stovetop, salad bowl, low oven

this morning, and through the afternoon, it was classic rock on the radio (in its best and worst iterations) me, and the kitchen: humming, hemming, hawing; bustling & burbling.


made a big batch of creamy red beans with onion–sliced– & garlic–minced– cooked down with anchovy & thyme; threw in hot sauce, red wine vinegar, and oodles of late-afternoon-sun-colored extra virgin olive oil–glassy golden green, sharp, and exuberantly, after a couple of quick folds, making the beans still creamier.

made a salad with leftover green beans–cooked last night with some thick-sliced white onion–and sardines, anchovy, italian parsley, cucumber, mint.

made a batch of maple & olive oil granola with almonds, candied ginger and prunes.

there is something so peaceful–restorative, even–about just you and your wooden spoon & spatula, your stovetop, your salad bowl, your oven on low.

the week will bring every iteration of beans–with flatbread, on salad, topped off with feta or cold roast chicken or carrot salad.

but for now they’re cooling in the big orange dutch oven, and the granola is waiting to be transferred to mason jars. that salad packed with oily fish and fresh herbs, on the other hand, is long gone.

fog linen work / @odetosunday / not without salt / kisses sweeter than wine / john laurie / age old tree

lately

lately, I’ve been into the quiet life. a glass of wine on the porch. reading about life on a northern farm with plenty of soft light and sprinkles. listening to the radio rather than absorbing all the white noise on a front page through stinging eyes; rather, letting it take on the appropriate medium, tuning in & out as need be.

lately, I’ve been buying swathes of leafy greens, leaving the kitchen door open to let in an early spring as I wash & dry and sauté them, and eating them with cold roast chicken and crusty bread. I’ve remembered cooking in new york, where I shopped at farmer’s markets and took long walks and braised all those pretty vegetables in copious amounts of olive oil–and that’s about it. and I relished the aloneness, the quietude, the simplicity of my small life in that big city.

lately, I’ve been contemplating the serenity of cats, and burying myself in books, and trying, mostly, to be as peaceful and full of grace and graciousness as possible.

molly yeh / paris review

some things

some things just always taste better when someone else makes them. cookies, for instance. a modicum of effort involved, but they’re a quintessential treat. to which you want to be treated.

making cookies is quite gratifying, don’t get me wrong, but isn’t much of the gratification derived by the tactile process, the warm kitchen and the sweet smells, by sharing said cookies with your friends & neighbors? not, in fact, through eating the fruits of your labor and stowing away leftovers for the week to come?

and is it not still more gratifying to eat homemade cookies with no guilt-ridden obligation (read: guilt-ridden desire) to plow through the leftovers, much less deal with the whole ‘tactile process’ song & dance?

tuna salad. tuna salad is something that just tastes better when your mom makes it, or even when you buy it from a deli and eat it out of a plastic tub. is it just too simple to satisfy when tasked with making it oneself? am I, personally, possessing too snobbish a palate to ever achieve pure, unfettered, mayonnaisey tuna salad greatness? always throwing in some boiled potatoes or cannellini beans or a bevy of fresh herbs.

clearly it’s all tied up in a mess of nostalgia, tied to moms and simple pleasures and the freedom to let one’s mind wander while enjoying a tuna sandwich and some cookies, in a reverie of self-involvement. no strings-attached satisfaction. no worries about how the batch came out or the dishes or the leftovers. just, joy.

rose & crown / orangette

lately

lately, it’s been rainy, all the doom & gloom of late summer in mid-August, Texas. I know we have months of that cauterizing heat left, the ecstatic sun I irrationally, sentimentally hold dear, but right now it feels like fall is right around the corner.

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in honor of the Parisian weather, I made lentil salad. Sunday morning woke up sleepy-headed and cooked up some thick-cut bacon, using stale bread to soak up the excess fat from the rashers like a paper towel laid down by one’s well-meaning, fool mother, and some more to sop up what was left in the cast iron; truly, a blissful seance.

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then, I sauteed carrots, onions, garlic and parsley until tender & aromatic while I cooked up those gems of the legume family, those pretty little black beluga lentils. tossed them all together with a mustardy vinaigrette, adding floral tarragon and licorice-sweet basil and cow’s milk feta.

to be enjoyed with bacon, bacon grease, a crusty bread–even a humble loaf at death’s door!–and Tabasco, the only hot sauce suited for Parisian doom & gloom.

carrot salad, balance, intuition

I made carrot salad the other day–one of my very favorites.

