Tart with grilled mushrooms, potatoes and herbs

Tart with grilled mushrooms, potatoes, and herbs

Tart with grilled mushrooms, potatoes, and herbs

This week, the Guardian UK had this bit of advice from a teacher to any and all parents. “Your kids are not your mates. Something I’m starting to hear with worrying frequency within the primary school setting is ‘my daughter’s my best friend.’ Often, this rings alarm bells. Your kids aren’t your mates. You’re their parent, and your responsibility is to provide them with guidance and boundaries, not to drag them into your own disputes. Your nine-year-old doesn’t need to know about your bitter feud with his friend’s mother, or which dad you’ve got the hots for at the school gate.” Well, I’m sorry, Guardian UK, you’re still my best newspaper friend forever, but I think this advice twists the issue and gets it wrong. First of all, the real problem is that a parent is telling anyone about their bitter feud with his friend’s mother or about which dad they have the hots for. Or that they have a bitter feud with their kid’s best friend’s mother in the first place. Some things are best kept to yourself! Secondly, this is such a strange definition of friendship! A friend is not necessarily someone you complain to or to enlist in your feuds. (Unless we’re all in some tawdry reality show and I’m blissfully unaware of it!) For me a friend is somebody who you enjoy spending time with, who you’re comfortable with, who you enjoy talking to, who you’ll take care of when they’re sick or down or need help with anything, and who you know will take care of you, too. And why am I bothering to get all huffy about a random article from the Guardian? I suppose it’s because just last week I was thinking happily about what good friends my boys have become for me. It’s one of my greatest pleasures in life, thinking about what good people and good friends they’re becoming. Walking with them, talking with them, cooking with them, reading with them, playing frisbee or basketball or some strange hybrid game that Malcolm invented that involves playing basketball with a frisbee while walking like a penguin. Even playing video games, which I do so badly that Malcolm laughs the whole time, is a good way to spend an afternoon. All of these are a joy to me, and more so every day. Of course I know that I’m the parent, I make the most basic rules, I tell them when it’s time to stop playing penguin ball and come and do some homework. I make them eat (at least some) of their dinner, I tell them when it’s time to go to bed. Or rather David and I do, because he’s a friend, too, and we’re all in this together. And of course I don’t expect them to take me to the doctor when I’m sick, or make me toast or decide what medicine I should take, like I do for them. But I do think it’s crushingly sweet that when I don’t feel well they bring me water, or try to be more quiet so that I can rest. And I think it’s important for them to feel needed, to feel as though they can help take care of somebody that they love. I think it’s important for them to know that we enjoy talking to them, that conversations with them are as entertaining and enlightening as with anyone else I know. From when he was very little, Isaac has said, “You’re fun to be with.” And I think it’s important for them to know that they’re fun to be with, too. The Guardian’s preachy teacher warned that being friends with your children might lead to social alienation for them later in life, but I believe the opposite. I believe they’re learning how to be a friend, and how good it feels to have a friend, how good it is to care. Or so I dearly hope!

Tart with grilled mushrooms, potatoes and fresh herbs

Tart with grilled mushrooms, potatoes and fresh herbs

Here’s another of my world famous pizza-like tarts. It has a yeasted crust with olive oil in it, which, let’s face it, is a pizza crust. But it also has an egg and cheese custard in the middle, which makes it like a big flat quiche. This one began as a way to use up leftover grilled portobellos and some cooked tiny potatoes. I decided to use them as toppings here. I also used smoked gouda, to accentuate the smokiness of the grilled mushrooms. And we have such an exciting variety of herbs in our garden, and I used them all!! I love a big medley of herbs together, with all of the unexpected and delightful flavors. Some herbs I think of as better cooked…sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano. And others I like best fresh and raw–basil, tarragon, cilantro. So I mixed some in with the custard and baked them into the tart, and others I scattered on top at the end.

Here’s The White Stripes with We’re Going to be Friends.

