Collards with artichoke hearts, olives and capers

Collards with artichoke hearts, olives and capers

Collards with artichoke hearts, olives and capers

Isaac carried his new superhero to school today. He’s made of bright pink pipe cleaners (the superhero, not Isaac.) His name is eel man. Isaac started telling me a story about how eel man made a giant ball of electricity and threw it in the ocean and then… “Is eel man a good guy or a bad guy?” I asked. Turns out he’s both. “Ah,” I said, “So he’s morally complicated.” Yeah. He’s good when he thinks it would be fun to be good. Well, we got back to the story, but it had changed a little. I could hear the little wheels whirring in Isaac’s head. “Wait, I’m talking to mom, and she’s actually listening to me.” Suddenly eel man’s exploits seemed a little too dangerous for all of the innocent bystanders who might be bobbing in the waves of eel man’s ocean. In the new ending, eel man cuts the nets of fishermen to free the fish. Which proves how well Isaac knows me, but is also morally complicated, if you think about it too much, because now what will happen to the poor fisherman and his imaginary starving family? Everything is morally complicated if you think about it too much! And I think that’s a good thing. I think it’s good to think about it too much, and try to find some sort of balance that helps you navigate waters made choppy by giant balls of electricity. I’ve been reading my new biography of Jean Vigo. His father took the nomme de guerre Miguel Almereyda, and anagram for “there’s the shit.” He had a hard life, he had plenty of reasons to be angry at the world. His family abandoned him, and as a teenager he found himself sick, alone and starving. He was imprisoned several times as a boy…once for “borrowing” money to pay rent, and once for attempting to blow up a pissoir, although he was so worried about hurting innocent people that he bungled the whole effort. He was sent to prison none-the-less, where he was kept in solitary confinement and semi-darkness and abused by sadistic warders. He found comfort and friendship amongst the anarchists, communists, socialists and syndicalists, and he found an outlet for his passionate anger at society. It’s so strange to read about this world, so morally complicated as to be contradictory–so appealing and flawed, so concerned with organizing and yet so chaotic. We meet violently angry pacifists, militant anti-militarists. They started a newspaper and words were their weapons. Their ideals changed subtly all the time as the world about them changed, and they spoke with complete certainty and passion about each changing belief. Their words were so effective that they were received with fear and distrust as if they had been actual weapons. Almereyda found himself in and out of prison, sentenced again and again for articles that questioned the system, that encouraged strikes by workers and soldiers. Everything fell apart with WWI. Everything changed in ways that were beyond Almereyda’s control. But it seems that he and his friends still struggled to make sense of it, they continued to write about it, they tried to ensure that the changes that came with the war were good for the people, for the workers, for the poor. And many years later, his son Jean would make films that celebrated revolution and anarchy, but glowed with love for all people and reverence for all life, and these would be feared and banned, too. But they would live on as a testament to the power of word and image, to the revolutionary power of art. It’s a funny old world.

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love collards! I’ve never treated them quite like this, but I thought it was delicious. Collards have a textural assertiveness that went perfectly with the bright sharp flavors of capers and olives. This was very simple to put together. If you added some beans to the dish (white would be nice!) and served it with rice or pasta, you’d have a quick meal.

Here’s Rebel Waltz from The Clash
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Chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts AND spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts

chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts

Malcolm wore flannel pajamas under his trousers all winter long. Why did he do it? He has his reasons! Was it for warmth? for comfort? for a sense of extra security? Out of laziness? Was it a nouveau-grunge look? (Grunge is more than a stylistic choice for Malcolm, it’s a way of life, and if you doubt his devotion to the cause, look at his fingernails.) These last few days, the unseasonably cool weather has given way with complete submission to the unseasonably warm weather. No peaceful transition of balmy spring-like days. Cold to hot, just like that. We took a walk after dinner one evening, and we were all a little overdressed and a little warm, and none more so than malcolm, with flannel pjs inside of his flannel-lined trousers. We said, “Are you really still…?” He said, in a sweetly funny, sighing voice, “I regret it.” And, of course, this got me thinking about Malcolm and regrets. It really seems as if children have no regrets – my children anyway! Perhaps they’re prodigiously lacking in compunction, but it seems as if their friends are just the same. And this is yet one more way that I wish I was more like them. I feel as though I live my life under the weight of a vast network of regrets. They cling to me like spider webs as I pass through my days. They seem silly, but they add up, and they slow me down. Why did I have that last cup of coffee when my heart already feels like it’s going to explode? Why did I have that last glass of wine when my head feels as if it’s going to explode? Why did I say what was on my mind when I knew nobody wanted to hear it? Why was I so snappish with Isaac when he hadn’t really done anything bad? Why did I curse angrily in front of Malcolm when I know it makes him sad? And on and on it goes. Sometimes, I’ll have a faint hint of uneasiness, a nagging feeling that I’d done or said something regrettable, and in trying to unravel that one string, I’ll pull on a million others, so I can feel my heart sinking over something foolish I said decades ago. But my boys aren’t like that. They move right on with their lives. They’re never angry for long, they’re not resentful. They don’t store up bitter feelings about something somebody else has done, and they do themselves the same favor. This makes them light of heart despite the fact that their hearts are endearingly full at all times. Sometimes they’re irritatingly on-with-the-next-thing. Sometimes I have to stop myself from shouting, “You just spilled a pint of juice on your homework! Show some remorse you little psychopath!!” I think I’ll try to be more like them. I think I’ll imagine myself throwing away my regrets the way the boys throw rocks into the water–joyously and wildly, never worrying about the splashes, never regretting the loss of the stones.

