Spicy cherry tomato chickpea stew; oven roasted hash browns

Spicy cherry tomato chickpea sauce

Spicy cherry tomato chickpea sauce

– Au moins si l’on mangeait du pain à sa suffisance ! répéta pour la troisième fois Étienne, sans transition apparente. (“If only we had enough bread to eat,” Etienne repeated for the third time, with no apparent connection.) I’ve just started reading Germinal by Zola. I haven’t read enough of it to talk about it much (yet) but so far I like it as much as cherries. I love this exchange, in the very first conversation in the book, in which Etienne Latiner says three times, “…if only one had enough bread to eat,” with no apparent connection. And now, with no apparent connection, I’m going to tell you that Hergé (yes, that Hergé) was the pen name of Georges Remi. His initials arranged backwards (RG) and pronounced Frenchly, became Hergé. Of course, when I read this I thought about what mine would be. AC (never you mind that Claire isn’t actually my first name!) or AH SAY or … assez, enough. (French friends, correct me if I’m wrong). Well, I like the word “enough,” I like the concept. It’s not as voluptuous and joyful as “plenty,” but it seems honest and practical, “it is right or needful.” If we have enough bread to eat we can live and be content, and if we have plenty of bread we can turn it into bread pudding. Enough is just what we need, and all that we can ask. Enough money to live, enough food to eat, enough strength to carry on from day to day, and enough humor to enjoy it all. If nobody had too much, then everybody would have enough. And there’s no reason the world can’t work that way, except that to greedy and deluded people too much is never enough. Enough also means done to perfection, “Bake it in the oven, and when enough, strew Sugar again over it.” And now this essay is probably enough. I’ve said enough, and you’ve had enough of it. But when you see the graffiti tag ASSEZ all over the world, you’ll know where it came from.

Oven-roasted hash browns

Oven-roasted hash browns

We picked enough cherry tomatoes at the farm to last for weeks! There was “no limit” on what we could pick, and the four of us collected a beautiful pile of jewelly tomatoes, bright and sweet and perfect. I decided to make them into a sauce with chickpeas, because it’s sweet that they’re nearly the same size. I cooked half of the tomatoes until they were soft and stewy, and saved half to the end, to add their bright freshness. I seasoned this with smoked paprika, ginger and cinnamon and topped it with fresh basil, chives and parsley. I thought it was pretty and tasty! We also got a lot of potatoes and fresh herbs from the farm, and I had the idea of grated them and tossing them with together with olive oil, and roasting them till crisp. These sort of oven-roasted hash browns made a nice base for the saucy tomatoes and chickpeas.

Here’s earworm extraordinaire Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode.

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Rosemary crepe stack with CSA medley filling

Savory crepe stack

Today marks the beginning of my live-blogging olympics broadcast. Ready? Begin. We’ll start with ping pong. He shoots the ball across the table! He shoots it back across the table. He shoots it back, he shoots it forth, back, forth, back, forth. Wait! What’s this? Could it be? No, it’s back. Forth, back forth. I’m kidding, of course, and I don’t mean to poke fun at ping pong, which is a perfectly honorable sport. We watched a bit of olympics at work over the weekend, and I really do enjoy the games. I’m strangely moved by large gatherings of people, united in one cause. I get weepy at political demonstrations and concerts and parades. I’ve never been sure why – it’s an irrational and inexplicable response. I find the olympics particularly thrilling. All of these people coming from all over the world, so full of energy and hope and skill. Despite my gospel of under-achievement, and my support for mediocrity everywhere, I’ve always thought it would be fun to be very very good at something. To be, perhaps, the best in the world. I’d love to be passionately focussed on something that I was actually good at doing. I’ve said I’m not very competitive, and it’s true that I’m not, but I can imagine that it would be wonderful to be around other people who have concentrated their life and energy on the thing that you’ve concentrated your life and energy on, even if you’re competing with them for medals. At work over the weekend, some of my co-workers were laughing at the people who had fallen so far back in the race that they didn’t show up on the screen any more. But I thought…they’re in the Olympics, for chrissake!! They’re possibly the best in their country, among the best in the world, they’ve probably trained all of their lives, and they’re here! They should be flying, and glowing, and ecstatic!! They should cross the finish line and laugh and cry with joy! Of course it’s not that simple. I know that. But all of the complexity and drama are part of the beauty of it.