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Spinach, tarragon and ricotta quiche with a pecan crust

Spinach, tarragon and ricotta quiche with a pecan crust

Spinach, tarragon and ricotta quiche with a pecan crust

Today is spring break! Just today. They were supposed to have a whole week, but after all of the snow days this winter they’re left with just this one day. So we’ve packed a whole week’s worth of fun and adventure into this day. To that end, we’ve … cleaned their room! Watched some cartoons! drawn some cartoons! Played with legos! Yes, it’s a vacation they’ll never forget. And we went for a walk. As ever, Clio pulled ahead, lunging at every squirrel and cat and bird, and the boys trailed behind, talking. I heard them earnestly discussing who they were going to be. They were deciding what creatures they would be in the world of their invention. How they would look, and what they’d wear, and how they’d get along with each other. They are telling stories as we walked. And then they caught up with me and told me they’d just downloaded themselves into the world my brother and I invented when we were little. All of our imaginary worlds are joining together to form one great world without end! It made me so happy to hear them talking, and all the more so because I myself was walking along ahead of them completely lost in the world of my novel, creating a world of my own. It’s become so real to me, and so complicated, and I’m so close to it that I only think I ever consider it rationally when I’m out walking, trying not to think about it. Then I catch glimpses of the whole world and all the characters in it, and I wonder what they’ll do next, I wonder how the whole thing will turn out. And it makes me so happy to catch these glimpses of the world I’ve created, most of the time, when it’s going well. I’m glad the boys have that, too. I hope they never lose the ability to create worlds for themselves and each other. I would wish that superhero skill for everyone I know, because sometimes this real world is a little too real. And now, a novel gets written one word at a time, it might be swirling around in my head in great waves, but it comes out one word at a time (and then that word gets erased and replaced with a few, possibly better, words, and then they get erased…) so I’d better get to work.

Spinach, ricotta, tarragon quiche

Spinach, ricotta, tarragon quiche

This is similar to a perfectly ordinary spinach quiche, except that it also has ricotta and mozzarella, which makes it juicy. And it has tarragon, which makes it very fresh and springlike. It’s simple, and made more interesting with the addition of the pecan crust.

Here’s Common with In My Own World

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Roasted butternut, spinach, raisin and pine nut pie

Roasted butternut, raisin, spinach and pine nut pie

Roasted butternut, raisin, spinach and pine nut pie

I’m writing a novel. If you’ve spent any time with me you know this fact, because I go on and on about it to the point of tedium; ad nauseam, ad infinitum. I talk about it frequently, I think about it constantly, I dream about it every night. What I don’t do all that often is write it. I spent all day yesterday–all day–writing two scenes I’d thought about for ages, and I wrote…a couple of pages, maybe, and I’m not sure they’re any good. I wake up every morning determined to get on with it. I have a picture in my head of myself, in a frenzy of writing, spewing out page after perfect page. This doesn’t happen. I’m so easily distracted and discouraged. I’m so often plagued by saucy doubts and fears. I could write it now, but if I tried, instead, to write it in fifteen minutes, I’d write completely different words! I’d have completely different ideas! How do I know it wouldn’t come out better if I waited an hour, or a day, or a week. Maybe something would happen between now and then that would alter the course of history (in the world of my novel.) Well this morning, when I thought about writing my novel, I kept finding a song in my head, and I’ve decided that this is my new novel-motivational track. It’s Precisely the Right Rhyme, by Gang Starr. It’s about knowing that what you say is the right thing to say, and that you’re saying it at the right time. It’s about confidence. I’ve been thinking about confidence a lot lately. It’s not something I possess great quantities of, it’s not something I’ve passed down to my boys. Instead I’ve got a bizarre mixture of crippling insecurity and bafflingly misplaced arrogance. Confidence is not even something I admire, necessarily. I don’t respect people who are all cockiness and swagger. I’m attracted to humility and moved by human weakness. And yet, and yet…I’m starting to recognize confidence as an essential part of the creative process, if not of life. On Malcolm’s basketball team it was never the tallest or most agile kids that played best, it was the kids who acted like the ball belonged to them, the basket belonged to them, the whole damn court was theirs and everybody else was in their way. So that’s how I’m going to write, with “everybody else” being the twin demons of doubt and distraction who fly at me from every side. This understanding applies to all things. So maybe you’re not trying to write a novel (although, honestly sometimes it seems that most people are!) But whatever you’re trying to do, tell yourself you’re doing it just right, at just the right time. Tell yourself till you believe it! In the words of Troy McClure, “Get confident, stupid!”