Chickpea flour tart

Chickpea flour tart

I thought this dinner turned out so pretty! I’m not even sure what to call it. I made a batter such as I might make for puffy socca or chickpea flour crepes. I cheat and add eggs and a bit of white flour, as you may recall, and this makes the batter lighter and easier to work with, whilst retaining the singular taste and texture of chickpea flour. So I did this, and then I arranged artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, tarragon leaves and mozzarella cheese in a pretty pattern on the surface of the batter, and then I baked it! I thought it tasted very good! I love tarragon, but my boys were disconcerted by whole leaves of it, so you might want to chop it up. Or use rosemary or basil instead. Chickpea flour tends to result in a slightly dry texture, so we ate this with sauteed spinach, white beans, and black truffle butter. The combination was absolutely delicious!! You could eat it with any kind of soft sauteed vegetable or even a simple tomato sauce, though.
spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

Of course it’s going to be Edith Piaf, with Non, Je ne regrette rien, isn’t it?
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Roasted potatoes and artichoke hearts

Roasted potatoes and artichokes

Roasted potatoes and artichokes

I was going to put as my facebook status “don’t you hate it when you’re feeling really down and discouraged, and you hope that something nice might happen to cheer you up, but instead your dog gets sick and it’s Sunday night and you don’t have a car, so you have to ask somebody to drive you to the emergency vet and the visit costs as much as you made in tips all weekend long at your lousy job?” But of course I didn’t! Nobody wants to read depressed and moan-y news like that, unless it has a picture of a cat attached. And I don’t have a cat! People mostly tend to write about stuff they feel good about, on these social media forums, or minor pet peeves, or share inspirational sayings, or post pictures of cats, or the everloving inspirational quotes with pictures of cats. Here at The Ordinary, I try to share some of the times when things don’t go well, when I ruin dinner or Malcolm yells at me that I’m mean, because I’d feel like a liar if I pretended everything was perfect all the time. But I guess I try to be a bit cheerful about it, to find some vague reason to be happy in the end, even if it’s a fairly foolish reason…Dinner turned out horrible and I threw a temper tantrum, but Malcolm gave me a big hug, so who cares? Well, I have been feeling discouraged lately, and Clio did get sick and I was up much of the night with her, and to be honest I was having a really hard time trying to see it in a positive light. But I started thinking about it, as I sat on a bench basking in the mild but well-meaning sunshine and watched the boys play with their friends, and I realized that the very act of writing about it makes me feel more hopeful. Not just because it helps to talk about it or it’s cathartic in some way, but because of the writing itself. It makes me happy to put words together. I feel good when the words sound good, and even when they don’t, which is probably most of the time. And it makes me happy to think about this thing that makes me happy that’s so simple – it doesn’t require complicated equipment or lots of planning. It’s completely free of charge. It might be a self-indulgent waste of time, but who cares! It doesn’t hurt anyone, and nobody can take it away from me. I like to think that everybody could have this…some seemingly trifling activity that doesn’t make you forget your worries so much as it opens a possibility of some endeavor that’s more important than your worries, if you let it be. Maybe you doodle, maybe you strum a guitar, maybe you cook a mean risotto. Any of these things can be shared, can be nourishing to yourself and others. And now, I may have been in a foul mood all day, and may not have gotten much sleep, but Malcolm is asking if I want to make ginger beer with him, so who cares?

