Roasted butternut, chickpea, & apricot pies

Roasted butternut, chickpea, and apricot pies

Roasted butternut, chickpea, and apricot pies

Malcolm is an owl and Isaac is a ghost bat. They’ve been home from school for two days and they’ve been wearing two-year-old halloween costumes most of that time. Like Max in his wolf suit, they’ve been bad. Like Max in his wolf suit, they’ve chased the dog around the house. A manic owl and a screaming bat. Or maybe it was the dark day of cold november rain and homework and no fun. Some of us tackled each other, some of us whined and shrieked, some of us yelled. We all feel bad about it now. This morning we had to get out, we had to leave the house.
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It’s a golden day. A wintery white-gold glowing day. Really the only leaves left on the trees are the golden ones, and they fall all around you in a bright shower. The boys flew out of the house, gleaming, a bat and an owl with fiendish expressions and madly flapping wings. They chased each other down to the towpath where fallen leaves of every color trail along the surface of the fast dark water like strings of christmas lights. Isaac loves this weather because he was born in this weather. I tell them about the day they were each born, unseasonably warm for November, unseasonably cool for July, both perfect perfect days. When we got to the part of the towpath where the trees have brown-paper leaves that smell like burnt sugar, a whole pack of teenage girls ran by. A track team, maybe. They were very serious, staring straight ahead. I know they know Malcolm, they’re not much older in actual chronology, but they didn’t say hello. He was quiet and thoughtful in his owl suit, for a minute or two. I thought nothing gold can stay, nothing gold can stay. And then he raced ahead after Isaac. Clio pulled me ahead and the boys fell behind, lost in serious conversation.
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I looked back at them, with their bright heads bent together, and I wondered what they were talking about. It was what they would do if somebody took Daddy and me away. They’d walk miles to Dad’s shop and get a bow and arrow. They’d buy a thousand nail guns. They’d save up their money for a paintball gun and fill it with pebbles. Then they’d find us somehow. We got to where we were going, a big field, and heavy indigo clouds rolled in, and the trees were bright like fire against the dark sky.
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Everbody flew around the field, and Isaac gave me hugs to knock me over. His skin smells beautiful, like sunshine and summer. I told Malcolm it wouldn’t rain, but of course he was right and it did rain, a fine cold rain. Isaac put up his ghost bat hood. We made it home, and the boys filled the house with the scent of clementines while they waited for warm lunch. Just a bat and an owl sitting together and resting a moment, before they return to their dizzying flight.

Roasted butternut chickpea and apricot pies

Roasted butternut chickpea and apricot pies

My friend treefrogdemon (yes that is her real name) happened to mention that she ate a chicken and apricot pie. It sounded so good! I resolved at the time to try a version with chickpeas and apricots. And when it came right to it, I decided to add roasted butternut squash, pecans, sharp cheddar and some spices…ginger, nutmeg, coriander and allspice. The result is a pretty, tasty, autumnal pie. A nice holiday meal for vegetarians, I think!

Here’s Park Life, by Blur, because my boys are completely obsessed with it at the moment.

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Roasted butternut, pecan, & mushroom pies

Roasted butternut French lentil pies

Roasted butternut French lentil pies

This weekend marks not only the second anniversary of The Ordinary, but the first anniversary of Clio’s stay in our house, as well. She’s lived with us a whole year! I remember when I went to get her. She was an hour’s drive away, and I was so nervous I felt sick. After weeks of begging for a puppy like a spoiled child, and nights of being sure someone else would adopt her first, I had gotten my way and I was plagued by saucy doubts and fears. Clio had met twenty other prospective families, or so her foster mother had said, and none were right for her. Would she like me? Would I like her? There was another family there to meet another dog. This dog was older, very calm and quiet and frightened, and the foster mom said, “Yes, she’s very good, you’ll have no problems with her.” And then she said, “But I’m not sure about this one,” and let Clio out of her cage. She bounced with joy! She jumped in my lap and licked me madly! She jumped in the lap of every member of the family there to meet the calm dog! She tried to kiss the man behind the counter! And that was that, she came home with me, and she’s been here ever since. People who know me get sick of hearing me say all the things I like about Clio, but it’s her anniversary, so I’m going to tell you here. I love her paws!! She’s a rough and tumble dog’s dog, but her paws are surprisingly elegant. They’re white and silky, and she holds them like a dancer. When she lies down she crosses them, and she’s got many different styles of cross-paws. There’s demure cross paws, and ballerina cross paws, and the extreme, one-arm-slung-over-the-other-I’m-so-glad-you’ve-joined-me-in-my-library-for-a-cognac-in-our-dressing-gown cross paws. Her paws are very speaking, she grabs hold of you and tries to make her wishes known, but we’re so slow! I love the way she sings when she’s nervous. I love the way she hugs–she stands and hovers for a moment and then puts one paw on either side of your waist and squeezes and whuffles. I love the way she cuddles, and especially the way she waggles her head contentedly when she lays it on your arm or leg, as if to get as close and comfortable as possible. I love her sweetness…she loves every dog she’s ever met, even though she’s been bitten badly twice. I’ve never heard her growl at another dog. And she loves most people, unless they’re wearing sunglasses or excessive cologne. And I love the way that she’s leapingly happy, jumpingly joyful. So, in honor of the anniversary of her stay here, today’s Sunday interactive playlist will be on the subject of jumping, leaping, hopping, bounding, bouncing.
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This is the dinner I made for David’s birthday. It’s a very fancy Ordinary dinner. It employs some Ordinary staples, such as french lentils and roasted mushrooms. It’s autumnal, because it also has roasted butternut squash, smoked gouda, and pecans. I made it in big muffin tins, with large holes in them, but if you don’t have those, you could make little free-form galettes and they’d be just as tasty.

