savory

Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Spinach


I spend a lot of time in bed these days, staring at the massive pecan tree just outside my window. 
I think about the future a lot.
I often wonder if everyone else is in their bed too, thinking about whatever it is that comes next, and staring at their respective trees. 


When the future makes me lonely, I think about Georgia O'Keefe who lived alone in a tiny adobe house in the red desert of New Mexico. When she couldn't sleep she would make yogurt and knead loaves of bread and sweep her floor in the middle of the night. Then I think about the food writer, MFK Fisher, who liked to leave peeled oranges on her window sill, especially in the winter, until the clear orange membrane became dry and crackly, and so when she bit, the orange was only a cold punch of crunch and winter and citrus. 


Sometimes, I think about a boy I knew only briefly, who once cooked me a dinner that mostly consisted of boiled carrots and brown rice, and how kind it was, but how much it needed salt. We  later went to a party, where everyone was older, and speaking languages I didn’t understand. We sat in a corner, and he told me about his lovers, while a tiny French man sang and danced along to "Like A Virgin." The little man danced up to me, "Whenever I feel sad,” he said, “I just listen to Madonna! Like a virgin! Like a virgin!!!" 

And often, I think about my friend Mary Margaret, who was the most beautiful old person I’ve ever known, and she died too soon, but she would throw these parties that were catered by Torchy’s Tacos, and the old-school literati and glitterati of my hometown would go, and there was always this man who wore his cowboy hat inside, he would sit and play groovy ragtime licks on her baby grand piano for hours. 


So lately, I spend a lot of time lying on my bed, staring at the tree outside my window. 
Lately, it rains. 
The other night I made this pot of lentils, and added potatoes and all the remaining odds and ends in my refrigerator.
And the simplicity of the lentils reminded me of all these tiny beautiful things; dancing to Madonna, cold oranges, and tiny houses in big deserts and cowboy hats. 

And how small it all is, and how perfectly beautiful. 


Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Spinach
from The Gourmet Cookbook 

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup finely chopped onion 
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth
2 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup chopped drained canned tomatoes
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
fresh lemon juice to taste
salt and black pepper

Heat oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add curry powder and cumin and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add lentils, stock, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. 
Stir in tomatoes and spinach and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. 


Chicken and rice


No one told me how much of life is just saying goodbye. 

Because I was in a plane today, and then on a bus, and somewhere in between the two, I saw the ghost of my face reflected back at me. And I thought. 

My god. 
I'm not a child anymore. 
I'm not a kid.
I'm not a even a teenager. 
I'm somewhere. 
Maybe close to being a woman, but still so, so far. 
(It is a long way, to being a woman.)

And I realized all over again, that my sandbox sand castle days, and the shallow end of the swimming pool, and pretend and not having hips and going to piano lessons with my brother and never doing laundry because my mom did it and dolls and falling in love with books instead of boys and not knowing about things like funerals and pain-- without knowing it, somewhere, I said goodbye. 
And maybe it's because of that very specific goodbye, that I cling so fiercely to second chances. 

Because I have to believe I will see you again. 
Because I have to believe I will come back. 
Because it's too hard otherwise. 
And because, the thought of not eating the chicken and rice I had at this little place in Portugal, the thought of never eating that again completely undoes me. 
To never eat that chicken and rice again would be tragic. 
It would be the worst. 
I cannot handle a reality which does not have a repeat of that chicken and rice. 

So I believe in second chances and third chances and returns and surprise encounters. 
I believe in circularity and the stupid/fun/funny part of life that makes for good stories and plot twists and romance and mystery. 
I have faith in this. 


I'm looking forward now.  
Looking forward towards maybe being a woman someday. Sort of. 
But more than that, I look forward to owning a long, rectangular kitchen table, that maybe I build myself. A kitchen table I build myself, with lots of candles on it. And there are all the people I love, who have come back and second-chance-miracle-surprised me, sitting at this table. 
And then we will eat chicken and rice. 


XOXOXO


Chicken and Rice
From SmittenKitchen.com who adapted from Gourmet 

This my darling, is the recipe I want to make when I get home. 


Chicken
3 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
4 chicken breast halves with bone, halved crosswise
4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken thighs

Rice
3 ounces Spanish chorizo (cured sausage), skin discarded and sausage cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, preferably the hot stuff, plus more to taste
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 12-ounce. bottle beer (not dark)
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups long-grain white rice (14 ounces)
1/4 cup drained rinsed bottled pimiento or roasted red pepper strips

Marinate chicken: Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 2 teaspoons salt, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in vinegar and oregano.

