Semolina crusted roasted eggplant, potatoes and butterbeans

Semolina crusted eggplant, potatoes and butterbeans

Semolina crusted eggplant, potatoes and butterbeans

It’s been a strange day. It’s been a strange week. I started this hours ago, and I was going to talk very wisely about Au Hazard Balthazar, but nobody slept last night, it’s rained hard all day, and the power went out. So here we are, hours later, and everything feels very serious, very heavy. The anniversary of the March on Washington–fifty years–sets you thinking about how much has changed and how much has not, both in the country and in the lives of all the people that lived through it all, and are still living through it every day. I’m scared of another war and sick of awards shows of any kind. It’s hard to know where to turn your mind. Well! The other day I accidentally discovered this video of The Washboard Serenaders, and I just love it. They seem so happy and alive and glad to be together making music. They combine humbling amounts of speed and technical prowess with real grace and space, or so it seems to me. Kazoo!

I tried to find more information on them, and apparently they were a loose collection of musicians that collaborated and travelled under various names, and went on to work with other groups in other styles. I love the idea of artistic collaboration, be it musical, or visual, or filmic. Especially when they’re bursting with love for what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with, as they seem to be here.

Here’s another video of The Washboard Rhythm Kings, with some astounding washboardery.

Semolina coated eggplant, potatoes and butterbeans

Semolina coated eggplant, potatoes and butterbeans

More crispy eggplant! Which is really the only way I like it. I combined slices of eggplant with slices of potato and big buttery butter beans, marinated them with fresh herbs, coated them all with egg and semolina flour, and roasted them in olive oil till they were crispy. They need a sauce, too, I think. We ate them with a spicy sauce made from fresh tomatoes and baby spinach, but any simple tomato sauce will do.

Here’s a whole album of The Washboard Rhythm Kings.

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Roasted potatoes and butter beans with summer savory

Potatoes, butter beans and savory

Potatoes, butter beans and savory

I have the whole day to myself for the first time since…well, I can’t really remember the last time. “Oh! Miss Woodhouse, the comfort of being sometimes alone!” I had such big plans! I was going to get so much work done. I was going to start a novel, and make some progress on pre-production on this movie I’ve been talking about for half a decade. I was going to be creative and productive! Six hours in, and I’m having such a strangely hard time focussing. I could blame it on the heat, because it is hellish hot, but in truth I think it’s the silence. It’s the complete and bewildering lack of distraction. Why isn’t anybody asking me for a snack, and then ten seconds later insisting on a drink to go with it? How can I possibly be expected to get any writing done if I can’t yell at anyone to stop yelling so that I can get some writing done–if I don’t have the deadline of a trip to the river to motivate me? I’m actually a big fan of aloneness. I think it’s important to be alone some of the time, so that you can pursue the thoughts in your own head wherever they might lead you, so that you can try to figure out all of those things it’s impossible to figure out. It’s one of my tedious mantras that a person should have such a supply of inner resources that they’re happy alone with no distractions for long periods of time. But, as in all things, I believe we need to find a balance. We need other people, and we need to be needed by them. It’s important to have an outlet and a reason for your wandering thoughts, so that you have something solid to tether them to. It’s important to have a sense of community, be it local or international. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, the last couple of days. If we know our neighbors, and understand them and care for them, then we’ll trust them as well. We won’t sit in paranoid solitude till we drive ourselves crazy with hate and rage. And we’ll understand why the actions of a few people acting out of hate and rage will be greeted by an ever-growing community of humans caring for strangers as if they were friends, with generosity, compassion and understanding.

Each week I’ve been picking handfuls of fresh herbs from the farm–rosemary, thyme, sage and more sage, oregano, mint, lavender, and summer savory. I generally throw everything together into one big mix of flavors, because this random wildness is part of what’s beautiful about this time of year. But summer savory is a flavor I don’t encounter very often. It’s not as nice dried, and it’s lovely and distinctive–a little lemony and, well, savory! So I decided to use it all on its own in this recipe, roasted simply with tiny potatoes from the farm and big butter beans that were almost as large as the potatoes. I roasted everything in olive oil, and then drizzled some truffle oil on top. If you don’t have truffle oil, you can leave this step out–it will still be very flavorful!

