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The text read “first turtle of season hatched, returned to water, I have fleas and ants in my backpack.” These are the only words from our daughter who’s living along the remote shores of Costa Rica to help save turtle eggs from animal predators and human confiscators. Here I go…it seems like just yesterday when she showed her animal love with a puppy nail polishing stand. She couldn’t pwonouce her r’s and couldn’t get a comb through her hair.

Before you think I let my now seventeen year-old venture on her own into the treachery of Central America, which I might consider during those moments of passive aggressive radio play in the car, she and a friend joined a respectable turtle conservation program for a nine day community service camp. Although her years of required community service for school are behind her, she will log more hours on this trip than any previous year. Maybe mandates limit potential.

She combs the Punta Judas beaches at night, fending off mosquitos the size of hummingbirds, looking for newly laid turtle eggs. She and her team thenrelocate the eggs to the safety of a hatchery. After the eggs hatch, they return the young sea turtles to the water to live on their own or join up with a random family. I’m sure she feels like doing the same on occasion.

Meanwhile back at home in California, three of us are practicing for when – about one year from now – Kendall will leave us for college, her first step toward living on her own. So, we ate dinner at our four-top table and the conversation turned to topics like ping pong matches, rules of Scrabble, and why it’s necessary for the boy to release even louder bodily sounds during meals.


three foods for three diners


Perhaps a nod to Kendall’s global travels or respect toward her conserving nature, a meal emerged worthy of note here – a world of flavor and, without trying, only three dollars per serving.


pattypan squash


Trying to buy less and use more of what we already have thanks toAmerican Wasteland, a book that exploited our 40% food waste. Although by the looks of us Americans, s0me food is getting in our bellies. I had on hand: a pork tenderloin, four eight-ball squash from the CSA, and a $2 bag of sugar snap peapods that I couldn’t resist at the farmers’ market.


sick juicy meat


I relied on a meat seasoning recipe that I had savored back in December when we paid homage to Africa. I sliced the peapods into slivers and splashed them, while still on the cutting board, with a whipped up three ingredient Asian vinaigrette to heighten their sweetness.


ready for baking


And then the squash, perhaps the discovery of the night and a harken back to the Tuscany trip. Its crispy coating of panko crumbs and parmesan cheese became a table favorite even with the boy who emitted sounds of chewing and licking fingers.

The details of our seasonings are less important (detailed below) because in fact you could just season each of these foods with the magical trio of salt, pepper, olive oil and turn out a fine meal. Rather, the availability of reasonably priced clean foods is more the saving sentiment. Pork tenderloins, especially when using doctor recommended 4-6 ounce serving portions, give more juiced out flavoricious essence per dolllar bite than just about any other protein. If you’re not an other white meat eater, I get that, chicken is cheap cheep too. We used half of the peapods ($1), one zucchini (cents, I imagine), and the tenderloin was about $9.

So, a few food discoveries, three remaining squash, and open arms will await Kendall’s return this week just in time to lose her once again to the challenges and workload of senior year.

At least she will be sleeping close by in a bed without fleas.

For now.


Three lonely diners, three dollar dinners

meal preptime 15-20 minutes servings 2-3

cooktime 15 minutes

Parmesan squash

1 or more pattypan squash (zucchini)

panko crumbs

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

egg whites (I keep a carton on hand, but one whole egg beaten works too)

S&P to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Slice squash about 1/2″ thick.
  3. Mix bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and S&P on a plate.
  4. Dip slices into egg wash and then press each side onto crumb mixture to coat.
  5. Lay slices on sprayed cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, turn and bake for another 5 minutes. Bake until coating is golden. Times may vary.
Asian Sugar Snap Pea Salad
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 1/2 T sesame oil
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T sugar
  1. Slice peapods into slivers.
  2. Mix oil, vinegar and sugar in small bowl.
  3. Gently pour vinaigrette onto peapod slivers right on cutting board, incorporating with your left hand while you pour with your right.
African spiced pork tenderloin

1 cloves garlic

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 t turmeric

1/2 t coriander

1/2 t paprika

1/2 t curry powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 t fresh ground pepper

  1. Mix all the seasonings in a bowl and then rub onto all sides of the tenderloin.
  2. Grill for about 15 minutes total, turning as needed, to grill on all sides.
  3. Let rest covered with foil for 5 minutes before slicing.
  4. Slice into 3/4″ medallions.

crunchtimewarp (faster version)

  • Use prepared dressing for peapod salad.
  • For the pork tenderloin, use just S&P or any of the ingredients in the spice rub you have on hand)

recipes provided by your friends at crunchtime


  1. Penny says Aug 16th 2011 4:51 am

    Good ideas for the squash and peapods, thanks.
    May Kendall’s senior year be safe, exciting and full of all the activities that make wonderful memories.
    (I say this as I anticipate a major milestone high school reunion coming up and I am so grateful for the memories. And I sit here with an egg white/goat milk yogurt mix on my face in hopes that I will look dazzling – or at least not too old and shabby. Frankly, at this age – no, I’m not telling – it’s thrilling to still be here with all systems working. Please continue to emphasize the importance of nutrition from fresh and raw foods, organic if possible.)

    • Sherri says Aug 17th 2011 11:52 am

      Thanks Penny. If you’re eating the diet of fresh and raw, organic foods as it seems, I’m sure you look more youthful than most because basic foods, low in starch and sugars, high in complex carbs, make your cheeks glow, your eyes bright, and slim down any trouble spots.

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