I was going to write about something that is probably more interesting, but the day ran away from me and I couldn’t catch it because I fell down again.
I’ve fallen more since this quarantine started than ever in my life, except for one summer when I was 11 or 12 and fell down all the time. My knees are a map of scars from that summer. Since March I have fallen over railway ties, uneven slate, roadwork, on icy bridges, and just yesterday, on almost nothing. Still mounds of snow on the ground, but it was so warm all day. We went for our usual walk at lunchtime, and the sunshine on my head was such a tonic. And then later in the afternoon I was sitting, working, and I saw the sun fading, and just wanted to be outside one more time while it was still warm. We (Clio and I) got a block from the house and I just fell. Hard, on my knees, and I skinned my palms. It’s such a nostalgic feeling. It’s such a strange feeling. There’s something about the moment that you know you’re falling and you don’t know how it’s going to end up. It’s such an illogical dream moment.
I did feel weirdly vulnerable the rest of the evening. And then in the middle of the night I had the strongest strangest memory of being a child in short pajamas, on an unexpectedly warm day fading to night. And then I had a memory of holding a child in my lap on an unexpectedly warm day. The feeling of their bones and of their belly rising and falling with their breathing, the smell of sun on their skin, the sense that in a minute they would jump off your lap and continue with their important ramblings. The feeling that you would never forget this precise moment, though of course you do, until you’re much older, and some vulnerability of falling down has opened a strange door in your middle-of-the-night memory.
Here’s Catch by the Cure. She was always falling again and again. And below the line there’s a recipe, an actual recipe, and a good one!
Chard, lemon, and goat cheese tart, with poppy seeds in the crust
I made this tart just after I made my famously awful Vegetarian Haggis Boiled in Bagel Dough. I needed to redeem myself. Also, I had a really clear idea how I wanted it to turn out, which is always dangerous. But it did turn out exactly as I wanted. It was earthy, comforting, bright and just right.
1 3/4 cups flour
Lots of freshly ground pepper
1 t poppy seeds
1 stick unsalted butter (8T) frozen
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Grate in the frozen butter, mixing with a fork as you go. Mix the butter in with your hands. Add enough ice water to form a stiff dough (about 3/4 cup) Don’t overwork it. For it into a tablet and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
1 medium-sized bunch chard, cleaned and de-stemmed
1 T olive oil
1 small shallot, diced
1 plump clove garlic, minced
2 T pine nuts
1 T raisins
1 T rosemary, minced
Juice from half a lemon
Bit of butter
1/2 cup milk
about 1/4 cup goat cheese
about 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
zest from half a lemon
Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly grease or butter a tart pan. I like one with about an 8-inch base and taller sides, but you could go 9 or 10 inches and short sides. Roll out the tart dough and press into the pan. Pre-bake in the hot oven till it loses a bit of shine.
Finely chop the chard. Combine the shallot, garlic, pine nuts, rosemary and raisins in a food processor and process a couple of times.
Warm the olive oil in a largish frying pan. Add the combination from the processor, and stir and fry over medium heat until the garlic and pine nuts start to brown. Add the chard, and continue to break it up until it’s soft and broken down. And the butter, lemon, salt and pepper, stir in and set aside.
In the food processor (you don’t need to clean) combine the milk and cheeses and eggs and lemon zest. Process till combined (it doesn’t need to be completely smooth)
Take the partly baked tart crust out of the oven. Spread the chard mixture over it. Pour the goat cheese mixture over that.
Return to oven and back until the top is starting to brown in places, 20 – 25 minutes.
Let cool slightly before de-tart-panning.