Here’s People Make the World Go Around by The Stylistics

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Roasted butter bean, mushroom, and pecan galette

Roasted mushroom and butterbean galette

Roasted mushroom and butterbean galette

As I’m sure you recall, we’ve been hosting a story-writing salon, here at The Ordinary. The cool kids have started calling it “Story Writing Saturdays at OOTO.” Yeah, it’s been wild. So far, one person has written a story (thanks so much, Laura!) And I’ve gotten one comment on my stories. (“Weird, very weird.”) Flushed with this unparalleled success, we’re marching on with the project. I love today’s picture, I think it’s a real beauty, and I hope that you do, too!
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As ever, my story is after the jump, and yours could be, too. My rules so far have been–make it quick, and don’t over think. But make your rules up as you go along.

I made this galette up as I went along, until it got to a place that I could actually imagine eating it, and then I knew I’d arrived at the right combination! I roasted some mushrooms and some butter beans. Roasted butter beans are one of my new favorite things! I combined these crispy-soft items with some fresh baby spinach and some crunchy toasted pecans, and then threw in some melty mozzarella, and I baked the whole thing up in a free-form pie. Delicious! And quite easy, too.

Here’s a song from one of my favorite storytellers, Mr. Tom Waits. Gun Street Girl.

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Roasted cauliflower, potatoes and butterbeans in spicy red pepper – olive sauce

Roasted potatoes, cauliflower and butterbeans with spicy red pepper sauce

Roasted potatoes, cauliflower and butterbeans with spicy red pepper sauce

When a child tells a joke (my child, at any rate) he always explains it. He always adds a little, “do you see what I did there?” (Except when they tell knock knock jokes, of course – not because they need no explanation, but because there is no explanation. They make no sense, and that’s the point of them.) As they get a little older they might just send it out there into the world, and see how it plays. They start to understand the universal language of jokes, and they recognize that others understand it as well. And if it plays well, they’ll repeat it, over and over and over again. There’s a regular at the bar where I work. He’s a friendly, loquacious guy, and everybody’s always happy to see him, as befits his status as regular. He tells jokes that aren’t always appropriate, and he lets us know they’re not appropriate by saying, “If you know what I mean.” One day, the bartender said, “Everybody always knows what you mean!” She said it in a jolly, joking way, but he seemed a little chastened. He was uncharacteristically silent for a few minutes. When I think about it, which I frequently do, it’s so odd that we can communicate at all. Words are so frustratingly, beautifully inadequate. Either they seem to have no meaning at all, or they have so many meanings you don’t know which to choose. We could lose ourselves in the space between what we mean to say or what we want to say, and what is actually said. We watched Tokyo Story by Ozu yesterday. (Beautiful!) His films are about regular, contemporary people facing problems that we all face, and one of these is, simply, talking to one another, conveying meaning. The characters are speaking Japanese, of course, which is a language I don’t understand, but they’re so clearly sharing the difficulty of sharing, with their gestures and expressions. They use small sounds, single syllables or grunts, that seem to carry more meaning, and be better understood, than whole streams of words. I love this! Each person fills the syllable with their own inflections, the whole force of their personality. Ozu will show one side of a phone call that consists of nothing but these short grunts, and you know what the person on the other end is saying. I read a little bit about these sounds, and they each have their own written character, which is a beautiful thing. I suppose we have something similar in English, but our small sounds, our ums and ers and uh-huhs seem to create little spaces of non-meaning, little expressions of frustration with meaning. Or maybe it’s just easier to see meaning when you’re less entangled in the words, when you’re outside, looking in.

It’s funny how recipes can become construed and misconstrued, made up, as they are, of words. The symbols I take as universal are very confusing to some people. And measurements are so changing and mysterious, especially when you’re talking about the size of a vegetable! In recipes such as this one, it’s okay that the measurements are vague. You can adjust the amounts to your taste. We have roasted potatoes, cauliflower and roasted butter beans (yummy!) And we have a sauce to toss them in, and you can roast just as much of each as you like! You can mix everything together, and fry it in a skillet till the sauce is fairly dry and coating each piece, and that’s tasty. Or you can leave the elements separate, and let people take what they like, which is what we did, because not everyone in the family is as enthusiastic about cauliflower. We ate this with simple herbed farro, and some sauteed kale and broccoli rabe tossed with lemon and butter.

Here’s the Tokyo Story Theme, by Saito Kojun

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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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