And the words of Gang Starr,

    My subject matter and context are blessed
    Vocal inflection connects, it’s a slugfest
    Ladies approach to hear quotes from the spokesman
    Thoughts are like oceans for my lyrics to float in
    I’m absolutely astute so salute

    Just get with the words and the way I command ya
    Cause you’re in the right place, and luckily it’s the right time
    And since I’m inclined, I’ll kick precisely the right rhymes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love greens, pine nuts, raisins and garlic. It’s the perfect combination for me. In this instance I’ve packed all that into a pie with some grated roasted butternut squash and some mozzarella cheese. I made this pie for a bunch of people to eat standing around without plates or utensils, and it worked well in this regard. It would be nice for a party or a picnic, I think, for this reason.

Here’s Gang Starr with Precisely the Right Rhymes.
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Savory cake with mushrooms, chard, pecans & pistachios

Savory cake with chard, mushrooms, pecans and pistachios

Savory cake with chard, mushrooms, pecans and pistachios

“Mom? Someday? Can we go to a junkyard? And bring home junk? And make sculptures with it? What are those things called?”
“Sculptures?”
“Yeah.”
“Um, they’re called sculptures.”
“Yeah. You know a lot of people think junk is just junk, but it’s not!”
“What is it?”
“Art materials!”
I realize that lately the subtitle of Out of the Ordinary could be “Isaac and Claire talk on the way to school.” And I never intended it to turn out that way, but the truth is, I come home and I think about all of the odd things he’s told me. I think about them for hours, setting off a little chain of loosely connect thoughts which generally lead back to whatever he was talking about in the first place. Today I thought about junkyards, and I thought about the Gleaners and I and Vik Muniz’ Wasteland, and Agbobloshie, and aircraft boneyards. And I thought of the term “rag-and-bone,” which has been in my head for days, although try as I might I can’t remember what put it there in the first place. And of course that made me think of “Rag and bone shop of the heart,” so I had to look up the whole poem. The Circus Animal’s Desertion. What a name for a poem! What a poem! It ends thusly:

    Those masterful images because complete
    Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
    A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
    Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
    Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
    Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone,
    I must lie down where all the ladders start
    In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

And it’s so strange to think about Yeats lacking inspiration or feeling disappointed. It’s so strange to think about him looking back on his career with any kind of sadness or regret, or looking into his heart and feeling despair or disdain for what he finds there. I want to tell him what Isaac would tell him, that those old kettles and bottles and bones aren’t junk, they’re art materials. He can make himself a new ladder out of old iron and broken cans, a ladder that might be more true and stronger than his old one. But of course he knows that, he knows it all, because he found his inspiration, he wrote this poem, and it’s beautiful and he must have felt that in his deep heart’s core.

Savory cake with chard, roasted mushrooms, pecans and pistachios

Savory cake with chard, roasted mushrooms, pecans and pistachios

I’ll blame it on the weather, on the seemingly endless winter, but I’ve wanted to make warm comforting bready meals lately. Last night it was this savory cake, which is a lot like a pizza with the toppings baked right into the dough. I made the dough rich and tender, with butter, milk and an egg (I think of it as brioche-like). And I filled that with my favorite combination of chard and mushrooms. I used pecans and pistachios, but you could use one or the other, whichever you have. We ate this with leftover asparagus pesto and with a pecan sauce something like this one.

Here’s Rag and Bone by The White Stripes

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Empanadas with roasted golden beets, pistachios, raisins and greens

Golden beet, pistachio and golden raisin empanadas

Golden beet, pistachio and golden raisin empanadas

“Did you ever beam in Clio’s eyes?”
“Beam in her eyes? You mean shine a light in them?”
“No, you know, beam in them, you just look right in her face.”
“I suppose…”
“Hagrid and Dumbledore do it all the time.”
“They beam in people’s faces?”
“No, they just beam around. They’re always beaming around.”

