On Independence day I read an article about American Expats the world over. It had a picture of a little boy with his face painted like old glory, and the caption said something like, “I’m not a gun-toting unthinking patriot,” implying that people were fleeing the country because it was being taken over by gun-toting unthinking patriots.
The caption turned out to be a little misleading. In fact most people had left the country because they fell in love with somebody from somewhere else. Which is why plenty of people leave plenty of countries, and even why many people come to America. People talked about eating burgers and drinking beer, and one fellow said, it’s just like any holiday, an excuse to take some time off and enjoy your family and friends.
Which is what we did. It started drizzly and blustery, but in the afternoon the rain stopped and we walked to see our fledgling bald eagle, which seemed in keeping with the situation. When we reached his aerie the sun came out with perfect cinematic timing. And then we came home and drank beer and ate (french lentil and chard) burgers.
While we were cooking, David put on a Tom Waits album, and I thought, this is what we should be celebrating today…our own unique brand of eccentric genius. What makes American eccentrics different from any other sort? I think there’s a wildness to the madness, a roughness. We have none of the refined eccentricity of an Oscar Wilde. American eccentrics are ruggedly strange, maybe even ignorantly or naively so, at times. But we’re strange in many languages. We combine the foibles and superstitions of all the different nations that chatter across our land. There’s a freedom to our eccentricity, a freedom of odd speech. American eccentricity knows no class and has no class. So to honor the fourth of July, today’s Sunday interactive playlist is on the subject of American eccentrics. You could nominate songs by an out-and-out eccentric, or just strange songs by a relatively normal artist. Add your songs to the playlist or leave a suggestion in the comments and I’ll try to remember to add it through the week.
Speaking of eccentrics! Our local antiques flea market is a delightful collection of characters. This weekend I bought some beautiful flan pans and cake pans from a couple of lovely Belgian ex-pat bakers. I love their wares! I was so excited to use the flan pan that I put this together even though I got home from work late and exhausted. It was super-easy and super-quick and quite tasty! I used some of my favorite herbs from the garden, but you could use any herbs you like. We ate it with chard, fennel and white beans, and with a simple salad of arugula, tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella.
Here’s a link to your American Eccentrics interactive playlist.
1/3 cup goat cheese
3 T soft butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 cup regular flour
1/2 t salt
lots of black pepper
1 t baking powder
handful of fresh herbs…rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sage
olive oil for the pan
handful of pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 425.
In a food processor combine the eggs, goat cheese, butter and milk and process until smooth and frothy. Add the other ingredients and process until smooth.
Generously coat a small cake pan or flan pan with olive oil. My flan pan is 8 inches at the bottom and 9 at the top. I think you could use a regular smallish cake pan or even a standard pie plate. Pour the batter into the pan and scatter a few pine nuts on top.
Bake for about fifteen minute, until puffed and golden. Turn down the heat to 350 and bake for five or so more minute to be sure the inside is cooked. It will stay softish inside.
Let cool slightly, slice, and serve.
CHARD, FENNEL and WHITE BEANS
1 bunch chard
1 fennel bulb
2 T olive oil
1 plump clove garlic, minced
Pinch hot pepper flakes
2 t fresh rosemary, chopped
1 can small white beans, rinsed and drained
splash of white wine
handful fresh basil
1 T butter
dash of balsamic
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
handful of pine nuts
Wash the chard, remove the stems, and chop quite finely. Trim the fennel bulb, and dice into 1/4 inch chunks.
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary (and a pinch of hot pepper flakes if you like!) Add the fennel, stir and fry until the fennel and garlic start to brown. Add the beans, stir to coat with oil and herbs. Add a splash of wine. Add the chard and a few tablespoons of broth or water, stir and cook until the chard is wilted but bright…ten minutes or so. Stir in butter, balsamic, fresh basil, and season well with salt and pepper. Scatter some pine nuts over the top.