Beet and sorrel tart

Beet and sorrel tart

Beet and sorrel tart

Bruno is brash, buoyant, impulsive. He leaps into everything without thinking, he’s cheerful, likable, obnoxious. When we first meet him he’s zooming around a silent shuttered Rome in August; it’s a ghost town, everyone is gone already on vacation. He drives a sporty lancia aurelia, he drives fast and carelessly, even his horn is cheerful and obnoxious. He sees Roberto staring out his window and he calls up to ask a favor–will he make a phone call for him? Roberto invites him up to make the call himself. With the anxious self doubt of a man who spends a lot of time alone, he second guesses his decision to help, but assures himself that it will be okay. Next to Bruno, Roberto seems small, pale, quiet and serious, but somehow they hit it off, and Bruno persuades Roberto to go for a drink with him so that he can repay his kindness. What follows is the road trip at the center of Il Sorpasso, Dino Riso’s beautiful Commedie all’italiana starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Vittorio Gassman. The heart of the film is the unlikely friendship between Bruno and Roberto. On the surface it seems like a morality tale: light and dark, angel and devil, the moral man tempted by the immoral man. But it’s far more complicated than that, and this is what makes it more honest and beautiful. Bruno, affable and social, has an easy way with people. He’s friendly and flirtatious, and he impresses Roberto with his schemes to seduce many of the women they meet. But he always fails to do so. He’s alone at the beginning of the film, and alone again at the end. And he’s surprised by Roberto’s flashes of humor and insight, by the strength of his personality, though it be quietly expressed. As the story of their friendship unfolds, through the streets and cafes and nightclubs of 1960s Italy, the camera lingers on other people all around them. Not fleetingly but thoughtfully, a real wondering pause that treats the characters not as extras but as people with fascinating stories of their own, which we could discover if only we chose to follow them instead of Bruno and Roberto. Many times throughout the film Roberto nearly leaves Bruno, to make his own way back to Rome. But he always stays in the end, and they develop almost a brotherly relationship. They talk about keeping in touch when they return to Rome, and you wonder if it would actually happen. Bruno plays and talks and sings, Roberto watches and thinks, and they speed along the Via Aurelia, passing everyone in their way.

Beet and sorrel tart

Beet and sorrel tart

Beets and sorrel! They just make sense! One is tart and bright, one is sweet and earthy. I decided to combine them in this tart, which also uses the beet greens and a handful of other fresh herbs. The beets (from Sandbrook Meadow farm) are so pretty, I just sliced them and roasted them and scattered them on top of the tart. The crust has a little cornmeal in it for extra crispiness. My oven is still broken, so I actually cooked this in the toaster oven on the toaster tray!!

Here’s Peppino di Capri’s Per Un Attimo.

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Roasted beet, mushroom and butterbean galette with walnut crust

Roasted beet, mushroom and butterbean galette with walnut crust

Roasted beet, mushroom and butterbean galette with walnut crust

Today we’re going to do a cheater’s version of Saturday storytelling time. I didn’t actually write a story this week, but I’ve thought about it a lot. Incessantly, so surely it’s only a matter of time before it pops out of my head fully formed. So this is a story I wrote a few years ago. In honor of Halloween, it’s a monster story! It’s a story for children (childrens’ book publishers form an orderly queue) about a boy and his monster. Here are some pictures I did for the story. The text is after the jump.
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flying-monster

And, as ever, we have a recipe, too! This is an autumnal galette. The crust has walnuts and black pepper, and the inside has roasted beets and roasted mushrooms, as well as butterbeans sautéed with chard. It’s all topped off with smoked gouda. Lots of warm, sweet, earthy, smoky flavors!

