Crispy cornmeal cakes and chard with chickpeas, olives and roasted red peppers

Corn cakes and chard

Corn cakes and chard

My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is from 1951, starring Alistair Sim. It captures the humor and the heart like no other version, and it captures the darkness as well. Visually, the play of light and shadow is beautiful, and it reminds us that the story of A Christmas Carol has a lot of darkness at its core. It’s despairing and macabrely funny, though it ends with an impression of warmth and hope. I’ve always found this scene powerful; it doesn’t shy away from the poverty and need that’s all around Scrooge, that he helps to cause with his business:

The children are ignorance and want, and they are the children of all mankind. This struck quite a chord with me this week. In these days following the horrible massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut, which it’s impossible not to think about this season, it seemed as though all of us became parents. Everybody in the country, whether we have children of our own, whether our children are young or grown, we all became parents, we all became moved, responsible, hurt. And maybe that’s the way it should always be: we should always care for one another like we’re all children, which, of course, we are. And we should all take responsibility for ignorance and want. I was joking, yesterday, about finding the definitive meaning of Christmas. Of course, there is no one meaning, it has a different meaning for each person that observes the day, and even for those that leave it alone with indifference or with a bah humbug. I’ve been thinking a lot this season about children, and time passing, and I hope that I can fully understand this as my meaning of Christmas. I was so cranky and impatient this morning with my over-excited boys. I had so much catching up to do after a weekend of working, and the puppy-child cacophony left me feeling stressed and bewildered. But I don’t want to be like that, any more. Christmas is about the returning of the light. Days getting longer and brighter. I want to use that light to capture time as it’s passing, and imprint it somewhere inside of me, so that I recognize the beauty of my boys’ excitement, and their understanding of Christmas. So that I can keep it all year long, like Scrooge kept Christmas. That’s my Christmas wish.

Welladay!! I guess I’m feeling more serious than I thought! Let’s talk about food instead!! These little corn cakes were so tasty! I made a light, flavorful, eggy batter using only cornmeal, which gave it lots of depth and texture. And I fried them in a little olive oil. The mix of chard, chickpeas, roasted red peppers and olives is savory and delicious, warm and juicy and meaty. And very festive, all green, red and gold!

Here’s another track from my new favorite Christmas album…Jimmy Smith’s Silent Night.
Continue reading