Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pan Fried Squash Blossoms filled with creamy Herb Scented Goat Cheese

I have so much rattling around in my head right now.  The emotions of getting ready to part with your first born child is really only one of those rattles.  It's the one that I have written most about on 'thyme'.

However, the impending separation doesn't have everything  to do with college transition.  It doesn't really even have as much to do with the "leaving" part.  Many of us parents might agree that at these late teen stages, these young adults are very ready and eager to spread their wings and fly.  

It seems that, more than any other turning point as parents, this last childhood transition pointedly magnifies the final end of what has been a very defined role we have had for 18 years now.

This turning point is as much about us as parents too...our title, role, stage as parents will be transitioning on to another seemingly undefined stage that we will experience.  

I see now what many people said years ago. It's true.  When having that little baby in our arms, life defined as  "mommy"...then as "Mom"...seems like its going to last forever.  Not to be too terribly depressing, but, it is indeed only one of many stages in our childhood, teen age, and college years for ourselves, they are now behind us.

The other rattles clanging around in my mind right now (more so than my daughter's departure) is about my son.  My son will begin the last 3 years of his high school years.  This is where much of my time is and will be spent.  So much tough work is ahead of him and as a homeschool mom, these 3 years will be my most challenging  years of all of his schooling.

Academically, yes...for sure.  It is tough to go through upper level high school classes (again...make that x 3). Focus seems to inevitably shift from "learning through living" to learning to "master that ACT/SAT test we all know and love

What I find the most amazing, however, is not only the mental growth that occurs, but the rapidly defining spiritual, moral, political, and ethical awareness that explodes for that young adult. The change in maturity from freshman to senior is remarkable...and that is putting it mildly.

For many, that awareness has been carefully molded  and defined early in childhood by the family and passed down in the form of religious and/or political orientation.  For others, they are defined along life's path as experiences occur and shape outlooks on life, people, and events...while actively parenting.

I feel the burden of moving my son along these next 3 years with all of these higher learning skills yet to be learned and experienced...discussed and examined.

Along with these mounting responsibilities all parents of teens have to shoulder, there is added pressure by society to put a home schooled young man back into typical brick and mortar high school.  

Reasons cited are "mental toughening for the brutal college environment" and "social coping skills for the onslaught of peer pressure".  

The potential for creating  a "mama's boy" or a "soft young man" is hinted in subtle ways that are difficult to ignore.

Thoughts and fears rattle in my mind that these might be legitimate concerns.  Will my son be socially devoured and spit out in the workplace someday?  We really just don't know.

But, I rather like the young man my son has become, even if it isn't anywhere remotely close to the Justin Beiber stereotype.  I'm pretty darn fond of his strong moral compass, open minded acceptance of diversity, and disconcerted attitude on most popular trends.  

I'm a bit of a rebel myself (insert wry smirk) so I guess it shouldn't surprise me that I hold more of these qualities dear as opposed to priding popularity status, no. of facebook 'friends' achieved, or pricey label acquisitions.

There is some hypocrisy that irks me to no end, however, observing a societal shift that occurs between middle school and high school.  That nose-buried-in-the-book loving middle schooler becomes an even more voracious reader, if left unimpeded by society, in the high school years.  

However, the kind and adoring eyes of "society" that graced that prized bookworm middle schooler are met with somewhat less than approving eyes on the booming high schooler.  "Nerdy", "reclusive" and "socially awkward" are more apt to title that highschooler once described in different terms such as  "book loving", "studious", and  "contemplative".  

Topics of approving conversation are often focused on sporting events, mass social opinions that fall squarely in the political "right" camp or the political "left" camp. 

What we have found is that many people praise a middle-school aged kid for their uniqueness and non-conformity.  At the high school level, however, these same kids are much more equated with normalcy if they look, speak, and behave like most others. 

We realize no path of child rearing is the ultimate path.  Are there any parents out there who can ascertain their decisions as parents were unfettered with mistakes and regrets?  Many decisions we've made have had positive as well as negative outcomes.  Learning styles vary from one child to the next and from one level of maturity to the next... even if those children have the same parents.

In conclusion, much is rattling around in this hard noggin of mine.  These observations that are noted and decisions that must be chosen leave me exhausted at times and exhilarated at others.