Here’s The Boogie Monster by Gnarls Barkley

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Roasted beets and sweet potatoes with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and walnut tarator sauce

Roasted beets and sweet potatoes with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella

Roasted beets and sweet potatoes with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella

Here at The Ordinary’s home for over-used and worn-out metaphors, we’ve been visiting an old friend. We’ve been thinking of a metaphor, and we’re driving that tired horse the extra mile down well-traveled roads. It all started the other day when I described Malcolm’s mind as a vivid, teeming, beautiful place. I began thinking of it as a garden, I started to imagine what Malcolm’s garden would be like. I pictured it as a wild mix of different styles. In some parts it would be carefully planned and cultivated, and would yield delicious herbs and vegetables. In others it would be wild and unruly, full of raspberry bushes, say, delicious but prickly and hard to control. There would be gaps in the walls, hidden behind bushes or clever doors that Malcolm had fashioned from objects he’d found. These doors would open to secret passages, beautiful and rambling, which run for miles to unexpected places, alongside clear creeks. And Isaac’s garden would be bright and sunny, full of vibrant flowers and sweet smells. But there would be shadowy patches of skeleton flowers, or ghostly weeds or crazy jaggedy monstrous plants that look scary but would never really hurt you. His garden wouldn’t be hard to walk in, it would have plenty of paths, but they’d be meandering and twisting, and you’d never end up where you expect to. And my garden would be a miss-matched jumble. I would have started out carefully enough, drawing detailed plans in a little notebook, I would have chosen strange aromatic herbs and obscure fruits. I would have started with energy and good intentions, but somewhere along the way I would have gotten distracted or discouraged, and the flowers would never be as beautiful or the fruit as fruitful as I’d hoped. And I’d constantly be surprised by what I found in my own garden, forgetting that I’d planted something, or bewildered by some plant that had found its own way in and grown with wild gusto almost without me noticing. And sometimes this unexpected unremembered thing will be more beautiful than anything I’d planned. Like all gardens, ours will be dormant sometimes, seemingly bare under a layer of frost or snow, but beneath the soil all of the roots will be growing and alive. And like all gardens, we’ll have to be careful what we plant and what we allow to grow, and we’ll try to pull away the vines that choke everything healthy and vital. But we’ll never reject a plant because it’s not bright or showy enough or because somebody else calls it a weed. And we’ll understand that it’s good when our gardens are wild and alive and teeming, but it’s important for us to take care of them, and make plans for them, and forge paths through the brambles, so that we can share them with other people. We’ll revel in all the different moods and seasons, the sun and warmth and rain and frost, because we’ll know we need them all. Yeah. It’s an old metaphor, but the soil’s still good, it’s still got years of crops to harvest.

beet-sweet-plateBeets and sweets from the local farm! The season’s almost over, so we’ll make the most of it while we can. I sliced the beets and sweets and a few regular potatoes quite thinly. Then I roasted them till they were crispy. I lay these on a bed of baby arugula, and then piled them high with fresh tomatoes and basil (from the farm) and mozzarella, and then I drizzled the whole thing with a creamy vegan walnut tarator sauce. A sort of warm salad, perfect for this season of unexpectedly warm days and unexpectedly chilly nights.

Here’s REM with Gardening at Night.

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Roasted beets, mushrooms and butterbeans

Roasted mushrooms, beets, and butterbeans

Roasted mushrooms, beets, and butterbeans

Nonsense! Gobbledygook! Gibberish! Balderdash! Folderol! Some days this is all I feel capable of speaking. Today, for instance, I’m having trouble putting a whole sentence together in a sensible or intelligible way. Some people take nonsense to a whole new level, and it becomes a language all its own, articulate, even eloquent. And then they set it to music and it becomes a thing of beauty. And that is the subject of today’s Sunday interactive playlist…songs with a language all their own. We’ve been listening to a lot of Slim Gaillard, and he speaks Vout, of course, but songs with scat in them, songs in a language the singer doesn’t understand, any song that separates the sound of the words with any meaning, these are the songs we’re looking for this week.
Roasted beets, mushrooms and butterbeans

Roasted beets, mushrooms and butterbeans

We’re back to beet season! We got some pretty beets from the farm. I roasted them, and roasted some mushrooms, and then I sauteed the beet greens with big juicy butterbeans. Then we tossed it all together and ate it with some farro. Tasty.

