Here’s Bob Marley and the Wailing Wailers with Put it On.
In my dream I decided to legally change my name to Clairey the Observer. And in my dream this was my job (my dream job!), I was a professional observer. I just sat back and watched people and then I wrote about it. I made observations. I half-woke up and thought about what a nice job this would be in real life, I imagined myself on a high perch, taking notice of all that happened around me, and I thought about writing stories based on observations of people. I want this job! Unfortunately I didn’t dream about the part where you apply for the position, so I don’t know how to go about it. But then when I was fully-woken up, I looked up “observe” in the OED, as one does, so I’d be fully apprised of the job description before I undertake the employment. Observe. It’s such a rich and fascinating word. According to my understanding of the term in my dream, my main responsibility as an observer would be “To take notice of, be conscious of; to notice, perceive, see.” And then “To remark or make observations on.” If I was actually applying for this job, I would write in my cover letter, “I think I would be very good at taking notice and being conscious of things, because it’s very important to me to notice things, and not to just let them pass me by. I want to observe things and collect and keep them, and not just let life wash over me as though I was in a sleepy stupor. I want to be a keen observer, and notice even the small things and feel them, too.” Further duties of an observer would include acting “To watch over, look after, keep safe.” And I feel confidant that I could do this very ably. Just ask my dog or my sons, if anything I’m likely to keep too close a watch and generally look after too fondly and anxiously. I also understand that as an observer I might be called upon to abide by or adhere to or to maintain or uphold a mode of existence, a covenant, or a promise, and I assure you that in my day-to-day existence, I will strive to observe principles of curiosity, creativity, generosity, honesty, and, of course, verbosity and I will faithfully observe such small daily rituals as necessary to ensure a life fully lived and thoughtfully observed, as far as I am able. In summation, I would like to share the words of Francis Bacon, “If men will intend to observe, they shall finde much worthy to observe.” I hope that you will consider me for this position of observer, howsoever it shall be found and remunerated, yours sincerely and henceforth, Clairey the Observer.
Malcolm picked out some tofu at the grocery store. I only like tofu when it’s fried very crispy, and I don’t like the way my kitchen smells when I do that at home. So I had the bright idea to take it to work and ask the chef to put it in the fryer for a few minutes. And he very very kindly agreed, for which I am eternally grateful. I brought it home, and Malcolm and I made a sauce for it, consisting of tamari, honey, balsamic, and a bit of ginger. I decided to use this same treatment on some black beans, and pile these on some broccoli rabe as a backdrop for the tofu, so that is what we did. Quick and simple meal, but quite tasty, too. You could use broccoli instead of broccoli rabe, and just add it to the beans and cook until bright and tender.
My friend Diane sent me an e-mail wishing me a “happy first frost,” and asking if I’d make some sort of stew for her. So I made this first frost stew. So-called not just because it’s warm and comforting, but also because it’s four kinds of white, flecked with a little bit of green. Butterbeans, small white beans, potatoes and rutabaga mixed with lemon thyme and kale. Warm but brignt.
And, as ever, we have a recipe, too! This is an autumnal galette. The crust has walnuts and black pepper, and the inside has roasted beets and roasted mushrooms, as well as butterbeans sautéed with chard. It’s all topped off with smoked gouda. Lots of warm, sweet, earthy, smoky flavors!
Here’s The Boogie Monster by Gnarls Barkley
I love the eccentric ordinariness of this whole process. I love the way it’s described as part of his routine, as natural as making a meal. In describing his career trajectory, from gallery shows in New York in the seventies to relative obscurity (although he has a show in Paris at the moment) he seems more than resigned. As his career waned, he remained as productive as ever, perhaps even more so. ‘Removing himself from the New York scene gave him a “purity”, he says, by virtue of “not having a personality so involved in the dissemination of work”. But by his own admission, he “dropped out” in the late 80s. “Gallerists couldn’t sell my stuff,” he says matter-of-factly. “My work’s not the most optimistic. It’s not like Yosemite.”‘ In all of these things: his subject matter, his seeming need to take photographs, the fact that he hasn’t developed many of his negatives, or even looked at them, he reminds me of Vivian Maier, another brilliant photographer who had a unique view of the world all around us. They capture time as it passes, they save moments in the lives of strangers and make them into something remarkable–something worth noticing, something worth saving. There’s a feeling almost of melancholy in the works of both photographers, something almost lonely in a glimpse into the life of somebody else. But there’s tenderness and compassion, too: we feel a connection. Autumn empanadas!! These were warm and smoky, earthy, sweet and tangy. Very very nice on a chilly autumn evening. The kale and sweet potatoes are from the farm, as are the sage and rosemary. I used a combination of goat cheese and smoked gouda, for the nice contrast in flavor and texture. These were mostly soft and pleasing, but they did have a bit of crunch from the crust and the pecans.
Here’s Jimmy Smith with Just a Closer Walk With Thee.
And this was a nice sweet and tart curry of roasted butternut squash, roasted peppers, black beans coconut milk and lime. Earthy and warm and autumnal. Good with basmati rice. Very very versatile…you could add any kind of greens you have, or tomatoes, you could substitute sweet potatoes for butternut squash.
I think there’s nothing more comforting than mashed potatoes! They smell like a holiday while they’re cooking, and they’re so pleasing and soft and gently flavorful. I had some left over, and I wanted to make something that accentuated their comfortingness, so I made these little croquettes. I kept them very simple, but they’re not bland. It’s just mashed potatoes mixed with smushed white beans, eggs, white sharp cheddar, and rosemary and sage. Quick and easy. I made a red sauce to go with them, with some balsamic and garlic and shallots, so it’s got stronger sharper flavors which were nice against the simplicity of the croquettes.