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2 books, 1 game, and 1 recipe

2016 April 26
by Rachel Turiel

The other night my friend Tara had Col and Rose over for tacos and a movie (which for them is like being bathed in the holy water of sour cream and big screen entertainment). Rose came home with a belly ache from eating too much, but also pleased that she hadn’t missed out on over-eating. Between shared school and soccer practice and then their date at Tara’s, Dan and I hadn’t seen much of them all day and were full of questions. They filled us in on everything, chattering and interrupting, jockeying to share first and most, until Col finally said, “You know, the only thing that really matters is that we’re all here safe and sound.” (Because apparently it’s never to soon to become your own wise grandpa).


Col, the wise old grandpa feeding his little buddy Irie. (Irie’s dad, Sage, lived downstairs for many years. Which is to say, if you too once lived downstairs from us and want to bring your baby over for general uplifting and merriment, please do!)


I am a dandelion salad. There is nothing to be afraid of.

light btwn oceans

I read this gorgeous and intense book in Indonesia, and when I got to the excruciating part where a very important decision had to be made, a decision that either way was going to be devastating for at least one entire family, I recounted the story to the kids, wanting to see if they saw any other option for the characters. They were so engrossed that during the half hour it took to catch them up on the plot, a thousand little insects drowned in my curried vegetables. The story takes place post-WWII on a tiny, isolated island off mainland Australia. The main characters are resilient, independent lighthouse keepers who desperately want to be parents and receive a very complicated opportunity. The writing is gorgeous, the plot engrossing, and you will find yourself empathizing with each flawed and relatable character. This powerful quote has stayed with me: “You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”

1000 naked starngers

A Thousand Naked Strangers (by the way, do not innocently Google images for this title at the library or anywhere that isn’t safe for photos of actual naked people packed interactively in a jeep) is a fascinating account of a man’s ten years working as a paramedic in emergency medicine in Atlanta. Kevin Hazzard has seen it all and is unsentimentally honest about it. He and his partners are always waiting—nervously, excitedly—for the BIG CALL. And it comes, many times in many forms. Hazzard catches great details, like the man who, before his adult son (experiencing cardiac arrest) was rushed into the ambulance, asked Hazzard to grab the pack of smokes in his son’s pocket. This is a book full of wrenching, fast-paced, shocking, fascinating, darkly humorous stories, but never depressing or dramatically morbid. Rather, it’s an insider’s look into a very real, very important line of work.


The day after my friend Melanie brought Quiddler to our house I ordered it and we’ve been playing it daily upon Col’s request. It’s technically a spelling game, or a word-making game, but it doesn’t feel educational in that cloaked way that parents often try to sneak past kids’ radars. It’s dynamic and fast paced and you can be like Dan and come up with long, fancy words, or be like Rose and make a lot of 2- and 3-letter words for the same amount of points. (You can also be like Rose and be shocked that it’s your turn again after only seven cartwheel intermissions. You can also be like Col, whistling earsplittingly between asking, “Is quert a word? How about squert?”).


Almost every night we’ve been eating dandelion salads. This has something to do with the equation: two million free dandelions live ten steps from our kitchen + highly nutritious = dandelion salad. Spring is the perfect time to eat dandelions, they are only mildly bitter, and easily offset by adding apples, raisins, nuts, and a tasty dressing. And really, you will start to enjoy that feisty little nip over time, so much so that lettuce begins to appear suspiciously like the baby rice cereal of life: a bland way to enter the world of actual salads.


Our silly kids can’t yet be persuaded to eat dandelion salads, but their friends Seneca and Fawn, who’ve been dining with us on Mondays, love them so much that last night as I was taking these photos, Seneca, who is allergic to nuts, said nervously, “Did you remember about me and walnuts, Rachel?”


Seneca’s dandelion salad, with sunflower seeds and raisins!


My award-winning (at the esteemed dandelion cook off held by Hummingbird Herbals back in 1998) dandelion pesto recipe here.

P.S. if you ever want book recommendations, go to the Category on my right side bar called “What I’m Reading.” Like so.

What are you reading and eating?



18 Responses leave one →
  1. Sheryl permalink
    April 26, 2016

    HA! We also love love Quiddler! Jenn Rawling brought it over about 2 years ago and everyone I play with (often :) buys a copy and then some for friends! Love it! – the kids do too! Also really loved the book Light between Oceans! Read it for our book club and still a top pick! XO Sheryl

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 26, 2016

      Yes, I knew when a male friend told me to pack tissues for reading Light Btwn Oceans that it was the real deal, emotionally speaking. Ella and Nils should come over for Quiddler tournament!