I retreat to the farmer's market for eye-candy, relief from the heaviness of parenting, and move to sensory smells that delight the inner foodie in me.  This visit, it was squash blossoms that displayed their lovely petals in front of me.

Decisions at the market are uncomplicated, gratefully satisfying, and result in savory delights on the plate for nothing more than pleasure.  Once home, creamy herb filled goat cheese is delicately nudged into these apricot colored flowers.  Whisked eggs carefully envelop the cheesy goodness. A quick pan fry to melt everything together results in a simple pretty little side accompaniment to some rosemary scented lamb chops.  

The rattling ceases for a moment, an herbal scented meal is savored and appreciated...for its pure simplicity.

...and all seems quiet and clear when a good meal has dampened the worries of our world and all of the hopes sitting on the shoulders of the next generation of youth.

Pan Fried Squash Blossoms filled with Creamy Herbed Goat Cheese

squash blossom flowers
herb goat cheese (chilled is easier to stuff into the flowers)
chopped herbs of any variety
2-3 eggs, whisked in a bowl
olive oil or butter

Carefully wash and pat dry the squash blossom flowers.  Take scoops of herbed goat cheese and gently push it into the inside of the flower petals.  Heat a sauté pan on medium heat with some olive oil or butter.  Once all of the flowers have been stuffed, roll them in the whisked egg mixture.  Gently fry the flowers in the pan until the egg batter is cooked.  Sprinkle squash blossoms with salt and pepper and enjoy them while soft and hot.


  1. Those are definitely some heavy thoughts. I do applaud you for all that you do and have done for your children, and am sure that they're the better for it. In my memory, high school (although I hated it with a fiery passion) seemed a bit more forgiving than middle school - - or if not, people paid less attention than they made it seem like they did to who was doing what. I.e. cool factor took a bit of a back seat. Maybe this is no longer the case a decade later (AHHHHHHHH! A decade, already??).

    1. Emma, you are such a dear. I am curious to listen to my kids' thoughts about their experience as they get older. Right now they say they would not have ever wanted to go to 'regular' school but it will be fascinating to see how they raise their own children some day!

  2. Dear Sarah - I have no doubt that with you as a beacon of light, your kids already have a strong sense of self that no one will ever be able to dwarf or take away from them. I often tell my kids - "when an elephant walks, dogs bark" - so be an elephant - strong and gentle and be the people you are born to be. The rest is just noise.

    I think it's hard to watch them do through their struggles - God knows I was terribly unpopular and 'nerdy' as a kid but I know that the very things that made me wierd growing up make up the very essence of me now and I try to pass that message on. With you and your hubby at the helm, your kids will 'find' themselves - no doubt :)

    The squash blossoms are wonderful and I am afraid I seem to be the only one who can't seem to find them at the market. Your treatment of them is stellar!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    1. Devaki, I think if you and I were in the same city, we would be great friends. I love your upbeat and adventurous spirit. I love your quote and will try that with my kids and pass on your wisdom. I went to such a small school and had such a wonderful schooling experience, it was very hard to identify with the gi-normous schools today.

  3. What an exciting year for your family. You all will do JUST FINE! How do I know? Well, just reading this...the thought you have put into all of it. Some parents don't care half as much. Your thoughts typed out here are refreshing! Best of luck to all of you!

    Now..I was just thinking last week that I've never tasted or made squash blossoms! But I have a bunch in the garden! I never dreamed they were so easy. We try some this weekend! :)

    1. I would love to have a garden full of squash blossom flowers!! I have to buy mine at the farmer's market so you are so so lucky! I didn't really taste the flower very much but what an excuse to eat melted goat cheese, herbs, and eggs all hot and gooey!

  4. Delicious classic - squash flowers and chees.
    Delicious photos!

  5. Sarah! As always beautiful photos and a great recipe! I love fried squash blossoms!

  6. Sarah, your daughter is going to have a terrific time this fall, I just know it. And your heart will continue to fill with pride at what brilliant adults that both of your kids are turning into :)

  7. Hi Sarah,
    It sounds like you've done an excellent job raising your children. I admire you for taking on their education as well as all the other roles a mother plays. Your blossoms are gorgeous, I'd love to dig right in. Have a great weekend.

