Friday, February 18, 2011

Lost and Found

Have you ever lost something you are fairly sure is hiding somewhere in plain sight? You can picture it, perched on a bookshelf, or tucked away in the corner of your purse. You've spotted it a million times when you've been looking for something else: your keys, the packing tape, the lid to your medium sized pot. But now that you need it, want it? Gone gone gone.

So it is with my camera and more seriously, my morale. The camera I know is somewhere, sure to be found when I'm not looking for it. But my morale? It's a bit more MIA. Turns out it's a lot of hard work to publish and promote a book. Writing, in comparison, is easy: coffee and toast, lots of immersion in words and pretty things. But selling and promoting this little piece of me is hard.

I haven't felt like myself all week -- ok all year. I've been indulging in lots of sugary treats, now I am trying to eat healthy, meditate, and go to yoga. It's all in an effort to feel more like myself while schlepping through the world and selling my Extravagant Hunger. It isn't really working.

But I keep trying to hold steady. Do things like make dinner, celebrate, relax. Which is what I was doing on Monday -- Valentine's Day -- when Sean took this picture of me in total M.F.K. Fisher mode. An apron covers up my little black dress, there's a 1950s O'Keefe & Merrit stove in the background, and a glass of vermouth by my side as I slice ricotta salata into big chunks.

I look at this photo and think "there she is!" and "I can do this!" Maybe my morale isn't gone forever. And I just might find it in the place I least expect.

What was I making on Valentine's Day, you ask? I had grand plans for an entirely pink and red themed meal using salmon and red cabbage. The thing is, red cabbage is really purple, and becomes even more vibrant when cooked. My red and pink meal turned into a rainbow dinner of salmon pink, royal purple, and accents of green. It was good, but the cabbage and barley salad would have been far better matched with something meaty and wintery: sausage, roast chicken, even a nice cut of red meat.

No matter. I was most excited about the cabbage and it didn't disappoint. We've been eating it all week: over greens for lunch, with takeout sausage from Rosamunde's for dinner. I think you'll like it too.

Warm Grains with Red Cabbage and Ricotta Salata
From Food + Wine Magazine
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 pound red cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbl red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup water
2 cups pre cooked barley
4 ounces ricotta salata cheese, cut into chunks

First you'll want to cook the barley according to directions on the package. You'll need 2 cups cooked -- this step can be done earlier in the day, or even the night before.
Preheat oven to 350. Spread walnuts on a pan and toast until golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool then chop into coarse bits.
In your largest skillet, melt the butter and oil. Add the onion and cook over high heat until softened. Add the cabbage and the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the cabbage is wilted -- 6 minutes. Add thyme and water, cover, and cook over low heat until cabbage is tender and water has evaporated. This will take about 20 minutes.  Stir in barley, and after it is warmed through (if pre-cooked) add ricotta salata and walnuts.
Serves 6 -- great as a side or served over greens as a meal.


Anne Zimmerman said...

Yes, yes I do have three drinks in this photo: dry vermouth, champagne, and a venetian martini. I felt very tired in the morning.

dana said...

Three drinks with dinner sounds like you probably had a good night. I'm happy you enjoyed your Valentine's day.

Megan Gordon said...

I LOVE this dish...have made it on ASS (Ahh, love the acronymn for my own blog) before and have actually been craving it lately...loving having a little time to catch up with your beautiful blog this morning.