Crostini with roasted red pepper/hazelnut sauce, capers, and olives

Red pepper and hazelnut crostini

Red pepper and hazelnut crostini

Malcolm yelled “Good luck!” to the bald eagle. Before work on Sunday, the first and only really lovely spring day this year, Malcolm and Clio and I went for a “run.” It was more of a fast walk, because he’d just eaten pancakes, but that suited me exactly. We came to the place where a bald eagle had built a nest across the canal. A big, random-looking pile of sticks on the top of a huge metal tower.
The tower last year, before the nest was built. What are these things called?

The tower last year, before the nest was built. What are these things called?


I hadn’t actually seen an eagle there, but I stopped to look every time we passed. This time I saw a big hulking bird farther down the tower, and I asked Malcolm if it had a white head, because I couldn’t see that far, and it could have been a vulture. It did! It did have a white head! We walked back on the other side of the canal, to get a closer look. Malcolm was talking cheerfully about his schemes for the future, and I was thinking how good it felt to go for a walk with him again, and hear his zany chatter, after a long, shut-in winter. When we got to the tower, the eagle was gone, but we stood for a moment looking up into the bright blue sky. You could feel the earth getting warmer all around us, waking up and coming to life. And then the eagle flew up out of the river, and landed very low on the tower, where we could see it perfectly. It was a stunning moment, it’s not an exaggeration to say that it felt as if my heart soared up with the eagle. We watched it for a while, sitting there so beautiful and impossibly large and completely cool, and then Malcolm yelled, “Good luck,” and we walked home. It felt so sunny, to hear him say that, to think about Malcolm encouraging this huge unruffled raptor. It seems so precarious to try to raise chicks on the top of a tower that holds power lines, in a world full of people, it feels like such a hopeful thing to do. I’ve been feeling vaguely anxious lately about equally vague events that may-or-may not happen. Worried about the future more than usual, troubled by time passing though I know there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. It feels good to take a walk, and see the eagles and the geese sitting on their nests in the sunshine, everybody is doing what they have to do, getting on with their lives, waking with the spring. Isaac recently showed me the sign for “All you need.” You hold your hands together in front of you, and then spread them to your sides. It’s a beautiful gesture, particularly as performed by a serious eight-year-old. It seems like a good gesture to make when you’re feeling anxious, to remind yourself of what you have, and that all you can do is what you have to do, and try feel good about what you’re working on and where you’re going. It’s a gesture like spreading wings in the sunshine.

Isaac likes crostini. I made these last week after he’d been sick for a few days and eaten nothing but toast. These were like a step up from toast, and Isaac ate quite a few. The sauce itself is inspired by romesco sauce, and it’s sweet smoky nuttiness goes well with the sharp saltiness of capers and olives. It made a nice meal with a big salad.

Here’s All I Need by Radiohead.
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Roasted mushroom, pine nut and olive pizza with a mashed potato crust

Roasted mushroom and olive pizza with a mashed potato crust

Roasted mushroom and olive pizza with a mashed potato crust

Sleepy John Estes had a “…tendency to withdraw from his surroundings into drowsiness whenever life was too cruel or too boring to warrant full attention,” according to blues historian Bob Koester. In a strange way, when I read this I thought, “I know what that feels like!” I’ve always gotten very tired when I feel nervous or confused, and I sometimes I think I feel tired all the time because I don’t sleep very well…I’m half-awake all night and half-asleep all day. I wonder if Sleepy John Estes felt that way, too, because he sings, “You know I worried last night and all night before/ You know by that I won’t be worried no more/ I was worried for you, I was worried for me/ You know by that I’m gon’ let it be.” It’s a beautiful song with a kazoo, and I love to hear him say that he’s not going to worry any more, but we all know that’s easier said than done. There’s something about Sleepy John Estes songs that makes them easy to relate to, that makes them very powerful though they’re often quite simple. He talks about his life, he talks about the people he meets, and the events that effect him from day to day, and though the subject is quotidian, his language is resonant and the music is perfect. He’s another patron saint of The Ordinary.
By R. Crumb

