I think “moving,” should be a curse word. The kind people don’t say because they’re scared it will be inflicted on them. In the last six years, I have stuffed clothes into bags and wrapped breakables in paper six times. The last experience was by far the worst. I watched my mattress disappear in a jigsaw puzzle between my kitchen table, six kitchen chairs, three bookshelves, two bar stools, two TVs and stands, an oversized dresser and more than 20 boxes of kitchen supplies. Thankfully, the 12-foot van made it from Lafayette, California to the storage locker in Snohomish, Washington without anything breaking. I was surprised because I thought my rear-end might break from the trucks lack of suspension. Thankfully, my stuff and I are both durable.
My dad flew down to California and we made the drive together. I must confess, I slept most of the way. It was rough saying goodbye to my friends the night before and I didn’t go to sleep until what I can only assume was the early morning. There were lots of tears. The ugly cry kind, where you wake up and your eyes are swollen. The kind where the right one is shut and you have to prop it open with your fingers to get a clear view of yourself. Trust me, you let go quickly.
Before going to college, my dad and my relationship was a stressed one. Over the last few years, we have begun talking. It’s a novel concept I know. When you’re a teen, the whole talking thing is an explosion waiting to happen. It moves quickly from lecture to fight to shut down. I find myself unsure at times if we are going to revert back to the stifled relationship we once had. When I woke up looking like what Malz calls, “a dirty hot mess,” I was really worried about how our drive would go.
My dad pulled up to my apartment at 8 AM and I lugged my remaining bag down the stairs. He cracked a joke. I smiled. He told another. I laughed again. He let me sleep as he drove and when I woke up we just started talking. We talked until I got sleepy and when I woke up we talked some more. I’m not going to try and claim the drive was a really fun thing to do. The seats didn’t recline. There were no armrests. No one had thought about a 6-foot woman and how she needs her legroom. Spending time with my dad was great.
He’s an Iowa boy, where “w” is pronounced “dubya.” He grew up knowing corn to taste as sweet as candy and to eat tomatoes like an apple with a little shake of salt on top. He learned early a fish on the line means dinner on the table. There were “yes mams,” and “no mams,” and long flat roads for miles.
I can’t tell you about the corn or the tomatoes. I can’t catch fish worth a darn. In our house, it is “yes please,” and “no thank you,” and we have mountains which take my breath away. But, when my dad talks about how good those tomatoes used to taste, fresh off the vine and warm from the afternoon sun, I want to fly to Iowa and walk out in a field with a saltshaker in my hand.
These are my Washington Iowa Copy Cats. Quartered and roasted in the oven, I like to eat them while they’re still warm, just as my dad did in the field. With a generous helping of salt and pepper, the juices danced around my mouth. Here I used them in a caprese lettuce wrap topped with a balsamic reduction. My Midwest roots never tasted so good.
Washington Iowa Copy Cats – Oven Roasted Tomato Caprese Lettuce Wrap
1 beefsteak tomato, quartered
1 TBS olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a casserole dish.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until quarters begin to shrink and brown slightly.
Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before serving.
Note: You can serve them cold or at room temperature, but they are really amazing warm.
For Caprese Lettuce Wraps
4 slices fresh mozzarella (roughly 1 ounce)
4 large leaves of romaine lettuce
4 Washington Iowa Copy Cats
¼ cup balsamic vinegar, reduced
2 TBS pesto
Lay one slice of mozzarella in a lettuce leaf with one quarter of the tomato. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and top with ½ TBS pesto. Repeat 3 more times. Recipe in print-friendly format