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

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Beetaroni pizza

Beetaroni pizza

Beetaroni pizza

I saw a commercial that tried to invoke our nostalgia by showing clips of super-8 films. Well, I wasn’t impressed! I recognized instantly that it was phony– just video manipulated to look like old film footage. I saw through the unconvincing scratch marks and the flares of golden light. I know their tricks and their manners, as Jenny Wren would say. How do I know their tricks? Because I recently downloaded an app for my phone called Super 8, and I’ve spent the last couple of days making a movie with it. I know it’s silly as hell, but I kind of love it. It’s just one more in a long line of oddly compelling visual nostalgia devices available at the touch of a screen, with their washed out seventies colors and their old polaroid shaped shots. It’s funny how super-8 film always feels like a memory, how it can make you nostalgic for a time you might not have lived yourself. We didn’t have a super-8 camera when I was growing up, but I can almost imagine scenes from my childhood as though I’d seen them projected on a screen, silent and dreamy, with the tick tick tick of the equipment marking the passing of time. In super-8-fueled nostalgia, everything seems bright and golden and glowing. It’s always late evening on a perfect summer day, just as the sun slips away and you think about seasons changing and years flying by and children growing, and everything seems unspeakably precious. And now it’s been cheapened as a marketing tool. According to my beloved OED, the term “nostalgia,” was originally used to describe an illness or malady, and I must say it seems very wrong of the people who are selling whatever they’re selling to take advantage of the condition. Of course the beautiful thing about super-8 film, which no phone app can capture, is that it’s limited. Each little reel is three minutes long. You have to think carefully about what you want to capture, about which moments are the important ones. You can’t randomly film until you run out of batteries. And the little reels of film were not cheap or easy to develop, which added even more weight to the decision about what to film, but added immeasurably to the delight in seeing how everything came out. And those golden flares of light, so cynically copied by my phone app and the stupid commercial–those flickering pools of sunshine came at the end of a reel, as it wound itself out…they signalled the limit of your filming…the moment when the film ended and the people in the shot danced off into bright spots of light. The moment you had to put the camera down, and live the hour as it happened, before it got away from you.

beetaroni pizza

beetaroni pizza

It’s beetaroni pizza, man! I roasted thinly sliced beets with tamari, smoked paprika, balsamic and a little bit of smoked sea salt. I’m not sure I remember exactly how pepperoni tasted, but these little roasted beets were very good! Salty, sweet, smoky, chewy. Of course I used them to top a pizza!! This recipe makes two big cookie-sheet sized pizzas. I used all the beetaroni on one pizza, and put olives on the other.

Well, here it is, my pseudo-super-8 film. I took some footage of the boys walking down to the creek, because everything about going to the creek captures everything about the height of summer nostalgia, to me. The song is Tezeta, by Mulatu Astatqé, I believe that “tezeta” means nostalgia. It certainly sounds as though it should!

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Arugula salad with roasted carrots, beets, pecans and shaved goat cheese

Arugula salad with roasted carrots, beets and pecans

Arugula salad with roasted carrots, beets and pecans

“Hey, Claire,” I hear you say, “Why the hell have you never mentioned the ‘kitchen sink’ films of the sixties? Aren’t they perfectly Ordinary?” And then I slap myself on the forehead and say, “OF COURSE! Of course they are! And I love them! They’re some of my favorite movies of all time!” And then I think it over a little more and decide that some are more Ordinary than others, and maybe these are the ones I’ll talk about. The kitchen sink films, for those who don’t know, are British films made in the sixties that are notable for showing working class people going about their ordinary lives. They’re mostly black and white, and though simply, even roughly, shot, they’re gorgeous. They’re often filmed on location with natural lighting, but I would happily save each frame of most of them as a beautiful still photograph. The term “kitchen sink” was inspired by a painting by John Bratby, and this drive for social realism was part of a broader movement that included art, theater and literature.
John Bratby's Kitchen Sink