By R. Crumb


He talks about waiting for the mailman, hoping for some good news. “Now I been waiting on the mailman : he usually come around about eleven o’clock/ Now I guess he must have had car trouble : or either the road must be blocked/ Mailman : please don’t you lose your head/ You know I’m looking for a letter from my babe : some of my people might be dead.” He tells the story of a fire in his town,”When you see the chief : boys please clear the street/ Because you know he’s going down : save little Martha Hardin’s house for me/ She’s a hard‑working woman : you know her salary is very small/ Then when she pay up her house rent : that don’t leave anything for insurance at all./ Now I wrote little Martha a letter : five days it returned back to me/ You know little Martha Hardin’s house done burnt down : she done moved on Bathurst Street.” It’s almost as though he’s reporting on the local news, but though the details are small and specific, the words and imagery are so urgent the tale becomes more universal. In Floating Bridge, Estes tells of a time he nearly drowned during a flood. It feels dreamlike and mythological, he talks of the flood and of drowning and rebirth. “Now I never will forget that floating bridge/ Tell me five minutes time under the water I was hid/ When I was going down I thowed up my hands/ Now they carried me in the house and they laid me ‘cross the bank/ “Bout a gallon-and-half muddy water I had drank/ Now they dried me off and they laid me in the bed/ Couldn’t hear nothin’ but muddy water runnnin’ through my head/ Now, people standin’ on the bridge, screamin’ and cry in’ People on the bridge was screamin’ and cry in’” It’s so beautiful and wild and surreally real. One of my favorite songs is Clean Up at Home. It’s a rare sentiment in any kind of music. It really is about cleaning up your home, but it’s also about taking care of yourself and what you have and who you have, it’s about tending your own garden.

I wash my clothes, I hang ‘em by the fire
Get up in the mornin’ they be thoroughly dry
CHORUS: Clean up at home, clean up at home
Clean up at home, I ‘clare you can’t go wrong

I went to the beer tavern, tryin’ to make me a dime
Said, “Go ‘way, boy, clean up and git on some time.”
CHORUS

Five cents cap and ten cent suit
Then y’all think I’m tryin’ to act cute, I want to
CHORUS

I was doin’ somethin’ that you can’t do
Go ’round on State Street, get a woman for a pot of stew, you have to
CHORUS: Clean up at home, you have to clean up at home,
Clean up at home, I ‘clare you can’t go wrong

I played for the colored, I played for the white
All you got to do, act kinda nice, you got to
CHORUS: Clean up at home, you got to clean up at home
Clean up at home, ‘clare you can’t go wrong

Yeah. I was worried last night and the night before, but I ain’t gonna be worried no more.

THE PIZZA:
I was feeling sort of wobbly all week last week, so I kept making bread, comforting foods. Here’s one! It’s a sort of pizza, but it has a mashed potato crust. This makes the crust quite soft, it’s more of a knife-and-fork pizza. The crust is comforting, but the topping is quite flavorful–roasted mushrooms, olives, and a mixture of sharp cheddar, mozzarella and smoked gouda. A nice meal for a reluctant spring.

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Pizza with olives, capers, caramelized onions and sweet potato mash

Pizza with sweet potatoes, olives, capers, and caramelized onions

Pizza with sweet potatoes, olives, capers, and caramelized onions

Yesterday Malcolm told me that my nickname is “dictionary.” I love it! I more than love it, I’ve decided that I want to be a superhero called “The Dictionary.” I wouldn’t be a snarky sort of superhero who went around telling people they used the wrong form of “their,” or they used “less” when they should have used “fewer.” First of all, that’s a job for the word police. Second of all, Lord knows I make plenty of mistakes myself. And finally, I believe that using words incorrectly and spelling them irregularly might be what keeps language alive and changing and growing. And naturally, as The Dictionary, I’d be like the OED. I wouldn’t tell people what words mean, but what they have meant and how people have used them differently over the centuries, how their meanings vary from year to year and place to place and usage to usage. I’d resolve conflicts by showing the combatants that their words have shades of meanings, and if they only shift their understanding slightly one way or another, everybody could get along. I’d show how “attack” can mean, “To enter upon a work of difficulty, with the intention of conquering and completing it.” So we can decide together that the work of difficulty will be an epic novel or an opera in twelve acts, and we’ll all attack it together. I’ll point out that “take” originally meant, “to put he hand on, to touch, to lay hands upon, to accept what is handed to one, or even to understand.” And it still means, “to take root, to germinate, and to begin to grow.” So we’d all marinate on those meanings for a while, and maybe plant a garden together and watch and wait for the seeds to take, and forget why we were fighting. Because, of course, we could all fight together…we could all fight disease or fight poverty or ignorance instead of each other. And I’d swoop down in classrooms and explain that “essay” means “to try,” and that the important thing is the attempt itself, the process. And before you know it everybody would be as delightfully bewildered by vagaries of meaning as I am, and everybody would agree that nothing is written in stone or immutable, and that everything is open to interpretation and we’d all be expressively unintelligible and unproductive.

