Yellow split pea and freekeh soup

Yellow splt pea and a freekeh soup

Yellow splt pea and a freekeh soup

“After the second day’s march Pierre, having examined his feet by the campfire, thought it would be impossible to walk on them; but when everybody got up he went along, limping, and, when he had warmed up, walked without feeling the pain, though at night his feet were more terrible to look at than before. However, he did not look at them now, but thought of other things.” (Is she still going on about Pierre Bezukhov? She is!) The other day I spoke about Platon Karataev, a relatively minor yet remarkably important character in War and Peace. And today I should talk about something completely different. But I don’t want to, because Mama, this has been on my mind: this whole passage, but this sentence in particular. This sentence about the sorry state of Pierre’s feet. He “thought of other things.” I love this testament to the power of the human mind, the power of thoughts and hopes and imagination. I’ve always said that a person should be able to sit in traffic and not wish the time away, because of the wealth of thoughts in their own head. I fully recognize the difference between the boredom of traffic and the terror of war. I hope never to be tested the way Pierre was. But I love to think about our imaginations and all of the worlds we create in our minds as something that we take with us everywhere we go, something that is uniquely ours and can’t be taken away from us, something that makes us free despite the privations of our physical state. “And now during these last three weeks of the march he had learned still another new, consolatory truth—that nothing in this world is terrible. He had learned that as there is no condition in which man can be happy and entirely free, so there is no condition in which he need be unhappy and lack freedom. He learned that suffering and freedom have their limits and that those limits are very near together…He did not see and did not hear how they shot the prisoners who lagged behind, though more than a hundred perished in that way. He did not think of Karataev who grew weaker every day and evidently would soon have to share that fate. Still less did Pierre think about himself. The harder his position became and the more terrible the future, the more independent of that position in which he found himself were the joyful and comforting thoughts, memories, and imaginings that came to him.” Or as Camus wrote, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

Freekeh! Why, it’s delicious! And so good for you, too! This was a light but hearty soup. Yellow split peas and freekeh both have a mysteriously appealing flavor, and they combine well here. I seasoned this with ginger, lemon, rosemary, basil and a touch of cardamom. I added potatoes and spinach, because I seem to be putting them in everything lately. I do love them! And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

Here’s Bob Marley with Dancing Shoes. It’s a beauty!

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French lentil and butter bean soup with tarragon and spinach

French lentil and butter bean soup with tarragon

French lentil and butter bean soup with tarragon

Reverend Gary Davis was born in Laurens, South Carolina in 1896. He was born partially blind, and became fully blind as an infant. He was the only one of eight children to survive to adulthood. His father was killed when he was ten, his mother didn’t treat him well, so he went to live with his grandmother. He taught himself guitar, and invented a way of playing with many voices at once. In the twenties and thirties he was active in the Piedmont blues scene, and made some recordings. He became a Baptist minister. He moved to New York City in the forties, and performed as a street musician for a while before being rediscovered during the folk revival and becoming very popular with lots of rock stars of the day. All of these are facts straight from the wikipedia, but what the wikipedia can’t tell you is that his music is phenomenal. Such a perfect combination of exquisite technical skill and deeply sweet soulfulness. Such a perfect balance of heavy darkness, which we recognize as part of everybody’s life, and of the hope and humor that make it bearable. Such strange poetry to describe feelings that we all have. I’m flabbergasted (to use one of Malcolm’s vocabulary words) by his music, and by the fact that I haven’t discovered him earlier. I must have heard a song here or there, but I couldn’t have been paying attention, because I wasn’t stopped in my tracks and incapable of doing anything but listening, as I have been all week, steeped in his music.

I’m so obsessed with Reverend Gary Davis at the moment that I wanted to make this Sunday interactive playlist all about him. But we obviously need a bit of diversity, so I decided to pick something that he’d fit into nicely. As well as many chilling and beautiful songs about death, sin, and the afterlife, he’s got some beauties about life and love. And he has quite a few versions of Candyman. This being valentine’s day weekend, I decided that was the direction to take. So this week’s Sunday interactive playlist is on the subject of sweets. Of course songs about candy are never really about candy, are they?

