Black quinoa w/garlic scapes and lettuce/hazelnut/sage pesto

Black quinoa & lettuce pesto

The mulberries are ripening, and all the mulberry trees along the canal are dropping their fat purple berries. I find this oddly inspiring! It makes me want to write stories and draw pictures. I can’t quite explain the connection – maybe it’s just fruitful and springlike. One year, under the spell of mulberry-inspiration, I wrote a story called Meet the Mulberry Ducks. It was about young ducks that live along the towpath and eat mulberries. They laze around in the cool water, or on the warm dusty towpath, and wait for the berries to fall. They have purple poop. One day, two crows come along and laugh at them for waiting for the berries to fall. They show them a way they can shake the berries off the tree. The ducks follow their advice, and they eat so many berries they get stomachaches. Then they resolve, in future, to wait for the berries to fall. That’s it!! That’s the whole story. I was thinking about it the other day, as I rode over some plump mulberries on my bike, and it’s really a fable that encourages underachievement. And I felt a little bad about that – but not too bad. And I thought about how Malcolm asked me the other day what “ambitious” meant. I told him it meant trying really hard to be good at something, and to succeed doing it. But a big part of my brain was thinking about how it has negative connotations. I was thinking about Macbeth and Iago and their O’erweening ambition. I didn’t tell Malcolm that, though. I want him to be passionate about things, and try really hard to be good at something, and to succeed. But not to eat so many berries that he gets a bellyache!!

He’s more likely to eat too much quinoa, however. He loved this!! He said the quinoa tasted like Guisseppe’s pizza (that’s the place on the corner). He took seconds, and piled a big mound on his plate, with lettuce pesto on top of it, and scooped it up with bread. That’s my boy!! I cooked the quinoa for much longer than it needed to be cooked. For over an hour, probably, all told. I let it absorb all the broth, and then I liked how it got a creamy, pudding-like consistency, so I stirred in some butter and honey. It was still a little crunchy, though, cause it’s black quinoa, and that’s how it is. David just pointed out that our oven has a convection roast option, and I was eager to try it, so I cut up some potatoes and mushrooms in big chunks, tossed them with olive oil, tossed the potatoes with rosemary and the mushrooms with sage, and roasted them up. Very nice! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. So we had them with lovely lettuce/sage/hazelnut mozzarella pesto. I used the spicy-sweet red leaf lettuce from the farm, and the mozzarella made everything get a little melty when it met the hot potatoes and mushrooms. A simple meal, but a good one!!

Here’s Take Back Your Duck by The Inspirations, one of my all time favorite songs. This duck is too skinny. Obviously, she should have been eating more mulberries!
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Lettuce – pumpkinseed pesto AND lettuce, hazelnut & white bean bisque

Or, two ways to prepare lettuce that don’t involve the word “salad.”

Lettuce, white bean, hazelnut soup

We’re watching Blues Brothers with the boys. It’s rated R, but we can’t remember why, so we’re watching it cautiously, with the remote nearby. Is it the non-stop swearing and the incredibly destructive car chases? Pshaw, my boys are used to that! We drive recklessly through a couple of malls a day around here. Actually, it might be a little rough for them, but I think they’re well aware that they can’t say all of the words that they’re hearing and that they can’t drive cars through store windows. What a pleasure to watch them watch the dancing and the singing, and all of the wonderful, contagiously happy music. It’s such a joyful movie! And I’d forgotten how sweet it is, in parts, and how good it looks. There are a few moments that have such a lovely, quiet grace about them, in the midst of all the raucousness. And, oddly, these moments seem to involve toast. In one scene, Elwood has just toasted a piece of bread in his small room in the home for itinerant men. His brother fell asleep, and he covered him with a blanket, and then sat in the window and looked out at the trains rumbling by in a watery blue light. Beautiful! Now, I love toast. I think it’s such a comforting, restorative food. The very smell of bread toasting can make you feel better. And I happen to have made a meal last night that revolved around toast! And lettuces, lots and lots of lettuces. We got about 7 heads of red leaf lettuce from the CSA, and I’m actually very excited about it. I love salad, as I’ve said many a time, but I also like the challenge of turning lettuce into a non-salad meal. We happened to eat two in the same meal last night, but they were both very tasty, so nobody seemed to mind.

Lettuce pesto

I made a soup with lettuce, hazelnuts and white beans. I seasoned it with tarragon, chervil, and lovage, and it was very flavorful. It was smooth, but not velvety, although you could certainly make it that way if you liked. I floated a small, plain toast in it, and it was delicious. The other non-salad lettuce item on the agenda was a lettuce, pumpkinseed, goatcheese pesto. It turned out very nice! Much milder in flavor than a traditional basil pesto, but it has the lovely, indefinable flavor of toasted pumpkinseeds, and a bit of creamy tang provided by goat cheese. We ate it with toast (again!) and a little bruschetta topping made from tomatoes, basil, french feta, and capers.

Here’s Shake A Tail Feather, with the Blues Brothers and Ray Charles. Doesn’t it make you happy?

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