Sunday, March 27, 2011

Get in the kitchen already

I’ve been thinking about the art of repetition lately, of routine, about how it is less than an art sometimes.

Or, about how if it was an art, it would be akin to medieval madonna and childs, the ones that dominated thirteenth century Christian art with reds, and yellows, and the hard lines like Modigliani’s, but less inspiring and about 800 years older. And it would be the Madonna by the guy who was only copying the important guy who painted it first.

In short, we’ve seen it before, and it has its place, but it’s not really worth a special trip, at least not once you’ve seen it before.

Every morning, I shuffle to the coffee machine and fill it, my eyelids still half-mast and my hair settling into its three new cowlicks. (Now, this is an art. The cowlicks and the blind coffee-making both.) I let Luke out, feed him, sit down at my computer: email, times, orangette, smitten kitchen, the wednesday chef, maybe npr, maybe eater.


Lately, this routine has grown to include peanut butter sandwiches and other simple (read: boring) foods. Eaten invariably between noon and one, with water from the mason jar with the star on it, the sandwiches are the very definition of routine: bland, boring, same.

Do you see where I’m going? Routine can be a lovely, comforting thing, certainly if there is peanut butter involved. At least in respect to my morning coffee, I rely on it heavily every day. But when it leads you to contemplate a peanut butter sandwich for dinner on your night off, when you have a full fridge, well then, then it has betrayed you, gravely.

And so it was last night, while I was talking about which peanut varietal would suit twelve grain bread most favorably, I met a demand, a sharp Kenzi, go cook something, cook something now.

Because the people who love us know us best, right? They know that even at the risk of sounding chauvinistic and slandering women everywhere, sometimes the right thing to do is to tell me to just get in the kitchen already. Sternly. I was nearly yelled at.

I am very thankful for that. After some vague, mumbling comments about how there was nothing to cook, I found myself soon slinging pots, pans, chickpeas, spinach. I made two lovely olive oil fried eggs. I roasted potatoes, rosemary, Vidalia onions. And I felt so much better.

This surely doesn’t need to be your breakthrough recipe after a stint out of the kitchen, but it was mine. For your sake I hope you’ve been in the kitchen all along. This can just be your next one.

Spinach and Chickpeas

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note: This recipe is very adaptable, which is fun. Feel free to play with the spices, depending on what you have on hand. Use a little less spinach, a little more. It’s up to you.

½ pound dried chickpeas, cooked until soft and tender or two 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound spinach, washed
½ cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt, black pepper

Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add half the olive oil. When it is hot, add the spinach with a pinch of salt and stir well. Remove when the leaves are tender, drain in a colander and set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute garlic, cumin and red pepper. Cook for 1 minute more or until the garlic is nutty brown. Add the chickpeas, tomato sauce and paste. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors and are hot. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

Add the spinach and cook until it is hot. Check for seasoning and serve with paprika on top, with crusty bread. An egg on top is also excellent.

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