Farro, mushroom and turnip croquettes

farro-croquettes-mushI can’t stop listening to the same three Nina Simone songs! As soon as they’re over, I go back and listen to them all again. It’s not just that I love them, but I feel as though I need to hear them. They happen to be the first three songs on our new album…My Baby Just Cares For Me, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, and Ain’t Got No…I Got Life. I’ve been in such a strange mood, lately, and something about the strength and frailty of these, the doubt and joyousness, just feel perfect to me right now. And the boys have started liking them, so they ask to hear them over and over. It’s gotten to the point that the songs are stuck in my head (and David’s too!) all night long. They’re taking over! I feel as though I need to listen to something else for a while. This isn’t the first time this has happened…when the boys were little and I was feeling old and tired, I discovered the Arctic Monkeys, and played their albums till the songs wore a hole in my head. When I was in my twenties, I became obsessed with Old blues guys and Tom Waits, who has always sounded like an old guy. I think I needed some weight and gravity in my life, and I played these songs until I was in a blue mood, but it always made me feel better somehow. So this week’s playlist is songs that go beyond earworms to take over your life. Not just a pleasant song that gets stuck in your head, but songs you need to hear over and over and over and over. Does anyone else do this? Can you remember songs from various points in your life that have meant a lot to you at that time? That you listened to as you lay in awe on the bedroom floor? As ever, I’ve made the playlist collaborative, so add what you like, or leave a comment and I’ll add it.

farro, turnip and mushroom croquettes

farro, turnip and mushroom croquettes

We had some leftover farro, so I decided to make farro croquettes. I used small, sharp asian turnips from the CSA and roasted mushrooms. This was very loosely based on something called “turnip paste,” I think, which is boiled turnips mixed with shitake mushrooms, steamed, sliced and fried. Someday I’ll try to make the real thing. The flavors were nice here…roasty, nutty, with just a bit of edge from the turnips.

Here’s your link to the collaborative playlist.

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Roasted butternut farro balls and rosemary walnut tarator sauce

Roasted butternut farro balls

Roasted butternut farro balls

It’s a very slow, cold spring. Everybody is upset by it, everybody is complaining bitterly, everybody is angry with that stupid lying groundhog. Everybody except me. It’s very strange, but I don’t mind. I’m not quite through hibernating yet. I feel like maybe something’s wrong with me! And you might agree, when I tell you that I’m a little anxious about summer. Not about the long, endless days with the boys, which are days that I crave. It’s hard to describe. I feel as though I’ve slowly pulled layer upon layer of something strong and warm over myself and my family, to keep us cozy and secure. And in summer the boys will burrow out and run like mad little things in all directions, laughing and glowing, with barely a glance back, and it will all go so fast and be over before we know it. It’s a very strange feeling, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like this before, although in retrospect it might have been creeping up on me with slow sneaky progress for a few years now. TS Eliot famously said that April is the cruelest month, I think that people frequently misinterpret this line. They think April is cruel because it just won’t be warm and sunny, dammit. Just when you’re ready for spring it’s all chilly and drizzly with those April showers. But what he really meant was that April is cruel because it wakes you up.

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

I suppose I’ve gotten too comfortable this winter, with dull days that please me so much and go by so fast–just keeping my family warm and feeding them roasted tubers, and then writing about that and starting all over again. It’s hard to do anything very important when you’re too comfortable, but I’m also convinced that the day to day of every day is as important as life gets, so I’m not easily motivated. I’m sure it’s just the chill and the damp that folds me in on myself. Already the slanting hopeful rosy light of morning and evening is rousing me from my wintery dormancy, but gently and kindly. When the weather is warmer on top of that I’ll feel all the old unspecified longings and yearnings, which must visit you no matter what your age. I’ll be ready to go on adventures again. And if the warmth won’t do it, Malcolm will! He’s so full of life and plans, he’s so curious and fearless. I want to be like him when I grow up, so I may as well start now! And maybe summer will surprise us, and we’ll stop in the colonnade, and go on in the sunlight.

In the meantime, we’re still eating winter squash, here at The Ordinary. And I’m still experimenting with the joys of grating and roasting it. It’s so nice and soft and crispy and sweet and savory all at the same time! In this instance, I mixed it with some leftover farro and some walnuts and made it into little balls. I fried them up in olive oil, so they’re crispy outside and soft in. The flavors are sage, smoked paprika and nutmeg – I suppose they’re flavors I associate with a sausage-y taste, so these could pass for vegetarian meatballs, or if you made them long and thin, they could be vegetarian sausage. We ate them with tender whole wheat flatbreads, which I’ll tell you about soon, arugula, which went so nicely with the nuttiness of the walnuts, and a creamy (cream-free) walnut rosemary tarator sauce. The sauce turned out very good, and would be nice with any kind of roasted vegetable – beets, potatoes, parsnips, any of those old dried tubers. In the summer, it would be nice with grilled zucchini and asparagus as well!! If you don’t have leftover farro, I’ve told you how to make it, and you can use the extra to toss on salads, or as a base for sauces and stews.

Here’s Nina Simone with Another Spring.

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