog just marked the end table seconds after the baby had an accident in the same exact spot.  Welcome to my life.  Welcome to the life of most parents.  So where do we fit in?  We don't. 

Our children, are involuntarily squeezed from our bodies in a matter of hours (if we're lucky) and nobody prepares us for parenthood.  You know, the part that lasts a lifetime?  Nobody gives us a heads up as to how to become non-professional jugglers.  I say non-professional here because as parents, everything we do is a charity act.  Most of us do this parenting thing without thinking.  We do it because we know that deep within us, meeting the needs of our children before our own is best.

But is it?  Is saying no to ourselves day in and day out somehow going to teach our children to turn around and do the same? But isn't it perfectly logical to assume that catering to the every need of our family without ever asking for anything in return would raise a bunch of spoiled brats?  Not to mention a parent that is bitter?  I wonder.  As I often say, " A happy mama is contagious."

So we spread ourselves thin to the point where we have some "aha" moment and things either improve for the better without anyone getting hurt or they disintegrate into the loss of a family unit because, as some people think, being apart will make it better.  In some cases yes.  But in the case of pure frustration out of dealing with a house full of insane little people, parents should run toward each other instead of running away.  It's hard.  It is the hardest job that I've ever had.  I mean, who on earth would show up to a job where you have to clean up feces, urine, and garbage while they tower over you screaming, "I hate you mommy."  Okay, I'm sure somebody would.   To most people, however, it would be considered crazy.

Somehow though, no matter how many times our hair gets pulled, no matter how many bite marks we accrue, we come back for another round.  We show up for another day at "work".  Celebrating Boss' day gets morphed into celebrating a 1st birthday party because now our boss' have become tiny people, very loud individuals.  Now, office politics gets switched out for how well we can bribe (or manipulate) a two year old out of the store in under five minutes. 

Parenting is full of surprises, isn't it?  Who would have thought that all those years of engineering physics at UCLA would get used outside of medicine, engineering, or life science?  Today while in the garden with Gabriel and Sarah, I carefully calculated the exact angle that I'd have to prop my garden hose to maximize the overhead spray of water for the children to enjoy the maximum spray.  Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea. 

I guess what we learn in higher education can be applied to all areas of life, even at playtime with a 2 and 3 year old.  These small, often few and far between moments make me realize the importance of being an involved parent.   Life may be hectic, out of balance, or downright bordering insanity.  Would I have it any other way?  Of course I'd love a little more peace.  Until then, I dwell in possibility, long, hot baths and my KitchenAid mixer.  Too bad Newton, Tesla or Maxwell never pinned down a parenting equation for how to solve meltdowns.  Clearly, we need more women in science.    Until then, I'm starting with the first step...pre-heat to 375.......

picture from

What's Playing?  "Upside Down" by Paloma Faith

Recipe from

  • Prep Time 30 minutes

  • Total Time 55 minutes

  • Yield Serves 4

  • Ingredients

    • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano, plus sprigs for garnish
    • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 2 small zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
    • 2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
    • 6 sheets phyllo dough (each 12 by 17 inches), thawed if frozen
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together herbs, garlic, and 3 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss zucchini and squash with 1 tablespoon oil in a separate bowl; season with salt and pepper.
    2. Unfold dough; cover each sheet with a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with butter. Press 1 sheet of dough into baking sheet. Lightly brush dough with butter. Repeat, layering remaining 5 sheets dough and brushing each with butter.
    3. Spread herb mixture over dough. Spread zucchini and squash on top; top with olives. Bake until edges are browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces; garnish with oregano. Leftover pieces can be refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to 1 day.

    Photo Gallery

    Shown here is an heirloom summer squash, thyme, oregano and Kalamata olives.  Everything but the Kalamata was grown here at Paradise Basin.
    I forgot to grab the zucchini so I ran back outside and grabbed two. 
    I really like the packaged phyllo.  However, I wouldn't be opposed to learning how to make this from scratch.
    After buttering and layering 5 layers of phyllo, I was now ready to sprinkle on the herb topping.  I felt that the crust was a little thin for my liking.  Next time I think I'll use more like 10 sheets.
    Yay!  Another squash eliminator.  Three down and plenty more to go :)
     Now it just needs to be sliced and served.
    Even the next day it seemed to keep well.  With a little re-heating it was even better!  The olives at a little Mediterranean touch that complements the squash very nicely. 

    ~Dinner Was Served~

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