Even the dog was worried when it came time for dinner last night. The echoes in the cupboard were canyonish. I suggested we have a cream of carrot soup with crushed cardamom pods. Silence–also canyonish. We could have had arborio rice from an unknown amount of time ago, or we could have done a cleanse with clementines and red pepper flakes. We had oatmeal and soy sauce in the drawer. I ate the ginko berries while I was pondering. A can of black beans showed themselves. HA! I found two stalks of celery, two carrots, a leek, a few leek tops, a few cloves of garlic and a massive potato and sauteed the whole mix up with olive oil and butter and fresh looking parsley sprigs. I wished I had some fresh cilantro. I crushed fennel seed and coriander seed and added it to the pot. When the potatoes stuck to the bottom, making a golden crust, I added plain tap water, salt and pepper and put the cover on. After a few minutes I remembered the beans. I rinsed them and dumped them in. There is something about random ingredients in their own broth that makes you put the cover back on and take a deep breath of relief and worry all at the same time. I gave it a pour of red wine. I let it cook until the potatoes were absolute tender and decided to puree the whole thing. Genius. I made a cornbread and baked it under the broiler. Who knew? I rubbed butter on the top of the pone and stirred butter into the soup for good measure. They ate it. They even asked for more.
The car is lovely as it ever was on the outside. On the inside it’s knocking out it’s final tune of Taps. Ferd wears his walking boots for the morning ride to school just in case we have to call the Last Tow. As of yesterday, I could easily make dinner in the time it took for the computer to take the short walk from Safari to my mailbox.
Jonathan said, “We can get a new computer or a very old car.”
I cannot drive my way to fayefood. I cannot edit on a combustible engine. I feel bad that Ferdinand is going to have to get better boots, but I’ll be right there with him.
It’s soup time. Make your own creamy tomato. Put a boat motor to a can of San Marzano. Heat up a little olive oil in the pan and add a twig of rosemary and one of parsley. Add three fat cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled, but not cut. Get a little color on them. Add the tomatoes. Let the whole thing go for about 5 minutes. Remove the sprig of rosemary. Smash the cloves of garlic with the flat edge of your knife and then add them back to the soup. Add whole milk until it’s the shade you like. Add a little heavy cream if your feet are feeling it. Taste for sea salt and freshly ground pepper. (buy yourself some sea salt if you don’t have it. Yes, it’s worth it and so are you.) Serve with cheese toasties and something deep dark and green.
I am not moving much from my desk chair because I am consumed. It’s not always convenient to be consumed.
It’s like air so clean it stops you moving or water rushing over you on the hottest day of August.Â It’s falling in love hook, line and sinker. At the moment I’m in love a project.
I drag myself to the computer before the sun shows itself and stay here every minute I’m not needed by the exigencies of life. I’m almost positive that Ferdinand has invited dinner guests for Saturday night, so just in case I’m caught not ready I made some onions. I can make them part of a cheese board with saucisson, toasted nuts, dried fruits, and olives, or sear a pork loin, pour a half a bottle of a deep red wine into the pan and surround it with sage, thyme rosemary, garlic cloves, tomato and when it’s done, serve the onions with roasted potatoes on the side. There is only good in caramelized onions stirred into farfalle with parmesan, parsley, a little chicken stock, and a drop of cream to smooth the whole thing into a Saturday night supper.
Start by thinly slicing four small onions. Add a pour of olive oil to a heavy skillet along with a knob of butter (be sure your olive oil and butter are beautiful;) when it starts to sizzle, add the onions with two whole cloves, a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, a parsley sprig. If you want to keep sliding, add a sliver of orange zest and a crushed cardamom pod. Give it a sprinkle of sugar–just a few pinches. Now a little pour of vinegar–sherry vinegar, red wine, or balsamic–they’re all good. Keep the onions over a medium heat and keep your eye on them. The onions are done when they are a deep golden and irresistible. If you think they’re done but you aren’t sure, keep going; you’ll know when you get there.
I made chicken soup last night with a whole new kind of seasoning called Asperso. I love it. It’s salty and sassy and Florence in a jar. I put it on broccoli, I sprinkled it on grilled bread, and I could see it bringing a whole new life to potatoes. It’s sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, juniper, marjoram, garlic, black pepper, white pepper and pepperoncino. And thank goodness for flavor in a jar when you need it–my mind was pickled and freeze dried.
Last night after the world in my house was quite and I was in my bed, I heard the boiler calling to me. It was a heavy weight in the basement with a sledgehammer. It was an iron bowling ball competition. It was saying “Hey Woman! You! Get up out of that bed and Worry!” I made my professional opinion as only a 47 year old who has lived with a boiler all her life and never known the name of one can. I turned the light on and listened some more. I decided it was the water level. I waited for reason to take over, and then I decided I was definitely right–it was the water and there wasn’t enough of it and I had to get out of the bed. I took a deep breath and put my slippers on. I put my coat on. I went down to the basement and found the light switch. I looked at the boiler. It looked metal. I checked the water level; half of what it should be. The responsibility of being right became unreasonable and unshakable. I remembered something about water replacement and started to look for what could start the water gushing in. I pressed a button. No response. I pressed it again. Nothing. I turned a few red valves. I tried some yellow ones. Still nothing. I stood back and took a good look at the boiler again. It looked even more metal than before. I thought about calling the plumber and tried to calculate how much it would cost for him to come out on a Sunday night that was technically now Monday morning. I turned off the light. I got back in the bed. The dog was unsure and stayed standing. An hour went by and nothing blew. Still, that was no proof it couldn’t. I put my slippers back on and checked the computer for pictures of boilers. I got an image of something on a submarine. I checked boiler chat boards. I thought about joining one for money. I went back down to the basement and the water level had risen. I love mental telepathy.