These potatoes were a breeze! Easy peasy lemon squeezy, and they’d be good with a squeeze of lemon. I made them after work one day with some leftover canned artichoke hearts. But they turned out so good! Crispy and tender and flavorful. They’re very simple, as they’re presented here, but they seemed a little fancy to me anyway. You could easily add shallots or garlic or olives before you roast, or sprinkle on some cheese towards the end. But they’re nice like this – simple – with salt and lots of pepper.

Here’s Who Cares by Michelle Shocked, which has been in my head a lot lately.

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Summer-in-winter pizza with pesto, sofrito, chickpeas and artichoke hearts

Pizza with sofrito, pesto and chickpeas

Pizza with sofrito, pesto and chickpeas

You wouldn’t believe the vast system of pantries we have here at The Ordinary. It extends for miles, beginning above-ground, with spacious, sunny rooms lined with floor-to-ceiling windows. And then it tunnels under to form a vast network of cellars, ice houses, larders, butteries, and spences. And the shelves are lined with bottles and jars. Those in the light of the windows glow like stained glass. Those in the darkened cellars shine with their own internal light. In each bottle and jar – a perfect distillation of a moment from each season from the year. We open these, as needed, to help us navigate the year as it unfolds. When you’re melting in summer, you can uncork a clear, cold, cleansing january day. In winter, we have a vial containing the cool-warm smell of a June morning. We have a whole room stocked with falling things. A jar of late spring’s flower petals – confused, whirled in a tangle; a summer sun shower; autumn leaves, curling to the ground; and a soft, quiet, gentle December snow. Each one will serve to remind you of what you’ve seen and felt, the fragrances and tastes that you have known, and each will remind you as well of the cycle of the seasons which will bring each moment inevitably back upon you. In one room, of course, we have flavors…ripe plump tomatoes, bursting with the hot sunny abundance of August, refined into a flavorful paste. Bunches of basil, sweet, sharp, and intoxicating, concentrated into one pure flavor of summer. And that’s what we used to make this pizza.

pizza with sofrito, chickpeas and pesto

pizza with sofrito, chickpeas and pesto

What? You think I’m waxing hyperbolic? You think this is why I earned the name “hyperboClaire?” Well, it’s totally true!! Every word! Okay, so I’m really talking about the sofrito and pesto that I made with our over-abundance of tomatoes and basil at the end of the summer. I froze them, and at the time I thought…in the middle of winter, this will make a welcome meal! And then the power went out for ten days, and I was worried that they didn’t stay frozen. But they seemed frozen! And our kitchen felt very near freezing through the time. And we ate them on this pizza and everybody seemed fine!! I also added chickpeas and artichoke hearts. I have long loved artichoke hearts on a pizza, and chickpeas on a pizza – well, it just sounded good to me! And it was good! They got all roasty and flavorful. If you happen not to have frozen sofrito in the summer, you can easily make it from a can of tomatoes (Spanish-style sofrito! Recipe to follow). And pesto can be bought in most grocery stores, if you don’t have that lying around in your feezer!! Anyway – this was a good pizza. It did taste like summer, and reminded me of golden afternoons spent picking tomatoes and basil. Very welcome indeed as the temperature plummets.

Here’s Summertime by Jimmy Smith.

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Moroccan spiced chickpea, tomato and pepper stew & couscous, & semolina bread

Morrocan chickpea stew

Malcolm wanted to go to the river. Isaac didn’t. It’s not the first time this has happened. After another epic struggle, we persuaded Isaac to walk down with us. As we walked, Malcolm declared that he was an outdoors swimming animal, and Isaac was an indoors curl-up-in-a-nest-of-fur-and-feathers animal. We laughed, cause it’s funny and it’s sort of true. But I felt uneasy. We try very hard not to label the boys a certain way. Not to say… Malcolm is a man who does this, and Isaac is a man who does that; or Malcolm’s good at this, and Isaac’s good at that. Because when somebody decides that you are a certain way, you can get stuck. I find it interesting, and a little frightening, how readily people take to a certain description of themselves. The boys like being defined in certain ways. We all do…everything’s such a confusing muddle, and it makes it easier if you have a semi-solid notion of yourself from which to make sense of it all. As an example…Malcolm is the boy who will try any food, Isaac is the boy who refuses to taste a thing. This is a thing that’s been decided, and Isaac is almost proud of it. But it’s just not true! In fact, I’d go even farther to say that the idea that children like bland, pale foods, and we should start out feeding them tasteless things, and trick them into eating anything else, is also, just not true. We fed tiny Malcolm oatmeal and yogurt and bananas. Then, one day, on a whim, we gave him orzo with pesto on it. Who turned the lights on? Flavor! Strong, sharp flavor! (Tiny little pasta that squishes through your fingers and drives the dog crazy when you scatter it ont the floor!) I think all children like strong flavors – Isaac likes olives and goat cheese – he always has. They both love capers, which they call flavor dynamites. We just have to give them a chance to try these things! Tapenade baby food, anyone?

