Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sage-y potatoes and green peas

The chances of getting coldcocked by a great recipe when I got to the kitchen at 5:30 yesterday were slim. I was craving gnocchi and had a little fresh sage on hand, but the thought of making it. Ugh. Skinning bullheads sounded like less trouble. For such times I have Margie Fallbacks consisting mainly of baked chicken, baked chicken and baked chicken. With a baked potato.

So three small pieces of chicken went into the oven with olive oil, a sprinkle of rosemary and a nice coating of smoked paprika to make it slightly more interesting. Then I took three potatoes, peeled, chunked and boiled until tender, added half a bag of frozen green peas at the last minute.

Meanwhile, a stroke of luck: (I’d read of it somewhere but never bothered to try) take fresh sage leaves and butter, sauté in a skillet until they turn black and crisp. Doesn’t take long. Set them aside. Drain peas and potato. Season with crunched up sage leaves, butter, coarse sea salt (if you have it) and pepper. Save a few whole sage leaves for garnish. We couldn’t believe how good this tasted. Every last bit was snarfed up and the dish was declared a Once-A-Weeker. And so simple!

I added a small fruit salad of tangerines, a bosc pear, and a mango that needed to be used up. A teaspoon of honey for the dressing was all it needed.

This is my ordinary – one of the places in life where God calls me to serve Him and others. The gift and surprise for me is that sometimes, even when I feel weary, the delight of an ordinary meal not only nourishes our bodies, but it comes out easy and beautiful.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gambel’s Quail

My favorite desert bird. Monogamous. Ground runners. Found in coveys. The male dude sports an absurd single feather that springs from his head. They are shy and cautious and quickly run away from you disappearing over the wall or through the underbrush. But when we visited the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, being used to people they came close, right under our chairs, at the outdoor eating area, waiting for the chance crumb (“Do Not Feed The Wildlife” but I’m a messy eater. Some things can’t be helped even if they’re illegal). I got one not-so-good shot, and a few seconds of their tiny peeping voices. I love them.

The next day as Peggy and I had a last breakfast together she had a little gift by my plate – a tiny Gambel’s Quail fashioned from a gourd. I’m delighted to bring him home. Reminder of God’s humor – the delight of certain creatures that spring from a barren desert to give us the gift of joy. I mean, not all do – consider the javelina or the rattle snake. But now this little gourd also reminds me of the long friendship we have fashioned through years of traveling together.
Henri Nouwen writes “Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow.”  We’ve known this and it gladdens my heart.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everyone does ten of something these days

Ten Sounds I love mostly in winter

Snow whispering
The whomp of the furnace igniting
Radiators ticking
Coffee grinding
Pages softly turning
Denis’ footsteps on the stair
Bacon sizzling
English Sparrows chirping in the hedge (I've made my peace with them.)
An infant nursing
The east wind that howls in our bedroom window at night.