This soup was perfect for a winter’s night. Flavorful but simple. Hearty but brothy and bright, and with the springlike greenness of tarragon. Not at all hard to make.

Here’s a link to your interactive playlist. Add what you like, or leave a comment and I’ll add it through the week.

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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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Butternut, nut, chard, and french lentil pie

Butternut, nut and french lentil pie

Butternut, nut and french lentil pie

HAPPY NEW YEAR, ORDINARY FRIENDS!! I’m feeling light of heart and weighty of thoughts, which seems in keeping with the situation and the season. Clio and I took our scamper on the towpath this morning to our favorite field, where the sky arches overhead in bright clouds, and the field bows underfoot in a gentle slope to a rushing singing creek, and that’s how my spirits feel. Buoyant and grounded. Castles in the air with foundations on the ground. I’m feeling resolutionary. As I mentioned last year, to me, “resolve” doesn’t mean to give something up, but to come into focus, to become harmonious, to be solved, or healed. And this year, for some reason, I’ve been thinking about how many typical New Year’s resolutions face inward, they’re about ways to change yourself and make yourself healthier or more successful. We got a message from a fortune cookie recently that said “Only when free from projections, we can be aware of reality.” Well, I’d like to respectfully disagree with the fortune cookie. I believe it’s all projections. It’s all images and moments that we create and collect: the sunshine and shadow, the bright vivid colors and the dusky quiet times. And just as we’re the authors of our own stories, we’re the auteurs of our own film: we decide how everything is connected. We connect all the flickering moments. And I’d like mine to be inspired by Ozu and Berri and Tati. Quiet and thoughtful, humorous, beautiful within each frame and from frame to frame. Celebrating the oddness and worth of ordinary moments. With just the right music and just the right movement at exactly the right time. Of course “projection” also means casting our ideas and our stories outside of ourselves. Sharing them with others, and creating an understanding of everything else through the experiences and lives of others. Empathy. So that will be part of it all, too. We’ll focus, and then we’ll project. We’ll share a cup of kindness, a draught of good will. In the days of alchemy, “projection” described the process of throwing a stone into a crucible to create change: change from base metals to gold, originally, but eventually it described any change. “I feele that transmutation o’my blood, As I were quite become another creature, And all he speakes, it is projection.” So on this day of new beginnings we’ll think of this, too. We’ll think of focussing, reflecting, projecting, in the glowing hopeful lengthening days. Oh, and I will learn to play ukulele!

Roasted butternut, french lentil and nut pie.

Roasted butternut, french lentil and nut pie.

If this seems a lot like last year’s New Year’s pie, that because it is! Same butternut squash, french lentil and chard. And yet, it’s completely different. I’ve been playing around with savory nut custards, lately, and this is further evidence of that. It has more eggs, and I whizzed them with hazelnuts, almonds and pecans until they everything was quite smooth. The butternut was roasted in halves rather than small pieces, and then blended right in with the nut mixture. The chard and lentils provide a nice difference in texture, and smoked paprika and smoked paprika add a nice savory to the sweetness of nuts and squash.

Here’s Feeling Good, by Nina Simone.

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Basmati risotto with french lentils, roasted mushrooms and spinach

