Archive: Nov 2011

  1. A Seat at the Table


    My parents never arranged a separate kid’s table and a grown-ups table during holiday meals. The youngsters ate what the adults ate and participated in the same rituals of passing the biscuits, hoarding the gravy, and holding each others warm, eager hands in gratitude for another meal, another year in good health and humor.

    Such a simple act of inclusion, a seat at the table. An act of affirmation, really… You, yes you, young one, have a unique and important way of looking at the world.  There is so much to be grateful for during the holidays, but a seat at the table has been a gift I’ve probably undervalued until lately.

    Respect was a reciprocal value in my house growing up – give respect, receive respect. Our opinions and perspectives were encouraged but more importantly, my parents invited us to the table and then they listened. They had enough respect to sit with us and walk alongside us in our crazy ideas. I know better now, as I’ve aged, that some people never get a seat at the table, no matter how old they are. I get it now. I’ve been on the outside, I’ve seen and felt what it’s like for youth to be dismissed as naïveté. Even now when I don’t get “a seat at the table” (figuratively speaking) I remember this. I give thanks for this. What a gift it is to for people to take us seriously.

    Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the table is there at every moment of each day to sit, stand, walk beside someone and give them room and respect to speak their truth. Through the rest of the year who will you invite to a seat at the table? Invite them. Just sit there. Really look at them. Hear their story. Reach out to the younger folk in your clan too – see them, affirm them. They’ll remember.

    This turned out to be much more festive than I first anticipated while wandering the aisles at the market today. I imagine it would make a great holiday side, but an even better weeknight meal turned sack-lunch. If kale isn’t your idea of a party dish, try spinach instead.

    Pomegranate + Kale + Pearl Onion Orzo 

    • 1 large bunch of kale (or two, if you’re a go-getter)
    • 2 pomegranates
    • 2 cups pearl onions
    • 2 shallot bulbs
    • 2 1/2 cups orzo

    Olive Oil + Orange + Honey Dressing

    • 1/3 cup good olive oil
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • juice of 1/2 an orange
    • 1 tsp raw honey

    Bring 2 medium-large pots to a boil with a bit of salt. In the first pot, boil pearl onions for 7-10 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, then remove skins. Set aside. For the second pot, boil orzo with a splash of olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Remove, strain, but do not rinse.

    Break open pomegranates one at a time, massaging out the seeds into a large bowl. Pick out the little white fibrous bits as you go along. This  can be a bit messy for the first time pomegranate handler, wear an apron! Alternatively, you could purchase pom. seeds in the produce section of your grocery. Once finished, return to the onions. to remove skins, cut off the bottom stem portion and peel the rest with your fingers. Cut in half and toss with the seeds in the big bowl. Finely dice the shallots and stir with the seeds and onions.

    Rinse out the onion pot and bring another bit of water to heat. Remove kale leaves from the tough spine and chop until very small bits. Not quite a mince, but a good chop. When the water is almost to a boil, immerse the kale and blanch for no more than 1 minute. Remove, strain the water, and toss with the pomegranate, onions, and so forth.

    Slowly stir in cooked orzo, 1 cup at a time. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, salt, orange juice (a little pulp is great too), and the honey. Pour over the entire bowl and stir again to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

  2. The Ordinary Instant


    “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” ― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

    This is my only offering this week. Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant. Death reminds us that our time on this planet is precious and unknown. All we have is this day. Today.  Ask yourself how much did you love? Would it be enough?

    Persimmon Scones

    With guidance from Tartine

    • 3 cups persimmons, chopped
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 tsp butter
    • 3 tsp sugar
    • 4 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 T. baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup  unsalted butter, very cold
    • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk or dairy-free alternative
    • (optional glaze or reduction, see footnotes)

    Preheat the oven to 400′. In a medium saucepan over high heat, melt 2 teaspoons of butter with vanilla and sugar, add chopped persimmons. Reduce heat and stir for 5-10 minutes until softened. Set aside.

    Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add sugar, salt, and stir together. Cut or shave the butter into dry ingredients. Use a fork or whisk to break up the butter into small chunks throughout the mixture.

    Add the buttermilk, then the persimmons. Mix lightly with a wooden spoon until the dough holds together, adding buttermilk or the reserved persimmon liquid to the dough as needed.

    Dust a piece of parchment paper with flour and turn out the dough. Pat the dough into a rectangle (if making round scones, er, hockey pucks like mine) or into two circles, about 1-2″ thick. Using a round cutter, press out scones and lay on a baking sheet with parchment paper making sure to leave at least 1″ of space between each scone. Sprinkle raw sugar over the tops, generously, and bake for 25-35 minutes until just slightly browned.

    *I think this Maple Nut Cream from Adrienneats, or a Maple Glaze from The Healthy Green Kitchen would make winning toppers to these guys. They’re more on the biscuit end, so a hit of sweet frosting or glaze would really make these a treat.

  3. Leek + Pear + Chanterelle Toasts


    I love rituals. When the week gets crazy, I can count on a few constants to keep my feet on the ground: exercise, packing a lunch, a phone call home, a big hug from Shaun when I walk in the door. Sunday rituals are the most important. For me, rituals are more than routine or repeated habits, they can be activities that help define our values and reestablish a connection to self, loved ones, and the planet at large.

    When we started fostering rescue dogs back in June, we began dedicating Sunday mornings to a long walk from our house down to the harbor. It helped socialize the dogs, but looking back I think it helped us more than our animal friends. On the way I’d pick up a coffee, Shaun would get apple juice and a croissant (or two) at the local café near our house. By the time we reached the water, my coffee was the perfect temperature and the dogs were ready for a rest. We’d sit on the benches in the shade and watch the banana barges from Central America unload shipping crates onto naked big-rig trailers on the dock. Shaun let me express my abhorrence for the free-trade agreements and cheap labor that brought the bananas here in the first place, but we both knew I needed the barges to be faithful on Sundays. Walking to see them was an oddly cathartic process. There was no past, no future. Just the dogs, the coffee, and the bananas.

    It’s been almost a month since we’ve had a quiet Sunday morning to walk to the harbor and I’ve found myself searching for something constant that can replace or substitute for those few certain, perfect, hours. Time slips like sand through my fingers, as of late. This weekend we traveled north to visit my parents where Shaun filmed a bit for my mom’s nonprofit, Wellness Within. Chilly walks, Jon Stewart re-runs, thoughtful conversation, and waking up in my old bedroom to the sound of rain falling on the skylight was ritual enough to keep me in step for a while.

    After a day in transit, no one really wants to work that hard in the kitchen. These simple, luscious toasts are the “welcome back” we needed today. As much as I love kale, it really can’t say “I love you” like these can. (wink).

    Leek, Pear, and Chanterelle Toasts

    • 4-6 thick slices country levain bread
    • 4-5 cups sliced leeks (whites + just a touch of green)
    • 1 comice pear, diced with skins on
    • 1 small cipollini onion, minced
    • 4-5 tbsp (good) olive oil
    • 1/4 cup white wine
    • salt + pepper to taste
    • goat cheese to spread
    Turn on this playlist. Bring a saucepan pan with a few lugs of olive oil to  medium heat and add leeks, stirring to coat and wilt for 3-5 minutes. Add finely diced pears, stir in the white wine, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to very low. In a second, smaller pan, mix finely sliced chanterelles and the cipollini with another lug of olive oil. Put on heat, and let simmer and reduce for 5-10 minutes. Slice bread, and throw under the broiler of your oven for just a few minutes until the edges crisp up.
    Smear some goat cheese on the toasts, then pile with the leek mixture, then top with chanterelles and juices. Don’t take yourself so seriously, eat with your hands and let it get messy on the plate. Enjoy.