09 January 2011


I have a favorite fork. The fork is favored. For its soft silvery sheen and handsome Art Deco design, favor falls upon this fork. Some of my more long-suffering readers may recall that this fork came home with me from the well known and highly revered New York City institution, The Waldorf-Astoria. It's a more involved story than I feel compelled to share right now, but let it be known that I have been known to exhibit symptoms of a kleptomaniacal streak and, well....it snuck into my purse and out the door. You think that's bad? Ha! A sibling piece of cutlery resides in the spoon-shaped quarters of my silverware drawer. She (spoon) came first (up my coat sleeve, as an act of retaliation toward a nasty waitress who withheld from our table one of those fancy three-tier trays of treats during afternoon tea service a couple years prior), then he (fork) followed (to keep her company, of course). Together, they remain two of my most dear possessions. They have confided, though, how deeply they do miss brother butter knife....

I digress so terribly much.

When I do what I'm doing tonight -- that is, when I, all by myself, cook and eat and take photos all the while -- the favorite fork almost always is the one chosen for the final plate shot. (I do realize that the entire post thus far positively screams of a startling, brand-new level of lonesome-old-maid-cat-lady-ness, which I suppose I'm fine with, except I have no cats. Must remedy.) So I'm beginning a new series called Adventures With Favorite Fork. From time to time, I'll share recipes, kitchen activity, maybe the accompanying music, perhaps a weather report, but you'll always see my favorite fork. I hope you can become friends. So here we go.

After a leisurely, most delicious lunch at Marché with my friend Emily after church, and in the giddy anticipation of an impending perhaps-snow, I hit Whole Foods on the way home for a few provisions. I trolled at my leisure through the good-smelling aisles filled with good-looking people, stopped and said hello to a couple of old friends, and happily filled my basket with wheat berries, beets, collard greens, pears, Meyer lemons and Satsumas (one of the more luxurious fruits God made), among a few other strange, wonderful, colorful items. 

Removing my hat, checking the weather, unpacking my bags, cueing the music, peeling off tights and sliding into faithful fuzzy slippers, checking the weather once more, I commenced to cook.

Pears were cored and chunkily sliced (but not peeled), thrown into a saucepan with a cinnamon stick, some Meyer lemon peel and a couple tablespoons of sugar while Andrew Bird whistled and warbled through "Masterfade." The fruit bubbled and sang along, scenting the air with warm spice. Chopped collards were drowned in the sink and firmly encouraged to shake loose any grit, then added to a simmering bath with bright red Fresno chilies, smashed garlic cloves and salt. Feist crooned "Brandy Alexander" and "Limit to Your Love" while ten little beets were scrubbed, trimmed, and piled into a [heavy duty] foil packet with a dribble of oil and a toss of salt, bound for a 425 oven.

A yellow onion was finely chopped, sauteed, then joined by a cup of wheat berries, toasted over medium heat. Thyme and salt were added, as were four cups of water. That bubbled away under cover for oh, say, and hour or a bit more while Band of Horses sang the blues about a window. In my big, shiny, stainless salad bowl I piled the following, all chopped to bite-like bits: Braeburn apple, two scallions, four stalks of celery, a little pile of fresh dill,  a quarter head of red cabbage, a handful of toasted almonds, olive oil and the juice of one Meyer lemon. Toss, toss, toss, add the drained wheat berries, now perfectly toothsome, toss again, devour. Crunchy, chewy, tart, salty, sweet, fresh, nutty, crunchy again...I had a hard time laying down the tasting spoon. 

Jackson Five crooned "Never Can Say Goodbye" as I poured a glass of red and dressed my beets with a splosh of red wine vinegar and a restrained sprinkling of kosher salt. In a still and quiet kitchen Jesus, with his dear sacred heart, joined me at the table. I tasted, hummed, chewed with total satisfaction, often looking out the window, checking for the snow which I do wholeheartedly believe is on its journey down from the heights and promises a pure white coverlet in the morning hours.

For dessert? Another pour of red, a serenade from Willie Nelson and Bono. And that sweet, bright Satsuma which never really stood a chance.