I made some caramelized onions last summer and froze them for a wintery day. We’ve had a lot of those lately! I decided to put them on this pizza, which also has capers and black olives. And, it has white sweet potatoes mashed with ricotta cheese! White sweet potatoes have a mildly citrus-y flavor that I like a lot. This whole pizza was a mixture of sharp flavors and comforting textures, and I liked it a lot.

Here’s Words of Love by Buddy Holly.
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Mushroom and black bean “meatballs”

Mushroom and pecan "meatballs"

Mushroom and pecan “meatballs”

I have a shocking confession to make. Every morning in the wintertime, when it’s too cold and icy to scamper on the towpath, I exercise by jumping up and down and waving around two cans of beans. As embarrassing as this may seem, it is not the shocking confession. I watch shows on the computer while I jump up and down, to make the time go faster and for my general edification. I catch up on the news of the world with The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I watch some worthy well-written sitcoms. And sometimes I watch insipid trash. That’s my confession! It’s horrible, I know! We only have so many hours in the day and I waste it on some of the worst written, poorly acted, insultingly stupid programming to come across the small screen. One show I watched recently for a few seasons, before it got so bad I couldn’t watch it anymore, dealt with the trials and tribulations of the wealthy youth of the upper east side of Manhattan. They had problems, man, that you just couldn’t understand, but that seemed really glamorous and way more fun and dramatic than your own problems. They were constantly embroiled in a remarkably repetitive chain of idiotic romances with the same people over and over and over again. But here’s a funny thing, all of the characters would stop occasionally, and think about themselves and the world around them and they’d say “I’m Chuck Bass,” or whatever their particular name happened to be, and that would solve all of their problems. Sometimes they’d remind each other who they were, as a friendly way of helping them out of a bad situation. They’d say, “You’re Chuck Bass!” And everything would be resolved and that would be the end of the show. Of course it matters more for them that they are who they are, because the whole point of being who they are is that they have so much money and influence that they actually can change the course of events by saying their names. But they’re really really horrible people. They’re mean and ignorant and fairly useless in the broad scheme of things. They don’t create anything but problems. I was thinking that, on balance, almost everyone else in the world deserves this super power more than they do. All of us, when we face some sort of trouble, should be able to stop and say, “I’m who I am!” and it should make things better. Not because we have wealth and power but because we have ourselves. We have our imagination and our abilities and our affections and our hopes and our memories and our flaws and our souls, whatever those are. Sometimes when you’re being belittled or treated badly and it seems as though nothing is going well or ever will again, it’s easy to lose yourself and to feel worthless or hopeless. I’ve felt it a million times. It’s worse than a feeling of failure, it’s a feeling of nothing, of being nothing and having nothing. Well, the next time that happens, I plan to say my name aloud. I’m going to say, “I’m Claire Adas,” and I’ll ignore the perplexed looks of anyone around me and I’ll think of everything that I have, everything that I’ve made, everyone that I love, the whole round life I’ve made for myself. That’s right, I’m Claire Adas.

Maybe it won’t get me reservations at the newest latest whatever, but who wants to go there anyway, when I’ve got a bottle of cheap wine, shelves full of spices, a drawerful of vegetables, a head full of strange and delicious meals to make, and good friends to eat and drink with. I made these little flavorful “meatballs” out of mushrooms, hazelnuts, pecans, black beans, and smoked gouda. They’re seasoned with sage, rosemary, smoked paprika an nutmeg. The boys ate them with long pasta and red sauce, but you can eat them with any kind of sauce you like! You can dip them, or put them in a sandwich. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s I am I Be by De La Soul

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semolina dumpling ring with roasted butternut, butter beans and spinach-almond-asparagus pesto

