And now, for something completely different. (Brought to you by not enough sleep and a really comfy blanket.)
Last week I found a couple leeks in the back of the fridge.
I cast around for a while trying to think of what to do with them. Then I went to the local produce stand, and found some cute little endives. (Excuse me–on-deeves. We’re classy here.)
Feliz Cinco de Mayo! I had a suitably Mexi-murrican recipe all lined up for this post, but, well, the day is almost over, and I realized I’ll have an equally beautiful opportunity to share it with you in a couple weeks. (Cryptic? What’s that?)
So instead, let me take a moment to pay tribute to my dear friend Kate. I’ve already mentioned Kate on this blog o’ mine–I put some chickpeas through a blender in her honor. Kate and I have known each other since middle school, when we bonded over our aching, thrilling, stubborn badge-of-pride outcast status. We grew from wilting eighth-graders to viciously snarky teens, and then went our separate ways to college and watched each other blossom from across the country.
Kate is allergic to gluten and intolerant of most refined sugar. But rather than let that stymie her love of food, she’s used it to inform a vibrant, fundamentally conscientious sense of where her food comes from and what it can do for her body. She has thrown herself wholeheartedly into the study and practice of nutrition and agriculture–she can talk for hours about soil cultivation and the body-fortifying properties of your weekly grocery haul. And, as if that weren’t enough, she’s a damn good cook.
In fact, she recently taught me how to tame one of my biggest kitchen bugaboos. It’s a task I’ve attempted many a time, always with the same nearly-inedible result. Not only was this devilishly frustrating, but it just about convinced me to swear off trying forever. But then Kate made it look easy.
She helped me scramble an egg.
You know what? It’s spring. The air is soft and downy, shot through with veins of light and blossom scent. The sky is bottomless blue, the kind of super-saturated color that makes my teeth ache (no, really). The market stalls are overflowing with bright clamoring produce, so fresh and blink-you’ll-miss-it-seasonal that it’s tempting to bring home bagfuls and just eat it, unadorned.
This is the season when I start to lose patience with fuss. In the winter, I’m perfectly content to hone my kitchen-sink cooking and practice all manner of fancy flourishes. But when the clouds break and the temperatures climb, I want something different altogether. I want fresh, and simple, and clean. I want to really taste spring in my food.
My father grew up in a kosher household in Brooklyn. When he was 16, he went to a Yankees game during Passover. Without thinking about it, he got a hot dog. You know, like you do. Then, halfway through the wiener, he realized his error. A hot dog! On a bun! During Passover!
He stopped and considered. The sun was shining. The Yanks were winning. God hadn’t sent down a thunderbolt and incinerated him right there in his bleacher seat. So he said what the hell, finished the hot dog, and never kept kosher again.
In this, as in so many other things, I am my father’s daughter. Judaism, for me, is rather like the Pirates’ Code. I’ve never kept kosher in my life, and certainly never for Passover. So it’s no surprise that I only thought I was being clever when I came up with a recipe using a non-wheat flour for my family’s early seder this weekend. But, as it turns out, I used chickpeas. And chickpeas are not kosher for Passover, at least if you’re Ashkenazi. Whoops.
But I still served my dish, and it was delicious. So…there.
Do you ever have the kind of workweek where you go in expecting to have an easy-breezy time, and instead your office is handed a bomb with a sizzling fuse? Where your boss was supposed to be on vacation, but instead has to come back to defuse said bomb, and his frantic, disappointed aura sours everyone’s mood? Where you spend days on end combing through the haystack that is Google, looking for needles that may or may not exist? Where, to add insult to injury, the sky is gemstone-blue and the air is perfumed with fruit blossoms and the sun is high and bright for the first time so far this year, and you’re stuck indoors for all of it? Where you come home every night tasting sleep in your mouth, wishing to somehow melt your corporeal self into your mattress and lose consciousness for a million years?
Yeah. That was my week.
I’ve had no spare energy left for creativity. Which is a shame, because I had a really fabulous time cooking with friends over the weekend, and I’ve completely run out of words to describe it. I’ll try, though.
I’m dying to tell you all about what I made last night. DYING. But I can’t.
I know, what a way to start, right? But I just can’t tell you yet. You see, I have to wait two whole weeks before it’ll be ready. And if I have to wait for two weeks, you have to wait for two weeks. I’m sorry. Them’s the breaks.
Instead, I’m going to talk about oatmeal. (Wait, where are you going?)
Specifically, the politics of oatmeal. (No, come back!)
Bear with me, because I’m about to make a statement that just might be downright un-American: oatmeal doesn’t have to be sweet.
You guys, it’s the end of an era. The Minimalist is no more.
I’ve read Mark Bittman’s Minimalist columns in the New York Times for years now. His writing has been an inspiration, a lifeline, a swift kick in the pants. His recipes always look delicious. I want to make them all. Someday, I will.
So today’s post is a tribute of sorts. I’ll admit, though, that this is not a Minimalist recipe.
But I’m sure he’d approve.