Roasted chickpeas, potatoes and tomatoes

Roasted chickpeas, potatoes and tomatoes with sage and rosemary

Roasted chickpeas, potatoes and tomatoes with sage and rosemary

Thoreau famously warned us to “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” As I was going about my chores this morning, thinking my confused thoughts, I came up with my own version. “Beware of any enterprise that requires you to stifle your sense of compassion.” Beware of any occupation that requires you to think of other lives as less valuable than your own life. Beware of any undertaking that requires you to treat people in a way you wouldn’t treat the people you most love. Beware of any job that forces you to think of people as enemies. If you’re being trained that the suffering of strangers is less tragic than the suffering of your friends, quit your training. Beware of anybody that asks you to respond to any situation with only anger and fear. Beware of anybody that tells you love, pity, and empathy are signs of weakness. Beware of any goal that requires cruelty or thoughtlessness to achieve. Beware of anyone that asks you to act without understanding.

    It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. – Albert Camus

So! Tiny new potatoes, chickpeas and tomatoes, all tossed together with shallots, garlic and olive oil. Seasoned with rosemary and sage, and roasted till crispy and caramelized. Delicious! This smells so good while you’re cooking it. I like potatoes and tomatoes together, for some reason it seems very summery and harvesty to me. We’re not there yet, obviously, so this is like a wish or a preview. This would be nice in summer with chopped ripe tomatoes, but for the time being I used little sweet grape tomatoes. They became almost like sundried tomatoes. Rich and flavorful. The first time we ate this, it was crispy and firm. The second time, I added some white wine at the end, used it to scrape up all the nice caramelly bits, covered it, and cooked it till everything was tender. It was very nice both ways! We ate it on a bed of baby spinach and arugula. Lovely.

Here’s Compassion, by Nina Simone.

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Rosemary roasted potatoes, tomatoes, and shallots

Roasted potatoes, tomatoes, and shallots

We went for a family bike ride this morning. David went on ahead with Malcolm, and I stayed behind with Isaac. He’s got short legs and a small bike, and he peddles four times for every one of mine. As exercise for me, this was a failure. The heart rate was not elevated, what with all the coasting and standing and waiting. As a ride to get somewhere, it was a failure. Isaac decided at one point that he had to stop to renew his energy. And that was as far as we got. As a chance to stand in a place that you love with somebody that you love, and notice everything going on around you, it was a huge success. The towpath is lush and green this time of year, and the trees meet overhead, sewn together with vines, so that you find yourself in a green tunnel, punctuated by spaces of shadow and spaces of bright light. As we stood surrounded by smells of lavender and lemon and wet earth, the clouds rolled by, making shadows that drifted through the tunnel like slow trains. The difference between light and dark evened as they passed overhead, and then jumped into sharp relief when they’d gone by. It was a giddy feeling of moving and standing still at the same time. Isaac said it must be the end of summer, because yellow leaves were slowly falling all around us. He asked, “Do you remember that time that you weren’t there…?” (I love the logic of this question) And he told the story of how they’d gone for a walk, and gotten lost, and climbed over a tree in the river. He said that day they’d eaten a breakfast of eggs, and then right away they ate dinner. A small moth landed on my knee, it felt like a blessing. Golden and dusky. It looked up at me with its sweet, speaking face, and slowly showed me how its wings opened in a strange and beautiful fashion. It held them open, it held them closed. Isaac wanted to catch him, but I wouldn’t let him. He said I liked the moth more than him, and he threw his bike on the ground and ran down the path, his bright yellow helmet bobbing up and down in the light and the shadows. I caught up to him and he said he was too tired. One tear rolled down each of his perfect cheeks. With a beautiful gesture, he reached up two fingers of one hand, and touched each tear with one finger. A tiger swallowtail flew circles around us, dappled like the day, and Isaac said that it flew the way we ride our bikes, flapping then floating, flapping then floating. Malcolm and David, who had made it to the next town and back again, overtook us. David went home at Isaac’s slow pace, and I got to ride home with Malcolm, who chattered merry nonsense, and darted through waves of sunlight like a little minnow, resplendent in bright red and bright green, on his bright Tintin blue bike.