At this point in the conversation it became obvious that Isaac was talking about a word Rowling frequently uses to describe an affectionate smile. But before that moment of comprehension, when I was in my early morning daze and enjoying the feeling of charmed confusion that Isaac’s observations often provoke, I had such a different picture of beaming. Just last week I wrote this sentence in these very virtual pages,
“I love to think about people having a light inside them, even being that light. I believe that this is something that every creature has, and as we grow and become jaded and mature, we learn to hide our light, we become closed and dark and careful. You can see it in dogs and children, though, everything they feel comes beaming out of them, unfiltered, unshaded, so bright and powerful you can warm yourself in their glow.” So as I pictured it in my mind, if you beam in someone’s eyes, you shed all the light and warmth of your love and spirit in their direction. You send all the glow of your hope and grace towards them. And probably they’re ignited by your beam, you help to kindle their beam, and then you have mingling beams, which flame higher and brighter than one beam alone. You’re a beamer, and now they’re a beamer, too. If ever I met a beamer, it’s our Isaac. From when he was very tiny, he would smile at people, even at complete strangers, and you could tell that their whole world had brightened perceptibly. He’s always beaming around, that Isaac. I’ve been feeling discouraged today, but I keep thinking about beaming. I keep thinking about people all over the world working so hard and hopefully, just to stay alive, to get by, to get ahead, to make something good; and about all of the rejection and discouragement that casts a dark shadow over everybody. And then I think about all of the beaming going on, all of the beamers in the world, spreading their lights around, breaking through the clouds with great rays and flashes of light. “For beamers came from around and counforted her, beaming that place of darkenesse wyth unspeakable cleernesse.” After all, we all have our own light, we’re all beamers.

Roasted golden beet, raisin and pistachio empanadas

Roasted golden beet, raisin and pistachio empanadas

These empanadas have a sort of golden glowing theme to them. Pretty golden beets, plump golden raisins, warm golden-brown crust. They’re a little sweet because of the raisins and beets, but they have earthy beet greens and spinach and delicious crunchy pistachios to set that off. They’re tender on the inside and nice and crunchy outside, because they have a little cornmeal in their crust. I grated the beets before I roasted them, which gives them a nice soft/crispy texture and a perfect roasty taste. My golden beets were tiny, so I decided to add some grated carrots to the roasting pan, which went nicely with everything.

Here’s Parliament with Flashlight. Everybody’s got a little light under the sun.

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Spinach and Portobello tarts with a pecan crust

Portobello and spinach tart

Portobello and spinach tart

We both forgot it was valentine’s day. To be honest, I also forgot it was Friday or mid-February and I can barely remember my name. It’s all a big blur of snow and sniffles and boys home from school every other day. In truth it didn’t matter that we forgot Valentine’s day, because that’s sort of the point. When you’re in love you don’t need to remember Valentine’s day. After more than twenty years a lot of our pleasures together are of the everyday sort, but as much as I value and champion the ordinary, I know that these everyday pleasures, shared every day, are not ordinary at all. I fully realize that having somebody to share each day with, to share our odd sense of humor, our strange meals, our crazy boys, our comfortable silences, our worries and woes, our trips to the grocery store, our wine before dinner, our difficult decisions, our rare days off, our ramshackle house, our dreaming bed, our morning coffee and the cake to go with it, our newly discovered old music, our fondly remembered long-ago loved music, our inspiration, our down days, our photographs, our shared memories of nearly half our lives, our memories of before we met, our new ideas, our favorite films, our exhaustion, our sickness, our hope for spring, our lengthening days; I fully realize that having somebody to share all of this is a rare and wonderful thing. I fully understand this, and I’m thankful for it, every day. Happy Valentine’s day!

