Ironically enough, before I delve into the meat of things here, let me just alert you that you have until midnight on Friday, 12/18, to enter the tantalizing giveaway mentioned in the last post. It's a doozy. The goodies include:
- my beautiful friend Alana’s beautiful new book, The Homemade Kitchen, which you are going to love (or love giving to someone on your list, if you have wisely already gotten yourself a copy). Anyone who wants to feel less fraught and more capable in the kitchen, the market and their own skin would do well to slip this gorgeous book onto their nightstand and if you are not the big winner here on Friday, just go buy it!
- a little pot of citrus salt and just about the cutest spoon you can imagine to fling it around with.
- a jar of chocolate pear jam.
- plus maybe some other stuff.
You can enter said giveaway by following me somewhere—that sounds creepy! I mean: Facebook, Instagram, or on the subscriptions page here, and then leaving a comment on the previous post letting me know that you’ve done (or already were doing) that. Your comment there is your official entry, times however many of those three things you are doing. If you are following me through the grocery store, you can just tap me on the shoulder (but be forewarned I will likely scream and shoot five feet in the air because my mind is in all the twenty-eight places it goes in mid-December, and I will probably send you to aisle 7 for some cider vinegar, and I am unlikely to remember to put your name into the hat once I get home, so it’s still safest to leave a comment on the last post if you’d like a chance to win).
the fine print: you must leave a comment on the previous post to be entered to win. I will take care of the math (entering you more than once if you are following me more than one place) as long as you lay it out plain in your comment. Nobody gave me anything to do this and you can be sure all opinions expressed here are my own. Drawing will be at random. At least one sheep will be present.
Now that we have all that social media stuff handled, let’s talk about social media. There are dozens and dozens of reasons why I am one of the last living holdouts when it comes to most of it, but they can be grossly sorted into two buckets. The first one is labeled something like “The Slow & Irreversible Rending Of The Last Fibers In The Weft of Compassionate Human Interaction,” or something catchy like that, and its rate of fill is happily impeded by the nice connections the internet is actually really good at facilitating when your potential Friends are more looking for something tasty to make for dinner than they are using hashtags you wouldn’t want to read aloud to your granny. There’s a lot of room in that bucket, thanks to so many of you who have used the internet to say nice things to or about me, something I am highly susceptible to.
The other bucket is marked with a piece of duct tape bearing the hastily scrawled legend “Naked Pictures of Cat.” This bucket is full. Filled right to the top with my trepidations and reservations. Before you call PETA on me, please be aware I don’t actually have a cat, and if I did, I would be certain to post only the most demure and respectful possible photos of her, with her informed consent and approval. I use the phrase metaphorically, and frequently, to refer to anything one makes public on the internet via error in either judgment or execution. “Oh, dang, “ I can sometimes be heard to say in that salty way I have, “I think I just posted a naked picture of my cat.”
Last week, by way of example, as I was posting the giveaway post, and trying to operate, with gravely under-honed skill and many second thoughts, the new R&P Facebook page, while also responding to some e-invitations that had been languishing in my inbox long enough to re-ping me at least once, even as with another fractal sliver of my attention I monitored a long hold on a customer service line with non-native English speakers for a broken toy belonging to my son that he was deeply interested in my finally getting around to resolving, and kept one eye on the clock because we needed to leave to pick up my daughter—well, while I did all that, I damn near posted some nude kitty action. For one cold-sweaty long hot minute, it looked like I had transferred some part of the guest list for the cocktail party to Facebook, where all 15 people at that point engaged with me on Facebook (I know we aren’t really engaged; I know they are seeing other people) would see it and think…and they would think….
Well, they would see it and think that I didn’t know what I was doing. AND THAT WOULD BE TRUE. I was afraid people would see the truth.
I think that’s enough said about the internet and social media. My other pail is filling up.
Let’s transition smoothly to talk of salad. Salad is something my mother believes should not be eaten in winter. She thinks it is wrong, fundamentally, to eat lettuce when it’s snowing (or might snow at any moment, or ought to be snowing anyway, if we weren’t all living in this imaginary world conjured up by the liberal left and their crazy bad science, where we collectively falsely believe it is 60 degrees out) where you are. From a lot of perspectives, that makes sense. Winter is more for cooked things, not least because things that need cooking are more readily available forage.