John Bratby’s Kitchen Sink


The films are also called “Angry Young Man” films, because many of them concern themselves with just such a character, but I find that my favorites are more complicated than this, they’re not always about men, and the central character is not simply angry, but has a conflicted attitude to their home and the humdrum life they find themselves stuck in. One such man is Billy Liar, played with pathos and comic genius by Tom Courtney. This film has an extraordinary balance of darkness and light. Billy works in a funeral parlor, and he woos one of his many girlfriends in a cemetery. His parents needle him to grow up and take responsibility. He dreams of someday escaping to London, preferably in the company of Julie Christie. But the truth is that Billy escapes his dreary reality every day: he has a world in his head, a country called Ambrosia, where he is a hero, or several heroes. Billy’s goal in life is to be a script writer, and through his fantasies, he writes a script for himself, for his life, that helps him to transcend the weighty worries of his real-life. When he’s offered a chance at a actual grand gesture, a genuine adventure, he decides not to take it, and the ending of the film is suffused with a melancholy sense of failure, but once again Billy’s imagination saves him. Billy Liar is a comedy, but it’s a complex one, with layer upon layer of questions about life and society buried deep in each scene. Billy’s world is far from perfect, but seen through his eyes, it’s beautiful and funny and touching. The ending is bittersweet and complicated, just like life. I think Billy has made happiness for himself, and to me that means he’s not a failure at all.

Stay tune for further installments of Claire’s favorite Kitchen Sink films at an Ordinary near you!

Roasted carrot and beet salad

Roasted carrot and beet salad

It’s been too hot to cook, so we’re having lots of salad. But when a salad is your meal, you want it to be hearty, you want it to have nuts and cheese and then you want to try to use up all of your vegetables from the farm, so you add roasted beets and carrots, and then you treated yourself to some special hard goat’s cheese from Spain and some special hard sheep’s cheese from the Basque region, and you want to shave some of that on there as well. And you end up with this big beautiful tangle of greens and everything but the kitchen sink!

Here’s The Decemberists with Billy Liar.
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Golden beet and pine nut purée

Golden beet and pine nut purée

Golden beet and pine nut purée

It’s my birthday!!! AAARRGGHHHH! And I’m only telling you this because…I’m telling everybody! I’m like a little kid when it comes to birthdays. Except that I’m not, really, I’m the exact opposite. I overheard Isaac telling Malcolm, “Mommy doesn’t want it to be her birthday,” which as a birthday-obsessed seven-year-old is a concept he can’t fathom. It’s not the birthday itself I have a problem with, of course, it’s the getting older part that’s hard, that’s putting me in a blue mood. I was thinking the other day that I might come across as a somewhat cheerful, hopeful person, here at The Ordinary. In truth, I’m a moody old cuss. I’m discouraged by the strangest slightest things. And it might seem like I’m a patient mother, but I yell at my boys more than I thought I ever would, and I’m short-tempered with them sometimes even when they’re sweetly trying to get my attention to tell me nice and funny things. Sometimes I just want some quiet to think my own thoughts. Sometimes I just want to look out the window. And my boys don’t like all the weird food I make, though they are almost always kind enough to taste it. They don’t always eat healthy meals, sometimes I just let them drink sugar water, not because they’ve persuaded me that they’re part hummingbird, although I might believe that, but because I’m powerless to stop them because THEY DON’T LISTEN TO A WORD I SAY! And I do genuinely want to love and care for all people, like Alyosha says to do, but I have a noisy foul-mouthed inner misanthrope fighting to get out. I do honestly believe that success should be measured not by good grades or a big salary, but by how happy you are with what you do, day-to-day, and by the way you make your life as creative as possible in all the small moments, and how you notice and remember everything. But I get in foul moods when all I can think is “everything I’ve ever tried to do has failed.” And where am I going with all of this downwardly spiraling self-pitying birthday confessionalizing? I dunno. I think I want to tell you that I woke up this morning and my foolish birthday blue funk had lifted. I feel sanguine and hopeful. I have a lot that I want to do–small things and big big projects, and I feel excited about trying, whether or not they get done. I feel happy about thinking about them, even just thinking about them. I feel good about writing, just writing, whether anybody reads it or likes it doesn’t matter, I feel good about putting thoughts in order, and stringing words together, and surprising myself with all the odd phrases that come out of my constantly surprising mind, which you think I’d know better after 44 years of constant company. Last night in the car I had thought myself into a despondent mess, and Isaac said, “Mommy!! Guess what? Somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping…all over the world, right now!” And this morning Malcolm gave me a birthday letter that began “Have you ever wondered how the earth was created, God or science?” and ended, “P.S. Are crab apples edible? Because Charlie likes them and I want to try.” In the face of all of this blissfully cheerful existential information, How can a person stay cranky for long? Well, she can’t, and I won’t.