Spinach and portobello tarts

Spinach and portobello tarts

Of course, though I don’t need to remember Valentine’s day, I’m always glad of an excuse to think of some special meal to make. I made this a few days ago, and it seemed pretty special at the time. David had the idea of slicing the mushrooms the way apples and pears are frequently sliced on top of a fruit tart, and I think it worked very well. The custard is spinachy and smoky and pleasantly tender, and the mushrooms crisp and meaty.

Here’s Cee Lo Green with All Day Love Affair

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Butterbean and greens dumplings

Butterbean and spinach dumplings

Butterbean and spinach dumplings

Dear Sir and or Madam: I am writing to apply for the job/ the grant/ the fellowship/ or to submit a story for publication. I realize that roughly a million other people are applying for the position and that they’re at least as skilled and qualified as I am, and all just as passionate about attaining the position/grant/fellowship/publication. I realize that I have absolutely no qualities to recommend me over these other million people, and that they’ve probably graduated more recently with higher honors, and have probably worked in the field some time in the past decade, as I have not done. They probably have more powerful friends to recommend them, more scintillating personalities and better networking skills. They’re probably better at ironing their clothes, being team players and using the latest computer programs. They probably smile more often and more convincingly, they’re probably bubbly. They’re probably effervescent. However, I hope you will take the following information into consideration when making your final decision: My dog really likes me. No, she hasn’t told me so in so many words. She hasn’t put it in writing, and I can’t give you her contact information so that you can determine the veracity of my statement. But it’s true, I tell you! You should see how happy she is when I come home from work or even from a walk around the block. She leaps! She sings! She wags her tail so vigorously you’d think it would fall off! If I’m in the house, she’s likely to be near by me, and I’m fairly sure it’s not just because I’m always eating or playing with food. When I sleep, she’s always practically on top of me, and when I wake and come downstairs, she does too! Sure, she likes everyone she meets, and I can’t guarantee that she likes me more than anybody else, but it’s not a contest, is it? Oh, it is. It is a contest. The whole world is a competition. I see. And maybe everybody’s dog loves them as much as I think she loves me. It’s probably true, I understand. I’ve decided not to attach my resumé, because despite a promising beginning and lots of opportunities, it seems to taper off somewhere in the middle and the last decade or so is frankly… Well, instead I’ve attached some pictures of my dog! And proof that she has her license and rabies shot! If you need any more information about her, or would like to set up an interview with her, just let me know! She won’t mind, she loves meeting new people. She’ll tell you all about how good I am at going for walks and napping and putting kibble in her bowl and singing every song ever written as if it was about her. Well, she would tell you if, you know… In summation thank you for your consideration, and I hope you’ll look at this whole process from my dog’s point of view, if only for an hour or two.

butterbean and greens dumplings

butterbean and greens dumplings

We’ve had more icy weather, the boys are home from school for the second time in three days. It’s a long long winter. I felt like eating something plump and savory and comforting, and that’s just what these little dumplings are. They’re fairly simple: kale, spinach, butter beans and cheese baked in a crispy crust. Obviously, they aren’t steamed yeasted dumplings, and they’re probably not officially dumplings in any sense of the word, but that’s the name that their shape suggested to me.

Here’s I Wanna be Your Dog by Uncle Tupelo. I love this version!

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Beet green and goat cheese timbales with braised golden beets

Beet green and goat cheese timbales

Beet green and goat cheese timbales

In the winter months we all live in much closer proximity to our household spirits. We’re all inside more often, with the doors and windows shut tight. We’re always around, being our clumsy noisy human selves, making messes and dust and unwittingly feeding our spirits. They can’t slip out into the open air for a spell, so they gather in the corners and stick in the cobwebs in the window wells. The dust spirits dance in irked agitation in the chilly sunbeams, tangle in the curtains, and bake behind the radiators, the pee spirits howl from behind the toilets, there’s nowhere for them to go! Nowhere to go! In the kitchen, the more benign food spirits hover in the air smelling like roasted mushrooms and boiled potatoes, lingering like the smell of a holiday. I love our Ordinary spirits, of course I do. They keep me company all day, but I think we’re all looking forward to a time when we can open the windows and doors and let them out for a while, let them fly up to the trees and cling to the bushes, let them explore the neighborhood. I’ve noticed, of late, that the spirits in the kitchen have become so desperate, so brazenly bold, that they’ve started to show their faces. Whenever I run hot water in the sink, or boil water on the stove or in the kettle, a beautiful oval of mist forms on the frosty windows. And in each oval a face appears! They’re funny, happy, mischievous faces, watching us as we cook and eat and talk.