Remove skin and excess fat from chicken, then toss chicken with marinade until coated and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 1 hour.

Cook chicken and rice: – Cook chorizo in olive oil in a 6- to 7-quart heavy pot (12 inches wide) over medium-high heat, stirring, until some fat is rendered, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add cumin, oregano, paprika, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add chicken with marinade to chorizo mixture and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, 10 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, beer, broth, and rice and bring to a boil, making sure rice is submerged. [Deb note: I actually had a really hard time keeping the rice underneaththe chicken so that it would cook evenly. I'd suggest that you use tongs to temporarily remove the chicken from the pot, mix the rice in with the other ingredients in the pot, and then replace the chicken, pressing it into the broth a bit before going onto the next step. I will definitely do this next time.]

Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover mixture directly with a round of parchment or wax paper and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Cook, stirring once or twice, until rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Discard parchment paper and bay leaves, then scatter pimiento strips over rice.

Do ahead: Chicken can be marinated up to 2 hours in advance.


Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans

Beloveds, 

I'm officially eating kale. 

Kale is such a thing. 


It's a super food, apparently. It's hipper than arugula, better for you than chard, and way more exciting than lettuce. 


Why kale?

Well, my sweet darlings. 

Being an almost 20 year old is really bizarre and complicated sometimes. And if kale will make my life more hipper, more better and more exciting, I am so down.  

Also, Fleetwood Mac lyrics have officially become my life. There's this line from the song "You Make Loving Fun" that pretty much sums it up: 

I do believe, in the miracles, but I've a feeling it's time to try
I do believe, in the ways of magic, but I'm beginning to wonder why





Right now I like to think that my official eating of kale as well as my official return to running and dance will be my miracles. 

I've a feeling it's time to try. 

COME AT ME FEBRUARY. 


xoxo 


Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

This is really good. I forgot some things, like the cheese and pecans. But by all means. Do it. Go crazy. XOXO 

Salad
1/2 cup pecans
8 ounces kale (recommended varieties, Tuscan, Lacinato, Cavolo Nero, Black)
4 ounces radishes
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled

Dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white white vinegar
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons honey 
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spread the pecans on a tray. Toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing them once or twice to make sure they toast evenly. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. 

Wash your kale and let it dry on spread out kitchen or paper towels. Then, with a knife, remove the rib from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves. Stack the leaves in small batches, roll them tightly the long way, and cut the roll crosswise into thin ribbons. Add the kale ribbons to a large salad bowl. 

Thinly slice the radishes, and add them to the bowl. Coarsely chop the pecans and cherries and add them as well. Crumble the goat cheese over the top. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small dish, and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss the salad until it is evenly coated with dressing. This salad is great to eat right away, but even better after 20 minutes of tenderizing in the dressing. 


Tomato Sauce

I like it when songs perfectly fit into the rhythm of your life. 

I like it when the lyrics are what you would have written, if only you had known how to say it. Like this one

I like this time of year, because things are wrapping up. 

I like this time of year, because suddenly it's all about conclusions and twinkle lights and endings.

I like this time of year, because people make a lot of top ten lists, and a lot of top twenty lists, and a lot of top fifty lists. 

I might make a top ten list.  

I don't know. 


I want to make a top ten list of moments that I do not want to forget. 
There are too many. 
I don't want to forget all the doughnuts and the one drink too manys and the 3ams and the kisses and the hands out of windows in fast cars and the learning how to write songs and the clouds and the walks in the morning and the being bored and the being busy. 
Mostly though, I do not want to forget how beautiful everyone is. 
Everyone is so beautiful. 

My roommmates stood around me and ate this pasta. 



They are so beautiful. 

It was a top ten moment. 

I don't want to forget. 

xoxo

mary 

Tomato Sauce

This is no work. 

Take 3 cans of nice canned tomatoes. Add a hunk of butter. How much depends on how nice and rich you like your sauce. Chop an onion. And combine it all. Let it simmer for a while. Until the onions are soft. Ideally for about an hour or more. If the sauce starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, simply add water. When the onions are soft your can add cream if you're feeling luxurious. Salt and pepper liberally. 
Combine with cooked pasta and crumbled goat cheese.