Farro with smoked sweet potatoes, french lentils and pinenut lemon aioli

smoked sweet potatoes with farro and lemon aioli

smoked sweet potatoes with farro and lemon aioli

Further Tales from the Towpath. Every morning since the boys have been back in school, David and I have been going for a bike ride on the towpath. Flying down this green tunnel with the man I love, on the bike he bought for me the year we got married, seventeen years ago, is an every day thing, but I don’t have to remind myself of how important it is, how valuable. You think about all the things that have changed and are changing every day, and all of the things that have not and will never change. Riding a bike still feels like flying, it’s still exhilarating, just as it was when I first learned. The air is colder every morning, the sun lazier each day to climb up and burn off the chill. This morning was the kind of cold that makes your ear-bones hurt and renders your fingers useless. As David said, it was miserable and beautiful at the same time. The mist rose off the water in small smoky tornadoes, and it revealed hundreds of spider webs all around us. It was as though we’d put on spider-sensing glasses. In the grass some webs are vague and formless, like tiny tactile clouds you could scoop up with your hands, and some look like small tents or funnels, as if a little circus had pulled into town. In the bushes and trees, the mist clung to Halloween spider webs in little clusters of light. Hundreds!! I like to think about this arachnid community, which is always there, though we don’t see it and think about it. I like to think about them busy with their lives, going about their business just as we are, all the humans on the canal, walking with purpose or ambling along, alone with our thoughts or deep in conversations. When we went camping one night, we discovered that if you shine your flashlight in the grass, a wolf spider’s eyes reflect back bright and green. It was as if the grass was full of sparkling emeralds! Full of them! Who knew there were so many spiders about! Earlier in the summer, we let a baby tree frog, raised from a tadpole, free in our back yard, and the other day, David found a big healthy tree frog, who clung to his hand like it was a warm and solid comfort. The same frog? We’ll never know. And that same night we saw screech owls wheeling around in the trees, and heard their tremulous song all night long. They live in our neighborhood! They hang out in our yard, whether we hear them or not. Well, I feel lucky that they’re there, grateful to get a glimpse of them from time to time, and glad to be reminded again that we’re not the center of everything, we’re not the most important, we’re part of a big teeming world at work all around us.
Lemon pine nut aioli

Lemon pine nut aioli

One day last week David made a fire in the back yard and the boys helped him burn up all the little twigs and sticks. Because I’m always thinking about food, I decided to try to smoke some sweet potatoes I’d gotten from the farm. I peeled them, wrapped them in foil, and buried them in the bottom of the fire, where I let them smolder for an hour or two. They turned out very nice! Soft inside, crispy outside, smoky and good. I made some french lentils and then cooked the farro in their broth. We had arugula under and tomatoes on top, like a big warm salad. My favorite part might have been the lemon pine nut aioli we drizzled over. Vegan, creamy, tart-sweet and delicious!!

Here’s Slim Gaillard with Sighing Boogie, just because I like it!
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Crispy potatoes with peppers, tomatoes, and pine nut chipotle aioli

Tomatoes, yellow squash and peppers

Tomatoes, yellow squash and peppers

Every day lately, Malcolm has wanted nothing but to go to the river. The river! He wakes in the morning and thinks about walking down to the river, he wants to spend the long hot afternoon there, he wants to go back after dinner when the sinking sun makes a bright path on the darkening water. He and Clio splash in like some sort of mythical dolphin-otters, she bounds after sticks, and he dives for stones. When we walk home he’s bright and wet and barefoot, and he has an armful of rocks swaddled in his soaking shirt. Our house is full of stones! River stones, creek stones, pebbles from the seaside. Smooth black stones, dusky grey stones, pockmarked stones, and craggy striated rocks, stones that were slick and beautiful when wet, and now seem dusty and plain, but still worth keeping. We have a wooden bowl on our kitchen table spilling over with stones of every size. Our outside table is piled with stones, my desk has little heaps of small smooth pebbles, Malcolm’s desk is covered with a ruckus of rocks, and he’s got boxes heavy with many more of them. The washing machine is piled with stones from boys’ pockets. We all collect them, we all bring handfuls into the house. They seem full of meaning and life, with all their weighty calm; they’re so silent and still, but surely they hold old stories and myths and spirits inside of them. I love the cairns throughout our house, marking our paths, showing us where to go and where we’ve been, spelling our time here, commemorating our adventures; so hard to clean around, such a sweet testament to our collective madness.
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stones-4

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pine nut chipoptle aioli

pine nut chipoptle aioli

This meal is like a mound of stones! Well, if the potatoes were stones, and if they were covered by a fresh, juicy spicy sauce, and a smooth very tasty aioli on top! I was thinking of the tapas dish Patatas bravas when I made this. So it’s got crispy sage-roasted potatoes–I used the ones from the farm and they’re tiny, only about half an inch across. If you have larger ones, just cut them into smaller pieces. Atop this we piled tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers and yellow squash–all from the farm. And my favorite part was the pine nut chipotle aioli. Simple but with a smoky haunting flavor. It would be good with any other kinds of roasted vegetables as well, I think.crispy-potatoes

Here’s Bill Evans with Milestones.

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