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It’s nice to have their company in our warm home on dark cold nights, but I’m sure that they, too, are dreaming of a long late balmy evening, when they can slip from our windows into the sweet summer air.

beet green timbales with braised golden beets

beet green timbales with braised golden beets

I was quite proud of this meal! I bought a bunch of golden beets, which seem at once wintery and summery. I wanted to do something that used the greens and the beets, and this is what I came up with. I made a dense sort of quiche with the greens, using goat cheese and a little corn meal for texture. I seasoned it with rosemary, thyme and garlic. And I baked them in a muffin pan with large, shallow cups. I lined these with crumbs made from toasted pecans, corn meal and whole wheat bread. I didn’t know if they would come out properly, and I feared I’d have a burnt sticky mess, but they came out perfectly…crispy and buttery outside, and tender and tasty within. I made a sort of sauce for them with the beets sliced very thin, braised in white wine and balsamic and then stewed with tomatoes until the beets were tender crisp and the tomatoes were completely broken down and saucy. And that’s that! We ate them with small potatoes roasted with capers and lemon and a simple arugula salad.

Here’s Bob Marley with Put it On. Feel them spirit!
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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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Parsnip and kale pie

Parsnip almond pie

Parsnip almond pie

Hello again, Ordinary friends! I hope everybody had a peaceful joyful holiday. We did, although my bad cold has turned into something else lingering and painful in my head, which makes me feel like I’m under water. I couldn’t hear or think or smell or taste, and the past few days I’ve had a strange sleepy feeling of not being fully present. I must confess it’s given me the oddest feeling. Sometimes things work in your head but they don’t work in real life. Something you cook or write or draw makes so much sense when you think about it, but upon execution it’s just not quite right. Well, it almost felt that my whole life only worked in my head. My whole world that I’ve created for myself only worked in the isolation of its own little microcosm, everything contained in fragile little bubbles, and upon exposure to reality they *pop* and everything floats away, as insubstantial as you’d always feared it might be. I met a stranger and she asked what I did–she said, “What do you do?” And I panicked! I giggled and yelled “crossword puzzles!” Naw, I didn’t, but I think I might have babbled about how pretty my dog is. Not that it matters, but it’s a big question and I wasn’t ready for it. However, however, this morning Clio and I went for a long walk on the tow path, and it felt good to get back because it’s been so slick and icy it wasn’t walkable. And it’s remarkable how much color there is this time of year, if you really look for it. In the bark of the trees, and the lingering leaves, and the vines and the rocks and the moss and the pale golden green wintery light. In the pretty busy cedar waxwings and robins and cardinals. And we came to a place at the end of the path, where a golden field curved softly before us, all covered in frost, and an arch of pale cobbled clouds curved softly above us, glowing with morning light, and I swear, standing there between them you felt you could breathe it all in, you could inhale this hopeful light. Well, my spirits were elevated, my head cleared and I thought about rebuilding the world in my head. Which is after all a very strong and vivid world, most of the time, built on my very strong love for the boys and David and Clio and the towpath and this town and my new five blank notebooks and my new sea green pen with a small white whale on it and all of the stories I’ll write with it, which are in my head already, waiting to come out. And then I came home and coughed a lot, but minutes later I could actually smell Isaac’s new modeling clay, and I could feel things coming into focus. And this is what I did on my winter vacation.

Plus I made this parsnip pie. It has a filling of almonds, hazelnuts and eggs, seasoned with rosemary, nutmeg and lemon zest and mixed with roasted parsnips and bright kale. I think it probably tasted good. And that’s all I can say about that because I’m late for work!

Here’s Nina Simone with In the Morning, which has been stuck in my head for days.
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