Isaac eats a chickpea

So when I made this Moroccan-spiced chickpea stew, Isaac refused to try it, because that’s what he does. Then I gave him a chickpea. He ate that, and helped himself to more. I gave him an olive. He ate that, and spooned a few more onto his plate. By the time the rest of us had left the table, I looked out the window and saw that he’d pulled the whole serving plate toward him, and was eating everything together, hungrily. So we’ll take Isaac swimming, and Malcolm will curl up on the couch with a good book.

The stew was really tasty, and it’s a good way to use up all your tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers, if you’re sick and tired of ratatouille. It’s not authentically Moroccan-spiced, of course. It’s just that it’s a pleasing mixture of savory spices and herbs, and “sweet” spices and herbs. And the bread! Well, I’d been reading fascinating accounts of Moroccan flatbread, that generally contain semolina, and are folded into all sorts of beautiful fashions. I decided to play around with these ideas, but in one big loaf. It turned out very nice! With a lovely texture and flavor – crumbly, chewy, and satisfying. If you don’t feel like doing all the crazy folding, you could just shape it into a nice round, and leave it at that.

Here’s Peter Tosh’s beautiful I Am that I Am.

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Chard and artichoke tart with a crispy eggplant crust

Eggplant-crusted chard tart

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about, in a very confused fashion, for the last half a day (and night!) We all know the myth of Icarus – his father, Daedalus, fashioned him a pair of wings made of wax and feathers. He warned him not to fly too close to the sun, but he was so giddy with the joy of flight, that he forgot his father’s words, flew too close to the sun, the wax melted, he continued happily flapping his arms, but without feathers he could no longer fly. He fell into the sea and drowned. And we all know the painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, attibuted to Bruegel. It’s a beautiful painting of a beautiful landscape, with people going about their business, unaware of Icarus’ fall, which is small and on the edge of the painting. And people have written poems about the painting. Auden’s Musée des Beaux-Arts, in which he describes how suffering “takes place/ While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.” And William Carlos Williams wrote a poem by the same name as the painting, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. So that’s the “evidence” and here are the questions… what does it all mean? Is Auden suggesting, as the word “dull” implies, that the ploughman and the angler are too coarse to take note of the tragedy of loftier men? Or is it that, simply, things go unnoticed. We’re so taken with our own lives and concerns that we don’t have the time or energy to commiserate with others? Is the original myth really a warning about excessive hubris? Or, was Icarus just enjoying the feeling of flight to such an extent that he forgot to be careful? People suffer all the time – ploughmen and anglers and painters and poets and master inventors. I suppose all the suffering is equally important (or unimportant) whether somebody paints a picture of it, or writes a poem or about it, or doesn’t notice it at all. The painting itself is so gorgeous, the people walking along with supposed dullness are so vibrantly portrayed. And, as the poets say, spring is in full glory, the sea is cool and pretty, the sun is hot and strong, and all of this will be true no matter what the fate of the men passing through the landscape. And then I can’t not think of Stephen Dedalus, with his suggestion that ‘The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.’ Surely not, Joyce. Surely not! That quote has always bothered me. I’d love to have a meal with Pieter Bruegel, and Williams Carlos Williams, and WH Auden, and maybe even Ovid, and drink some wine and talk it all over.

Chard tart with crispy eggplant crust

Maybe I’d make them this eggplant crusted chard and artichoke tart! I think it turned out quite pretty, and it certainly tasted good. The “crust” is made entirely of pieces of eggplant, dipped in egg, then dipped in pecans, breadcrumbs and a touch of flour, and then roasted in olive oil. I used a lot of bread crumbs and a small amount of flour, but if you used only pecans and gluten-free breadcrumbs, you’d have a gluten-free crust! The filling is soft and flavorful and savory, and the pine nuts add a nice toasty crunch on top. I served this with a smooth smoky, spicy, sweet sauce made with fresh tomatoes, green peppercorns, olives and raisins.

