Thursday, March 30, 2006

for we are the sheep of His hand

I start every morning facing the sink, facing East, fixing coffee. As a ritual, it is extremely satisfying - not much changes in the phsyical functions, even sickness or cranky children can't stop the flow of water from faucet to pot, the fine grains of coffee from bag to filter. The view framed by my window remains the same: cul-de-sac, 3 large neighbor-houses, hedgerow, field, sky. Within those confines, everything changes. 6:40 am is always different. Some mornings I watch raucus crows and gulls argue their wake up calls. Many days it's the creep of fog up from the river that focuses my attention. The February field is tan stubble, but the May field is verdant. Last fall brought orange globes of pumpkin shining through the mist, this fall it may be tall corn. After the harvest I see porch lights, and know the houses by their dark shadows. Each day requires fine adjustments. The sun wheels 'round the edges, its meniscus higher now than 3 months ago.

This morning's 6:40 was blue and yellow, the sun already above the far banks of the out-of-sight river, the field tipped with green. Cold water filling the coffee pot, I pushed on the radio. Today is a very different morning than it was 3 months ago for the family and friends, the coworkers and the unknown supporters of freelance reporter Jill Carroll. Her freedom broke my heart open, and what I didn't know was locked was free, too. This woman that I don't know and never will touched me deeply.

Ms. Carroll is young, articulate, intelligent, and committed to telling a story she knows she can tell. I will be interested in reading her account of her confinement by captors who never told her what they wanted. I will be interested in her return to writing, and I hope her return to the streets and the people of Iraq.

This morning, at 6:41, as water flowed and coffee dripped and the sun stretched warmth westward, I was sure the Psalmist got it right:

Come let us sing to the Lord; *
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, *
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, *
and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

Sunday, March 26, 2006


I hate leftovers. I know they are lurking in the fridge, ready to stink up a storm, make me toss the tupperware, and feel guilty for waste all at the same time. So imagine my gratitude, when during a silent moment in church this morning, I realized I could swing leftovers for lunch this afternoon out of last night's dinner!

Cauliflower leftovers:
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in medium saucepan. Add 1 chopped onion and one smooshed-and-chopped clove of garlic until soft. Pop open can o' chicken stock, bring to a boil. Add leftover cauliflower and simmer until heated-through, about 5 minutes. Toss in flavoring of your choice: I happen to have some almost-moldering basil that needed to be used.
An immersion blender is great for soups. This is the moment when I would plug it in and let it whirl. And I did. Except it didn't work. There were still plenty of little cauliflower florets afterwards. Oh well, a regular blender would work better but make more mess...
I plopped in a spoonful of butter, just to make is silky and yummy and let it sit on the stove at barely-a-simmer while I went about the rest of the meal.

Pork Quesadillas:
The best quesadillas are made on a skillet, but really, who has time for that? Turn your oven on to 350 or use the broiler if you are good about remembering. I tend to get sidetracked and the broiler often burns more than it broils.
Shred whatever assortment of cheese your fridge drawer holds. We had low-fat cheddar and jalapeno monterey jack. Also shred, or small dice, leftover pork - sans the bread topping, that just sounds gross! If you have some salsa, use that, too. Arrange toppings on tortilla and pop in oven for 3-5 minutes (less if you are using that broiler!). Fold over, cut in half, and top with salsa.

If leftovers were always this easy, we'd have a clean fridge!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Roasted Dinner

I ate before thinking, so there's no photo to accompany the delicious meal we just finished. One of my favorite roasts is from the Joy of Cooking, a boneless pork loin with some Florentine-y title. I can only remember that it is subtitled "Arista" which is useless when you are trying to use the index! I have been riffing on the roast for years, but tonight's was the best:
1 boneless pork loin plonked into a small roasting pan
pour over 1/4 cup of homemade champagne-vinegar-based salad dressing with lots of garlic, pepper, and parsley
Preheat the oven to 450 and let the roast sit while you try to figure out the rest of the meal...

I had bought a lovely orange cauliflower last week, and as that was quickly going to go bad and was too expensive to toss, that was definatly on the menu. I cut it into tiny florets and tossed it with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The roast works best if you roast it at high heat for a short while, so let it cook for 10 minutes in the 450 oven.
While it's in there, mix 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs with 1 or 2 Tbsp melted butter and some of the goodies from the salad dressing already used.
Lower the oven to 275 and pat breadcrumb crust on top of roast. Continue cooking until thermometer registers 160. Remove from oven to platter, tent with foil for 5 minutes, slice and serve.

Well, that's how it should work, except I had to get that cauliflower in the oven at a higher temperature, and we needed to eat within the next after 1/2 hour at the lower temperature, I bumped the temperature up to 350 and popped the cauliflower in on the top rack. When the roast registered an approximate temperature, I took it out and raised the temperature to 400 to finish those poor veggies.

Too much roasted food? We served it with a bag o' salad and bubbly water!

The Blank Screen Ovewhelms

When I look back on this, I will be humbled. Welcome to my blog, folks!