Semolina dumplings with roasted butternut and butter beans

Semolina dumplings with roasted butternut and butter beans

“I doe now publish my Essayes; which, of all my other works, have been most Currant: For that, as it seems, they come home, to Mens Businesse, and Bosomes.” This is how Francis Bacon prefaces The Essays: or Counsels, Civil and Moral. I have a beautiful copy of this book, and I love the form of it. It is, simply, a series of short essays: Of Truth, Of Death, Of Unity in Religion, Of Revenge, Of Adversity, Of Simulation and Dissimulation, Of Parents and Children, Of Marriage and Single Life, Of Envy, Of Love and so on and on it goes. And I love the tone of it. It’s quite matter-of-fact, he’s stating truths as he believes them, and he makes the truths sound incontrovertible, but we also feel that he hasn’t arrived at them lightly. He’s thought and thought on these subjects, and considered all of the facets and vagaries of them. And though he sounds sure of himself, he hasn’t sealed his mind on any of these ideas. He’s thinking on them still. We feel that he would agree with James Baldwin and with me that “…all theories are suspect, that the finest principles may have to be modified, or may even be pulverized by the demands of life, and that one must find, therefore, one’s own moral center and move through the world hoping that this center will guide one aright.” My favorite essay is the first, On Truth. You can tell that he loves truth as a thing, almost as a person. He loves the search for truth, “…yet truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth that the inquiry of truth, which is the love-making, or wooing of it, the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it, and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature.” And just as a hope is a place, so is truth, “It is a pleasure, to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea; a pleasure, to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle, and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below; so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling, or pride. Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man’s mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.” He talks about poetry being the shadow of a lie, which adds some beauty to the truth, and he talks about lies such as “vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like,” as saving men’s minds from becoming “poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition.” In just this way he mixes wild, poetical language with the more staid and scholarly, and helps us to see not just the matter of his text, but his passion for it as well. I’d like to write a book of essays like this. I’d like to see everybody do it! We could pick the topics, of course, according to our interests, but we’d keep the essays short and fierce and thoughtful, like these are. We’d look at the world around us and decide what questions are important to ask, and then we’d spend time thinking about these questions, and then we’d write it all down. Not the answers to the questions, because there are no answers, but we’d write all of the ways we’ve been thinking about it, the truths that we have wooed. We’d share our truths with each other, and see that our truths aren’t the only ones, and that would make us seek not just the truth of our own little world, but of the great and common world, the whole round world.

"IF ONE COULD BUT PAINT HIS MIND."

“IF ONE COULD BUT PAINT HIS MIND.”

Semolina dumpling ring with roasted butternut squash, butter beans and asparagus almond pesto

Semolina dumpling ring with roasted butternut squash, butter beans and asparagus almond pesto

Speaking of round! I made this ring of semolina dumplings, which are puffy and soft and comforting. Then I filled the center with butternut squash roasted with herbs, butter beans and mozzarella…all soft and creamy and sweet and roasty. And I topped the whole thing off with a bright, green, vegetal, lemony pesto of spinach, almonds and asparagus. This meal has layers. It didn’t take long to make, and it was a nice complex but comforting winter meal.

Here’s some more Gary Davis for you.

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French lentil crepes with roasted butternut and chard