Basmati and french lentil risotto

Basmati and french lentil risotto

For as long as I can remember, Isaac has asked for one thing (well, he’s asked for lots of things–this boy loves toys!). But his highly detailed and elaborately illustrated wish lists for birthdays and christmas have always included one particular toy: a caped Boba Fett. Did he see one, once, when he was very little, a vision of the perfect Star Wars guy, the very model of a model of a modern masked intergalactic bounty hunter, who will live in his memory forever? I don’t know. The point is that he’s never gotten one, but he never stops asking for it. It’s become a sort of quest, the elusive image of a perfect toy. A guy who can move his arms and legs, and has armor, and has a jet pack and has a cape. (A jet pack and a cape? Kids, don’t try this at home.) Isaac’s not an easily disappointed boy, he’s always happy with whatever presents he does get. The whole thing isn’t ruined because he didn’t get a caped Boba Fett. But he keeps asking. And if we ever saw a caped Boba Fett, we’d get it for him, and we’d be happy that he’s happy. But for now, I like the idea of Isaac not having caped Boba Fett. I like the idea that he could get it someday, it’s an event to anticipate, it’s a happy possibility. Maybe we all need a caped Boba Fett in our lives. Some pleasant perfect thing we’d really like, though can live without. Something to look for in our travels, to daydream about, to look forward to having some day. By the time we find caped Boba Fett, we might all actually have jet packs and morally-ambiguous grey green armor, but until then, we can dream, and Isaac will keep asking, he’ll keep putting caped Boba Fett on his list.

Basmatto

Basmatto

I had some leftover cooked french lentils and french lentil-cooking broth. I thought it would be nice to make risotto, sort of a comforting mujadara-type rice and lentil dish. Well, I didn’t have arborio rice, so I thought I’d try it with basmati instead, fully aware that it would never be as creamy and soft as the traditional type. I made basmatto. I used a combination of lentil-cooking broth and water blended with baby spinach as broth. I roasted mushrooms separately, and tossed them in at the end, so they didn’t become mushy and slimy. This was a very savory, tasty, meaty, satisfying meal. Good comfort on a cold day, and easy to make, too.

Here’s Boba Fett’s theme from the Star Wars soundtrack. Described by Wikipedia as “not music, exactly” … but “more of a gurgly, viola-and-bassoon thing aurally cross-pollinated with some obscure static sounds.” Yeah.

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Double-crusted pecan, french lentil and chard pie

Lentil chard and pecan pie

Lentil chard and pecan pie

If the sun ever came out you felt that it might be warm, but the morning was cold and damp. A pretty mist clung to the ghostly sycamores and the blue-bronze wintery leaves, and it crept inside to chill your bones. All the vendors at the flea market huddled or paced behind their tables to keep warm. It was a slow day, but wednesdays are always slow days. They had a slight rush of business. A lunchtime rush? Too early for lunchtime, way too early for lunchtime. Well I’m eating lunch. Yeah, but you’ve been up since four. Oh, I got up at three this morning, and thought why bother going back to sleep? Oh, that’s just terrible. I can give you the owl for five dollars, or the goose for eight. Half price on all the jewelry, and everything is fifty cents in this box. Behind one table stood an elderly man with an unperturbable smile on his face. A woman walked up to his wares and he said, “Tremors!” by way of greeting. He held up his hands in demonstration, and they were, indeed shaking. “I’ve got tremors.” “Well, we still like you,” said the woman. “And I still like myself!” He replied brightly. And then they discussed crocheted blankets, just the thing to keep you warm an on early December morning.

French lentil, chard, and olive pie

French lentil, chard, and olive pie

We went to the flea market to search for Christmas presents and came home with nothing but a stack of cake pans and pie tins for Claire! What a brat. They’re beautiful and slightly mysterious vintage French pie tins and cake pans, and I love them. And I’m looking forward to using them. I made this pie in one such vintage french cake tins. It’s a little broader and flatter than a traditional American cake pan, which makes a nice double-crusted savory pie. This is filled with some of my favorites–french lentils, swiss chard and black olives. I also tried something new, which was to blend eggs with pecans and mix that right in with the filling. Almost like a pecan frangipane. I thought it turned out very tasty. If you don’t like olives, don’t be put off this recipe. Try substituting raisins!

Here’s Soldiers Things by Tom Waits, my flea market theme song.