Tomato-raisin-olive sauce

Holy smoke! I forgot to post a song yesterday! Horrors. Here’s Alec Ounsworth with This is Not My Home (After Bruegel)
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Potatoes, artichoke hearts and chard

Potatoes, artichokes and chard

I feel like I have a mild case of the doldrums. Some combination of time flying too fast and my creative energy running way too slow has me feeling a little meh and blah. There’s so much I want to do and make, but I feel like I’m cabined, cribbed, confined by saucy doubts and fears. And they’re not even important or reasonable doubts and fears, for heaven’s sake! But there’s probably nothing duller than hearing somebody talk about their doldrums, so I’ll talk instead about something bright and inspiring, that can shake a person out of such a state. Bill Traylor, of course! I think his drawings are remarkable – so pure and vital and strange and perfect. I read once that he uses a “high singing blue” in his drawings, and I’m completely enamored of this idea. A high singing blue! I was looking around for some of his drawings, and I’m very excited to find that somebody is making a film about him! Here’s a preview, which also has plenty of examples of his drawings…

Of course I don’t understand the whole story of Bill Traylor’s life, but he had more than his share of cares and worries, and what did he do? He drew! It feels as though he didn’t over-think and fret about finding the right tools, and make a fuss about his grand projects: he sat and drew what he saw, and what was in his mind, and what he drew was beautiful and fervent.

Your song for today is this one about Bill Traylor by French double-bass-and-string-oud-band Off Duo (omg, another double bass and string oud band?). I just love it!

Meanwhile, I’ve got to get myself back some balance, some perspective. I love day-to-day life. I love the small things we do every day with the boys. I love watching them play, and draw, and build things. I like the creativity we call upon every day, and – for me – a big part of that is cooking. We eat to live, and we cook crazy things to keep our minds alive! And as dumb as it sounds, I find potatoes inspiring! They’re like a blank canvas, or a blank piece of re-used cardboard. We got some from our CSA, and a bag of dirty potatoes is a source of endless possibilities!! In this dish I wanted to combine the sweet crispiness of fried potatoes with the earthy softness of sautéed chard. The strongest flavoring here is rosemary, which is perfect with potatoes, and seems so summery and mysterious.

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GInger beer-battered zucchini & artichoke fritters

GInger beer-battered fritters

We had a family joke when I was growing up that whenever my brother was ill, my mom would make enchiladas. Delicious, yes, but maybe not an ideal comfort food. It probably only happened once or twice, but it became the stuff of family legend. Yesterday Isaac wasn’t feeling well, and I made these. Sigh. I thought it would be fun for him, because he likes food you can eat with your fingers and dip in sauce (as who doesn’t!). In my defense, his fever didn’t start till after dinner, but when you’re feverish, battered vegetables probably aren’t your first choice of meal. Malcolm loved them, though, and the dipping sauce they went out in (which had tamari, balsamic, lime, red pepper flakes, and basil.) I thought it would be fun to make a beer batter, but with ginger beer, because I LOVE GINGER BEER! I flavored the filling with a touch of ginger and lots of fresh basil, and added goat cheese for taste and texture. So, crispy on the outside, soft and melty inside, tasty and fun to eat.

A while back I wrote an essay on food, music, childhood, comfort, memory and the soul. I sent it around to a few places, but, strange to say, there’s not a huge market for essays about Proust, Memphis Minnie, and RZA! Who knew! Well, guess what, today we’re going to have a guest speaker in the form of my own self. Most if it will be after the jump, because the authoress goes on and on and on.

And here’s a short playlist of the songs mentioned.

The Taste of Memory

We all know about Proust’s Madeleine. After a dreary day, the prospect of a depressing morrow left the narrator dispirited, until one bite of Madeleine, dipped in tea, filled him with an overwhelming joy. The taste of the food, and the memory of childhood happiness acted as a powerful tonic. He describes taste and smell as souls, persistent, faithful, bearing the weight of the vast structure of recollection in their tiny, fragile essence. Most adults have probably experienced this – when you’re feeling unwell or depressed, you crave some food you ate when sick as a child. It’s not the food that makes you feel better, it’s the memory of being cared for, of a time when you were not isolated by your maturity, not relied on to make decisions, not expected to take care of yourself and protect others.