French lentil crepes

French lentil crepes

Malcolm has a little pile of worksheets on “the apostrophe;” laying down the rules, telling you when and how to use an apostrophe. Like all good grammar packets, it has sentences to illustrate the possible applications of this particular punctuation mark. These sentences aren’t supposed to be interesting or memorable, they just have to be informative and correct. You can imagine somebody straining their brain to come up with something dull and appropriate, trying to think of a name they haven’t used yet for an imaginary possessor or omitter of letters and numbers. Well! The sentences in this particular package are a little strange, they’re even almost funny. Viz: “the girls’ logrolling team.” (Is that even a thing?) And “Lucas’ hobby is collecting pencil stubs.” I love this one! I can just see Lucas, walking along, brow furrowed, searching the hallways for discarded pencil stubs. He’s probably collected about 547 so far, and he used to keep them in a box in his room, but then he had so many that they spilled out of the box and fell to the floor. Maybe he stepped on them one night when he was half-awake in the dark, and he rolled on them like they were tiny logs, until he found himself splashing around on the floor in a pile of blankets and toys. So he decided to move them to the garage. He liked the garage, because it was quiet and private and full of interesting and possibly dangerous objects. It felt rain-washed and dusty. It smelled like fertilizer and gasoline and dried cut grass. And now it smelled like pencils, which was his favorite smell in the world. He separated his pencil stubs by color, of course, and of course he had more yellow pencils than pencils of any other hue, so he put these in a big green rusting metal box with a broken latch. And the rest of the pencils, the green, blue, red and black ones, he organized in little drawers of a plastic case designed to hold screws and nails and nuts. He dumped all the nails into a clanking pile on the floor, and he lovingly separated his pencils of many colors. The pencils with designs: covered with hearts or rainbows or foil stars or slogans like “reading is my superpower!” these pencils he kept in some old cardboard box. He wasn’t too crazy about them. He was a pencil purist. He liked the plain bright colors, the perfect lettering in black or metallic green. He was a true collector, an enthusiast.He would take note of each pencil’s condition in a special notebook (he wrote in ink): did it have an eraser, or had it been rubbed down or pulled off? A perfect eraser on a stump of pencil was a rare and wonderful find, a prized possession. Did the pencil still have a point? Was it a sharp point, or a stubby point with the wood of the pencil frustratingly longer than the lead? Did the pencil have teeth marks? He’d chewed on a few pencils himself, and he understood the appeal, the feeling of wood yielding to his teeth, the flecks of paint like tiny inconsequential shards of glass. He liked to think about all of the words that had been written with each pencil. Lots of homework assignments, sure, but what else? Stories? Love notes? In the art room he’d collected quite a few drawing pencils, black or green with a rounded white end instead of an eraser. Soft, thick leads. These were his favorite of all. If he stared at them long enough he could almost see all the pictures they had drawn: still-lives, self-portraits, dream scenes. He felt bad for the pencils. It made him sad that they’d worked so hard, and then been cast aside. Did they not still contain lead? Yes they did! (Well, most of them did) Could they not still write? Of course they could, if you didn’t mind a little hand-cramping. He himself didn’t write with them, ever. They were too perfect, too special, and so little of them remained–they would be gone so soon. What could he possibly write that would be worthy of these little stubs of possibility, these small stumps of potential? What picture could he draw that would justify using up the small store of unused lead? He lay awake thinking about it. Someday he’d write the most perfectly beautiful story ever written, and he’d use one pencil for each word, and then he’d put each pencil back in its chipped plastic drawer until the next time. Some day.

French lentil crepes

French lentil crepes

What? Crepes made with french lentils? French lentils in the crepes? That’s right! Inspired by the Indian black eyed pea pancakes, I thought to myself, “Why not try this with french lentils, which are probably my favorite legume in the world?!?! I soaked them for a shorter time than the black eyed peas, because they don’t need to soak before cooking and they cook quite quickly. I added warm milk and eggs rather than water, and I seasoned them very simply, with rosemary and black pepper. They turned out good, I think! They’re denser than a regular crepe, and they have a lovely earthy flavor. We piled them with sautéed chard and roasted butternut squash, and we topped it all off with a mixture of grated mozzarella and smoked gouda and some leftover pistachio-pumpkinseed sauce. Very tasty, very satisfying, and very fun to eat.

Here’s This Pencil Won’t Write No More by Bo Carter

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French lentil, roasted potato and smoked gouda pizza

French lentil and roasted potato pizza

French lentil and roasted potato pizza

Like many, many people, I suspect, I spent some time yesterday watching films and videos of Pete Seeger. In particular, we watched clips from his television show Rainbow Quest, which aired from 1965- 1966. It was videotaped in black and white, and although his wife, Toshi, was credited as “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer,” it happens that she actually directed the show. The program was made on a low budget, funded by Seeger and a co-producer, and though it’s humble and understated by today’s slick standards, it’s full of the generosity and joy that seems to pour out of Seeger. He seems so friendly and kind in a way that makes those ordinary qualities the most weighty and important in the world. Watching him, you can feel that he’s brimming over with the desire to share; to share music and knowledge and love. On his guitar he wrote the words “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” and the whole rich history of Seeger’s political activism just makes sense in this light. Looking back now it seems so easy to decide to be on the side of the oppressed, the poor, the hated. It couldn’t have been easy at the time, and we have the songs and spirit of Seeger to thank for helping to lead us in the direction of generosity and affection. He touched so many people, with his uncalculating unselfconscious enthusiasm. He was a teacher and a disseminator. It seems that his desire to make music and to perform was never about fame or stardom, it was about the joy of making the music and the need to send that music out into the world so that others could hear it as well. He had a curatorial spirit, which is a quality I greatly admire, because it’s so unselfish and giving. You never see him singing when he doesn’t invite others to sing with him, his friends, his colleagues, his audience. We watched a clip of him on Johnny Cash’s TV show in 1970. He sings Worried Man Blues. Cash sets him up a chair at the edge of the stage, because he knows that Seeger needs to get the audience to sing with him. Seeger talks about the worries that we all share, and then he talks about the hope waiting for all of us, “Well I looked down the track just as far as I could see, little bitty hand was waving back at me.” We watched Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash on Seeger’s show as well. They tell stories, they sing together, they talk about friends they’ve loved and lost, and sing their songs as well. They sing folk songs about living and loving and dying and being remembered. Johnny Cash died four months after June, and Pete Seeger died yesterday, six months after his wife, Toshi. Just watching these clips of them, over the years, makes you thankful for enduring love and friendship in the world, wherever we can find it. Pete Seeger sings a song for June and Johnny, “Little birdy, little birdy, what makes your wings so blue, it’s because I’ve been a dreaming, dreaming after you, Little birdy little birdy come sing to me a song, I’ve a short while to be here, and a long time to be gone. Little birdy, little birdy, what makes you fly so high, it’s because I am a true little bird, and I do not fear to die.”