If this dish was an olympic sport, it would be that race in which the swimmers do a different stroke every couple of laps. Why? Because there’s a different filling between each crepe! If this dish was the olympics opening ceremony, it would be that part when they go through the whole history of the host country. Why? Because the fillings are OOTO favorites, and making them was like taking a walk through the history of this blog. How did it all come about, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It was a sultry Friday night. Delivery of the next box share of vegetables was imminent upon the morrow. But, what’s this? We still have beets and zucchini and basil and lord-knows-what-else from last week? Let’s cook them all up, I say!! What grows together, tastes good together! And so it does. I made a stack of rosemary and black pepper crepes. And then I made toasted beets, sauteed zucchini and capers, I made some pesto, I had some caramelized onions leftover, I roasted some mushrooms. I grated some mozzarella. I made a light and simple but smoky tomato sauce to go on top. And that was that! You could obviously use whatever elements you have on hand to make fillings for the layers. And you can arrange them in any order that you like. It’s very fun to put together. It does take a while to make everything at once, but if you happen to have some of the stuff leftover – pesto, or caramelized onions, or sauteed zucchini, it all goes together in a snap.

Crepe stack cross view

Here’s Jurassic 5 with The Game

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Greens, potatoes, & tomatoes AND patatas bravas with almond aioli

Patatas bravas

My friend Laura recently posted a picture of her son jumping into a swimming pool. He looks wonderfully happy, as boys do jumping into swimming pools. You can see his shadow on the water. He’s in the air! I love photographs like that – especially old, pre-digital photographs. How thrilling it would be to get your photos back from the lab, or develop them yourself, and find this impossible shot in which you’d captured someone that you love floating in the air. Your dog, leaping happily. Your child, jumping from one thing to another, so proud of their ability. Children love to be off the ground, between one thing and another, dizzyingly suspended between worlds – jumping on a bed, jumping into water, jumping from a tree branch. It feels like capturing an ecstatic moment. In Charles Burnett’s remarkable movie Killer of Sheep, there’s one beautiful scene that shows children jumping from rooftop to rooftop over head. The whole sequence is one of the most striking I’ve seen on film. And Mos Def used a still from the movie for the cover of The Ecstatic! It’s such a perfect picture for a perfect title for a perfect album that I can’t really add anything! People and animals in mid-air! Photos that capture youth, and happiness, and motion – they catch time while it’s passing.

There’s something very summery about the photos, maybe because, like summer, they seem to last forever and they’re over in an instant. If a recipe can capture a moment of summer, and I like to think that it can, surely it would have tiny potatoes and tomatoes and basil! And here we have two very easy, very summery side dishes. One is straight out of the CSA box – beet greens, chard, green garlic, tomatoes, and tiny potatoes. Is there anything more pleasing than small potatoes, boiled whole, and tossed with butter and herbs, and seasoned with salt and plenty of pepper? We used tarragon, because it’s nice with potatoes and we have it growing in our garden. But you could use any mix of herbs you like. This is a good way to use up the beet greens when you make beet dogs. I used a mix of beet greens and chard (very pretty, both!) and made a quick summery sauce of fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic. While it’s hot you toss it with boiled potatoes, little cubes of mozzarella and pine nuts. The heat from the greens melts the cheese, and it’s all very nice. The other dish is my version of the Spanish tapas dish patatas bravas, which is crispy potatoes over a spicy tomato sauce, topped with garlicky aioli. Ever since I made almond aioli, I’ve wanted to try it with this, and it turned out really good! I made a slow-cooked tomato sofrito as the base, and you can use fresh or canned tomatoes for this.

Here’s Faye Adams Shake a Hand, from Killer of Sheep.
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Crepes with chard & pecans

chard crepes Oh, chard, is there any nut you don’t taste good with? Chard and pecans are lovely together, both have their own special blend of earthy brightness. The fresh ricotta and mozzarella add a creamy texture, the peas add a sweet little bite, and the pecans add crunch. I made this using cheater’s chickpea crepes, but you could use ordinary old crepes as well. Or even lasagna noodles, layered on top of each other, with the sauce all through rather than added at the end. If you do use the chickpea flour crepes, don’t worry if they tear or fall apart a bit. The filling will hold them together, and they’ll look fine in the end, with delicious sauce to cover any holes.

chard!

Here’s Elmore James’s Rollin and Tumblin, which was in my head while I rolled the crepes, and which blows me away every time I hear it. It really is phenomenal. One of my favorites.
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