Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Barley & Pomegranate Salad, Which is Divine

This was dinner last night.  And yes, I did feel quite pious, and pure, and particularly marvelous serving it up to my little family.  Michael was gone at a meeting, so he missed all the excitement.  But dear little Leo?  He threw most of his on the floor and yelled.  And Emilia?  She only complained mildly.  But in between her complaining she said, over and over again, 'Mama, does it just make you soooo happy to see us eat this?  Are we going to be soooo healthy because of the pomegranate and this barley stuff?  Oooh, did you see that?? I just ate a green thing!  And I didn't even complain!'  Serious.  It's like they don't even care that I made a divine salad for dinner.  In fact, all temper fits and complaining aside, I am going to add it to the repertoire.  (They will learn to love it, right?)  Besides, it is very easy to make.

Yotam Ottolenghi, my boyfriend, though he doesn't know it, gives an excellent way to de-seed a pomegranate.  I used to buy pomegranates and plonk them in the fridge and then stare at them periodically.  Because really, they are a pain in the arse to de-seed.  But all you do is cut it in half, hold it over a bowl with your hand cupping it underneath, then take a wood spoon and whack it -- sort of gently, sort of firmly. The seeds fall right out into your hand and then fall into the bowl. It is beautiful and I still show everyone the inside of the pomegranate once the seeds have been removed because I find it a marvel of science.

Barley & Pomegranate Salad
200g pearl barley
6 celery sticks (leaves picked and reserved), cut into small dice
60ml olive oil
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
2/3 tsp ground allspice
3 tbsp chopped dill
3 tbsp chopped parsley
300 g pomegranate seeds (2 large pomegranates)
salt and black pepper

Rinse the barley under cold water.  Place it in a medium sauce pan and cover with plenty of fresh water.  Simmer for 30-35 minutes, or until just tender to the bite.  (For me, I went about 25 minutes, and that was perfect.  I'm glad I tasted early, too, because it would have been mushy if I went the full 30.  Yick.)

Drain the barley and transfer it to a serving bowl.  While it is hot, add the celery, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir, and then let it cool completely.

Once cooled, add the herbs, celery leaves, and pomegranate.  Mix all together, taste, adjust seasoning, then serve.  (Recipe from: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.  Ebury Press, 2010.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Daffodil Lament

Emilia: 'Mama?  Maybe we ought to buy some flowers today.'

And the daffodils look lovely today! (Hey, hey!  Look lovely!  Look lovely!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

La Vie en Rose

Des yeux qui font baiser les miensUn rire qui se perd sur sa boucheVoila le portrait sans retoucheDe l'homme auquel, j'appartiens
Quand il me prend dans ses brasIl me parle tout basJe vois la vie en rose
Il me dit des mots d'amourDes mots de tous les joursEt ça me fait quelque chose
Il est entré dans mon coeurUne part de bonheurDont je connais la cause
C'est lui pour moiMoi pour lui dans la vieIl me l'a dit, l'a juré pour la vie
Et, dès que je l'apercoisAlors je sens en moiMon coeur qui bat
Des nuits d'amour à ne plus en finirUn grand bonheur qui prend sa placeDes enuis des chagrins, des phasesHeureux, heureux a en mourir
Quand il me prend dans ses brasIl me parle tout basJe vois la vie en rose
Il me dit des mots d'amourDes mots de tous les joursEt ça me fait quelque chose
Il est entré dans mon CoeurUne part de bonheurDont je connais la cause
C'est toi pour moiMoi pour toi dans la vieIl me l'a dit, m'a juré pour la vie
Et, dès que je l'apercoisAlors je sens en moiMon coeur qui bat

A Cheery Pink Lemon Curd

Sometimes lemon curd is just the thing.  I've used pink lemons this time -- only because Emilia and I wandered into them at the store last week.  They taste lovely -- light and refreshing, not overwhelming the way a Meyer lemon can do sometimes.  (I am fiercely loyal to Meyer lemons, so if you ask me to repeat that later, I'm afraid I will not.). Once the curd cools, put it in an old jam jar with a pretty top, and plonk it front and center in your fridge.  That way you will smile in the morning when you open the fridge to sort out breakfast for two small children.

The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan, whom I love and adore.  It seems a bit easier than the one I've always done in the past, and is every bit as marvelous as marvelous can be. Besides that, it is perfection on a scone.

Lemon Curd

1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 large egg
6 large egg yolks
Freshly squeezed juice of 4 lemons

Put all of the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed medium-sized saucepan.  Stir to moisten sugar.  Place over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring all the while, until the butter melts and it all begins to thicken like a custard.  The recipe says 4-6 minutes.  I'd say closer to 8-10, for me.  Keep your eye on it.  It will continue to thicken as it cools.  Remove from heat, and scrape the curd into a bowl.  Press a piece of plastic wrap on top to create an airtight seal. (I am almost unable to do this anymore because of BPA in plastic wrap, however, PCC claims to have a 'natural' one, so I've been going with that and hoping for the best.). Once the curd cools, find your jam jar and make good use of it. (Recipe from: Baking by Dorie Greenspan, Houghton Mifflin, 2006.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chivalric Running

I know it is 2013 and that chivalry is (sadly and tragically) deader-than-a-door-knell.  And yet -- every time I am out running, I do think twice before passing a man who is also out for a run.  Because really, there ought to be a sense of propriety in the world. Shouldn't there be?  And what's more, I'm told men don't really like being passed  by little ladies -- particularly those with joggers.
So what do I do?  I pass him anyway, and I leave him in my dust.


And I smile, but just a little bit -- because that wouldn't be proper.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On January

I was gone for three days -- through no fault of my own, mind you, but still gone nonetheless.  And Michael stayed home with the kids, fell behind at work, and made sure the whole house was clean when I got home.  It would appear he spent most of this time quite sober, bless his heart.  (Which is another reason he is a better person than me.)  But I am grateful.  I am very grateful, indeed.

And yet my nearest and dearest, the one I love above all others, declares this past Sunday evening: 'Aaaah, everything is back to normal!  Leo is screaming and mama is depressed.  Awesome.'  And there we are.  There we are.  Indeed.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I Like For You To Be Still

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
and you hear me from far away and my voice does not touch you.
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth.

As all things are filled with my soul
you emerge from the things, filled with my soul.
You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream,
and you are like the word Melancholy.

I like for you to be still, and you seem far away.
It sounds as though you were lamenting, a butterfly cooing like a dove.
And you hear me from far away, and my voice does not reach you:
Let me come to be still in your silence.

And let me talk to you with your silence
that is bright as a lamp, simple as a ring.
You are like the night, with its stillness and constellations.
Your silence is that of a star, as remote and candid.

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.
One word then, one smile, is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it's not true.

Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sonnet XXVII

Naked, you are simple as one of your hands,
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round:
You have moonlines, applepathways:
Naked, you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.

Naked, you are blue as a night in Cuba.
You have vines and stars in your hair;
Naked, you are spacious and yellow.