Creamy vegan spinach & herb sauce

Creamy vegan spinach and herb sauce

Creamy vegan spinach and herb sauce

My favorite song at the moment is that of the white throated sparrow. It’s a simple little song consisting of four tones; apparently the second is a whole note lower than the first, and it ends a minor third below that. It sounds to some people as though the bird is saying “Po-or Jack Peabody Peabody Peabody.” And that is our clumsy, human way of describing this wild wistful little song. I asked Malcolm what it sounded like, and he said, “Sad but hopeful.” And that’s exactly how it sounds to me, too! It’s nostalgic and full of memories, but it sounds like spring and good thoughts for the future. I love the fact that birds have dialects and regional accents. Your knowledge of a white throated sparrow’s song will be different from mine if you live in a distant part of the country. I feel so lucky to have this particular song be my white throated sparrow-neighbor’s song. And a sparrow is such an ordinary little bird. If you saw sparrows in your garden you’d say, “Oh it’s just a bunch of sparrows,” and not even take the trouble to find out what kind of sparrow they are. They’re small and plump and drab and brown. But the white throated sparrow has dashing yellow spots on his head, and when he opens his mouth…glory! I love the fact that we can try to define the song according to our understanding, and describe the intervals between pitches and the rhythms of the notes, but in reality, the song contains subtleties beyond our human musical language. We can never pin down the specifics of melody or meter, just as we can never know what the bird is saying when he repeats his song over and over. And that mystery makes it even more beautiful. So this is the song stuck in my head, that I whistle over and over as I go through my day. This is my favorite song at the moment.

This week’s interactive playlist will be all of our favorite songs at this moment in time. I obviously need your help with this one, or it will just be a short list of songs that I like. Funnily enough, all of the songs I added to the list sound wistful to me. Must be springtime! I haven’t been listening to anything new lately. I’ve been playing some songs for the boys that I used to love, and I’ve had a few longtime favorites buzzing around in my head for one reason or another. What about you? What have you been listening to? Add your songs to the playlist, or leave a comment and I’ll add them myself.

This vegan sauce was very smooth and flavorful. I utilized two of my favorite creamy-vegan-sauce making tricks…cauliflower and almonds. They’re both quite mild flavors, but they blend up nicely. This sauce, as you can see, is lovely and GREEN!! It’s a good sauce for spring. I added grape tomatoes and capers, for a little juicy tangy kick, but you could use it as it is, or add any kind of vegetable or bean you like. White beans or chickpeas would be nice. We ate it over orchiette pasta. If you add less water, you’d have a nice purée as a side dish or base for a more substantial main meal. If you added more water or vegetable broth, you’d have a smooth velvety soup…a bisque.

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Coconut-lime-vegetable soup

cocnut lime soup

The elegance of this light, bright soup belies its humble origins. In point of fact, this soup is the result of a very nearly empty vegetable drawer and a half-used can of coconut milk! I tend to save the white, hearty, wintery vegetables till the end of the week, and use the more brightly-colored, more easily-spoiled veg earlier. But I had carrots and peas, man! I could have added those! I made a choice to use only white vegetables! A conscious choice! I think they look nice with the silky tart-sweet coconut lime broth. As it happens, you could really use any vegetables you like in this soup – it’s eminently adaptable. Carrots and peas would have been pretty, actually. So would broccoli, or spinach, or sweet potatoes… You could also add basmati rice, if you wanted a heartier dish, or you could serve it over long, thin pasta, or you could add nuts – cashews or pistachios would be good, here. Or you could add red lentils. Or lots of cilantro. Go crazy, baby! I liked it in this simple manifestation, though – just what I was in the mood for. Sometimes vegetables and broth are all that are needed.

Here’s Louis Armstrong singing about being stranded on a Coconut Island. Now doesn’t that sound nice?
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Patatas bravas and cauliflower soup

You know that Spanish tapas dish, patatas bravas? The one with potatoes in a spicy, smokey tomato sauce? This is my soup version of that. Plus cauliflower, for texture, flavor, and because potatoes and cauliflower are such good friends. It’s an easy soup to make, and the broth – warm, rich and spicy, is perfect for the freezingly dreary weather we’ve been experiencing here lately. I wanted it to be very brothy, but if you wanted a thicker soup, I think it would be nice to add a picada at the end…a mixture of toasted almonds, bread fried in olive oil, and garlic, all roughly ground together. I might try that some time! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here’s Mississippi John Hurt’s beautiful Spanish Fandango, and Elizabeth Cotten’s equally heartbreakingly beautiful Spanish Flang Dang.
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