It’s August! Summer is ripe. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the vegetables this time of year. Tomatoes, shallots, potatoes, garlic. I love them all! I love them together! I decided to roast them – the potatoes by themselves till crispy, and the tomatoes, shallots, and garlic together till meltingly soft and starting to caramelize – and then stir them together at the last minute with lots of black pepper. I love how simple this is, and how it all works together.

We have a guest DJ today. My friend SpottedRichard put together an excellent playlist of Latin music, and I’m going to link to that, because it’s bright and sunny, and helping to wake me up. So here it is!
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Roasted (tomato, beet, & zucchini) sauce with basil and pine nuts

Roasted sauce

It’s my birthday! I know I should probably be more cool about it, and not say anything, but I’m like a big (rapidly aging) child when it comes to my birthday. I genuinely don’t want a lot of fuss, or presents or parties, but I have this feeling that I want something special to happen, but on some cosmic level. I know! It’s dumb! I’m 43, which is just absolutely crazy to me. How can I be middle-aged when I’m still waiting to feel like a responsible full-grown adult? I have to admit that turning 40 was harder for me than I expected it to be. Part of me felt like I was having a slow-motion mid-life crisis, with brief shard-like pangs of anxiety and melancholy. (I feel better this year, though! Not sure why!) I’m not indulging in this birthday whine for sympathy, but because one of the harder things, for me, was having everybody tell me how great they felt to turn 40, and how easy it was for them. I think it’s okay to feel the pangs of time passing. Anxious aging people everywhere, I absolve you!

The other night while we were at the shore, and I had my usual not-in-my-own-bed insomnia, I was half awake and listening to the waves, and this metaphor crept into my head. I’ll share it with you! It’s an extended metaphor, and I’m going to go on about it for a really long time, so I get extra points on my essay. Aging is like being in the ocean. You bob along, from day to day, treading water. You see your family on the beach, bright, and real, and busy and playing in the waves that wash towards them. You feel the sand under your feet slipping away, a little more with each wave, but it’s not unpleasant. Every once in a while you step on a sharp shell or get pinched by a crab, but the waves carry the sharp thing away again, and you bob and and you tread. The vasty ocean curves all around you, beautiful, comforting, frightening, inexplicable. And you’re fine; you’re lifted up, you’re set back down, you’re happy. And then when your back is turned a giant wave comes and breaks right over your head, you’re not ready for it, you’re turned upside down, your mouth and eyes and ears are full of water. But you struggle to right yourself, to see your family on the glowing sand, you clear your soggy head, you tread, you bob, you’re fine.

The older I get, the more I realize it’s the small everyday things that matter. Today we’re making a cake, and Malcolm drew me a card with green and blue Dog Woman on it, and Isaac drew me a card with a picture of him and me laughing. The sun is shining, the day is cool. Yesterday I went to a grocery store with my boys, but it was a special grocery store, and I got special things, and they’re full of happy potential for good meals. We’re all on the same boat together going in the same inevitable direction – we may as well enjoy the meals!

One of the nice things about having a summer birthday is the vegetables. I LOVE VEGETABLES!! Yesterday I made a sauce with roasted tomatoes, roasted beets, roasted zucchini, tons of fresh basil, a pinch of marjoram and thyme, and a few of my special birthday purchases – viz, sherry vinegar, fresh mozzarella, and pinenuts. I think it turned out really nice! A little beet-sweet, with the subtle tang of sherry vinegar. We had it with penne, but it would be good with anything, I think. It would even make a good soup, if you added more water or stock!

Here’s Tom Waits’ Time, surely one of the most beautiful songs ever!

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