Butternut ricotta kofta with pistachio-pumpkinseed sauce

Butternut ricotta kofta and pistachio pumpkinseed sauce

Butternut ricotta kofta and pistachio pumpkinseed sauce

Here at The Ordinary we’ve had two snow days and two delayed opening in one week. This means lots of stir-craziness, an increasing amount of crankiness, and a lot of legos. We decided that life is like a box of legos. (I’m not saying it’s not like a box of chocolates, but I’m not a fan of the “You never know what you’re going to get,” part of that statement. I think you’ll find that you have a fairly good idea of what you’re going to get with a box of chocolates. It’s going to be sweet and chocolate covered, you might not know the specific filling, but there are only so many options. Often there’s a diagram, telling you exactly what you’re going to get.) Anyway, life is like a a box of legos. You can never quite find the piece you’re looking for, but you’ll find a similar piece that you’ll throw back into the box, only to realize that it’s exactly what you wanted all along. You can never find the piece you’re looking for, but you might find something totally unexpected, which works even better and sends you off in a new and wonderful direction. Some people need to open the box right away and put it together all in a rush, others take their time, and do it as the mood strikes them. Some people need to follow the directions to the letter, and go carefully to make it look just like the picture. Others throw the rules away, and put together something nobody has ever made before. Some people have a plan, they know what they want it to look like in the end, and others make make it up as they go along. This week Malcolm instructed us all to make “habitats,” and they were trying to make theirs as full of nature as possible. In the end they had a treehouse, the ruins of a castle, and lots of little storm troopers milling about. If life is like a box of legos, I have high hopes for the way theirs will turn out! Full of imagination and creativity. Unexpected but inspired.

As poet R. Lee Sharpe tells us, we’re all give the tools to work with, we’re all given the lego starter set, and what we do with it is up to us…

R. Lee Sharpe
“A Bag of Tools”

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings,
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
And common people like you and me,
Are builders for eternity?

Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, a book of rules;
And each must make- ere life is flown-
A stumbling block, or a stepping stone.

Butternut ricotta kofta and pistachio pumpkinseed sauce

Butternut ricotta kofta and pistachio pumpkinseed sauce

This is my idea of a fun meal! While we were eating I gave myself a little pat on the back, because I don’t think anyone else would think of combining these particular ingredients in this particular way. Grated roasted butternut squash, ricotta cheese, chickpea flour, raisins and sharp cheddar? Delicious! The kofta were plump and pleasant and sweet, and the sauce earthy and a little tart-sweet. We ate these with warm tortillas, lightly cooked kale and spinach and chopped tomatoes and olives. You could eat them with pita bread, or just as they are, dipped in the sauce. They’re gluten-free, too, if you leave out the tortillas.

Here’s The Heptones with Book of Rules, based on R. Lee Sharpe’s poem.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Golden beet and pine nut purée

Golden beet and pine nut purée

Golden beet and pine nut purée

It’s my birthday!!! AAARRGGHHHH! And I’m only telling you this because…I’m telling everybody! I’m like a little kid when it comes to birthdays. Except that I’m not, really, I’m the exact opposite. I overheard Isaac telling Malcolm, “Mommy doesn’t want it to be her birthday,” which as a birthday-obsessed seven-year-old is a concept he can’t fathom. It’s not the birthday itself I have a problem with, of course, it’s the getting older part that’s hard, that’s putting me in a blue mood. I was thinking the other day that I might come across as a somewhat cheerful, hopeful person, here at The Ordinary. In truth, I’m a moody old cuss. I’m discouraged by the strangest slightest things. And it might seem like I’m a patient mother, but I yell at my boys more than I thought I ever would, and I’m short-tempered with them sometimes even when they’re sweetly trying to get my attention to tell me nice and funny things. Sometimes I just want some quiet to think my own thoughts. Sometimes I just want to look out the window. And my boys don’t like all the weird food I make, though they are almost always kind enough to taste it. They don’t always eat healthy meals, sometimes I just let them drink sugar water, not because they’ve persuaded me that they’re part hummingbird, although I might believe that, but because I’m powerless to stop them because THEY DON’T LISTEN TO A WORD I SAY! And I do genuinely want to love and care for all people, like Alyosha says to do, but I have a noisy foul-mouthed inner misanthrope fighting to get out. I do honestly believe that success should be measured not by good grades or a big salary, but by how happy you are with what you do, day-to-day, and by the way you make your life as creative as possible in all the small moments, and how you notice and remember everything. But I get in foul moods when all I can think is “everything I’ve ever tried to do has failed.” And where am I going with all of this downwardly spiraling self-pitying birthday confessionalizing? I dunno. I think I want to tell you that I woke up this morning and my foolish birthday blue funk had lifted. I feel sanguine and hopeful. I have a lot that I want to do–small things and big big projects, and I feel excited about trying, whether or not they get done. I feel happy about thinking about them, even just thinking about them. I feel good about writing, just writing, whether anybody reads it or likes it doesn’t matter, I feel good about putting thoughts in order, and stringing words together, and surprising myself with all the odd phrases that come out of my constantly surprising mind, which you think I’d know better after 44 years of constant company. Last night in the car I had thought myself into a despondent mess, and Isaac said, “Mommy!! Guess what? Somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s being born, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s coming home, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping, somebody’s sleeping…all over the world, right now!” And this morning Malcolm gave me a birthday letter that began “Have you ever wondered how the earth was created, God or science?” and ended, “P.S. Are crab apples edible? Because Charlie likes them and I want to try.” In the face of all of this blissfully cheerful existential information, How can a person stay cranky for long? Well, she can’t, and I won’t.

