Soaking first and cooking later

When you are about to move, you could just open your refrigerator and throw it all away–and listen, there are times when a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do–but you could cook it all instead. Now that I am forty two, what used to be really important to me, like making sure that a husband is happy at all costs, is starting to slide down the scale closer to happy yes, but at all costs, no, and things like throwing food away and recycling and taking time out to go a hot water spring with my girlfriends is surging ahead. So when I got home from floating around for the afternoon in a sulfur spa, sipping blood reviving drinks concocted from pulverized raw carrots, fennel, pineapple and blood orange, I cleaned out the fridge, and made dinner.
I am leaving for Villa Giaggioli just south of Florence near a town called Rignano sul’arno to teach for two more weeks. I have no patience for taking old groceries with me, but people are hungry in the world, and it is a blessing to be surrounded by food. As a cook, I have a responsibility. I have no oven in my little rental, so I cut up the potatoes into small chunks and boiled them in salted water with a splash of olive oil. (Never add oil to pasta water; it will make the pasta slick, and the sauce won’t adhere to it.) Then I heated up a pan with more olive oil and whole garlic cloves, and added the potatoes to brown them. I served them with whole string beans, marinated in more of my beautiful oil and a little salt, and piled the two next to each other with a row of caramelized red onion right down the middle. I marinated the cannellini, and mixed in sauted swiss chard. Be sure to drain the swiss chard after you saute to get rid of the extra water.
I served it all with a big piece of gorgeous parmigiano reggiano and some sausages, with fresh cherries and chocolate for dessert.
It’s not a bad idea at all to make yourself happy.

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