Get it where you can

I have lost my drive, my momentum, my chutzpa. I feel like pasta that’s been overcooked and sat on and not worth scraping up off the chair to put back in the bowl. I want to check things off my list about as much as I want to pluck a chicken. The thing is, nobody else is showing up at my door to do get anything done for me, and I’ll tell you what, they’re not coming. This is when I have to go looking for love, to go out there and find what moves me, what talks to me, and what’s going to get my blood to start shoving its way through my veins again.

The cheese counter, with somebody working it that loves cheese possibly as much as their first born, is a safe place to start. You know you have hit the right place when they can’t help but get you to taste just one more kind until they find the one that makes your mouth melt and your eyes light up and you remember what a beautiful thing life is.

I go to Fairway in Red Hook, and I bought Tomme Crayeuse.  A creamy kind of, smooth on the tongue and kind to the soul cheese from the Swiss Alps that transports you to the place of, “I need this; give me more.”  You know how on Christmas morning you just ate a tangerine and the smell of the Christmas tree is hanging on your heart and in your nose and you have the sensation of the really good chocolate that you had for your first breakfast still on your tongue?  It’s like that.  And that is going to get you to start your to-do list.

Make lentils to go with it. Start with a soffritto of  a pound of carrots, two yellow onions and  the inside stalks from a head of celery.  Dice them all into tiny squares by hand and saute them in your best olive oil.  Start with a three cloves of whole garlic, get them all gorgeous and golden, then add the rest.  Cook over a low to medium flame, stirring often, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add a sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme.  Cook it until you can barely  resist eating the lot before you get the lentils in.  In a separate pot, get the lentils going in cold water, once they have been well rinsed.  Add a spill of olive oil, a garlic clove, and a sprig of thyme.  They should be covered and cooked over a low flame.  You don’t need to soak them first. When the vegetables are ready,  move them to the side of the pan a bit, and add a few tablespoons of tomato paste.  Toast it on the little hot spot, and then mix everything together, adding chicken stock, vegetable stock, or just a little water.  Strain the lentils, reserving the liquid if you have no homemade stock, and add those as well.  Add as much of the reserved liquid as you need to make the right consistency.  You can puree some of the lentils as well, if you like a thicker soup.  Drizzle with olive oil and serve with good bread.  I like this baby spinach or arugula salad with homemade croutons, sliced boiled egg, bits of bacon and sauteed mushrooms.

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