Unfortunately, nothing I didn’t buy ever showed up in my fridge yesterday. I made the most of a frozen veal knuckle ($1.25) by making stock. Leeks, parsley, celery fronds, the last carrot, thyme sprigs and a bay leaf. I would have thrown a garlic clove in there if I had had one, but I didn’t. I made a batuto of finely diced carrot, onion, celery and chopped parsley and then turned it into a soffritto by throwing into the saute pan with some salt, pepper and olive oil. I cooked it until it was knock down delicious. I added a few peeled, cubed yukon gold potatoes and let them stick. I added chic peas. I cooked one piece of top shelf smoked bacon on the side, dabbed it on a piece of brown paper, chopped it up, and got it in the mix. Poured just the juices in from a can of plum tomatoes and what it really needed was a serious pour of red wine, but I was too cheap to open a bottle just for the soup. I added a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Added veal stock, and a handful of arborio rice. When the rice was tender, a handful of parmesan. If I had had garlic, I would have minced some up with lemon peel and parsely and toasted bread crumbs and sprinkled that on top. Ferd didn’t miss it and ate it just the same. He especially liked the homemade focaccia which he saved for last.
I had one egg, one piece of toast and some sorry peas. Ferd had an omelette, pasta and some string beans. When he saw the omelette he said, “oh mom; please.” He hates omelettes. I have this idea that if he doesn’t eat eggs at least once every two weeks, he won’t grow brain cells the way he should or hair or something. One day he’s going to grow up and realize my facts are all based on feelings.
For dessert we both had pieces of his Chocolate Santa that sits in the fridge door. He thought I didn’t see how much he took and I know he didn’t see how much I took.
Tonight, winter tonic. Soup started with 2 leeks, 3 cloves of fresh garlic (it’s a lot but it tastes really good), chopped flat leaf parsley and a few thyme sprigs til tender, then one potato peeled (yukon) and saute til it sticks to the pan. Salt and pepper. Then the top from on broccoli stalk, chopped, added to the saute. Then homemade chix stock til potatoes are tender. At last minute, a bunch of baby spinach, well rinsed, and stirred in the hot liquid until bright green.
Set it in a bowl of ice water to preserve color, sieve liquid, reserving it. Puree the solids, and add enough liquid to the right consistency. Add a bit of butter, grated parmesan cheese and if you like it, a drop of cream. (I like it.)
I knew the car wasn’t going to start. I could have told you that last week without even looking at it. I am a visceral evaluator of automobiles. Ferdinand and I got outside with lunch packed, coats on, and the car wouldn’t start. We live in New York City, but in a particular part of New York City where buses only come every half hour and there are no taxis for hire, but they are everywhere. Piles of them. Queens is where taxis come to change shifts or fuel up or for repair, and they have no interest in picking you up.
We started to run for the corner, because I am hopeful. Hopeful grows in Queens in leaps in bounds–there are more countries from around the world represented in Queens than any other place, but what you need in Queens is practical. Walking shoes, or a cell phone with the number for a limo or the good sense to go back to bed.
We started walking. I stopped five taxis, and they all said no. I said to Ferd, “this is like the Lord looking for a place to be born.” Ferd said, “the Lord had to be born. I don’t have to go to school.” A few hundred yards from the underneath of the 59th street bridge I asked a taxi mechanic if he knew anyone who could give us a ride. “All the taxis are broken here. They’re no good. They don’t go. Where do you go?” I gave him the cross streets. “OOOOOOO, he said. That is far. That is very far.”
We kept walking. And then five minutes later, we heard a horn beeping, and an old, broken down, battered up yellow cab with the mechanic driving it stopped. “Open the door and get in,” he said. “I take you.”
“I love you.” I said. “You are so nice, you are just he nicest man alive.”
“I told myself, it’s a good way for me to start the New Year, to give you a ride. So, I give you a ride.”
We were only ten minutes late. I offered the mechanic money for the ride and he wouldn’t take it. I told him I wished him more love for the new year.
The guard at the front desk let me sign Ferd in and even though I had no ID. I told her I loved her.
I walked home. I beat the bus.
For dinner I made some of the best black beans I have ever made.
1 can black beans well rinsed. To start: 1/4 of medium size yellow onion, finely chopped, 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley, sauteed in a fair amount of olive oil with salt, pepper, and chile if you want it. (I didn’t) Grind a half teaspoon each cumin and coriander, and when the onions are completely cooked through and going golden, stir in the spice. Add one clove of fresh and finely minced garlic to a little nude spot in the middle of the pan, then once cooked, stir the garlic through. Add the beans and a good cup of homemade chicken stock. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, then smash through with a fork. Taste for salt. Serve with buttered rice, tortillas, shredded chix, and here is the clincher: avocado, tomatillo sauce. Oh so good. 1 avocado, 2 roughly chopped tomatillos, 1 clove of smashed fresh garlic and the juice of one lime. Put it all in the food processor and blend just til chunky. Taste for salt and pepper.