this and that

I wanted to make you a salad, but all you got was this blog post

I've been listening to a lot of Neil Young lately, and also the kind of funky, groovy R&B that makes me awkwardly gyrate and sway on the subway and street corners-- because the need to dance is so in me. 
I play the song "Harvest Moon" over and over again, and suddenly I am sixteen and driving alone for the first time and singing along, in order to forget how terrifying driving actually is. 


Listening to Neil Young pulls the curtain back, shows me all the wistful, swinging summertime sadness and dreaming that is often too difficult to express aloud, if you can even put words to it. "When we were strangers, I watched you from afar." 
Has a more perfect love story, ever been written in just one sentence? 


So I'm in the mood for holding other people's babies and in the mood for going swimming in the morning, talking the world over with a few beers and I want to dance until there are blisters on my heels. 
I think I'm a little in love with all the ordinary parts of being a person. Which maybe explains why I love things like weddings and birthdays and baptisms-- all marking the passage of time, and time lucky enough to be spent here
Mostly, I want to cook for you-- I wanna make fat salads with mountains of arugula and fresh mozzarella and sliced avocados, all with some sharp limey dressing, and some beverage so cold it hurts our teeth. 


Because I've been sickish, I didn't go to work yesterday, and instead ate a thick croissant egg sandwich with fries and talked to this barista. He was Moroccan, but grew up in Israel. He told me how he had done a 7-month long solo motorcycle trip across the US and most of Central America. All the way to Honduras and beyond. 
"What did you learn?" I asked him. 
He looked me right in the eyes, "I learned," he said, "that it is good to be alive." 





Chicken-in-the-pot

Last night when I couldn't sleep I started going through pictures of myself on Facebook, which is narcissistic, but also, I guess it's in the perpetual attempt to try and figure out where I actually am, versus where I actually was, and actually how is it that anyone gets from Point A and arrives at Point NOW? 


I don't know. 

I've been thinking about the past year a lot, because years always seem to sort of roll themselves over in the summertime for me, and also I've been thinking about the future. 

I think I'm supposed to be thinking about my "career" and "the job market" and other imposing, adult, grey-sounding words that make me want to bury my head in the sand. 
Instead though, I just daydream about being home with my little brothers and making chicken-in-the-pot. 


I want to make this chicken every day for a week, because it smells like the actual smell of heaven, and I want to make it with bright sweet potatoes and fat sticks of celery and thin, translucent slices of yellow bell peppers and the rinds of pickled lemons. 

I want to make this more than almost anything else right now, but at the moment, I don't have a kitchen. 


I don't know what I'm supposed to do with all the past selves, that linger on various social media platforms, and I don't know what I'm supposed to do with the future cubicle that real adulthood sometimes appears to be. 
I'm trying to trust that even when I can't fall asleep, everything is still okay. 
I think this is what they call "faith." 
Besides, the future isn't here yet, and the past went. 
So I'm craving chicken-in-the-pot. And for the time being, I can't have it. 
It's okay. 
So I guess I'm here, at Point NOW. 
And really, it ain't so bad. 



Chicken-in-the-Pot Makes 4 servings (but you can multiply the recipe easily)
from cookbook goddess Dorie Greenspan 

Approximately 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 heads of garlic, broken into cloves, but not peeled
16 shallots, peeled and trimmed, or 4 onions, peeled, trimmed and quartered, or 4 leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise
8 carrots, peeled, trimmed and quartered
4 celery stalks, trimmed and quartered
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon
16 prunes, optional (apricots or dried apples are also good in this dish)
1 chicken, whole or cut-up
1/2 small (2 lbs or less) cabbage, green or red, cut into 4 wedges (try Savoy cabbage)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine, or another 1/2 cup chicken broth
About 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, for the seal
About 3/4 cup hot water, for the seal

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Set a large skillet over high heat and add about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toss in the garlic cloves and all the vegetables, EXCEPT the cabbage - you might have to do this in two batches, you don't want to crowd the skillet - season generously with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned on all sides. Spoon the vegetables into a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid - you'll need a pot that holds at least 5 quarts. Stir in the herbs, lemon zest and prunes, if you're using them.

Return the skillet to the heat and add another tablespoon or so of oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides. Put the chicken in the casserole, nestling it among the vegetables. Fit the cabbage wedges around the chicken.

Stir together the chicken broth, wine and 1/2 cup olive oil and pour the mixture over the chicken and vegetables.

