Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

by Pat Schneider from Another River: New and Selected Poems

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sweet Potato Cannellini Soup with Sage Pesto

Serves 4 – 6


2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 medium)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1 medium potato)
6 cups chopped Swiss chard (about 1 bunch), chop off bottom of stems
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Pecorino Romano or Asiago cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. To prepare the soup, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat pan with oil. Add leek and garlic to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
2. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Add the potato; cook about 9 minutes or until potato is tender.
3. Stir in chard, pepper, salt, and beans; cook about 2 minutes or until chard wilts. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.
4. To prepare the pesto, combine the cheese and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Ladle soup into bowls and top each serving with a generous tablespoon of pesto.

***North Carolina is the leading state in sweet potato production.
**Many people use the words sweet potato and yam interchangeably, but they are really two completely different tubers. The trouble started when orange-fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced in the southern United States. Producers and shippers wanted to distinguish them from the more traditional, white-fleshed types. Then, slaves in the American South called the orange sweet potato nyamis, because of its similarity to a vegetable of that name that they knew from their homeland. Quickly, Americans adopted the name yam for their orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. This African word, also meaning "to eat", brought the two root vegetables together, despite botanical differences. As aforementioned, there are two popular types of sweet potatoes available in most U.S. markets. The first type is paler and somewhat yellow-skinned with light yellow flesh. This first type is not very sweet and has a texture similar to a white baking potato. The second type of sweet potato is usually labeled a "yam". This darker-skinned variety has a thicker, dark orange to reddish skin with orange, sweet flesh. When cooked, these "yams" (actually darker sweet potatoes) have a more moist and stringy interior than the first variety.

*True yams are also tubers. However, they grow from a tropical vine (Dioscorea batatas) and are not even distantly related to the sweet potato. They are slowly becoming more common in U.S. markets. True yams are more popular in the tropical climates in which they thrive: primarily in South America, Africa, and the Caribbean. They are generally sweeter than the sweet potato and can grow over seven feet in length! The yam tuber has brown or black skin which resembles the bark of a tree and off-white, purple or red flesh, depending on the variety.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. 
— Plato