But lack of availability does not cool our craving for greenness and snap in the winter. The sheep outside my window waving their pom poms when I bring them kitchen trimmings and the deer in the woods snorfling around to find shoots and sprigs know we still want those nutrients. It's just that less of it can be more.
The "stoner salad" that recently danced across the pages of the New York Times is the poetic extreme of the winter way to feel about salad (spoiler: you will either be appalled or immediately want to make it). At a time when half the lettuce in the market looks like it was dragged here behind the truck it must ride in on, and the other half is twice its in-season price, and I have played the card of this stupendously good winter salad too many times for my roster of diners, I can be happy getting my dose of green from sturdier and more nutrient-dense offerings like parsley and dill and mint and other tiny bunches of greens that are more likely to be looking close to their fresh and lovely best than the exhausted romaine is. Jerry Traunfeld, whose Herb Farm cookbook is one of my dogeared and sauce-stained favorites, calls parsley (and may I say that I misspell that word 100% of the time I spell it) the breadcrumbs of the herb world: able to add bulk and substance without shouting down the rest of the conversation. I heart parseley parsley.
Based on what was looking lively at my local grocer, these two things recently came together in my kitchen. They are just ideas, really, not recipes. Dress them up to main course status with toasted pepitas or crumbled feta or shredded chicken or a metric ton of bacon and melted cheese (#stonersalad, Grandma!). Or don't. Definitely change them up to suit what looks good where you are.
Hope you are deep in the muck of holiday merriment, or at least staying one step ahead of the mistletoe (I spell that one LIKE A BOSS, but strongly recommend you do not eat it) blues.
roasted carrots with SO MUCH p a r s l e y & dill
Cut 5 or 6 carrots in chunks that please you, and in a medium bowl, toss them with a glug of olive oil (enough to lightly shine them all), a pinch of salt and a nice fat spoonful of smoked paprika.
Spread on a baking sheet and roast in a hot (425) oven, shaking the pan now and then, until they are blistered all over and brown in spots. Set aside to cool a little. Into the bowl you tossed them in, squeeze the juice of half a lemon, plus a teaspoon of dijon mustard, and maybe a little of the zest of the lemon (the rest of the zest of course you are using for this). Whisk that all up. Add the carrots and half a bunch each of Italian parsley and dill to the bowl, and toss it all around. Taste and correct the seasonings to your liking; if it will sit a while before you eat it, it's likely you will want to spark it back up with a little more lemon before you dig in.
You can sub winter squash for the carrots. Sub cumin for the paprika, or just add it. Add cayenne or Aleppo pepper to the tossed carrots if you'd like a little heat, or some garlic or minced shallot to the dressing if your tastes run that way.
fennel salad with roasted tomatoes, mint & oranges
Endive and fennel are reliably fresh and sturdy almost all the time. They just aren't very green. Souping them up with a hefty amount of parsley and fresh mint hits the spot and fills the bowl. Cherry tomatoes, bless their frequent flier miles, taste almost like tomatoes year round, which can hardly be said of the larger red holograms now appearing in the store. Roasting them makes them more suitable to winter eating, and also just generally moreish.
Heat the oven to 375. In a medium bowl, toss a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved, with enough olive oil to lightly coat them, and a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Spread them out in a baking dish (reserve the bowl) and roast them until they are withered. Set aside to cool.
Sliver up a head of fennel and a head of endive, and mince a half bunch each of parseley PARSLEY and mint, coarser stems removed from each. Knife-peel a navel orange like so:
Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the bowl you prepared the tomatoes in, along with the juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of dijon mustard. Whisk that together. Add the slivered and chopped and sliced and reserved vegetables, herbs and fruit to the bowl and toss everything together gently. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.
An avocado makes a nice addition to this one, and a Fuyu persimmon (the squat one you can eat when it's crisp) a lovely substitute for the orange.