I’m not sure what the temperatures are like where you find yourself bopping about, but as of late it has been absolutely blinkin’ freezing around these parts. Currently, there is wet, wet snow, whirling its way around the downtown core and the majority of men and women scurrying about on the sidewalks look, at best, downright miserable.
This morning as I walked to a conference I was attending (a hot topic of which just happened to be climate change – go figure!) I narrowly missed being walloped by a fellow pedestrian’s umbrella, as it tried to make up its mind whether to take flight, or just turn itself inside out.
This weather is just one giant yuck-hole.
In fact, the more that I think about it someone should totally wake up all those lying, bastard groundhogs and let them know that I (and probably the majority of the folks living here on the West Coast) are suitably unimpressed.
Early spring you say? Early spring my foot!
In an attempt to remind myself that life is so much more than just rain drops (there are of course, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens) may I present to you, dear readers, one of my favourite things:
(Edit: “Favorite things” can also be read as strange, idiosyncratic activities that fill me with more pleasure than they probably should. And I’m okay with this.)
For real, I LOVE doing this. I could peel yams or apples until the cows came home.
I’m not sure what it is about this activity that I find so fab – a lot of it probably has to do with my sense memory, and what I automatically associate with the peeling of potatoes, or peaches, or pumpkins, or pears. Peeling fruit and veg is, for me, a reminder of a holiday.
It is Thanksgiving; it is Christmas. Two celebrations that remind me of family, and fireplaces, of laughter and light; rooms that smell of rosemary and cinnamon, and spiced cider and cloves; it is Mr. M’s cranberry-kissed lips, and his gravy stained oven mitts; frosted windows, overlooking gardens, both green and white, from dustings of snow.
It is love (which is strange I know – but it is true!)
So today as I travelled home on skytrain, I thought about the different things I could make that would require me to peel, peel, peel (I have three different utensils to choose from when I take on this task), and many different kinds of veggies at that.
So I decided that the perfect antidote to both this soggy, sunless day and my now urgent need to, well, strip legumes of their skin, would be to make a frittata, Ethel-style (aka with sweet potatoes, instead of regular ol’ tubers, and two kinds of cheese!)
I was introduced to the frittata by the brilliant and hilarious Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten – how good is that?) and while I have never quite yet achieved her level of fluffiness, it is something to which I aspire.
I picked up the goods that were required for the task (plus a few other treats, such as fresh strawberries and whipping cream) and Mr. M was lovely enough to pick me up at New West station, relieving me of the burden of walking up the (ridiculous) Eighth Avenue hill, in the rain, laden down with food stuffs.
And they say chivalry is dead!
As soon as I got home, I put on my professional cooking outfit (my Dr. Seuss t-shirt and stripped pyjama pants.) This is after all, serious business.
The first thing I did was infuse my oil as it warmed up in my cast iron pan.
I started doing this a couple of years ago, and it is a method that I highly recommend. I learned this from my genius chef-extraordinaire sister – I add garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and chilli powder and I promise you, as the oil heats up the smell of all the different herbs and spices coming together is something pretty special.
Also, it saves you the time from adding flavour later, and if I may so myself, it just always tastes better doing it this way.
(But then again, this could just be a sensory reaction that I have, due to the awesome memory of cooking fried potatoes with my two sisters, three summers ago while we all vacationed in New York together. A late morning, after an even later night, spent sipping home brewed espressos and nibbling on fresh baguettes, slathered with nutella and peach preserves.)
But still, take my word for it and try it!
Sometimes I cannot believe how quickly time seems to be passing – a blink, a skip of a record needle, a missed alarm clock, or a late dinner date – three years have passed since that trip but I feel as though I just got off that plane yesterday.
So I peel carrots and sweet potatoes, and chop onions, and grate cheese – because during this simple, self-satisfying activity, time slows. It doesn’t stop, but a lovely lethargy sets in, that allows the world to sit back, and breathe.
Time also slows when I dance about our kitchen, singing Rod Stewart, and Mr. M breaks it down in the living room, in front of the fireplace, his shadow looming large, flickering on the adjacent wall.
Nymeria, sits watching, intrigued by our antics, and perhaps perturbed (but not enough to move us from her line of vision.)
And so on this windy, wet Wednesday night, Mr. M and I will peel, and chop, and dance, and we will wrap ourselves in memories and time, rhythms and rhymes, eating a frittata, dreaming of spring.
A spring without umbrellas.