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Roasted butternut, pecan, & mushroom pies

Roasted butternut French lentil pies

Roasted butternut French lentil pies

This weekend marks not only the second anniversary of The Ordinary, but the first anniversary of Clio’s stay in our house, as well. She’s lived with us a whole year! I remember when I went to get her. She was an hour’s drive away, and I was so nervous I felt sick. After weeks of begging for a puppy like a spoiled child, and nights of being sure someone else would adopt her first, I had gotten my way and I was plagued by saucy doubts and fears. Clio had met twenty other prospective families, or so her foster mother had said, and none were right for her. Would she like me? Would I like her? There was another family there to meet another dog. This dog was older, very calm and quiet and frightened, and the foster mom said, “Yes, she’s very good, you’ll have no problems with her.” And then she said, “But I’m not sure about this one,” and let Clio out of her cage. She bounced with joy! She jumped in my lap and licked me madly! She jumped in the lap of every member of the family there to meet the calm dog! She tried to kiss the man behind the counter! And that was that, she came home with me, and she’s been here ever since. People who know me get sick of hearing me say all the things I like about Clio, but it’s her anniversary, so I’m going to tell you here. I love her paws!! She’s a rough and tumble dog’s dog, but her paws are surprisingly elegant. They’re white and silky, and she holds them like a dancer. When she lies down she crosses them, and she’s got many different styles of cross-paws. There’s demure cross paws, and ballerina cross paws, and the extreme, one-arm-slung-over-the-other-I’m-so-glad-you’ve-joined-me-in-my-library-for-a-cognac-in-our-dressing-gown cross paws. Her paws are very speaking, she grabs hold of you and tries to make her wishes known, but we’re so slow! I love the way she sings when she’s nervous. I love the way she hugs–she stands and hovers for a moment and then puts one paw on either side of your waist and squeezes and whuffles. I love the way she cuddles, and especially the way she waggles her head contentedly when she lays it on your arm or leg, as if to get as close and comfortable as possible. I love her sweetness…she loves every dog she’s ever met, even though she’s been bitten badly twice. I’ve never heard her growl at another dog. And she loves most people, unless they’re wearing sunglasses or excessive cologne. And I love the way that she’s leapingly happy, jumpingly joyful. So, in honor of the anniversary of her stay here, today’s Sunday interactive playlist will be on the subject of jumping, leaping, hopping, bounding, bouncing.
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This is the dinner I made for David’s birthday. It’s a very fancy Ordinary dinner. It employs some Ordinary staples, such as french lentils and roasted mushrooms. It’s autumnal, because it also has roasted butternut squash, smoked gouda, and pecans. I made it in big muffin tins, with large holes in them, but if you don’t have those, you could make little free-form galettes and they’d be just as tasty.

Here’s a link to your interactive playlist. Keep bouncing!
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Farro with smoked sweet potatoes, french lentils and pinenut lemon aioli

smoked sweet potatoes with farro and lemon aioli

smoked sweet potatoes with farro and lemon aioli

Further Tales from the Towpath. Every morning since the boys have been back in school, David and I have been going for a bike ride on the towpath. Flying down this green tunnel with the man I love, on the bike he bought for me the year we got married, seventeen years ago, is an every day thing, but I don’t have to remind myself of how important it is, how valuable. You think about all the things that have changed and are changing every day, and all of the things that have not and will never change. Riding a bike still feels like flying, it’s still exhilarating, just as it was when I first learned. The air is colder every morning, the sun lazier each day to climb up and burn off the chill. This morning was the kind of cold that makes your ear-bones hurt and renders your fingers useless. As David said, it was miserable and beautiful at the same time. The mist rose off the water in small smoky tornadoes, and it revealed hundreds of spider webs all around us. It was as though we’d put on spider-sensing glasses. In the grass some webs are vague and formless, like tiny tactile clouds you could scoop up with your hands, and some look like small tents or funnels, as if a little circus had pulled into town. In the bushes and trees, the mist clung to Halloween spider webs in little clusters of light. Hundreds!! I like to think about this arachnid community, which is always there, though we don’t see it and think about it. I like to think about them busy with their lives, going about their business just as we are, all the humans on the canal, walking with purpose or ambling along, alone with our thoughts or deep in conversations. When we went camping one night, we discovered that if you shine your flashlight in the grass, a wolf spider’s eyes reflect back bright and green. It was as if the grass was full of sparkling emeralds! Full of them! Who knew there were so many spiders about! Earlier in the summer, we let a baby tree frog, raised from a tadpole, free in our back yard, and the other day, David found a big healthy tree frog, who clung to his hand like it was a warm and solid comfort. The same frog? We’ll never know. And that same night we saw screech owls wheeling around in the trees, and heard their tremulous song all night long. They live in our neighborhood! They hang out in our yard, whether we hear them or not. Well, I feel lucky that they’re there, grateful to get a glimpse of them from time to time, and glad to be reminded again that we’re not the center of everything, we’re not the most important, we’re part of a big teeming world at work all around us.
Lemon pine nut aioli