  8. Sarah this post resonates with me, on so many levels. I too have been in the throes of embracing my transitioning role as a parent. I think i spent at least a year full of latent anger towards my children...for things they did do...and things they didn't...until i had a very memorable epiphany while gardening last year. i realized in that moment I wasn't really even angry at my children...rather I was beset with fear of being left behind...fear of becoming irrelevant in their lives. It is this life transitioning that gave me a need to do an online be able to write it see it in perspective.

    Sarah you write about your journey so eloquently.... I found the first part of this post difficult to read through my own tears of relating. I also can relate to the subtext in conversations when homeschooling is mentioned. My children have always had the opportunity to return to traditional school each year...each has chosen not too...for their own reasons. Now with the older two in college, my youngest has chosen this year to enroll in our neighborhood high school...ironically...I see this as the biggest gift of his years HOMESCHOOLING. He has gained confidence, independence, morality and the ability to interact successfully where ever he chooses. With no football experience...this summer he enrolled himself in their football camp...and not knowing one soul...entered the arena...of a world foreign to what he has known.

    He has since made the team, made friends and is enrolled in classes. The moral of this story me ...has absolutely Nothing to do with football...and everything to do with the gifts of homeschooling. Because of homeschooling he was able to 'bake' into an individual in his own timeframe. he was able to have positive experiences and relationships where he was able to develop self confidence to choose his own path, no matter how unknown. I don't know how the year will end up for him...I just know i am proud of him for putting himself out there. So for the nay sayers whose question home schooling and the making of a man...I have two young men...who have both found there own way in the world...and all the better for it because of homeschooling. I have no doubt with you as his mother...yours will too.

    1. Tamera, I came over to visit your blog and wrote an epistle for you! Thank you for your advice, experience, and time!

  9. Lovely photos, lovely words... Thank you Sarah!

  10. now i'm craving zucchini flowers! you know i'm so scared of my kids growing up, i just so want to have a good relationship with them....

    1. Muppy, I love watching and reading about your young family growing up. You are already much farther along in terms of having wonderful adventures with them in the kitchen than I was at those ages!

  11. These squash blossoms are gorgeous. I really enjoyed reading your post. I'm seventeen and about to leave the next for university next year, so I kind of understand what you're going through.

    1. Thanks Kyleen. It is such an exciting time for you both. I vividly remember moving to NYC at those ages and thoroughly enjoying every minute of my freedom and discoveries. Good luck to you in your final year!

  12. Such a heartfelt post. My daughter left for college three years ago and now my son will be leaving in six days. I know how you feel and the emotions are raw, but I have also discovered a joy in watching my children make their way into the world.

    As always, your photography is beautiful. I have always wanted to cook with squash blossoms.

    1. Our kids are spaced out the same number of years...that will be my son leaving for 3 years time. I'm glad you mentioned the joy in watching your children make their way into the world because that is what I am so excited to see. As much as I am sad my time as a mom is coming to an end in this particular way, I cannot wait to see who she becomes and see our relationship grows on a more mature level.

  13. Ah, what a beautiful, bittersweet post. I can tell you're a wonderful parent if only because you take the time to ask yourself these very questions. I'm sending you all my best thoughts as you negotiate the transition. A beautiful meal shared together is one of life's greatest pleasures and comforts.

  14. You had me at goat's cheese... I love the stuff, and together with zucchini flowers... just perfect. I always collect them when I'm growing zucchinis.

  15. I always see these at the Farmer's Market and wonder what to do with them. They are so lovely! As is your blog. Tamera told me about your amazing photos while we were enjoying coffee this morning!

  16. I loved reading every word of this post..
    My elder one is still 6 but I too feel that time fly away really fast and kids grow at much faster pace then what we think they would...
    I am sure your son will do remarkably well in high school, the values and love you have taught them will always make them shine and succeed.
    These squash blossoms look really nice, will you believe that I have never cooked them... I need to get them on this trip to farmer market..

  17. I truly loved this post!! I’m a grandma now, but those days of sending my children off to college seem like yesterday. Life is a series of transitions or changes…every time we think we’ve got it down it changes again!
    I have always wanted to make squash blossoms…yours look incredible with the goat cheese…delicious!!

  18. The farmers' market is a great place to retreat to. Your stuffed squash blossoms are beautiful! I can't wait to get my hands on some soon.

  19. Wow, those goat cheese squash blossoms are gorgeous! I love when people use flowers in their cooking. It adds a little something special to the meal.


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