Sunday, May 17, 2009

On Gardening, Baseball and Dancing -- Hopefully, With Dilled Dip.

I did it. Again.

I visited my neighborhood gardening center today to get a couple of "filler" plants for the yard. I had a list. The actual plan was for three filler plants. All right -- if you insisted on counting each individual plant, it would have totaled five, but I'd planned to consider the three silver coral bells as a single item. (I know. That kind of thinking does not win me any friends in the 10-item-only checkout lane.)

It was a fine plan. But 30 minutes later, after perambulating the aisles and at one point, exhorting another shopper to "buy more!" (she plainly didn't have enough -- she didn't even have a cart), I ended up with a trunkload of plants. Deja vu all over again. Shoving even one more verbena, salvia or butterfly bush into the back of the Pilot would have required a crowbar. Or a good-sized sumo wrestler.

What was I thinking? Not thinking, actually, but hoping?

In a way, it's been a weekend packed with hope Chez Wiles. After enduring a fairly, or let's be honest, wholly miserable school baseball season, my son began a new rec league baseball season. Being 14, he tried to keep his hopes in check for this weekend's season-opener, but still, a victory would've been a thrilling start to the new season. Some time on the mound would've been even better. And a monster hit, a bona fide ego-distender.

And what could be more hopeful -- or hope-filled -- than my daughter's weekend? Friday was her first middle school dance -- and she spent most of the preceding 634 waking hours hoping that her outfit would be cute enough, that her hair would be smooth enough, that she wouldn't embarrass herself, and that someone, anyone, that one, would ask her to dance.

Like some kind of Disney channel movie, it was all good. On the baseball front, despite a second-inning injury, my son helped his team pick up a win -- both with his pitching and his hitting. More surprising, despite expectations of Kilimanjaro-esque proportions, that first dance was everything my daughter had hoped. She and her girlfriends had a sleepover later that night, and their breathless giggling and gushing descriptions made my own heart skip a beat.

That hopefulness was bound to spill over, and so it did -- into the aisles of the Lowe's gardening center today. I really had no business buying more plants. When I began spring planting, my very first trunkload of purchases included a dill plant. (To see that post, click here.) In my mind, though, the dill was a kind of disposable purchase. I'm inordinately fond of the herb, but never had any success growing it. Six weeks later though, either through my own dumb luck or its own sheer tenacity, the dill is still here. Now what?

I minced some over our baked potatoes tonight. I know I can fold it into scrambled eggs, or stir it with melted butter and lemon to drizzle over salmon, but I think I want to try something new: An herbed dip. I'll admit right now that the following recipe is one that I'm making up as I type, but the proportions look right, and really, how can you go wrong with dill and cream cheese? Here's hoping ...

Dilled Dip

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small bunch (thickness of your index finger) of chives
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoons kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

You could drop all the ingredients in a food processor and give it a whirl, but to make the dip by hand, start by mashing the cream cheese with a fork, until it's smooth. Incorporate sour cream, one spoonful at a time, and then, mayonnaise. Stir in herbs, lemon juice and seasoning, adjusting seasoning as needed. Serve with chips or crudites.

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