What to do

I temporarily lost my mind last night. I bought a piece of fish from the fish monger up at Fairway and by the time I got it home and unpacked it, I had not one inkling of what to do with it. I tried to think about it. I tried to motivate myself to walk into the other room and pick up a cookbook. Couldn’t do that either. I decided to have the confidence that my mind would come back to me but fish has no time to wait. I was embarrassed for the fish. Poor thing gave it’s life for me, and I had no plan. It laid naked on the counter and looked off into the distance. I football coached. “You can’t tell a fish you’ll pick up the conversation with it on Sunday, maybe Monday when it’s Saturday and there is only the sweet smell of clean salt sea water and breezes coming from that fish. Caught fish evolve. They don’t hold on to that moment of freshness. GET OUT YOUR PAN AND COOK SOMETHING WOMAN!” The coach thing caused a spark. I remembered the balding head of Alfred Portale and his words “keep it simple” and felt him shove me off the bench and back in the mix. I put the pan down on the burner and kicked up the flame. I poured in an olive oil that can only lead to success. I hacked a few garlic cloves in two, and laid down a twig of parsley and lusty green basil leaves to simmer to an opaque. Out they came and in went the fish with a gesture of sea salt and pepper. In honor of my friend Mary, a whole pepperoncino joined it. I waited with the patience of a frog with an eye on dinner for the fish to brown. I flipped it. I added a knob of butter to the pan and a few chives and spooned it over until the salmon was only barely cooked through. That’s all I ate.

Don’t let ‘em take your plate

The sun came out today, and with it the temperatures went balmy. It caught me in a hammock–and like the first time you kiss someone who knows how to kiss–I could have stayed there for a lifetime. Except it left.
There is Spring in asparagus. And you can buy asparagus right now for $3.99 a bunch and it won’t go anywhere but home with you. Make a Roman ragout of peas (frozen if you have to) that are simmered together with a beautifully sauteed onion, a slice of prosciutto and the tiniest bit of stock. Stick the bunch of asparagus into simmering water that has been seasoned with salt and a dash of olive oil for exactly 4 minutes. Rush them out of the water, drain, and cover with ice. Drizzle with the most beautiful olive oil you can get your hands on. If you have it in you, peel an artichoke down to the heart, rub with lemon, sliver and saute with an uncut clove of garlic and some whole leaves of flat leaf parsley. Now get everything together, taste for salt and pepper and maybe a few fresh mint leaves and basil. Serve it over a grilled slice of bread and don’t let anybody take your plate away before you’re finished.

On uncooked pasta and peanuts

If I were to ask myself, “Faye, pick a person, place or thing that you remind yourself of in this very moment.”
I would have to answer, “I am the house on Extreme Home Makeover.”
I am in need of a bus that will park in front of me for about a week, with a team ready to take on the challenge.
My refrigerator would say the same. I have done my grocery shopping at the deli for the past four days with Ferdinand in tow, and a 3 minute window to get whatever I can reach before Ferdinand begged to go back home, drawing the attention of anyone close enough to see I have a child that shouldn’t have been anywhere but bed. There is a half bottle of rootbeer and one one of cream soda. There is a bag of carrots that were wilted before I bought them, 4 eggs and 1 sausage. I have a nearly full container of plain yogurt with a popularity rating of chicken suit late at night at an unprotected hen house.
I have no idea what I’m making for dinner. I’m having a feeling it might not happen. I’m having visions of turning my pantry drawer upside down on the kitchen table, and saying “Thats it; that’s all there is. No complaining.” And poor Ferd chewing his way through uncooked pasta and the odd peanut.

Two down

Two down with the flu in the house. One’s gone to Scotland. I am on the bed; Ferdinand is watching Jonny Test. It’s getting worse instead
of better and now it’s Sunday. My plan for full recovery before morning on Monday has been stomped on. Ferd looks like a limping advertisement for everything that can happen if you have a cold or flu. The good news: Ferdinand and I are dominating the Wii fitness test. We exercise our wrists from a chair, wrapped in a blanket. Before Ferdinand woke up I made 29 valentines. The bad news: there is just so much chicken stock you can get happy about.

And 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

When I see Ferdinand asleep against his pillow, his eyes closed to everything but his dreams, my knees go weak and I am filled with the ocean of how much I love him. I curl up beside him and could stroke the softest skin of his cheek, and feel his slow and steady breath against my own forever.
Sometimes it is the most tender collision that reminds of the width and depth within you.
Last night I crushed fennel seeds and stirred them into zucchini that I had cut into tiny cubes and sauteed in butter with a grind of salt and pepper.
It took my by surprise.
My heart beat with the beauty of it.

Beef stew in 3 parts

I am known to do what I call “pressure buying.” I see the chuck in the store, and I buy the beef thinking, “My child needs beef. My husband has been looking for beef since Christmas.” I am cranky, I am tired, I am terrible at helping with homework and don’t even break out of the blocks for creating a romantic atmosphere in the quiet of the evening (I’m sleeping.) There is nothing fetching in the way I put the pencil in my hair and I have removed the privilege of watching PG movies and Dino Strike for a month. I worry about my popularity rating. With high hopes, I throw the beef in the basket.
By the time stew meat is in the fridge it can easily slide from salvation to ball and chain, doubling guilt when it gets buried in the trash, raw.

Try taking it on in three parts. When you’re putting together bowls of cereal or fried eggs for dinner the night before, brown the meat with an onion cut in half,a bay leaf and half a piece of bacon. Then cook it through by covering it with chicken stock and simmering for as long as it takes to lose the pink. Refrigerate. Next day, throw it on a flame with a cover and simmer it for an hour and a half.
Third day (or if you did part two in the morning of the second day, you can do part three at night): saute an onion, and a minced clove of garlic with a few sprigs of thyme, a little chopped parsley. When the onion is completely and devistatingly delicious, add the beef with the stock, and a good pour of red wine. Simmer with a piece of parchment right up against the beef and liquid and then the lid set ajar. Peel some potatoes and get them going in salted water that has a hunk of butter in it. Drain well, season with salt and pepper and a few leaves of fresh tarragon. O h b a b y.