  2. Ellen permalink
    April 26, 2016

    Dandelion salad is my favorite food…especially with avocado, marinated artichoke hearts, red cabbage, and some fermented cabbage like sauerkraut or kim chee. And olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. The natural sweetness of balsamic vinegar is a good foil to the bitterness of the dandelion greens and the saltiness of the sauerkraut, and the avocado is a good foil to the crunchiness of everything else.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 26, 2016

      That version of dandelion salad sounds amazing!

  3. Jan permalink
    April 26, 2016

    I’m curious to know whether the kids had a good suggestion for Light Between Oceans.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 26, 2016

      They were flummoxed. (But they tried!) But to put credit where it’s due, Dan came up with a solution which allowed for at least a brokered sense of peace, and is exactly what the author chose.

  4. Andrea permalink
    April 26, 2016

    Sister, what exactly is the delicious dressing?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 27, 2016

      3 parts olive oil
      2.5 parts balsamic vinegar
      a sprinkle of salt
      3 garlic cloves whole and swimming in dressing

  5. April 26, 2016

    eating Pranayama upon still skiable, snowy summits
    just finished reviewing Luke Mehall’s; AMERICAN CLIMBER
    which ilg gives 1.5 thumbs up (only cuz i lost half a thumb in a climbing m(om)ent many years ago!)!

    lovely piece…thank you!


  6. April 26, 2016

    I can’t wait to check out your book recs! I loved “The Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” so I’m guessing that I’ll also love this one. If you haven’t checked it out you should. SO good.
    And now I’m tempted to try dandelions…

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 27, 2016

      I have read that book. Intense. It struck me as way darker than 1000 naked strangers.

  7. Clarissa permalink
    April 27, 2016

    Reading about six books at the moment, but, top of the list is Bernd Heinrich’s new book – One Wild Bird at a Time. Not sure how well known he is – biologist, science person/writer, retired faculty from UVM. My brother in law sent me this, out of the blue, and fortuitously, Heinrich is speaking at our local bookstore, tomorrow, and I’ve always wanted to hear him (he lives locally, I guess and speaks here from time to time), so now I am prompted to do so. First chapter was about a family of flickers who nested in the side of his cabin, and his intense observation of them, in particular watching the seven young fledge. I read parts of that section out loud to my 10 year old, and he would have listened to more…

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 27, 2016

      We love Bernd Heinrich, especially when he spends five hours behind a blind in New England winter waiting for ravens to eat a slaughtered goat.

  8. Ellie permalink
    April 27, 2016

    I recently loved Callan Wink’s brand-new collection of short stories, Dog Run Moon.
    I’m currently reading Rick Bass’s new and collected stories in For a Little While and enjoying those a good deal also.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 29, 2016

      Thanks, Ellie. We like Rick Bass in this house.

  9. May 3, 2016

    Hi! We grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country eating dandelion salad. I have memories of my grandmother outside saying “these leaves are so big, I don’t need to pick very many!” and her letters to the editor of the local paper trying to dissuade people from spraying their yards to kill dandelions because they were like bits of sunshine in the grass.
    I read the Light book also…twice! because I forgot the ending. I also have been going through Jim Harrison books, Jewel’s book, and lots of “the magic treehouse.” And watching “cooked” on netflix :)
    Happy spring!!

  10. Chelsie permalink
    May 4, 2016

    My new favorite book was introduced to me today by an 8 yr old friend whom I tutor. It’s Shel Silverstein’s Runny Babbit. I’ve long been a fan of Where the Sidewalk ends but somehow missed out on this hilariousness! We spent the whole ride home conjuring our own silly word combinations. It was super fun! I highly recommend :)

  11. Chi-An permalink
    May 14, 2016

    Quiddler! We love Quiddler. Theo, as a word nerd, is sort of devastatingly good at it. Last time we played I think we didn’t have a single round without the first player putting down all their cards. Miranda has been loving _Of Mice and Magic_, the second in the Hamster Princess series. Theo and I both tore through _The Hidden Oracle_, the latest Rick Riordan book, in a single evening. And for adult books, I just finished reading Patricia Briggs’ latest, _Fire Touched_, for the third time before I have to return it to the library.

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