Here’s My World by the Rascals
So, kale and artichoke hearts and tarragon pesto layered with sharp cheddar and thinly slice potatoes. A meal in a dish. I suppose it’s a little like lasagna with potatoes instead of pasta. It was very comforting and warm, but tarragon, artichoke hearts and sharp cheddar added some brightness. If you don’t have tarragon pesto, you can use regular old basil pesto, or you can just add some herbs as you like them to the ricotta.
Here’s Hey Hey by Big BIll Broonzy, my new favorite.
This was a yummy dinner!! I roasted some thinly sliced potatoes with sage and olive oil. Then I piled them high with roasted mushrooms, black beans, corn and spinach sauteed with chipotle puree, smoked gouda, sharp cheddar, pickled jalapenos and fresh, chunky guacamole made of avocado, tomato, cilantro and lime juice. Smoky, earthy, fresh, satisfying. It was fun to eat this! We ate it like nachos. The boys stuffed the black bean mixture in some soft tortillas.
Here’s Linton Kwesi Johnson with Reality Poem.
My story, which you can find after the jump, turned out inexplicably sad. It’s a sort of loose retelling of a myth, painted over with grim economic reality.
Here’s Tom Waits with Come On Up To the House, because I borrowed a line from it for my story.
It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. – Albert Camus
So! Tiny new potatoes, chickpeas and tomatoes, all tossed together with shallots, garlic and olive oil. Seasoned with rosemary and sage, and roasted till crispy and caramelized. Delicious! This smells so good while you’re cooking it. I like potatoes and tomatoes together, for some reason it seems very summery and harvesty to me. We’re not there yet, obviously, so this is like a wish or a preview. This would be nice in summer with chopped ripe tomatoes, but for the time being I used little sweet grape tomatoes. They became almost like sundried tomatoes. Rich and flavorful. The first time we ate this, it was crispy and firm. The second time, I added some white wine at the end, used it to scrape up all the nice caramelly bits, covered it, and cooked it till everything was tender. It was very nice both ways! We ate it on a bed of baby spinach and arugula. Lovely.
Here’s Compassion, by Nina Simone.
“Hello! Um. This is Claire. Your, um, I’m sorry, your…partner? maybe? told me to call this number. I’m friends with Jen! Um, I’m not sure how to pronounce her last name? Um…”
“I’m sorry,” Said a kind voice at the other end of the line, “I think there’s something wrong with my phone, you sound like an incoherent fool.”
“No, no, that’s me!”
“And how can I help you?”
“Well, I’m not sure, I was told to call you by two different people, so I did. I, um, made some food for Jen, once and she said it was ‘yummy’ and she said you were opening a restaurant, and I’ve never cooked in a restaurant, but I’ve worked in lots of restaurants, and I’m not sure what you’re looking for…”
“Did you want to be a line cook?”
“God, no, I’ve seen what that job does to people! They go in pleasant enough, but they emerge twisted and bitter, likely to lose their tempers at the slightest…”
“Did you want to wait tables?”
“Well, I’m a waitress now, and after four years in the same place I’ve got things pretty much exactly as I like them…I’ve trained all the nice people to request that I wait on them…”
“I’m sorry, what exactly do you want?”
“Well, I want to write for the Guardian UK, but they won’t let me. I want to be the next Andre Bazin, you know? And I really really wish that somebody would pay me to write novels and make movies, but obviously that’s not going to happen. I’ve always wanted to be referred to as ‘my esteemed colleague,’ so that would be a good thing. It would be nice if somebody paid me to make meals and write about it on my blog. Oh yeah, I have a food blog, which is pretty exciting, because I’m fairly sure I’m the only person in the country that thought of that bright idea….”
“Did you want to talk to our executive chef and arrange a time to meet?”
“Talk to another human being on the phone?!? I’m sure you didn’t notice, but I’m not at my sharpest on the phone. I’m not so good at telephone conversations, and I’m fairly certain talking to another person at this point would do me in.”
“Why don’t you come in tomorrow when we’re all here.”
