Masa crusted potatoes with smoky red beans and greens, and honey-lime avocado cucumber salsa

Masa-dusted potatoes, red beans and roasted red peppers, and lime honey cucumber guacamole

Masa-dusted potatoes, red beans and roasted red peppers, and lime honey cucumber guacamole

One of the delightful things about my disintegrating eyesight is that when I read I’m no longer confined to the actual words on the page. When I read without glasses, who knows what the book really says? Not me! So I have a whole new world before me, in which the page contains whatever words I want it to–I get to choose! Sometimes at work I’ll overhear small chunks of conversations, and my brain will fill in the parts that are too quiet for me to pick up. Usually, the resulting discussion, in my head, is very funny (and frequently off-color). And now this effect has sidled over to my appreciation of printed matter. It says whatever I think it says. The other day I was reading the boys’ Rocks and Minerals books, as one does, and I came across a fascinating map of the world. It had little icons to show the various regions where people mine for things–I’m assuming coal and gold and the like, but I couldn’t tell you for sure because the writing in the legend was tiny. According to my eyes, one thing that people mine for throughout the globe is precious stories. Well! I like this idea a lot! I like to think of people traveling all over the world and mining for valuable tales, digging deep amongst the people that live in each region to come up with raw, beautiful chunks of legend. The icon for precious stories seemed to be in some very varied and interesting parts of the world, and in my imagination the stories are found in thick veins, running through all of the people there. People would come and set up camps, and they’d follow the story from one person to the next, probably never finding the end of it, because the myths would be as old as the rocks and would lie deep in the earth. Maybe they’d take it and refine it and polish it, or maybe they’d leave it in its original state, rough and strong. Farther along in the book, I misread a caption to read “metaphorical rocks.” And people would collect these, too, and string them together to make new stories. The metaphorical rocks would be prized and valued above diamonds and gold, which would be deemed pretty but relatively useless, when compared to a cherished tale. People would understand the value of a story to spark creativity, to heal, to transform, with these metamorphical metaphorical rocks.

Masa dusted potatoes

Masa dusted potatoes

I thought this was a really fun meal! First, I sliced some potatoes quite thinly, parboiled them, dusted them with rosemary and masa harina and then roasted them in olive oil. They came out with a nice texture–not super crunchy, exactly, but with more oomph. And they have the lovely subtle flavor of the masa harina. Then I roasted some red peppers, and combined them with red beans and spinach in a smokey sauce of chipotle and smoked paprika. And we added a bright light guacamole-salsa made with cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado lightly dressed with lime and honey. We topped it all off with grated sharp cheddar and pickled jalapenos, which my Malcolm loves! Any part of this meal would be good on its own, but it was very fun to eat all together as well.masa-potatoes-and-beans

Here’s REM with Maps and Legends.

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Black bean and kale cornmeal cakes with fresh avocado cucumber salsa

Black bean and kale cornmeal cakes

Black bean and kale cornmeal cakes

I’m reading Roderick Hudson at the moment. It’s Henry James’ “first serious attempt at a full-length novel,” and it’s quite fascinating. It’s youthful and ambitious, and about youth and ambition, which seems so sweetly unselfconscious to me. James tells the story of two young men–an irresponsible genius and his more mature but less interesting patron. These men are like lovers, almost, and they’re like two sides of the same person (James?). And they’re like the two styles of writing that seem to be battling it out in the novel. The impetuous, romantic and credulity-straining meets head-on with the dense and methodical, and this seems to make the characters unintentionally more human and appealing. But I hadn’t planned to go on and on about the novel! I planned to talk about this one sentence that struck me as very interesting, and here it is…”At times when he saw how the young sculptor’s day passed in a single sustained pulsation, while his own was broken into a dozen conscious devices for disposing of the hours, and intermingled with sighs, half-surpressed, some of them, for conscience’ sake, over what he failed of in action and missed in possession–he felt a pang of something akin to envy.” Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that James? I’m fascinated by the way that time passes differently for different people, or at different times in your life. When I was younger the days seemed very long sometimes, and I remember wishing time away, and trying to fill up the hours, trying consciously to dispose of them, as Rowland does. And I recognize his gentle sense of regret and self-reproach. How could he get so little done and miss so many chances when time moves so slowly? I understand perfectly why he admires and envies Roderick, who doesn’t think about the past or the future or the consequences of his actions, who took the risks Rowland was scared to, not because he particularly wanted to or cared about the results, but because…why not? I’ve never been like that. I’ve never lost track of whole days or forgotten the time, I’ve never been brave or impetuous, I’ve never been able to free my mind of regrets about the past or worries over the future. Time doesn’t travel fluidly for me. But it does go more and more quickly, which is frightening, and makes me rue all of the hours I wished away when I was younger. I never really have anything that needs to be done, and yet I feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all, to do everything I want to do. My days will never pass in a single sustained pulsation, I don’t think, but I have this odd image of myself swallowing them in chunks, hungrily eating them one piece at a time, and then looking back with surprise and some sadness when they’re all gone, wondering where they’ve gotten to. Obviously, the thing to do is to make them delicious, to make every hour of each day as tasty as possible, and then to try to savor them, to take my time, rather than wishing it away.

avacado-cucumber-saladThese little cakes were confounding to my boys. They didn’t think they’d like them, so they didn’t enjoy their first half-hearted nibble. But after some drama and persuasion, they both decided they liked them and ate almost all of them. David and I liked them. They were crunchy out, soft in, with a nice balance of earthy flavors. They were a bit dry, though, as baked goods made with cornmeal alone tend to be, so eat them with a sauce. This little salad or salsa was lovely! I don’t know why I’d never thought of mixing avocado and cucumber before, but they’re really perfect together! Fresh and green and soft and crisp. I kept the seasoning simple – salt, pepper, lime and cilantro, which made the whole thing bright and clean, and just the perfect accompaniment to the cornmeal cakes.

Here’s Wildwood Flower by the Carter Family, because they say “Yes, he taught me to love him and call me his flower That was blooming to cheer him through life’s dreary hour.” No dreary hours!! We’ll have no dreary hours!!

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