French lentil, roasted potato and smoked gouda pizza

French lentil, roasted potato and smoked gouda pizza

This is a very comforting wintertime pizza. Warm and smoky, soft and crispy.

Here’s Elizabeth Cotten on Rainbow Quest, telling the heartbreaking and hopeful story of how she met the Seegers because she worked for them as a cleaning lady and cook, and Pete Seeger’s step mother discovered that she played the guitar, though she hadn’t played in years.
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Smoky paprika and gouda biscuits

Smoky gouda biscuits

Smoky gouda biscuits

Welcome to The Ordinary’s sick day ramble! I’m feeling poorly. Aches and pains and ague and fog and general sluggishness and stupidity. I’m sure I have a lot to do, but I’m equally sure that none of it is at all important and most of it will be undone later in the day anyway. I’m having a hard time persuading myself to do anything but sit next to Clio sharing a blanket, with my cold hands under her warm soft paws. She keeps looking up at me like I’m crazy, she keeps singing nervous yawns, because she thinks we have a lot to do, too, but she can’t remember what it is. But all dogs are narcoleptic, so she’ll fall asleep in a minute, and then I really won’t be able to move my hands. Outside the world is snowy and bright and melting, and people going by seem happy, but to me the snow doesn’t look like something fun to be out in, it looks like something good to be in from. I was thinking that I’d like to be Clio–not just warm and pretty and curled on the couch–but happy and cheerful and loving all of the time. But then I was thinking she probably has worries that feel as big to her as my idiotic worries feel to me. She might miss her brothers and sisters. She doesn’t know why we have to leave her alone for hours at a time, which might feel like days and days to her. She doesn’t know where we go, but she thinks it might be because she’s done something bad. She’ll probably never catch a squirrel, no matter how often she tries, and how fast she runs after them in her dreams. (“That sweet squirrel, you ain’t ever gonna catch it, never ever gonna catch it,” doubtless playing on repeat in her head.) One of Isaac’s favorite stories is of the time that Steenbeck the dog actually did catch a squirrel. She was so suprised that she dropped it. It’s a legendary tale in my family. My friend, who also has a squirrel-chasing dog, said he’d start using the phrase “dropping the squirrel,” in her honor. And to suit the bittersweet ambiguous quality of the emotion, he translated it into German, “das Eichhörnchen fallen lassen.” It happens so often in life! All that you ever wanted and more than you bargained for! You whine because nobody throws you the ball, and then when they do, you freeze! Well, I’ve been thinking about this idea in relation to all of the things I’m applying for lately, and all of the silence, terse rejection and discouragement. I’ve been thinking that I don’t really expect any other response, but it doesn’t keep me from trying. I’m still chasing that squirrel even though it runs up the tree. I don’t think there’s a chance of dropping it because I’ll never catch it, but you never know, maybe I should be ready. Or maybe I should just think, like Clio seems to do, that running after the squirrel is enough. The trembling excitement, the palpable adrenaline, the mad rush. And again, and again! I doubt she’d want to actually catch a squirrel anyway, it would probably scratch her eyes out. Or maybe she’d just be friends with it and they’d play tag, as Isaac has suggested. Either way, friends, be careful what you wish for and happy when you get it. Enjoy the chase, and whatever you do, don’t drop the squirrel!

