A Sunday Letter

My dear friend,

I hope your weekend has been wonderful. Mine was a little rocky, but redeemed itself handsomely. I woke up on Sunday with a full case of the Sunday blues.  Usually they don’t set in until after lunch at the earliest, but I woke up hating Sunday simply for being the precursor to Monday.  Although I expected very little from the day, I was pleasantly surprised.

I made huevos rancheros for our breakfast.  The boy likes savory breakfasts, and I like any excuse to combine black beans and goat cheese.  (this meal remains a favorite)  So the Sunday got off to a promising start, as huevos rancheros felt appropriately brunch-y and weekend-ish.  We ventured out for coffee and checked out the donut farm which apparently has a weekend brunch.  Who knew?  We’ll have to head back as they had an entrée composed of hash browns with caramelized onions and avocado.  I’m instantly a fan of any breakfast place that allows potatoes to star all on their own. 

Coffee cups in hand, we steered towards the water and Cesar Chavez park.  The park juts out into the Bay, and on the east side the water is so calm that you’d think you’re strolling alongside a lake.  Once you turn west you start to feel the breeze and see some little white caps in the water and when you get all the way to the west side you’re rewarded with a beautiful view of San Francisco, a brisk sea breeze, and a total awareness of the ocean.  We perched on one of many benches and admired the waves and the city in the distance.  Met some prairie dogs and many pet dogs (and their people), too.  Avoided the seagulls and admired the cormorants diving a safe distance away in the waves (birds make me nervous).

We headed home and hung out in the kitchen all day.  The boy was working, and I was puttering.  Looking back, I’m impressed at what the puttering added up to.  I cooked a big batch of chickpeas, set some aside for these spicy chickpea fajitas, and froze the rest in 1/2 cup portions in little ziploc bags.  I do the same thing with black beans (which we eat weekly in this house), and whatever grain I’m feeling like that week.  This time the process made me think of my grandmother.  She had a huge freezer in her house in Vermont, and if you dug deep enough you could find little ziploc bags of garden raspberries older than me.  Much nearer the top were gallons of ice cream and boxes of donut holes, perfect treats for grandchildren.  My freezer only holds frozen beans and vegetables and quinoa.  I’m clearly lacking in donut holes.

Still thinking of Grandma, I cut up some peaches and strawberries to make another batch of this strawberry peach crumble.  Soon enough it will be apple crumble, but for now we’re still blessed with summer fruit in abundance.  I roasted some cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms, meaning to use them to top another batch of this polenta.  The boy saw me pull out a bowl of kernels and said “oh, are we having corn again?”  I adore summer corn, but this polenta recipe, perfectly releasing the sugar embedded deep in the kernels, is sweeter than he likes.  Hearing a clear hint, I put the corn into bags for the freezer, too, thinking that with fresh corn in some of my ziploc bags my freezer was looking just a little more like Grandma’s.  Still a gallon or two of maple walnut ice cream away from the real thing, of course.

I packed up the roasted tomatoes and mushrooms with some spinach, the last few miniature balls of fresh mozzarella and some fried capers for Monday’s lunch.  Suddenly Monday’s presence loomed large and I was feeling seriously out of kitchen steam.  Between all the projects I’d finished Gail Simmons’ autobiography “Talking with My Mouth Full,” and I am newly a fan.  I had no idea that she had serious chops, having worked briefly at Le Cirque and Jean-George Vongerichten’s Vong and spending two years as assistant to Jeffrey Steingarten (Vogue food columnist and author of “The Man Who Ate Everything”) before landing at Food & Wine and eventually at Top Chef.  Her autobiography is a fun and refreshing read, so full of food and delicious descriptions that by the end I couldn’t decide if I was full by proxy or ravenous in jealousy.

The boy was still working at the kitchen table through all of this, so I gave him the difficult gourmet decision of choosing between Annie’s macaroni with shells and cheddar or peace symbols and parmesan.  He voted for the tie-dye box, so I set the water to boil for the macaroni and grabbed a mason jar to shake up some whipped cream for the crumble that was sitting warm on the counter.  Homemade whipped cream cancels out boxed macaroni, right? 

I poured the pint of cream into the jar, added a touch of vanilla extract and a mere two tablespoons of powdered sugar.  I screwed the lid on tight and shook and shook and shook.  One of the clearest things I remember from kindergarten was making butter.  We all sat cross legged in a circle and took turns shaking the jar of cream while our teacher read to us.  When the cream had finally turned to butter, we each got a piece of toast, spread with the butter we had made, plus little bowls of milk, dyed with food coloring and a paint brush.  We got to paint our toast, and then eat it.  That was a pretty perfect kindergarten day, and I was learning the homemade whipped cream could redeem even a Sunday that had started rather drearily.

We enjoyed the macaroni and cheese, and then shared some peach and strawberry crumble topped with whipped cream.  Monday was ever so much closer than it had been over the morning’s eggs, but somehow it seemed less menacing. 

I hope you had a lovely Sunday, too.  Did you? 

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