Plainclothes Feast

A weekly peek at one dinner table, in the heart of one home, in the center of the country

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Green Salsa (and Summer 2016 Retrospetive)

I’m tempted to say that nothing in the whole world can out-summer green salsa. I mean, it all but glows with green–the green of midwestern Julys, of knee-high cornfields or slim beans hanging in tender clusters. And yet I’m not sure it deserves the title outright. Also in the running…

Beach vacations with indefatigable children…

Evening ice cream outings…

(Yes, in fact, my husband is holding himself horizontal to the ground at the ice cream stand, just to be a show-off, and there’s something summery about that, too–the man who refuses to leave his glory days behind.)

Sparklers in the back yard…

(Possibly the most entertaining mosquito repellent ever!)



(My college girlfriends and I escaped to the beach to celebrate our collective 40th birthdays…and I’m still recovering from the sleep debt I acquired. Straight-up summer stuff, that.)

Home improvement projects…


(If you aren’t a teacher or aren’t married to a teacher,  you won’t know this, but home improvement projects are synonymous with summer for teachers everywhere. My hunky hubby built this bookshelf/fireplace wall from scratch this summer. Seriously, this was just a big old naked wall 3 months ago. Yes, it still needs painting, but painting is best done in the fall, when the windows can be flung open. Plus, we ran out of time.)

UPDATE: This is what it looks like now. I’m pretty pleased with myself for marrying a man who knows how to do this. Can you tell?


Golden skin on carelessly pretty kids…

(‘Nuff said.)

But no summer lasts forever, and ours ended the first week of August, when all three kids and their daddy went back to school.


Even more than most Augusts, this one signified a shift: my little guy entered the ranks of full-day kindergarten, officially ejecting his (unexpectedly teary-eyed) mother from the land of stay-at-home-moms of preschoolers. The last time I didn’t have a preschooler, I was thirty. Nothing summery about that fact. Graduations should never occur during the brutal heat of August, and yet mine did. If I knew who to complain to about that, I’d already have written them a blistering letter.

It’s undeniable: summer is slipping away from us, tucked into backpacks or laced up in new shoes. As long as it takes the blazing heat with it and leaves me the green salsa, I’m good until pumpkin bread season kicks in…

Green Salsa (usually called Salsa Verde, but I’m not that fancy)


8 oz. fresh tomatillos

1 poblano pepper

1 jalapeno pepper

3 garlic cloves

3 scallions

1/3 cup cilantro (more or less)

1-2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. cumin

salt to taste

  1. Remove the husks and stems from your tomatillos. Rinse them and quarter them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Wash your chile peppers and remove their stems. Cut into strips. Peel your garlic cloves and roughly chop your green onions.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Toss the prepared tomatillos, chiles, whole garlic cloves, and chopped onions with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the cumin and oregano, and a generous pinch of salt on a baking sheet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. Adjust the oven rack so that it is about 6 inches from the broiler. Then broil the vegetables until they are brown and smell wonderfully toasty. They should also be limp. You may or may not need to stir them part of the way through. A bit of charring is okay…maybe even preferable.

5. Dump the broiled veggies (with any accumulated juices) into a chopper or blender, along with the fresh cilantro, ~1 tablespoon lime juice and another tablespoon of olive oil. Whizz it up until smooth and almost creamy looking.

6. Add salt and additional lime juice to taste, and serve with tortilla chips or chicken tacos or fajitas or just any old thing that you’d usually serve with salsa.

Summer it up.