Bright stew (with tiny potatoes, white beans, castelvetrano olives and meyer lemon) and 3-wheat medley (with farro, bulgur, and freekah)

potato, olive, white bean and meyer lemon stew

potato, olive, white bean and meyer lemon stew

It’s a winter storm! It has a name, and I think it’s Janus, which is fitting, I suppose, this being January. Janus was the god of beginnings and change, of gates, doors, passages, journeys, endings, and time, the future and the past. But sitting here, looking out upon snow upon snow upon snow, I don’t feel inspired to start anything new, to embark on any journeys, to open any doors, be they real or metaphorical, and let the icy winds blow into my home. More arctic cold is predicted for the rest of the week. That’s right, it’s winter and we’re experiencing wintery weather. And everybody is talking about it, which is fine by me because I heartily approve of talking about the weather, I think it’s a weighty and important subject. But I also believe that if people have a problem with this weather, it’s because they made the wrong choice in being human. Obviously, they should have been dormice. I’m dormouse-obsessed at the moment. I saw a picture of a hibernating dormouse in Isaac’s magazine, and I’m completely enamored. Listen to this wisdom. They sleep all of winter and a good part of fall and spring. They don’t scurry around hoarding food, they just eat it! And get (relatively) plump! And then they curl up and sleep very soundly for months. Plus, they’re arboreal. They’re mice who live in trees. They have extravagant whiskers. They have bright dark eyes. They eat hazelnuts and berries. I want to eat hazelnuts and berries! They have little hands and feet and fluffy tails. They sleep so soundly that people can pick them up and record the sound of them snoring, which is apparently a thing that people do…


(look at his little hands and feet tremble!)


This is a juvenile dormouse in a torpid state.

If it’s snowing where you are, or raining, or the least bit cold, you should probably just stay inside and watch these BBC dormouse videos.

Or you could make this nice bright stew. It has tiny potatoes, but you could use larger potatoes and cut them up. It has small white beans, and white wine, and rosemary, thyme and sage. It has spinach and castelvetrano olives, and the juice of a meyer lemon. It’s nice in winter, because it’s savory and satisfying, but vivid and green and juicy as well. It would be nice in spring or summer with fresh new potatoes and baby spinach. I served it over a medley of wheat grains…bulgur, farro, and freekah. I thought they were nice together because they each have a different texture. We had some goat cheese caper toasts, too, which I might tell you about another time.

Your song for today is this whistling dormouse.

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Roasted beet and arugula salad with farro and smoky pecan-rosemary sauce

Roasted beet and arugula salad

Roasted beet and arugula salad

When my brother and I were little, we had our own country. It was called Bouse, and it was top secret, so don’t tell anybody about it. Bouse was shaped like our dog, Tessie (her eye was a lake.) All of the animals in Bouse could talk, and they were all very friendly and happy–we had feasts and dances and plays. There were no people, no cars, no factories on Bouse, but in neighboring Karnland, there were only cars, or everybody was part car, I can’t remember, and they were enemies of Bousishians. All animals go to Bouse when they die, and some kind humans do as well.I speak lightly of Bouse, but it was incredibly important to me growing up, and in many ways remains so to this day. It was formed by who we were and what we believed, and it informed our beliefs and our behavior as well. Now my boys have a world of their own. It’s called World Tenn, and the world is made like a giant tennis racket with water inside, and everybody has shoes made out of tennis balls. My boys have different names there, and they have sisters and a baby brother and a dog who can fly. At first I was charmed by the stories, they’re delightful and inventive, but lately it’s starting to feel more serious for them, and I can’t account for how happy this makes me. Yesterday Malcolm and I took a walk after dinner. Malcolm is fun to ramble through the woods with, except that he always has to have a stick, and he always has to hit things with it. He smashes trees, he slices through weeds and tall grass. We’ve told him a million times not to, that it’s better to leave everything as you find it, that he might be destroying the homes of animals, birds, or insects. But he did it anyway. Yesterday he told me that he’s not going to do it anymore. “Why is that?” I asked. It turns out that it goes against the prevalent morality of World Tenn. The enemy of World Tenn is a king that hates mother nature and spends all of his time trying to destroy plants and animals. My boys have the job of protecting nature. Ack! It just kills me that they share a world forged in the fiery furnaces of their imagination and their affection for each other. And they’ve invented a moral code that they need to live up to. They’ve made their own political philosophy, their own religion, just like my brother and I did. Like all good religions it contains myths and far-fetched stories, it borrows from older tales and legends, it contains strife and violence, it reassures them with an afterlife, and it suggests a way to behave in harmony with the creatures of the actual world around them. There are portals into World Tenn–one is a beautiful winding path that branches off from the secret passage on the other side of the other side of the canal. This morning Malcolm told me that there’s one on the roof outside of his window, because a squirrel sat there for a long time, and didn’t seem scared of Malcolm watching him. Of course the real doors into their world are in their minds, and they can take that with them wherever they go. Whatever they do, they have the comfort and strength of their creativity, of their love for each other as brothers, of their lives as heroes, of a world all their own. And nobody can take that away from them.

