Did you ever read the Moomin books? Moomin Mama and Moomin Papa and Snufkin and the gang? They are children’s stories by Tove Jansson, and if you’re not familiar already, you should check them out.
One of my favorite stories is The Hemulen who Loved Silence. It’s about a Hemulen (one of the Jansson creatures) who is feels overwhelmed by how loud the world is. He craves whispers and padded footsteps and shadows. I don’t want to give it all away, but it’s a very short story and you can read it all here. You’ll read it? Promise? It’s kind of a magical little tale.
Sometimes BGE and I feel like that Hemulen. We live in a loud-screaming-rumbling neighborhood. You’d think that since I grew up in a swallow-you-whole metropolis and BGE spent some years in Brookyln, we’d be fine with it. Or maybe all those years wore us out. We’d love to live in a quiet little tucked-away den, but we can’t afford to move out right now. But it’s never quiet here. Well, almost never.
Sometimes, when I’m cooking, I can’t hear anything. Everything else looses focus, save my knife on the cutting board. I guess that’s how I don’t notice the chaos of dishes piling around me, or the splatters on the stove, or BGE groaning about how loud the neighbors are.
I love that feeling. I love it because truly getting down and focusing on anything is a tremendous chore for me. BGE can sit and stare at his computer for hours and never once click away to the interwebs. I’ve had coworkers who could enter data for days, claiming that it was “soothing.” That’s never been me, unless it involved running or swimming.
But I love that nothing can distract me from this, that I can’t hear the child/pterosaur outside, or the various neighbors who announce their very small junk with their very loud cars.
What makes your world go quiet?
- 1 lb of assorted fingerling potatoes
- 3 medium beets
- 1 lb asparagus, washed and trimmed
- 1 lb spring onions, washed and trimmed (I trimmed to where the stalks split)
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- a few springs of fennel
- 1 huge garlic clove, or two medium garlic cloves
- olive oil
- about 2-3 cups of vegetable broth
- Slice the beets and potatoes.
- Put the beets and potatoes into separate pots (don't worry, cleanup is easy) with enough veggie broth to cover.
- Cover the pots. Cook the beets at medium heat for about 15 minutes and the potatoes on high for the same amount of time.*
- Remove from heat and drain away excess broth. Set aside.
- Coat a skillet with olive oil and bring to medium heat.
- Grate in the garlic clove.
- Let the garlic get a little dark and then chop in the spring onions and thyme
- Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes.
- Add the asparagus in and cover loosely.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the potatoes and beets, tossing to coat the olive oil and herbs.
- Cook for 1 more minute and then remove from heat.
- Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.
- Just before serving, toss in a handful of fennel sprigs.
*you can cook them in the same pot if you want to. just start the potatoes on medium heat for 10 minutes, add in the beets, and cook for 15 more minutes. I just chose to cook them separately because I didn't want the beets bleeding all over the potatoes.
Spring! Peas! Asparagus! All things green!
I almost don’t believe it’s spring because I haven’t been blowing my entire paycheck on tissues and Zyrtec. That, and the fact that there’s still a stubborn chill in the air. Ok, for some of you northern folks, it’s probably more than a “stubborn chill,” but you don’t need me to tell you that. I actually love the way the weather is right now. Brisk.
This meal also makes me feel brisk. It’s full of happy spring time produce (and a little late winter produce). It whips up quickly, which makes it so perfect for a lazy midweek meal. And you can actually make it without a drop of added oil and it’ll still taste so good. Did I mention it has a crunchy kasha topping?
I’ve been on a kasha kick lately. It’s mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to the dispenser handle at Whole Foods and all this kasha came spilling out into my bag. Oops. I hardly ever shop there — can we agree that it’s a “treat yourself” place? I think of it that way. But anyways, it’s actually one of the least expensive items there, so I didn’t feel too bad. And I’ve been using it like mad, so it’s fine. I’m gonna have to treat myself again soon.
You guys, I have a confession to make. While I was writing this post about good and healthy spring goodies, I was munching on a handful of artificially colored, super sugary Robin Eggs. Lalala hey what’s over there? *sneaks more Robin Eggs while your head is turned*
Yep. I’m gonna need these greens come dinner time.
Asparagus in Pea Sauce with Crunchy Kasha and Shallots
for the asparagus:
- 1 lb fresh asparagus
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 scant tbsp fresh thyme
for the pea sauce
- 1 cup frozen tiny peas, thawed (measured before thawing)
- juice from 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 small garlic clove
- salt and pepper
for the kasha
- 1/2 cup kasha
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced with a garlic slicer
- more salt and pepper
for the asparagus
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Trim asparagus.
- Combine oj, thyme, and a dash of S & P.
- Toss asparagus in juice.
- Lay asparagus on a non-stick silicone sheet and roast for 15 minutes.
for the peas
- While the asparagus is cooking, combine peas, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender until pureed. Set aside.
for the kasha
- Coat a pan with non-stick spray
- Cook the sliced shallots over medium heat, stirring occasionally till they are just a pale gold.
- Add the kasha into the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until both shallots and kasha darken.
- Add a little salt and pepper to the pan, remove from heat, and continue to stir (yes, stir after it's removed from heat because it's still toasting and you don't want it to burn)
- Warm the pea sauce in the microwave
- Toss the asparagus in the pea sauce.
- Top the asparagus with the kasha and shallots. Sprinkle a little more salt on to taste, and some additional peas for garnish. Serve immediately.