Nailed it! I hope you were taking notes, kids, because that is how you call somebody up to ask for a job! After all of my awkward rambling, I actually have an interview today, which is sort of hopeful, because the woman I spoke to must be the kindest, most patient person on the planet. I’m nervous! I was up all night being nervous! Mostly because I don’t have any idea what I want to do, but I can imagine dire complications with any scenario I come up with! Oh yes, the full worry-Claire treatment. I’m excited to learn about a new restaurant, though. It’s always nice to meet new people. I suppose the worst that can happen is that I waste a little bit of their time.
Everything I’m cooking lately seems to have tamari and honey in it! I must be addressing some sort of tamari-honey deficiency. Actually, it’s a magic combination that makes my boys eat vegetables, and I’ve been wielding it a lot lately. This dish is no exception. The potatoes are soft and comforting, the sprouts bright and crispy, and everything was quite nice together. I added some red pepper flakes for heat, some balsamic for acid, and of course we have honey for sweet and tamari for…is that umami? I’m never quite sure. This was a very simple dish, and the boys did like it.
The other day, as I waited on a large party, I said “Can I get you anything else?” as waitresses do, and one woman replied “Do you have a million dollars?” And I laughed and said, “If I did, I wouldn’t be here!” But I thought about it, as the day progressed, and I’m not sure that’s true. The thing is, as strange as it may sound, I like waiting tables. Maybe I would stay on one or two days a week, even if I had a million dollars. A manager I worked with for a few years used to joke that she wasn’t in it for the money, she just wanted to keep “the common touch.” And there’s something to that… eating is something we all do, we have that in common, and it’s pleasant to see people in this way. I like this chance to talk to complete strangers, and learn a little bit about their lives. I like when they become regulars instead of complete strangers, and they’re glad to see me week after week. I like this way of almost being friends, but in a completely different sphere of life–in a way that none of my actual friends ever sees me. I like to be good at something, and I’m good at waiting tables, which is an incredibly complex and physically demanding job. I’m proud of that. I like the feeling of comradery you get from working with other people, that sort of backstage feeling you get from being part of the process of creating a meal for someone. So maybe I would stay on for a shift now and then, even if I had a million dollars. It might make a nice change from our trips to the rooftops of Barcelona.
These potatoes are so simple I feel almost foolish telling you about them. Except that they were so tasty! And they’re perfect for spring, which is finally making an appearance around here. I boiled some new potatoes for a few minutes, until they were just starting to soften, and then…I cut each one with an apple corer! Just a little bit, not all the way through–about three-quarters of the way down. This made them pretty, with a round central portion and petals on the side, and then I drizzled olive oil and herbs on them, and then I roasted them till they were nicely cripsy. And that was that! I used dry sage, because nothing is growing in my garden yet, but as the season progresses, I’ll try this again with fresh herbs – rosemary, tarragon, basil, thyme. The possibilities are endless!
New York’s a good town but it’s not for mine
New York’s a good town but it’s not for mine
He was given a chance to perform with a traveling show, but he declined, because he wanted to stay near to his home. Skip James travelled for jobs and work camps, but his lyrics are about the people back home. I wonder what it must have been like for them to be in their 60s and suddenly discovered by New York City folksy hipsters. What it must have been like to travel, at that age, and perform at the Newport Folk Festival, and be revered by these kids whose lives must have been so different from their own. Supposedly, Hurt, whom everybody liked his whole life due to his pleasant nature, enjoyed the experience, and James, who “could be sunshine, or thunder and lightning depending on his whim of the moment,” hated the folkie scene, and wasn’t fond of some of the covers of his songs that became wildly popular. What a strange turn for their lives to have taken. Blues music is full of fables and mythical characters, tales of death and life and reinvention, tales of people with legendary powers. I like to think about the long and hard-earned lives of James and Hurt in this way.
So, this meal is something like winter’s last hurrah. It’s warm and comforting and nourishing. It has barley and french lentils, spinach, potatoes and carrots. So it’s pretty much everything you need in one big pot. The sauce is rich and savory, with port wine, tamari, sage and rosemary. And we topped the whole thing off with some grated smoked gouda and sharp cheddar. This is one of those “serve-with-a-good-loaf-of-crusty-bread” meals.