I’ll admit that when I grabbed a bunch of organic golden beets at our local grocery, King Soopers, the other day, I hadn’t a clue what I’d do with them except my main squeeze loves beets and I was bringing them home no matter. They looked all gorgeous, fresh and brightly colored with crisp whole greens attached, despite the healthy dirt around the edges. So whatever happened in that kitchen with those beets, it was going to make him happy. When folks say, “Food is love,” there’s something to it. More on that at the end. Because I regularly make goat cheese spread for our summer appetizers or even lunches while our herbs are plentiful, I always have a big log or two of chèvre (the plain white fresh goat cheese sold in nearly any grocery store) in the fridge. I had no problem considering a riff on the quintessential beet and goat cheese salad made by lots of cooks and in many restaurants worldwide. (Is that something you make or order if it’s on the menu?) What I didn’t like the idea of was turning on the oven for the hour it takes to roast those beets. Boiling them sounded worse, messy, and way too steamy for July. Why couldn’t I grill them in a grill pan on the stove? I thought about grilling them whole or in quarters, but that would take just way too long. Do people grill sliced beets? It seems they do according to google and I thought I’d just do it, too. A quick look-see into the fridge showed a bunch of fresh greens; radishes, scallions, red bell peppers and a single, lonely leftover roasted chicken breast I soon shredded within an inch of its life (always tastier than chopped — try it and see). Soon we were about to feast on one more whole meal salad outdoors. Thank you, summer!Continue reading
In southern France, I’m reading they’re already cooking the first of the courgettes (zucchini) and beans while here on the edge of the Rocky mountains snow will fly tonight and we’re damned lucky to have the first of our garden’s bounty, which is always herbs. When spring is trying ever so hard to be sprung in Colorado and my herbs have just begun to come on, there’s nothing like focusing on all of them (and little else) to make an herbaceous melody of a cheese spread perfect for favorite crackers, grilled baguette, vegetables, stuffed tiny sweet peppers or cherry tomatoes, omelet fillings, and more.Continue reading
There are matches made in heaven. Just exactly what does that mean, anyway? While you might be thinking about you and your partner; I could be thinking about Dave and me…Continue reading
In late summer in Colorado and New Mexico, there are chile roasters on busy street corners and if you haven’t the time or inclination to buy and roast your own chiles, this is the place you stop for our homegrown goodness. The aromas wafting around the intersections will call you even if you haven’t seen a roaster in years. Can’t eat them all right away–just warmed and layered with cheese, eaten with tortillas or tortilla chips? Then it’s time to gently tuck the chiles into small or large containers and freeze them for winter cooking.
Come cold weather, I like to pile up a big slow cooker full of sliced fresh salted and peppered pork loin, chopped onions and garlic, sliced or canned tomatoes, and the thawed or still frozen roasted chiles. At the end of a snowy day, we hit a fresh tortilla place on the way home and walk into the house full of blasting hot southwest aromas hitting us in the face. Tortillas go in the oven and a big bowl of pork and chiles is ladled out for each person. Time to sit down to summer complete with a cold beer. Meanwhile, we watch the wind whip down out of the mountains, screaming cold, cold, cold. Yes, it’s rather heavenly-sounding, isn’t it? Continue reading
There are moments when I’m aware enough of the blessed goodness in my life. Maybe. I know not everyone has a counter full of butternut squash, apples, onions, shallots, garlic, hundreds (literally) of tiny green and red tomatoes, and Bosc pears. I know not everyone has a warm snug lying next to them come the cold, dark morning. Or a reason to get up and do something with the bounty in the kitchen downstairs. I probably don’t truly understand it, but I get it. My life hasn’t been all rose teacups and long walks along the river with the dogs.
This morning I read a post on a blog I follow (there’s a link in my blogroll at right, too).
Margaret writes daily there. It’s a prayer journal of sorts. She’s an Episcopal priest on an Indian reservation in South Dakota and life’s hard there. The loss and the poorness and the hurt are hardscabble painful and it’s her job to keep showing up for the difficult moments and beyond. Today she writes about people nearby whose babies have just died… And (having had babies who died) I understand where this is and where it goes. What I am drawn to these many years later is twofold:
1. why…if we need each other so very badly through the crazy, hilarious, dipping, winding, bottoming-out life trek, and if church is meant to provide that for us…why are so many of us no longer part of that community? Or, if we are a part, are those communities truly sustaining us? and 2. a bursting grateful noise for all I have and all those who have loved me through the nearly killing losses. I come back to the idea that to begin with thanksgiving is a perfect way to pray/live and I have to learn it all over again, all over again, all over again. Even if God isn’t a welcomed presence in your life, I think the settling of near-constant thanksgiving in our bodies is a positive way to breathe on earth.
I’m grateful to share a beautiful fall salad with you…speaking of that. I often cook on the “Meatless Monday” protocol because it’s healthy and it makes sense to me. It’s also a way to make me concentrate on most of the food on earth and, well, most of it isn’t meat.
I spent yesterday late afternoon re-testing a soup for my book (Roasted Vegetable Soup with Sage) and as I got the soup nearly finished thought to make a little salad out of what I had.
Which was beautiful Bosc pears, goat cheese leftover from a dinner for friends last Friday night (I grilled figs and filled them with goat cheese, a drizzle of honey, fresh thyme and black pepper), and some arugula. Sigh. Here’s how:
pear – grilled fig salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and arugula
serves 2 -3
- 3 cups arugula
- 2 ripe Bosc pear, cored and sliced (don’t peel)
- 2 ounces crumbled Goat cheese (leave out for vegan option)
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts (just put them in a small dry skillet for a few min.)
- 4 fresh figs cut in half and briefly grilled* (or 4 chopped dried figs)
- Juice of half an orange
- 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon walnut oil
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
In a medium shallow bowl, place arugula and top with pears and goat cheese. Scatter walnuts around the edges of the salad and add the figs at even intervals. Drizzle all with the juice, vinegar, and oil. Sprinkle evenly with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Place bowl on table to admire your handiwork before tossing. Serve at room temperature. (If you need to make this ahead and refrigerate, you’ll want to add the pears–which would brown otherwise– and the dressing at the last minute. It’ll taste fine cold.)
*To grill fresh figs: Lightly brush a grill, grill pan, or small skillet with a bit of olive oil. Trim stems from figs and slice in half. Place figs cut side down in pan and grill over medium heat just a couple of minutes. Turn and grill on the other side. Note: How long you grill these will depend on how ripe they are. The riper, the less grilling– If terribly ripe, don’t grill at all.
I ponder here at the idea of saying “grace.” I think grace is a difficult word to define and how it is we come to SAY it, I don’t know. We also “say a blessing.” Or “give thanks.” Or “bless the food.” Someone, somewhere I was, said a blessing I can’t forget the gist of, but can’t recall the exact words. The idea was to be grateful for the food and for the nourishment to enable us to feed those without.
I’ll think about it. (If you know that blessing, leave it in a comment.)
A thought: the blessing is also a moment to breathe in an otherwise complicated, swiftly flowing existence. To pray and– to eat– in the moment. To be truly awake and aware of what’s before us and what will sustain us. To be grateful for loving, preparing hands, the instinct to love, the time to eat, and for the abundance.
Phew. My blog is different today. Beautiful fall winds and smiles to you,
P.S. COMING TO A CHURCH NEAR YOU! (MAYBE) I think I forgot to share that our daughter Emily is officially ready to receive a call from the Presbyterian Church, USA. After over three years in seminary, she preached to the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (maybe I got that right) last Monday and they pronounced her READY.
|Speaking of being grateful|