The green madame

April 24, 2012 § 8 Comments

I have a problem with, no, let me rephrase that, it’s not really a problem, but I have a predisposition toward collecting little scenes that I see during the day and immediately turning them into images or metaphors for something else.  There’s nothing wrong with this at all, of course.  In fact, it’s quite handy at times.

But, today I want to share three vignettes with you that I like so much, I’m refusing to let my brain get all allegorical with them, even though it would be easy enough to do so.  I’m simply going to share them with you.  And if you’d like to  turn them into your own metaphors, by all means, go for it.

The first, I saw when I was running in the arboretum near our house this weekend.  It was swarming with birders, like bees pacing busily about their hive.  A group of them was standing a little ways back from a tall pine.  Each person in the group had binoculars plastered to their eyes.  They all peered upward, craning their necks, searching for something in the empty tree.  Meanwhile, a giant, chestnut colored red tailed hawk swooped down from the tree right behind them.  It stood on the ground, unnoticed, for a while, cocking its head at the birders curiously.   Then it took off, still unseen.  I chose not to say anything.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Pasta with burrata and kale-roasted garlic sauce

April 17, 2012 § 26 Comments

I moved to Boston just about seven years ago.  Actually, for those of you interested in geographical specificity, I moved to Somerville.  But I didn’t even know what the distinction was between them at the time.  On the day I arrived, after having driven through the night, through Canada, with only a two hour stop for a nap at 6:30 in the morning before chugging onward and pulling up to my new apartment at 2:30 PM, I decided to try to take the subway down to the Boston Common and the Public Garden to hang out there in the remaining late afternoon sun.  (Actually facing the boxes of my belongings in my new space was simply too daunting.  I needed some time.)

The last time I had been in the area was the summer between kindergarten and first grade, and the only thing I still remembered from that experience in Boston was being in the Public Garden.  Actually, what I remembered was sitting on the Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Public Garden, and that memory was largely based on a photograph my mom had taken.

In heading towards this destination held in my memory, the very first thing  I did (and this is a remarkably easy thing to do in Boston, even if you have a better sense of direction than yours truly) was get on a bus going in exactly the wrong direction.  I don’t even know how I figured out I was on the wrong course, except perhaps when the conductor yelled, “Arlington Center!”  All I remember is how vivid, and noisy, and full of energy everything felt.  I always feel this way in a new city, senses heightened as I eye everything closely trying to discern what it is, what it means, where I’m headed.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Tartines of pear, parsnip, and blue cheese

April 7, 2012 § 14 Comments

My childhood was filled with snowy Easters, the ground washed out with dirty grey snow banks punctuated by brown splotches as taupe as a suburban housing development.  We would collect barren branches at the start of Lent and put them in a vase, and by Easter tiny leaves would be peeping out from the buds.  This was the only green to be seen.  The only flowers were those in the colorful plastic wrapped pots we brought home from the grocery store.

This is my way of asking forgiveness if I prattle on and on about spring for the next couple of weeks.  It’s a bit hard to think about much else right now.  Spring in these parts can be a little in your face.

If appearances are anything to go by, the trees have hired the same decorator that did Barbie’s Dreamhouse.  The cherries’ branches are waterfalls of tiny pink blossoms.  The magnolias are bedecked with large drooping flowers as soft and swishy as ballerina skirts.  I always find the pastel palate that industry breaks out for spring to be terribly cheesy, until spring actually rolls around.  Then I remember that it’s just honest. « Read the rest of this entry »

A Greek Salad in Winter

February 28, 2012 § 16 Comments

The weeks are continuing to double time it in their march forward.  The days downright hurtle.  I duck as something goes whizzing uncontrollably over my head, then stand back up muttering, “holy bleep, was that Thursday?!”

I feel the insight of Lewis Carroll’s winsome scene in which Alice, on the cooky side of the looking glass, runs beside the Red Queen as the Queen explains that they’re not going anywhere, but rather everything is moving swiftly by them and, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in place.”  (I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting my work on believing impossible things before breakfast, though.)

As I run to stay in place, I try to remember to notice my breath, feel my hands and feet, and to keep around a bottomless pot of soup and a sturdy salad so I can dip into them for several days.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Israeli couscous with butternut squash and cilantro sauce

January 6, 2012 § 26 Comments

Let’s take a moment to reflect on couscous, shall we?  My family, as I recall, seems to have discovered couscous some time part of the way through my tenure in high school.  I don’t know how my mother stumbled on it or decided to purchase it, all I remember is that she served it for the first time for supper one day (alongside pork tenderloin and acorn squash if my memory serves me correctly, which it tends to when it comes to meals), and it felt like the epitome of novelty.

I was certain we were eating something flashy, exotic, new, the food equivalent of getting the first version of the iphone, right when it came out.  And this fit in lockstep with my budding epicurean ideals – which back in high school, I’ll admit, were more about the appearance of sophistication and taste than anything else.  High school.  Jeez.

Back then we just ate the Middle East brand couscous with the spice packet mixed in.  That was fancy enough for us.  (to extend the iphone metaphor: my phone gets internet!!!  Oh my gosh!  It totally doesn’t matter that it can’t seem to actually make phone calls most of the time…)  But, as couscous has completely mainstreamed, I think most of us have come to expect a little more in the preparation of this tiny noodle. « Read the rest of this entry »

Kale avocado and persimmon salad

December 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

My lunch has left me fixating on leaves.  It’s similar to when you think too long about a word and after a bit you aren’t sure whether it actually is a real word because at that point it sounds too weird to you.  I do this relatively frequently with the word ‘which’. It’s awkward.