Beet greens with golden-beet pine nut sauce

Beet greens with golden-beet pine nut sauce

Golden beets, man. They’re pretty! And so darn tasty. We got some more from the farm, and I recently went on a ridiculously indulgent birthday shop and bought pine nuts and all sorts of other pricey items. So I decided to make this golden beet and pine nut tarator sauce. It’s got grated toasted beets, sage, rosemary, pine nuts, garlic, and a bit of balsamic. It was very tasty and surprising. Moreish, as the British say. We dipped fresh sweet peas in it, and crackers, and then I mixed it in with sauteed beet greens. It would be good with roasted vegetables, or tossed with pasta, or as a dip for chips, or any other way you can think of using a creamy flavorful sauce.

Here’s Big BIll Broonzy, who has a birthday today, too, playing Hey Hey, which I know I’ve posted before, but, hey, it’s my birthday!
Continue reading

Almond tarragon sauce

Almond tarragon sauce

Yesterday we had a rare day off, all together, and it was the only sunny day in recent memory. So we went for a hike in the woods. It felt good to clear the cobwebs and feel the sun on our heads. At one point, a big golden leaf fell behind me – I could sense it as a sort of glowing shadow. It seemed so slow and quick all at once. It almost made me wish I was someone else. Somebody who could wander around in the woods thinking about things and noticing things – like Basho or Thoreau, instead of just some idiot who forgot to pay the credit card bill (god I hate that!). Of course I was somebody wandering around in the woods, thinking things, and watching my little ones glowing with high finally-out-of-the-house spirits, as well as being the non-bill-paying idiot. And on the way home I had the strangest sensation of time travel. The sun was very bright and warm on my face, so I closed my eyes. I had that peculiar feeling you get in your head when you’re about to get a cold, when it seems like all of your senses are heightened and dulled at the same time. I had such a distinct memory of having this exact experience before – the sun, the onset of a cold, the movement of the car. I could have been any age. I had a flood of memories of myself at different times. With my family growing up. With David when we were younger. With my dog when she was a puppy. I may have fallen asleep for a few moments, because I felt my thoughts taking off, into the air. And then Malcolm said, “Mommy…” and showed me a picture he’d drawn, or told me how much baby bears weigh at birth. Human voices woke me, and I drowned…in the present. Where I forget to pay bills, and can’t keep the house clean, and yell too much at my boys, but I feel so grateful to have them all around me – to have this messy glowing life, which I wouldn’t trade for anything.

This almond tarragon sauce is another version of a tarator sauce. I made it to go with some very pretty dragon’s tongue beans, which I lightly steamed. But I ate it for days afterwards – with every kind of vegetable, with empanadas, on salads. It’s a nice creamy, cream free dressing. Very good with roasted beets!

Here’s Sunshine and Clouds and Everything Proud from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Continue reading

Pecan-whole grain tarator sauce

Pecan tarator sauce

I was thinking about tarator sauce the other day. The word means different things to different people, and contains different ingredients in various locations around the globe. For me, a tarator sauce is a combination of nuts, bread-soaked-in-water and seasonings. It is a thing of wonder! These unlikely elements combine to form something subtly flavored, smooth, creamy, and completely dairy-free! At first, I generally used pine nuts and white bread, garlic and lemon. Definitely delicious. Then I used almonds, because they’re also lovely and much cheaper. I made this savory vanilla sauce, for instance. And a tarator sauce can make the base of a creamy soup. My version of Jane Austen’s white soup combines an almond tarator sauce with white beans and cauliflower.

I’ve always thought of tarator as a pale ivory concoction, and I’ve generally used pale nuts and white bread. Well, the other day, faced with a very tasty but rapidly aging loaf of whole grain bread, I thought, why not make a tarator sauce with that? And I used pecans, because they have a wonderful distinctive flavor. And I used balsamic instead of lemon juice, for a little depth. And then I added roasted garlic, thyme, and rosemary, because it seemed to need all those things. Turned out delicious! We ate it as a sort of dip for butternut squash-pecan dumplings. But tarator sauce is very versatile. It’s good with french fries, or on roasted vegetables, or as a dip for anything you can think of dipping in it.

Here’s Soul Sauce from Cal Tjader

Continue reading