Now you have a choice: you can cover the pot with a sheet of aluminum foil and the lid, or you can make a paste to seal the lid. To make the paste, stir the flour and water together, mixing until you have a soft, workable dough. Working on a floured surface, shape the dough into a long sausage, then press the sausage onto the rim of the casserole. Press the lid into the dough to seal the pot.

Slide the pot into the oven and bake for 70 minutes. If you need to keep it in the oven a little longer because you're not ready for it, don't worry - turn the heat down to 325 degrees F and you'll be good for another 30 minutes or so.

The easiest way to break the seal, is to wiggle the point of a screwdriver between the dough and the pot - being careful not to stand in the line of the escaping (and wildly aromatic) steam. If the chicken was whole, quarter it and return it to the pot, so that you can serve directly from the pot, or arrange the chicken and vegetables on a serving platter.

Sweet Potato Fries



Right now. 


Right now, I am relearning how how to spend days alone with myself. 
And I’m trying to figure out if a Friday night ever made me truly happy and if I should part my hair to the left again and if I can drink coffee on an empty stomach (I can’t) and that I like waking up in the morning and walking alone and also that I like howling along to the same three CDs I keep in the car. 
These are tiny, quiet things. 
Sometimes, life is very quiet. 
I’ve been trying to not write too much. 
And not think too much. 
Because I am trying to be light. 
Just do the best for the day, and let that be enough. 
And not get bogged down in futures or pasts. 
Because otherwise it is all so difficult. 


So the leaves are rosy again and November looks and smells and tastes exactly the same. 
I’ve been eating a lot of apples lately and not doing anything in the kitchen because the mental forethought that that takes is kind of beyond me. 
I’ve got three sweet potatoes languishing in my cupboard that I wanted to make sweet potato fries with, but I keep forgetting which spices to buy. 
However, you should make them, because you will be popular and famous if you do. 
That is a promise. 
And darling love, Thanksgiving is just a few days away. 
And I am so thankful for you, so thankful for the more than two people who have returned to read about recipes here. 
It means a lot. 


Be safe. 
I wish you only the good things. 

xoxo

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato
from The Gourmet Cookbook

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds medium sweet potatos, scrubbed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Put rack in middle of oven adn preheat to 425 F.

Coarsely grind (or finely chop) coriander, fennel, oregano and red pepper flakes in coffe/spice grinder, a mortar with pestle, or chop them together very finely. Stir together spices and salt.
Cut potatos lenghtwise into one inch thick wedges. Toss with oil and spices in a roasting pan and spread out in one layer. Roast for 20 minutes.
Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.


The Best Breakfast Taco in Austin, Texas.


I ask people questions. 
It's like a bad party trick. 





I ask people questions like:

Do you believe in God?
And how do you pray?
And what does it feel like to be young?
And have you been in love?
And what does that feel like?
And how many people have you kissed?
And where do you find the best breakfast taco in Austin?

Because I have wanted to know the answers.


I wanted someone to explain God to me.

And I wanted to be shown how to pray because praying confuses me. 
And I wanted to know what people thought youth was, so that I would understand my own lack of comprehension. 
And I wanted to know love like it was a fact.
And I wanted to know how many people you kissed because it's a fun question to ask.
And I wanted to know where to find the best breakfast taco because really that's the most important question of all.



I don't feel like asking these questions so much right now. 

Because here is the thing.
I have been learning how to love the question itself.
Because these are blessed unknowns: God and prayer and youth and inexperience and love, it is all just a perpetual question mark.
There is no definite answer.
No finite conclusion to come to.
Maybe time is the only real answer.
I don't know.

That said.
There is one conclusion that I have come to.
One unalterable, finite, perfect truth: Austin, Texas is the best place in the world to eat a breakfast taco.
Without doubt.
Without question.
Below are some of my favorite tacos in this gorgeous city. 
When it comes to this, there are no question marks.
Only full stops.

All my love,

m


Tamale House
5003 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Phone number(512) 453-9842


Tacodeli 
4200 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78756
Phone number(512) 419-1900

Bouldin Creek Coffee House & Cafe


1900 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 416-1601


Counter Cafe

626 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
Phone number(512) 708-8800

Maria's Taco Xpress
2529 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 444-0261

Papalote Taco House
2803 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 804-2474


Torchy's Tacos
1311 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 366-0537

Dan's Hamburgers



5602 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Phone number(512) 459-3239