Anyhow, as I ate my lunch – this unabashedly leafy salad – the fact that we eat leaves became odder and odder to me.  Leaves, people!  I started to feel like maybe I was confused.  Maybe I was a manatee or giraffe or some other animal that grinds away pensively at greenery.

Do we really eat leaves?  The red bursts of the poinsettias decorating coffee tables at this time of year, those are leaves.  On my run yesterday I chased some last oak leaves as they fluttered down from the trees (I find chasing after falling leaves to be one of the most elating and gleeful activities.  It always makes me feel like I’m 4 or 5 again).  They weren’t that dissimilar from the foundation of my salad (well, apart from being dried out and brown, which my salad distinctly wasn’t).

It was a disconcerting moment.  Particularly because a not inconsequential portion of my diet is made up of leaves.  In fact, I love leaves.  In the summer, I eat salad like it’s my full time job.  In the winter, I eat a lot of greens as well, but usually in sauteed or braised form, which renders them far less leafy looking.

Perhaps that’s why I was having trouble with the concept of leaf-eating.  As mid-winter bears down on us, salads do tend to seem incongruous.  Cool, refreshing, light, not exactly what you’re looking for when you want rib stickiness, something to warm you from the inside out.

But, there are exceptions.  Salads robust and hearty enough to deserve a place on the winter table.  And, in spite of my perplexing ruminations while eating it, I do believe this is one of them. « Read the rest of this entry »

Carrot rösti

November 29, 2011 § 18 Comments

Or maybe these are latkes.  I’m not terribly well versed in the spectrum of grated potato pancakes.  And so I’m going to say these are a take on rösti because that simply seems more fun to me right now.

Either way, I figured that the potato should not have the corner on the market on this style of cooking a root vegetable, and on my continued quest to make carrots in diverse and exciting new ways I shredded them and fried them into little rounds.

(And I didn’t want to call them fritters because then you’ll all think that I’m obsessed with fritters (given that I’ve made several different kinds already.  At least, in my mind I have.  I’m not sure about it in reality, come to think of it), and we all know I have more than enough obsessions to go around already.)

« Read the rest of this entry »

Twice baked butternut squash

October 31, 2011 § 30 Comments

There’s a crack that opens up in the earth today, letting all manner of little demons and naughty spirits out to roam the earth for the night and make mayhem.  I just thought I’d let you know that, in case you hadn’t heard already.

It’s the original reason behind dressing up on All Hallows Eve (Halloween), actually.  If you were disguised as a witch or demon, then it was highly unlikely that the real demons wandering about would notice you and cause you trouble.  They would think you were one of them and leave you alone.  Which, on the whole, makes sense, don’t you agree?

A similar thing happens on the solstices, and at periods of your life when you’re in transition.  Those pesky demons come out and can make a muck of any number of little things, or even make you sick.  Nowadays we blame things like stress, which often increases in times of transition.  But, those of us who are in the know – and now you’re in the know! – know that it’s actually demons.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Broccoli Salad with Avocado and Tomato

September 20, 2011 § 14 Comments

When I think of the rolling golden hills around Palo Alto, I think of broccoli salad.  Not estates complete with horses, not perfectly tanned and perfectly fit weekend riders stopping for a cappuccino while their carbon fiber bikes rest along the decorative fencing enclosing the cafe patio, not the vast expanse of ocean just off to the west.  Nope, I think of broccoli salad.  The heavy mayonnaise-loaded kind with bacon, cheddar and raisins.  The kind that really belongs at a church potluck in the midwest.

It’s because of the darn way I have a near full-on emotional break-down if I get overly hungry or overly tired.  And you don’t want to see what happens when I’m both.  It’s not pretty.

Last summer when we were in California for a friend’s wedding, I had, shall we say, a little more trouble adjusting to the three hour time difference than anticipated.  The fact that on the day I arrived in the Bay Area, I had gotten up at 4am Eastern Standard Time to catch my flight, didn’t actually make it to San Francisco until 14 hours later because of delays along the way, and then didn’t get supper until nearly 10pm West Coast time (which my body still strongly believed was 1am, and took great pains to remind me of this) somehow didn’t set me up for an auspicious start to the weekend.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Zucchini Ricotta Fritters

September 16, 2011 § 10 Comments

I feel like I’ve been wanting to make zucchini pancakes (or fritters, I’ve seen them called both.  They’re the savory small kind of pancakes, not zucchini bread-esque sweet ones) since approximately the dawn of time.  Though, when I think about it a little bit more carefully, it’s more like since about mid-July.

Remember Sofra Bakery and Cafe, which I mentioned a while back? (More accurately, which I gushed over, swooned over, and nearly asked to marry me, even though Joel, I think, would have been slightly peeved if I had run off with a bakery-cafe.  I, on the other hand, would have been very well fed.  But perhaps starved for conversation.  Anywho…)  When we were there, I watched (I have a terrible staring habit sometimes) as a young woman, wearing aviator sunglasses if I remember correctly, sprang up to fetch her order when her name was called, and walked back to her seat carrying a dainty copper tray laden with a stack of slim golden cakes, flecked with green.  What were they?  Whatever it was, I had missed it.  My eyes darted up to the menu and scanned over it again.  They had to be the zucchini pancakes.  I was instantly consumed by food envy.

Then I turned back to my flatbread, stuffed with cumin-spiced sausage, oranges, green olives, and yogurt sauce, and I was pretty much entirely happy again.  But, zucchini pancakes stayed on my mind.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the vegetarian main dish category at Five And Spice.