Double-crusted pecan, french lentil and chard pie

Lentil chard and pecan pie

Lentil chard and pecan pie

If the sun ever came out you felt that it might be warm, but the morning was cold and damp. A pretty mist clung to the ghostly sycamores and the blue-bronze wintery leaves, and it crept inside to chill your bones. All the vendors at the flea market huddled or paced behind their tables to keep warm. It was a slow day, but wednesdays are always slow days. They had a slight rush of business. A lunchtime rush? Too early for lunchtime, way too early for lunchtime. Well I’m eating lunch. Yeah, but you’ve been up since four. Oh, I got up at three this morning, and thought why bother going back to sleep? Oh, that’s just terrible. I can give you the owl for five dollars, or the goose for eight. Half price on all the jewelry, and everything is fifty cents in this box. Behind one table stood an elderly man with an unperturbable smile on his face. A woman walked up to his wares and he said, “Tremors!” by way of greeting. He held up his hands in demonstration, and they were, indeed shaking. “I’ve got tremors.” “Well, we still like you,” said the woman. “And I still like myself!” He replied brightly. And then they discussed crocheted blankets, just the thing to keep you warm an on early December morning.

French lentil, chard, and olive pie

French lentil, chard, and olive pie

We went to the flea market to search for Christmas presents and came home with nothing but a stack of cake pans and pie tins for Claire! What a brat. They’re beautiful and slightly mysterious vintage French pie tins and cake pans, and I love them. And I’m looking forward to using them. I made this pie in one such vintage french cake tins. It’s a little broader and flatter than a traditional American cake pan, which makes a nice double-crusted savory pie. This is filled with some of my favorites–french lentils, swiss chard and black olives. I also tried something new, which was to blend eggs with pecans and mix that right in with the filling. Almost like a pecan frangipane. I thought it turned out very tasty. If you don’t like olives, don’t be put off this recipe. Try substituting raisins!

Here’s Soldiers Things by Tom Waits, my flea market theme song.

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Chard puree baked with olives and smoked gouda

Baked chard, olives and smoke gouda

Baked chard, olives and smoke gouda

One stormy day last week, we had what the parenting books call “a really shitty afternoon.” It all began when, with great cruelty and injustice, we asked the boys to clean their room. David had been helping them, he’d been working on it for days, and every time the boys went into the room it looked a little worse, any progress was undone, unravelled. My boys are generally pretty easy-going and helpful, but when it comes to cleaning their room they develop an unyielding steely stubbornness, and nothing will persuade them to help. They act extra-sassy, because the more we yell and carry on, the less they have to clean. I beg, I plead, I threaten, and eventually I become as angry and irrational as a gradeschooler who has been unfairly asked to clean my room. I wish I could find the wisdom and patience to deal with the problem differently. I wish we could address the room-cleaning situation without feeling that we all need to be taken away in straight-jackets at the end of the day. The worst part of it is that when your children are bratty and incorrigible, who can you blame? Yourself! That’s it! They’re your kids! You bought them too many toys! You believed them when they begged for one more and promised they’d take care of it! You set a bad example with your own lackluster cleaning skills! I don’t really remember how it all played out, it was nearly a week ago, after all. Doubtless the pressure in the clouds built up, the sky grew darker and darker and more brooding, until everything burst in a great flashing of lights and booming of thunder, and then the skies cleared and brightened and became peaceful and clear once again. That’s probably what happened, as it has happened before and will happen again. But this time there was a sequel to the story. The next day, Malcolm had to get two inoculations for school. Malcolm seems frighteningly fearless at times, but the one thing that always makes him anxious is a trip to the doctor. He doesn’t like the way it smells, he doesn’t like to know ahead of time that he has an appointment, he doesn’t like to go to the doctor even when it’s Isaac’s turn to be examined. He just doesn’t like it. Well, he was very brave, but he had butterflies in his stomach all morning. He was too nervous to eat. He wanted me to sit by him on the couch, but he couldn’t sit still. At the doctors’ the well-meaning nurse showed him the needles and said, “That’s not too large is it?” (any needle that’s going into your arm is too large!). Then the doctor and the nurse had to consult over a mistake in the vaccines (who’s anxious now? who is?), and we could hear them laughing and chatting down the hall. And that’s when I looked down at Malcolm and saw that he was pale, his lips were turning blue, he was sweating buckets, his hands and feet were crumpled and frozen. He kept saying, “My feet, my feet…” He tried to stand but he was shaky, and I called the doctor. She’s tiny, and she arrived in the room just in time to catch my giant son in her arms. She lay him on a table, she said, “Think about something else, think about baseball.” Malcolm said…”I’m just going to think about my mom,” and he grabbed my arm with all of his considerable strength. And, of course, that’s the moment when I nearly cried with love and worry, but knew I couldn’t let myself, and I sat up on the table by him and he leaned against me and turned his head to my shoulder when he got the shots, and then ran home in stocking feet. And everything was fine, everybody is fine. But I thought about it for the rest of the day, about how one day had been so difficult and cantankerous, and the next equally difficult but more harmonious…we were in it together. I thought about how strong, sassy Malcolm is still a child, still scared and needy sometimes, and how I’m always his mom, even when I’m tired and he’s contrary, and it’s always my job to be kind to him. And I’ll try to remember that painful but strangely wonderful moment at the doctor’s before I lose my temper again. I’ll try.

This is sort of like a lazy person’s souffle. It’s light and tender and flavorful, but super-easy to put together. You sauté some greens (I used chard and spinach) with garlic, rosemary and olive oil till they’re bright and tender, and then you process them with eggs, milk, smoked gouda and olives. Bake them till puffed and golden, and that’s it! Pretty and tasty. We had this the night we had the eggplant croquettes, and I found that the maple-dijon sauce was nice drizzled on this, too, so I’d recommend trying it that way.

Here’s Sure Shot by the Beastie Boys…the only kind of shot that Malcolm likes.
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