(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 freekeh. 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.
Bright Winter Stew
2 T olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 t dried rosemary
1 t dried sage, or 3 or 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 t thyme
1 pound tiny potatoes, washed, or larger potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 heaping cup)
1/3 cup white wine (++)
1 can small white beans, rinsed and drained
3 packed cups spinach, washed, large stems removed, chopped
1/2 cup (heaping)castelvetrano olives, pitted and halved
1 T butter
juice of one meyer lemon
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot and stir and cook for a minute or two. Add the garlic and the spices, stir and cook for about half a minute. Add the potatoes. Stir them around to coat them with oil and spices, and continue to cook them for a minute or two until they and the garlic start to brown. Add the wine. Stir, then cook until the wine is reduced and syrupy, after a few minutes. Add the white beans, stir and cook for a few minutes. Then add just enough water to reach the top of the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are nearly tender, about fifteen to twenty minutes. Add the spinach and olives, and a little more water if the pan is too dried out. Stir, cover and simmer until the potatoes are exactly right for you. For me, that means tender, but not mushy. Add the butter, squeeze in the lemon juice, season well with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Serve with 3 wheat medley or with any grain you like, or just on its own!
3 Wheat Medley
1 T butter
1/2 t each dried oregano and basil
1/3 cup freekeh
1/3 cup farro
1/3 cup bulgur
2 cups water
salt, plenty of pepper, and more butter
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the herbs, and then the grains. Stir and toast for a few minutes. You want to smell them toasting, and smell that the butter is getting a bit browned. Add the water, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until all the grains are cooked and the water is absorbed. The farro will remain a little crunchier than the bulgur or the freekeh. Turn off the heat and leave the pot covered for a few minutes. Then fluff, season, and add more butter.