Ode to Summer Squash

Summer Squash

There is no pleasure like picking the first vegetables of the season.
This morning wet, muddy.
Summer squash, it was.
Prickly leaves, like floppy summer hats, pushed out of the way. Read more »

The Garden of Him

Papa Leite

My father is a good man. Just ask my mother. Actually, if you spend enough time with her, she’ll tell you anyway, blurting it out while watching TV or holding out a bag of mini Milky Way bars to you. “Manny Leite’s a good man,” she’ll say.

The measure of a good man is calculated by many yardsticks. For my father, it was being a provider. It began with a home. First with a floor, eventually covered in the lightest of oak—“Only three-quarter-inch will do,” he’d say—that supported us, two-by-fours that became walls that surrounded us, and, finally, a roof that protected us—all built with his own hands.

Then there was sustenance. He cut a garden from what has to be God’s rockiest half-acre, situated behind our house. A grape arbor appeared first. Beneath it we lingered over many long, lazy meals, just we three. Plump bunches of grapes hung heavily, and my father would pluck some and feed them to my mother. The shaded table grew crowded with our expanding family my father brought over from the Azores. First my grandfather, then my uncle, my aunt, another aunt, and finally my grandmother and the youngest aunt of all. And, in time, their spouses and later their kids gathered round. It was understood back then that this half-acre was on loan: It was meant for me, my wife, and my children—a family that would never come to be. Read more »

Homemade Cultured Butter

Homemade Cultured Butter Recipe

As is abundantly obvious to anyone with the slightest acquaintance with my medical records, I’ve never met a buttah I didn’t like. Cultured butter or uncouth. Salted or unsalted; cow, goat, or sheep; French, English, Italian, American; compound or, er, singular.

However, the idea that I could whip up my own homemade butter, that I could play Dr. Frankenstein to a bunch of butterfat globules, was completely lost on me during my formative years. It wasn’t until one lazy afternoon in Pittsburgh, during my sophomore year at Carnegie Mellon University, that I became aware of the possibility that is homemade butter.
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