To be continued…. (the recipe is after the jump as well, just like it always is!)
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Artichoke heart, caramelized onion and brie tart

Caramelized onion tart

You know how they tell you you’ll use pre-calculus when you grow up, but you highly doubt it? When I was in high school, I didn’t like pre-calculus much. I used to sit in class feeling queazy and thinking I might die from appendicitis. (I wish I was kidding!) The teacher, a small, dry man, took me aside and told me I couldn’t avoid everything that confused me. Ha! Proved him wrong! I’ve been doing that for over 40 years, and I pretty much never use pre-calculus skills in the real world. I took another class called Writing and Responding. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said it was one of those classes that shapes your life. It was taught by Carol Lefelt, and I went on to do independent studies with her on Shakespeare, and (If I recall correctly) female poets. She was remarkable! Very questioning, very curious – contagiously so. In Writing and Responding, we learned how to respond constructively to other writers’ work. I’ve thought a lot, through the years, that some of these lessons I have used in real life, not just in responding to writing, but in responding to people! For instance, after reading a piece, you always start by saying a couple of things you like. Specific things, be they ever so small. This seems like such a simple idea, but I don’t know how many times I find myself thinking, “no, no, no…start with something nice, then get to the complaint.” I went to Malcolm’s second grade parent-teacher conference a few years ago. Before I’d sat down, before I’d even crossed the room, his teacher said, “Malcolm is all over the place! He breaks all his pencils!” And I thought, “What you really meant to say, surely, was that my son is so bright and imaginative, and he has so much energy …” And then get to the part about the pencils. Right? Another lesson – instead of saying you don’t like something, or that it doesn’t work, you ask questions about it. That way, the writer, in pondering your questions, will understand that they didn’t get their point across, that they’ve caused confusion instead of clarity. Wouldn’t that be nice? Instead of being scolded, to be asked a few questions that showed you the error of your ways. Another thing we learned, on the writing side, was not to worry about being ready to write, or knowing exactly what you’d like to write, but using the act of writing as a way of figuring that out. “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” I like this idea a lot. And I’ve found it to be true. In writing, as in life, sometimes the less you fret, the better things turn out. Admittedly, this appeals to me, partly, because I’m a vague and lazy person. And, obviously, some things need to be carefully planned and plotted. You’re not going to build a cabinet, say, or a rocket ship, just slapping some things together and hoping it works. But other things – things that come from some part of your brain you’re not in complete control of, seem to work better when you just do them. You just let them evolve as they need to evolve. I think cooking is like that – for me at least. I’m not a fan of following recipes. I like to dream a bit about what would taste good, and then see what I have, and let it come out as it does.

So – we got some onions from the farm. It might seem odd, but this has been one of my biggest veg challenges to date. I like shallots, chives, scallions… I just don’t love actual onions. They’re too much! I don’t like the smell of them clinging to walls and clothes like some bad dream from a Tom Waits song. But I tried caramelizing them, and I think they’re quite nice. I followed Deborah Madison’s recipe to the letter (except that I halved it). If ever I were to follow a recipe, it would certainly be hers. She’s my hero! And I decided to put them on a big, pizza-like tart. With brie, capers, and artichoke hearts, and fresh sage and fresh thyme. Because I had all those things, and they told me they’d be good together! And they were! This was very easy, and very tasty. I used a buttery pate brisée crust, but you could use pizza dough instead, if you were in the mood.

Here’s Respond React, from The Roots
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Artichoke, walnut and feta croquettes

Artichoke croquettes

We don’t have cable in our house (conscious choice, cable companies! Don’t come calling.) But sometimes at work I can persuade my fellow restaurant patrons to watch the cooking channel. My favorite is Chopped. I can imagine a version at my house. Instead of gleaming counters and well-coiffed judges, you’d have tables full of school work and drawings and old bills, walls coated with little hand prints and globs of paint, and an elderly dog clattering through, bumping into everyone. And the challenge would be to look in my fridge, pick 2 leftovers packed away in plastic boxes, and make something special out of it. I’d win this round!! I had some leftover mashed potatoes, a half-used can of artichoke hearts, and a bit of extra sandwich bread on hand. What did I make? Lovely croquettes – crispy, flavorful and delicious. Croquettes can be a little stodgy, what with the bread and potatoes, so I wanted them to have bright flavor – something that would go well with feta and artichoke hearts. Hence the fennel and lemon. They turned out really nice! We ate them with a smooth roasted red pepper sauce (open jar of roasted peppers!), which the kids later happily ate on pasta for lunch.

Here’s Vaios Malliaras with Aginara (artichoke) Greek folk clarinet music from 1933. Odd and really lovely!
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