Mushroom and black bean “meatballs”

Mushroom and pecan "meatballs"

Mushroom and pecan “meatballs”

I have a shocking confession to make. Every morning in the wintertime, when it’s too cold and icy to scamper on the towpath, I exercise by jumping up and down and waving around two cans of beans. As embarrassing as this may seem, it is not the shocking confession. I watch shows on the computer while I jump up and down, to make the time go faster and for my general edification. I catch up on the news of the world with The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I watch some worthy well-written sitcoms. And sometimes I watch insipid trash. That’s my confession! It’s horrible, I know! We only have so many hours in the day and I waste it on some of the worst written, poorly acted, insultingly stupid programming to come across the small screen. One show I watched recently for a few seasons, before it got so bad I couldn’t watch it anymore, dealt with the trials and tribulations of the wealthy youth of the upper east side of Manhattan. They had problems, man, that you just couldn’t understand, but that seemed really glamorous and way more fun and dramatic than your own problems. They were constantly embroiled in a remarkably repetitive chain of idiotic romances with the same people over and over and over again. But here’s a funny thing, all of the characters would stop occasionally, and think about themselves and the world around them and they’d say “I’m Chuck Bass,” or whatever their particular name happened to be, and that would solve all of their problems. Sometimes they’d remind each other who they were, as a friendly way of helping them out of a bad situation. They’d say, “You’re Chuck Bass!” And everything would be resolved and that would be the end of the show. Of course it matters more for them that they are who they are, because the whole point of being who they are is that they have so much money and influence that they actually can change the course of events by saying their names. But they’re really really horrible people. They’re mean and ignorant and fairly useless in the broad scheme of things. They don’t create anything but problems. I was thinking that, on balance, almost everyone else in the world deserves this super power more than they do. All of us, when we face some sort of trouble, should be able to stop and say, “I’m who I am!” and it should make things better. Not because we have wealth and power but because we have ourselves. We have our imagination and our abilities and our affections and our hopes and our memories and our flaws and our souls, whatever those are. Sometimes when you’re being belittled or treated badly and it seems as though nothing is going well or ever will again, it’s easy to lose yourself and to feel worthless or hopeless. I’ve felt it a million times. It’s worse than a feeling of failure, it’s a feeling of nothing, of being nothing and having nothing. Well, the next time that happens, I plan to say my name aloud. I’m going to say, “I’m Claire Adas,” and I’ll ignore the perplexed looks of anyone around me and I’ll think of everything that I have, everything that I’ve made, everyone that I love, the whole round life I’ve made for myself. That’s right, I’m Claire Adas.

Maybe it won’t get me reservations at the newest latest whatever, but who wants to go there anyway, when I’ve got a bottle of cheap wine, shelves full of spices, a drawerful of vegetables, a head full of strange and delicious meals to make, and good friends to eat and drink with. I made these little flavorful “meatballs” out of mushrooms, hazelnuts, pecans, black beans, and smoked gouda. They’re seasoned with sage, rosemary, smoked paprika an nutmeg. The boys ate them with long pasta and red sauce, but you can eat them with any kind of sauce you like! You can dip them, or put them in a sandwich. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s I am I Be by De La Soul

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Roasted parsnip, spinach and walnut kofta (with secret melty cheese!)

Parsnip and spinach kofta

Today’s recipe goes with yesterday’s recipe in much the same way that today’s meandering ramble continues the fine tradition of yesterday’s meandering ramble, and of the day’s before that. Think of it as a three part series on gratitude, annoyance, and regret, if you like. I apologize for talking about my boys so much, lately, but, mama, they’ve been on my mind. I promise to talk about something more universally interesting tomorrow. Like Lindsay Lohan. And her childhood. Before bed, David reads with Isaac, and I read with Malcolm, and then I cuddle with Isaac for a few minutes before I get on with my life. I used to fall asleep nearly every night, and wake up an hour later feeling trampled and discombobulated and with my whole evening shot. So I only stay for a few minutes now (super intense concentrated cuddles). Last night Isaac gently ran a finger down my cheek three times, slowly, and then touched my lips. It seemed like such a mysterious and beautiful gesture, so I asked him why he’d done it. He said, with a serious smile, “Because I just love you.” And I just love him, too, so I repeated the gesture on his incredibly soft cheek. He giggled and traced a more complicated pattern on my chin and nose and eyelids, and I tried to repeat that, too. And so it went, until he was laughing with his ridiculously lovely belly laugh, which I wish I could bottle, along with the rest of this moment. My first thought was that he touched my cheek because I look old, because he could tell that I was aging. But I think that children rarely notice that their parents are growing older. And Isaac frequently tells me, “You don’t look old at all, to me,” prompting the suspicion that everyone else in town is talking about how old I look. And then I thought about how I keep telling him that he’s getting older, that he’s growing so big, that he’s a big seven-year-old and should be able to keep up or get to sleep all by himself. I thought that I hadn’t heard him laugh like that in some time. I thought about his school picture, in which he’s not smiling at all. He is, in fact, frowning, and there’s a bit of a challenge in his eye. It’s as if he just told the photographer, “don’t you tell me to smile!!” His whole life, Isaac has been a glowing smiler. He used to beam at people from his bjorn. His whole face lights up in a delightful and infectious way. I thought about how cranky I’d been, lately, not for any particular reason, it’s just a pattern one gets into. And how it must have seemed to him like I’m always annoyed, because he walks slowly or spills his juice or won’t get to sleep. Ugh. I thought about how Malcolm’s teachers sounded annoyed when they said his name, and feared that I might do that, too. We only get one chance at this! Phew. Did you hear about that Lindsay Lohan? She got arrested again! I read about it on the front page of the Guardian!

We ate these kofta with the white bean tomato bisque, almost as a sauce. David dunked his right in, and I ate mine with lettuce and tomatoes, all wrapped up in a warm tortilla, and the soup on the side. (It probably would have been better in pita, but I didn’t have time to make any!) I thought they turned out really good. I was quite proud of myself. Parsnips obviously have such a nice flavor, and they go well with earthy spinach, and the walnuts added just a bit of crunch. And then there’s the secret melty cheeeeeeeese!!

Here’s You Only Live Once by SJob movement. I just love it!!
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Roasted butternut and black bean kofta

butternut squash black bean kofta

I feel like I’ve been seeing meatballs everywhere lately. All the internets and newspapers and magazines are brimming over with them. Is this a “food trend” that we have before us? Perhaps, subconsciously, that’s where I got the idea for these. We obviously need a vegetarian version! I’m fascinated that different cultures seem to have their own take on the notion of little balls of meat and grains and veg and spices. My son’s favorite dish to order from an Indian restaurant is malai kofta, which is one variation on the idea. Decades ago, I saw pumpkin kibbeh listed on a menu at a Lebanese restaurant. I’ve been intrigued by the idea for years! This is sort of my imagining of a vegetarian meatball/kibbeh/kofta. It combines roasted butternut squash, smashed black beans, bulgar, bread crumbs, a bit of cheese and an egg. These are seasoned with oregano, basil, sage, smoked paprika, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Flavorful little bundles! I thought about frying them on top of the stove, but in the end I coated them in olive oil and then baked them in a hot oven instead. They still came out quite crispy, but soft in the middle. I made a spicy chipotle tamarind sauce to go with them, and we ate them with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and warm pita bread. Plus oven roasted rosemary french fries. But I have different plans for them tonight! I’m having trouble concentrating on this! My little son is home (not very) sick from school, and I’m getting a tutorial on the shades of difference between his two Luke Skywalker toys!

Here’s Josh White’s One Meatball.
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