My grandmother is following my blog. I found out via email: “Hi Sarah. Your mother shared some of your blog with us at Ruth’s family event yesterday. I just signed up for it. You certainly are your dad’s dght even if your impreciseness comes from your mother. Nothing wrong with that. You write so beautifully not to mention the great recipes you include. I look forward to reading more.” Of course I skimmed over and ignored all the nice things she said and zeroed in on one thing. My impreciseness? What post did my mother share? Was it an embarrassing post where I totally screwed everything up? Did I get my family facts and history wrong? I puzzled and fretted over this for days.
A few days earlier, Matt and I had our favorite neighbors over for a game day. I was supposed to be feeding them mid-afternoon barbecue, but in my usual way I over-thought the meal and ended up with an extravagant middle-eastern inspired feast, not a hot dog or potato salad in sight. Instead there were broiled turkey zucchini burgers, tabbouleh in lettuce wraps, spinach salad with fried pita, and a watermelon salad with dates, toasted pistachios, and rose water. Preparation took most of the morning and required a last minute random kitchen tool purchase – a melon baller. It seemed simple enough: insert melon baller into watermelon and twist. But all of my melon balls had a flat side. How do you create a perfectly round circle if your fruit has edges? Was I supposed to carve off the rind and scoop the balls from the rounded edge? I considered some strategies for a minute or two and then continued to make sad lopsided spheres.
By the time I went to serve the watermelon salad, we were all so full and tired that we decided to take a rain check on dessert. It wasn’t until the next day, after I had read and chewed over grandma’s email, that I sat down to a bowl of watermelon. And slowly, between bites, I started to find my own meaning in grandma’s words, even if it wasn’t what she intended. I thought of the way my mom taught me to make pie crust (with a 3:1 flour to water ratio, add a little cinnamon if you want, roll and pinch the edges). Or the way she taught me to paint a room – no taping, keep a wet rag close by, a bottle of wine couldn’t hurt either. Like her, I would rather do a job quickly and pretty well, than slowly and perfectly. And just like her I married a man who is precise to a fault, always doing his due diligence, always having a thorough plan, never rushing into a decision or cutting corners. We balance each other out, just like my parents did. My “impreciseness” is a defining feature – it’s the way I approach life, it’s the yin to Matt’s yang. So, thank you grandma. You’re right. I do get my impreciseness from my mother and there’s nothing wrong with that. And there’s nothing wrong with lopsided watermelon salad either.
Watermelon Salad from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
5 cups watermelon balls, chilled
6 medjool dates, pitted and sliced into slivers
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/3 cup roasted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
scant 1/8 teaspoon rose water
Put the watermelon and dates in a large bowl. Stir salt into lime juice in a small bowl, drizzle across the melon and toss well. Just before serving, turn the salad out into whatever serving bowl you’ll be using and spring with the pistachios and the rose water. Serve well chilled.