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a variation on a French theme. something referred to, sometimes, as salade rapide. slow food whipped up quickly.

sometimes, it features raw beets as well as carrots (a glorious, jewel-toned variation). sometimes, it has pistachios (mine had walnuts, either addition has a toothsome richness that balances out a dish at once complex and simple; a few ingredients muddling the distinction between earthy and sweet).

it’s a wildly pleasant thing, carrot salad. mineral, crunchy and juicy, sharp with coarse black pepper and mustard vinaigrette, boasting of an entire bunch of parsley, whose verdant freshness balances out the root vegetables. (parsley just tastes green.)

carrot salad is a color story, too–a bright little bowl of winter & spring, roots & herbs, of contrast. it’s lovely that you can see the dish’s balance, just as you can taste it.

lately, balance has struck me as interdisciplinary, cross-sensory.
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watched Antonioni’s Red Desert the other night, and found its colors suggestively mesh & viscerally collide with each scene’s mood, its ambling dialogue & piercing post-industrial sounds.
the film precariously balances quiet & loud, but mostly is a piece of remarkable visual storytelling–it is a moving painting.

also read this interview with David Lynch in AnOther magazine, in which he discusses the relationships between film & painting, or, for our purposes, between color & sound or taste or mood. between the visual & the aural, or the imaged & the imagined).

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that’s the thing about balance, and the relationship between the sensory & the cerebral: these things have a way of wanting to be; and, perhaps more importantly, it’s not intellectual, but intuitive.

so, no recipe for carrot salad–one that’s set in stone doesn’t exist. you create the balance, by knowing your ingredients, by tasting and looking for something that’s a composed mess, a garble of winter & spring. no spelunking the philosophical depths of Antonioni. sometimes, you just let a thing of beauty and balance be.

xxoo

chicken & rice

today, I made a big batch of rice with cilantro, scallions and steamed spinach; some olive oil, european butter, plenty of salt + pepper.

whipped out julia child’s quintessential tome to remind myself of how, exactly, to cook rice, a ragged copy of mastering the art of french cooking, dog-eared and stained despite being used mostly to remind myself, over and over again, of how, exactly, to make homemade mayonnaise.

the rice is to be had with roasted chicken and a smattering of feta, the former being something I’m proficient in making myself without the aid of julia, but is sometimes–on cool winter nights that edge on balmy, that speak of spring–still more satisfying purchased from the neighborhood mexican diner two city blocks away, a hidden gem unchanged by time and boasting the finest roast chicken in town, chicken crispy-skinned and so tender it falls of the bone if you look at it funny.

chicken & rice. this is the food of finally, in late January, pausing to reflect upon the past year and the upcoming one. the food of slowing down, of looking up, of nostalgia and of the most basic makings of a happy, productive life–ingredients for contentedness that will never, blissfully, thankfully, change.

xo

film stills from amelie.

lately

lately, I’ve remembered what it’s like to put on some jams & get lost in thought thinking of nothing, daydreaming a blank.
psych-punk, pop-punk, dreamy garage riffs, the stuff that feels nostalgic and new at once. the stuff that you don’t think too much about, you just dream or dance.

lately I’ve been into winter greens, or, rather, winter rainbows. made a salad of rainbow chard, red kale, chickpeas, feta, smoked chicken and prom-queen-pink watermelon radish.

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and rosy-gold aperitifs with cocchi rosa americano, sweet vermouth, soda & an orange twist recalling italy–the land of premixed, bittersweet campari & soda in a little glass bottle, available for purchase at espresso bars.

there’s something whimsical about apertifs; they’re elegantly understated & reserved, yet, cheeky, light. they wink.
they’re an exercise in balance, and a splash of fiery orange or vibrant pink–or even the dusky yellow of lillet–mediates the mid-winter blues.

lately, I’ve been into negative & positive space, the interplay between light and dark, bright and pale. finding the intersections, parallels and divisions between mood, emotion and sensibility versus intellect, the analytical, the measured, the staid.

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film still: the final scene in antonioni’s the passenger