Here’s a link to your interactive playlist. Keep bouncing!
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Empanadas with greens, chickpeas and cranberries

Kale, cranberry and chickpea empanadas

Kale, cranberry and chickpea empanadas

I’ve been thinking about the way our world changes, and specifically about the way people bring about that change. Our history as humans is a pattern of progress and change, progress and change. We’ll head blindly in one direction, unable to see quite where we’re going because it’s so close, and then somebody or somebodies will push us in another direction. With a grand gesture, with a slow protest, with a war, with a sit-in, with a newspaper article, with a violent act, with a strike, with a clear bold voice, or in a confused tangle of contradictory words. I’ve been thinking about certain small acts of rebellion that I love, certain quiet ways that people have changed the rules. They change the world slowly, almost imperceptibly, but the change grows in widening waves. The personal becomes political and art becomes powerful. I love to read about blues musicians from the last century, growing up in a world of poverty and discrimination and finding a way to make music no matter what the odds. Nobody hired them a music teacher so they’d understand the rules of musical theory. Big Bill Broonzy made a fiddle from a cigar box, Elizabeth Cotten taught herself to play guitar upside-down, they figured it out themselves, with the help of some friends. They sang about their lives, the way they actually were, the trains running by their door, the work they had to do, and they sang about the way they wished their lives could be. The rules they answered to in life were harsh and unjust, but in music they made their own rules, they made music the way they wanted it to sound–that was theirs. And with books like Catcher in the Rye, Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird, we find a whole new world of writing, with the language people actually use, according to the rules of conversation and not those of grammar. These books are intimate and personal and real, and they describe the lives of normal people as they actually are. This small feat frightened people enough that they were all banned, at one time or another. And, of course, I love filmmakers who make films the way they think they should be. Hollywood films have quite a rigid set of rules that dictate the way they’re made. These rules are nearly invisible to the viewer, because they’re designed to make a film seem more realistic, and because we’ve grown up with them, we’ve learned them, without even realizing. Well, I love a director like Yasujiro Ozu, who defies these rules. He sets the camera where he thinks it should be, he moves it when it needs to be moved (not very often!) he crosses sight lines, he leaves out plot points. Not to be rebellious, but because he knows how he wants his films to look. His films are mostly about middle-class families going about their lives. They seem placid and uneventful, at least compared to most movies. But in showing us the way we live, in showing us hurtful pettiness and gossip, thoughtlessness and ingratitude, he makes us think about the way we could live, the way we could treat the people around us. It’s subtle and slow, but it seeps into you and makes you notice everything differently and more clearly. And I believe this small slow change is the most important, and that it extends to all things…not just to art and politics, but to life, which is the very heart of art and politics. We can change the world with the food that we eat, the cars that we drive, the books that we read. We change the world by struggling to understand it, by recognizing the rules that govern us as they are, and by deciding the way we want them to be. We change the world with every kindness to another person, and it’s a shame that this sounds sappy, because it’s true.
Kale, chickpea and cranberry empanadas

Kale, chickpea and cranberry empanadas

Well, I totally wasn’t going to go on and on about this today! It’s been on my mind, man. I think it’s because David and I just bought some Big Bill Broonzy CDs and they’re phenomenal, and because I’m reading this biography of Jean Vigo. Yeah. So! These are summery sorts of empanadas, I think. I made them for our anniversary picnic dinner. Empanadas make the best picnic food, because you can eat them with your hands and walk around with them, and they combine so many flavors and food groups in one neat package. I also boiled some little potatoes and tossed them with herbs and butter, and they are also a fun, if messy, picnic food. Our picnic was spoiled by dozens and dozens of ticks…a sickening tickening…but we came home and sat in our backyard and finished our empanadas, or lovely smoky, savory sweet empanadas.

Here’s Big Bill Broonzy with Feelin Low Down. Phew, what a song!

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