Roasted beet and arugula salad

Roasted beet and arugula salad

When I made this sort of warm salad of arugula, roasted beets, farro, goat cheese and pecans, I kept the farro separate. I thought it might be the only part of the salad the boys would eat. Silly me! They gobbled down the beets, goat cheese and pecans, and didn’t have much interest in the farro! So you could serve this with the farro as a layer below the arugula, or you could mix it right in with the arugula if you liked. We ate this with tiny new potatoes, boiled and tossed with butter, salt and pepper, and I recommend this. It’s a serving suggestion!!

Here’s My World by the Rascals

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Farro pilaf with pan-fried butterbeans

Farro pilaf and fried butterbeans

Farro pilaf and fried butterbeans

Here at The Ordinary, we’ve uncovered the secret inner-workings of society as we know it, and we’re prepared to share that discovery with you. Points. That’s right, points. We’ll get straight to the point, with a pointed argument, and if you find yourself adrift in the vagaries of the conversation and unsure of your point of sail, pick up a handy pocket map at the point of sale to guide you back to the point of no return. Which is where we are, and this is how it goes. Everybody is allotted a certain number of points to start out with, according to no criteria whatsoever. If this seems arbitrary, that’s because, in point of fact, it is. At this point I should point out that if you happen to be somebody that starts out with an obscene number of points, nothing that follows really applies to you. You can carry on as you like without penalty. Everybody else, however, starts with a certain number of points, which will be depleted or augmented according to various rules of behavior, pretty much from the first. Points well be taken away for sloppy handwriting, for tardiness, and for poor spelling. Points will be taken away for daydreaming or over-enthusiasm. We’re glad you know the answer, but you called it out of turn. Points will be subtracted. We’re pleased that you got the right solution, but you didn’t show your work. Points will be subtracted. You got the right answer and showed your work, but it was the wrong work. Points will be subtracted. Points will be taken away for creativity, unless you’ve invented some way that humans can stay more permanently and utterly attached to their computers, in which case points will be rewarded. Points will be awarded for compliance, for cleanliness, for prettiness, and for whiteness of teeth. If you have many points, it will be easier to get more points. Points will be subtracted if you’re missing part of your uniform. Points will be subtracted if your uniform is not pressed and perfect. If you run out of points, that’s very bad, and more points will be taken away from you. Since you don’t have points at this point, points will be loaned to you at a very great interest, and if it seems like you’ll never be able to pay them back, that’s because you won’t. Of course we value kindness and compassion, but they won’t be on the test, and no points will be rewarded. What’s the point of it all? That’s beside the point, it is a completely pointless question, so we’ll all just carry on, shall we?

So! I bought a can of butter beans, because they looked nice. I decided to fry them up in olive oil with some herbs, and then mix them with tomatoes at the end. So they’d stay somewhat firm – almost crispy on the edges. And I made a sort of pilaf with farro, carrots and peas to go with them. I seasoned the farro with a pre-mixed red zatar, but if you don’t have such a thing, any combination of sesame seeds, fennel seeds, sumac, cumin or coriander would work. Or just some thyme and oregano. Actually, you can’t go wrong with any sort of seasoning that you like! We ate these all together with some little boiled potatoes tossed in butter, and it was all very good together. Lovely flavors and textures. And I am now a big fan of butter beans! We had quite a bit of everything leftover the next day, so I mushed it all together to make burgers, which I fried up in a pan, topped with a slice of cheese, and ate on a bun. Yum.

Here’s Yo La Tengo, with The Point of It

And here’s a wonderful scene from Home Movies explaining the importance of points.

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