Beet greens with golden-beet pine nut sauce

Beet greens with golden-beet pine nut sauce

Golden beets, man. They’re pretty! And so darn tasty. We got some more from the farm, and I recently went on a ridiculously indulgent birthday shop and bought pine nuts and all sorts of other pricey items. So I decided to make this golden beet and pine nut tarator sauce. It’s got grated toasted beets, sage, rosemary, pine nuts, garlic, and a bit of balsamic. It was very tasty and surprising. Moreish, as the British say. We dipped fresh sweet peas in it, and crackers, and then I mixed it in with sauteed beet greens. It would be good with roasted vegetables, or tossed with pasta, or as a dip for chips, or any other way you can think of using a creamy flavorful sauce.

Here’s Big BIll Broonzy, who has a birthday today, too, playing Hey Hey, which I know I’ve posted before, but, hey, it’s my birthday!
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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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Roasted beet, red pepper and white bean dip with lime and rosemary

Roasted beet, roasted pepper and white bean dip

Roasted beet, roasted pepper and white bean dip

I like connectedness. I like the idea that people connect images to make moving pictures–to make a film. I like that people connect facts to make stories. I like that people connect stories to make history and culture. I like that we’re all connected to each other in surprising ways. I like that we’re connected to the world around us–to the earth and the animals–in ways that we don’t always acknowledge. I like the sparking moment of connection with a stranger, when you realize you have some small thing in common. I like the glowing moment of connection with a well-known loved one, when you delight in the fact that you have everything in common, more so every day. For your Sunday morning contemplation I’ve gathered a few quotes from wiser minds than mine on the subject of connection. Ready? Begin.

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.” EM Forster

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
― Herman Melville

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
― Chief Seattle

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”
― Albert Schweitzer

So today’s interactive playlist is an exercise in making connections. Here’s how it works. You start with one song, and you connect it to another with any thread you can think of, be it ever so feeble. And then you think of some way to connect that to the next. The connection can be musical, biographical, autobiographical, collaborative, or any mix of any of these.

I’ll start. Tom Waits’ Jockey Full of Bourbon is in the opening credits of Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law. Down by Law is a Clash song. The Clash worked with Mikey Dread (Living in Fame). Mikey Dread has a song of tribute to Bob Marley (In Memory (Jacob, Marcus, Marley)). Manu Chao also has a song of tribute to Bob Marley (Mr. Bobby). Fellow polyglot K’naan has a whole album in tribute to Bob Marley. He has a song (America) that features Mos Def. Mos Def first appeared on the De La Soul song Big Brother Beat. De La Soul appeared on the Gorillaz infectious Feel Good Inc. I’ll leave it at that for now, because the Gorillaz is a good point for somebody else to pick up the thread. You can get anywhere from the Gorillaz!! You know what’s funny? I could have gone straight from Down by Law through Mulatu Astatqe (Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers) to K’naan’s Mulatu Astatqe sampling America. Funny, right? I’m happy with tangents and misconnects. Feel free to start from any song you want.

Here’s the playlist. It’s interactive, so add what you like. If you can’t spotify, leave your songs in the comments and I’ll try to add them when I have time.