The worst part of being sick is that I can’t taste or smell and my appetite is compromised. It makes me feel half-alive. And I only want soft and comforting things like mashed potatoes, or very strongly flavored things like ginger beer. These biscuits (in the American sense of the word) are soft, comforting, and strongly flavored. Crispy outside, tender inside, and very easy to make. They have smoked paprika, smoked gouda and black pepper, so they’re roasty toasty. Nice with soup or stew when you aren’t feeling well, or even if you are.

Here’s Squirrel Nut Zippers with La Grippe. Doubly pertinent!
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Peppery chickpea flour flatbread

Yeasted chickpea flour flatbread

Yeasted chickpea flour flatbread

I have to be at work early, so we’ll keep it mercifully short today. This week’s Sunday interactive playlist will take the form of a short and completely inane quiz. If, like me, you’re really too indecisive to choose your favorite anything, or if you think the concept of picking a favorite anything is childish and futile, just go with the first thing you think of. If you find any of the questions particularly stupid, feel free to skip them (I could skip the whole damn quiz if I liked! I can hear you saying.) Anyway, here goes. You can add the songs to the list yourself (it’s interactive!). Or you can leave a note in the comments, and I’ll add them myself.

Let’s have…

A song about your favorite animal
A song about your favorite color
A song about your favorite number
A song about your favorite food
A song about or from your favorite era in history
A song about your favorite abstract concept.

And….GO!

Peppery chickpea flour flatbread

Peppery chickpea flour flatbread

I’ve made yeasted chickpea flour flatbread before, I realize that, and I’ve already told you all about it. But this version is different. It has an egg in it, and some baking powder. This makes it more like a pancake, and makes it both lighter and richer. It has a nice lacy soft texture. I made it to go with some collards and roasted sweet potatoes, but sadly I burnt them, so we ate it with pasta and red sauce, which Malcolm made for us.

Here’s a link to the interactive playlist.

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Pumpkin rosemary buns

Yeasted pumpkin rosemary buns

Yeasted pumpkin rosemary buns

The other morning I was feeling a little raggedy, I hadn’t slept too well, so I had a piece of toast. Toast! Just toast and salted butter, but it tasted like the most perfect thing ever. I don’t have toast very often, and I’d underestimated its restorative powers. And then this morning our Isaac had toast and scrambled eggs, and it seemed like the most perfect thing in the world to be a little person eating toast and looking through a toy catalog a few weeks before christmas. So my word for today is toast. I love nearly all of its meanings, except for a few that I’ve just read on urban dictionary which I seriously doubt anybody ever uses. I love warm golden toasted bread or rolls or bagels, of course, with butter or jam or cinnamon. I like the idea of toasting somebody or something…holding up a glass and declaring your love, admiration and gratitude. I like things that are toasty and warm, especially in this weather: dogs, blankets, beds. I like toasting as a form of poetry to music, especially as described in Bob Marley’s Put it On…it sounds as though he can’t help but describe his gratitude because the spirit moves him so deeply.

    Feel them spirit
    Lord, I thank you
    Feel alright now
    I’m gonna put it on, I put it on already
    Good Lord, help me
    I’m not boastin’
    Feel like toastin’

I just read about a person called the “toastmaster,” who arranges and announces all the toasts, and I’ve decided that this is my new career goal, my dream job. When a person feels so much happiness or love or gratitude that they need to speak it aloud, they come to you. You hold up your hands and cry, “Pray silence for a toast!” And everybody raises their glasses, which are spilling over with good cheer. And wherever you go, when people see you they feel moved to shout out their esteem and appreciation for whom or whatever they are currently esteeming and appreciating. And apparently the subject of a toast is also called a toast, and these toasts will abound, eventually we’ll all be someone else’s toast, and everybody will feel proud and happy. Toast.

Pumpkin rosemary buns

Pumpkin rosemary buns

These rolls are very good toasted! I had some leftover pumpkin purée (from a can) and I decided to add it to a yeasted bread recipe. And I decided to make it savory rather than sweet. I added rosemary and a little bit of coriander powder, because I’ve recently resolved to use coriander powder more often. It adds a lemony floral flavor, which I liked but the kids didn’t. So feel free to alter the spices to your family’s tastes. I baked these in a large shallow muffin tin, but you could probably just plop the batter on a baking sheet. They might spread out and be a bit flatter, but they’d still taste good. Texturally, these are soft and a little chewy, and they go nicely with soup or stew. Or just eat them TOASTED with butter!!

Here’s what I believe to be some footage of Sir Lord Comic beautifully toasting.
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