There has been some question as to what to feed us, now that we are here.
I have been in the kitchen most of my life. I make short excursions out to the living room at times, and have even been seen in the great-out-of-doors, but my home- my ‘happy place’ is the kitchen. Now I have one of my very own, a terribly quaint room with oddly angled ceilings and buttery yellow walls. The stove is absolutely tiny and crooked, and there is more of a ‘suggestion’ of counters than actual working space, but it’s ours and it’s perfect. There is one widow where the plants live, and one cupboard where the dry food lives and one drawer where a mouse lives – I think. (Alex disagrees with my brilliant mouse theory, and I am willing to believe that a spider or woodchuck or fairy brought all those nuts and seeds into the house, but I am rather charmed by the idea of a mouse… it needs a name…)
So that’s the kitchen, and some of its inhabitants. Now onto the food….
I grew up in the Midwest, God help us, where our idea of a good meal consists of starch in various outfits and animal protein. Tomatoes, potatoes, green beans and corn are our vegetables of choice. Slices of white bread are served with butter at every meal. Noodles are draped over lumpy piles of potatoes and finished off with beef gravy. Meat is often breaded and fried, and a dessert isn’t complete without marshmallows or jello or both. Yum.
“Don’t they eat sweet potatoes where you come from?” My husband asks. Yes, we do, canned, sweetened and baked with honey and marshmallows.
When Alex and I started courting this summer and he came for dinner, I remember so distinctly trying not to stare at him as he took salad *first*. And then had seconds, *after* he ate the other vegetable my mom had put on the table. Salad- AND vegetables? What kind of man WAS this? Don’t laugh too hard, random reader, I come from the land of Men Who Don’t Like Vegetables. My own brothers, who were raised by a creative and wonderful cook, lump food into two major categories, “Boy Food” and “Girl Food”, ‘boy food’ being anything sweet, meaty, starchy or green beans, and ‘girl food’ referring to anything salad-like, anything with mushrooms or onions, or anything “weird” that is fished from the water. Alex liked girl food. Oh. My. Word. I wasn’t sure whether I should be excited, or apprehensive….
Turns out, he likes boy food too, which is rather relieving, and I am eager to learn to cook some of the foods he was raised with- the fresh, lemony things born in the Mediterranean like his grandparents. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a man who willingly eats artichoke hearts and it thrills my cookish soul as I see culinary doors flying open all over the place- there is fun to be had here! He teases me about my tendency to want to put bacon with everything… or gravy.. or cheese, those being some of the main flavoring ingredients where I come from, and I still can’t get over the fact that he eats humus and some odd dish called “tabuleh”. I don’t believe he will ever understand my deep and unending love for french fries, but he is a good man and gets them for me when I ask him to, and I bought sweet potatoes to eat like white potatoes though I am not sure how well that is going to work- I’ll keep y’all posted.
Amazing, ain’t it? If music be the food of love, play on – and if the music runs out we can always compromise and sprinkle bacon bits on the salad…..
Wilted Salad (revised by Love)
The first time I had this salad I must have been seven or eight years old. A dear friend made it for us and I LOVED it! I remembered it always and made it the other night like she did, but with a couple additions of my own… enjoy with someone you love..
**all measurements are in “more or less” terms- I never measure anything, but this gives you a rough idea of what you need and how much, savvy?**
1 package raw spinach (I think mine was like a 1/2 pound or so..)
3 or 4 (or 10) pieces of bacon
1/2 onion, sliced thinly – red is to be preferred
1/2 apple, left unpeeled but cored and sliced thinly
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp raw sugar or honey or maple syrup
Cook up your bacon in a broad skillet until it’s done how you like. Add the onion and apple and let those sweat out a little before adding your sugar (or other sweetener). Everything should get good and golden and soft. Add your vinegar and let the whole thing simmer for a bit while you get the spinach ready. Turn off the heat, lay your spinach down over the bacon dressing in the pan and cover. Let it sit for five minutes or so until the spinach is *wilted*, we’re not looking for *cooked*, just *soft*.
Open it up, turn, stir- what ever you have to do to get the leaves all covered in dressing, put in a bowl and serve… Or garnish. I used this *incredible* cheese we bought at the market the other day, Wensleydale- WOW, super creamy and crumbly at the same time with sweetened cranberries in it- from Britain (wot wot!) Use a ton because you only live once and it melts right into your salad and makes the world perfect. Use maple syrup in the dressing instead of sugar, add craisins and walnuts and maybe a little crumbling of sharp cheddar (yes, we need the cheese if there is going to be bacon!!) for a true New England twist. Oh my. Good food coming!