This beet dip was so lovely and simple! I roasted some grated beets, roasted a red pepper, roasted a garlic clove, and tossed it all in a food processor with some herbs and a can of white beans. I added some lime juice, because I think its tartness goes so well with the sweetness of beets. This made a nice meal with some homemade bagel chips. (I bought some salt bagels, but who knew they were so salty? They made good crackers, though, coated with a little olive oil and toasted. So we had that plus some oven-roasted french fries and a big salad. My favorite kind of meal!!

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Beet and kidney (bean) pies

Beet and kidney bean pie

Beet and kidney bean pie

It’s take your child to work day. The boys are at the shop with David, hopefully not routering their arms or circular sawing their fingers. Take your child to work day. It’s a little odd, when you stop to think about it, which for better or for worse I’ve just done. It seems to imply a certain neatness and regularity to the world that just doesn’t exist, as I see the world. Does every parent have a safe, child-friendly job? Does every parent have bosses and co-workers that will put up with an infestation of restless children? Does every parent have a job they can work at productively whilst entertaining a bored and or curious tyke? Does every parent have a job during school hours? Maybe they’re chefs or professors or rock stars or stage actors, and they work at night. Does every parent have a job at all? 399919_10200595609406883_2047603223_nI’ve just read that the day was invented by Gloria Steinem as Take Your Daughter to Work Day, and was intended to give girls a sense of possibility and purpose. This makes it seem even odder to me, almost as if it was subversively designed to illustrate the messiness of the world. How many children are bundled off to work with their fathers, because their mothers don’t work during the week because they’re home with children. Maybe they work at night or on the weekend so that they can be there to pick up their children after school. Maybe they have a job but its the kind of job many women have at some point in their lives–cooking or cleaning or caring for someone else’s children, and, strangely, this isn’t the kind of job you’d like to share with your own child. Maybe, like many women, you’re not treated with respect at your job, you’re not treated as an equal. A lot of things have changed, a lot of things have not. Of course, all of this stopping-to-think-about-it has included some thoughts on my own life, my own work, my own ideas of success or failure and how they don’t quite fit into those of the rest of the world. Any thing you do is considered work if somebody pays you to do it. And the more they pay you, the more successful you are at your job. I’ve been doing a bit of pastry cheffing, and yesterday I made a cake for a restaurant. If the boys had stayed home and helped me with that, they would have been at work with me (and we would have had fun!). Today, I don’t have any commissions for cake, so if the boys stayed home from school and baked a cake with me, we’d be goofing off (and we’d still have fun!). If I sit around writing or cooking or conspiring to make a movie, I’m a shiftless slacker who should go out and get a real job (I know, I know…). If somebody pays me to do those things, I’m a person who has followed my dreams to find success (although I probably still can’t afford health insurance.) Everything is a little different looked at through the prism of parenthood. What seems brave and valuable when you’re a single person with only yourself to care for, seems irresponsible once you have children. We have our own small business. We work seven days a week, one way or another, and the truth is that the boys spend all weekend every weekend at work with David, watching him watch the store while I wait tables. This is life as they know it. We don’t have days off or weekends or paid vacations, and we still can’t afford health insurance. And all summer when they knock about the house with me, cleaning and cooking and keeping themselves happy and creative, waiting impatiently while I finish writing some dumb thing so we can go to the creek, they’re at work with me, whether they know it or not. It’s messy, it doesn’t fit into any tidy pattern of employment, but I think they’re okay with it. I think they’re proud of us, and have a sense of possibility and purpose. I think they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Beet and kidney bean pie

Beet and kidney bean pie

Beet and kidney bean pie! It’s ruddy! This was inspired, of course, by beef and kidney pie, or steak and kidney pie. It does have a certain meaty quality to it. It’s roasted beets and mushrooms combined with kidney beans in a saucy sauce of tamari, sage, rosemary, thyme and allspice. If you use vegetable shortening instead of butter in the crust, this would be vegan.

Here’s King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band with Workingman’s Blues.

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