Roasted butternut, spinach, raisin and pine nut pie

Roasted butternut, raisin, spinach and pine nut pie

Roasted butternut, raisin, spinach and pine nut pie

I’m writing a novel. If you’ve spent any time with me you know this fact, because I go on and on about it to the point of tedium; ad nauseam, ad infinitum. I talk about it frequently, I think about it constantly, I dream about it every night. What I don’t do all that often is write it. I spent all day yesterday–all day–writing two scenes I’d thought about for ages, and I wrote…a couple of pages, maybe, and I’m not sure they’re any good. I wake up every morning determined to get on with it. I have a picture in my head of myself, in a frenzy of writing, spewing out page after perfect page. This doesn’t happen. I’m so easily distracted and discouraged. I’m so often plagued by saucy doubts and fears. I could write it now, but if I tried, instead, to write it in fifteen minutes, I’d write completely different words! I’d have completely different ideas! How do I know it wouldn’t come out better if I waited an hour, or a day, or a week. Maybe something would happen between now and then that would alter the course of history (in the world of my novel.) Well this morning, when I thought about writing my novel, I kept finding a song in my head, and I’ve decided that this is my new novel-motivational track. It’s Precisely the Right Rhyme, by Gang Starr. It’s about knowing that what you say is the right thing to say, and that you’re saying it at the right time. It’s about confidence. I’ve been thinking about confidence a lot lately. It’s not something I possess great quantities of, it’s not something I’ve passed down to my boys. Instead I’ve got a bizarre mixture of crippling insecurity and bafflingly misplaced arrogance. Confidence is not even something I admire, necessarily. I don’t respect people who are all cockiness and swagger. I’m attracted to humility and moved by human weakness. And yet, and yet…I’m starting to recognize confidence as an essential part of the creative process, if not of life. On Malcolm’s basketball team it was never the tallest or most agile kids that played best, it was the kids who acted like the ball belonged to them, the basket belonged to them, the whole damn court was theirs and everybody else was in their way. So that’s how I’m going to write, with “everybody else” being the twin demons of doubt and distraction who fly at me from every side. This understanding applies to all things. So maybe you’re not trying to write a novel (although, honestly sometimes it seems that most people are!) But whatever you’re trying to do, tell yourself you’re doing it just right, at just the right time. Tell yourself till you believe it! In the words of Troy McClure, “Get confident, stupid!”

And the words of Gang Starr,

    My subject matter and context are blessed
    Vocal inflection connects, it’s a slugfest
    Ladies approach to hear quotes from the spokesman
    Thoughts are like oceans for my lyrics to float in
    I’m absolutely astute so salute

    Just get with the words and the way I command ya
    Cause you’re in the right place, and luckily it’s the right time
    And since I’m inclined, I’ll kick precisely the right rhymes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love greens, pine nuts, raisins and garlic. It’s the perfect combination for me. In this instance I’ve packed all that into a pie with some grated roasted butternut squash and some mozzarella cheese. I made this pie for a bunch of people to eat standing around without plates or utensils, and it worked well in this regard. It would be nice for a party or a picnic, I think, for this reason.

Here’s Gang Starr with Precisely the Right Rhymes.
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Sage roasted butter beans and greens with raisins and pine nuts

roasted butterbeans and greens with raisins and pine nuts

roasted butterbeans and greens with raisins and pine nuts

It was a night under the stars! That’s what the school dance was called, and, funnily enough, as we walked home I’d never seen the stars so bright and clear over our tinsy little metropolis. The stars were cool and distant, after the hot clamor of the dance, but they seemed to be dancing, too. The boys went in different shifts. First the little ones, racing around the transformed all-purpose room (cafeteria tables pushed out of the way, gym mats rolled up, starry black balloons floating everywhere.) Isaac and his friends wiggled through the dancing crowd like small minnows against the current. (How do they all know dance moves when they’re so young?) The older kids stood around in little groups, full of joyful secret drama. Malcolm looked dapper as hell in his suit. But we weren’t allowed to stay and watch the second shift, so I can only report that when Malcolm and I walked home, looking for orion and the big dipper, he had a cool happy glow about him, like the moonlight.

And the music? We had the Harlem Shake twice, of course, and gangnam style and that heyo gallileo song, and lord knows what else. They all sound a bit alike, they’re musically repetitive and lyrically uninspired, and yet they’re irresistible! I’m such a sucker for this kind of music. Roller rink music, prom music, school dance music. So for this week’s Sunday interactive playlist, we’re going to collect songs we remember from dances and roller rinks, or any public youthful dancing occasion. I’m excited about this one! I think we can make quite a collection of happy songs from different eras and different parts of the world. But I need help, because I was super backwards and shy as a child, and didn’t go to many school dances.

sage roasted butter beans and spinach with raisins and pine nuts

sage roasted butter beans and spinach with raisins and pine nuts

I’m excited about this meal, as well. As I’ve said a million times, greens with raisins and pine nuts, simply seasoned with garlic and maybe a little rosemary, is one of my all time favorite flavors. Here I added a little egg to make it comforting and substantial. You can use any greens you like. I used broccoli rabe and spinach, but you could add kale or chard, if you like. And the butter beans! I coated them in a little olive oil and roasted them with sage. Simple, but they turned out delicious. Cripsy, tender, meaty. We ate this with some herbed pearled couscous, and I made croquettes out of the leftovers with the addition of some bread crumbs, eggs and cheese – formed into patties and roasted on an olive-oil coated tray. Also very delicious! I’d show you a picture, but it got lost on my camera somewhere, and disappeared.

So here’s the playlist. I’ll make it collaborative, so feel free to add what you’d like.

And here’s a scene from Freaks and Geeks. I love the impossibly long walk to the dance floor, and the way the song kicks in when they get there. “If somebody making you go to a dance is the worst thing in your life, I’d say you have a pretty good life.”

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