Lemon pine nut aioli

One day last week David made a fire in the back yard and the boys helped him burn up all the little twigs and sticks. Because I’m always thinking about food, I decided to try to smoke some sweet potatoes I’d gotten from the farm. I peeled them, wrapped them in foil, and buried them in the bottom of the fire, where I let them smolder for an hour or two. They turned out very nice! Soft inside, crispy outside, smoky and good. I made some french lentils and then cooked the farro in their broth. We had arugula under and tomatoes on top, like a big warm salad. My favorite part might have been the lemon pine nut aioli we drizzled over. Vegan, creamy, tart-sweet and delicious!!

Here’s Slim Gaillard with Sighing Boogie, just because I like it!
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Leeks, potato & french lentils stew … and burgers

Leek and lentil burgers

Leek and lentil burgers

This morning Clio and I tried to go for a walk on the towpath. It had been raining for hours, and on one side the sky was as bright as day, but on the other, it was dark and purple-grey. I stood for a while uncertain about whether to go on or be safe and turn back. Across the canal a little green heron stared at us suspiciously, his tufty head the color of the weeds streaming beneath the muddy water. It felt good to just stand for a while, watching the heron, watching the clouds in the teeming sky, feeling the relief of cool winds and spatters of rain. Clio looked up at me with a sweet confused face, and then resigned herself to grazing on the long grass that grows against the stone wall. I’d been thinking about the story of Cupid and Psyche, which has always been one of my favorite myths. It’s a long, remarkable story, and it has a million meanings and interpretations, of course. But I was thinking about the part where Psyche, though perfectly happy, is persuaded to doubt whether she’s perfectly happy. She’s had a lot of strange and wonderful adventures, and she’ll have plenty more. Every time she’s tested she feels hopeless and wants to throw herself off of something or into something else, but everybody she meets seems to like her and wants to help her, even the bugs and the reeds. And eventually she goes back to the place she’d been happy all along. Aside from all of the other things “psyche” means, apparently it meant “life” in the sense of “breath,” formed from the verb ψύχω (psukhō, “to blow.”) Derived meanings included “spirit,” “soul,” “ghost,” and ultimately “self.” With a name like that it’s hard not to turn Psyche’s story into some sort of allegory for our own sense of well-being. It’s hard not to think of Psyche when you feel discouraged or disgruntled and, provoked by doubt, you step aside for a moment to look at your life as it actually is, at all of the skills that you have and the people who want to help you, or who need your help. Clio and I decided to play it safe and walk back home. She woke the boys, which is her favorite thing to do, and she’s spent the whole rainy day since running away from them when they try to pull her ears. The sky was bright for a while, we could have gone for our walk. And then it poured and thundered, and now it’s bright again, but the heavy clouds are rolling in, and that’s probably the way it will go all day.

Lentil leek and potato stew

Lentil leek and potato stew

I always think of leeks and potatoes as sort of wintery, but we got them from the farm this week, so that makes them summery. This stew was amazingly tasty. We topped it with fresh chopped cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, which was a nice sweet contrast to the savory comforting stew. We turned the leftovers into burgers, and I made soft smoked-paprika buns for them.
smoked paprika buns

smoked paprika buns

Here’s Horace Andy with Rain from the Sky

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