Friday, April 20, 2012

sleepless in st. peter

I've used this picture before and it's in my folder called favorites. It's the perfect illustration of what the nights feel like when sleep eludes and anxieties rage.

I've never been able to figure out what comes first. Am I sleepless because I'm anxious or am I anxious because I'm sleepless?

It's been a busy week. I don't think I'll do a recap except to say that my Cousin Deb was here on Wednesday from Arizona and we had the nicest visit. After a walk downtown to do some shopping, we sat at the table for hours. We cooked on the grill, munched some interesting appetizers, told some old and new stories, laughed until we cried. Just like always. It was a lovely time.

Our 3rd annual wine trip is tomorrow. I am, like my husband, having a hard time working up the right amount of enthusiasm for it. When things start to feel like work, the joy disappears pretty fast, in my experience. This one has involved many changes, many phone calls, disappointed friends who thought they were on the list but weren't, and people who wondered why they didn't know about it. Jeez, did you miss the universal message spelled out in the stars?

I have been dissatisfied with my reading life again. Finally, last night, I deleted a book I have been reading for MONTHS and I was still only 70% finished with it. Travels in Siberia felt exactly like that....a trip across the tundra. No wonder those people drink a lot of vodka. I read a book last week that was painful right up to the end, by an author I have enjoyed in the past. I started something a few days ago that has too much fantasy in it for my taste.

I sound like a grump, reading this over. I'm not, if you know me, at all a grump. I'm usually very optimistic. Maybe I use the blog, from time to time, as a way to unload the willies from my head.

I had a meeting last night with a woman at work. We've had some trouble communicating because she is very serious and focused and I am very silly and random. Ha! We agreed to be open and accepting of who each other is, to appreciate what the other has to offer, and to not attempt to change our basic natures. If only more nations could do that...less war, right?

Regis and I have been cooking some amazing things. He made little fillets the other night that were cooked to perfection.

I made this recipe for something called dukkah the night Deb was here. From David Lebovitz's blog: Called dukkah, it’s a Middle Eastern blend of toasted nuts and spices ground together. I serve it with crudités – seasonal, raw vegetables like fennel and radishes, endive or spring onions. To enjoy dukkah at its best, dip a crudité into olive oil, then dip it into the dukkah and crunch away.

We had a little trouble getting it to stick to the vegetables and decided we loved it sprinkled over a little puddle of olive oil so you could dip bread in it.

1 1/2 cups

¾ cup (100g) hazelnuts or almonds
½ cup (70g) sesame seeds
½ cup (150g) pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seed
3 tablespoons cumin seed
1 tablespoon fennel seed
2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
2 scant teaspoons fleur de sel, or fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

2. Toast the hazelnuts or almonds in the oven until they begin to turn golden and smell toasty, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and, is using hazelnuts, transfer them to a paper bag or a tea towel which you must close around the nuts so they steam slightly and their skins blister away from the nuts. Note that hazelnuts tend to roast unevenly, and you may need to return some of them to the oven to continue roasting. When the hazelnuts are cool, rub them in the towel or bag to remove as much of the papery skin as possible. For almonds, they toast more evenly and do not need skinning.

3. Place the sesame seeds in a heavy skillet and toast them over medium heat, shaking the pan constantly, until they turn golden and smell toasty, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, and repeat the process with the pumpkin seeds

4. Place the coriander seeds in a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and toast just until they begin to smell fragrant, about 45 seconds. Remove from the heat. Repeat with the cumin seeds. Repeat with the fennel seeds.

5. Place the hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and the salt in the work bowl of the food processor and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Add the seeds, the pepper, and the paprika and process until the mixture is finely ground. Be careful not to over process so the nuts don’t become oily. Transfer to a serving bowl.

I bought toasted almonds and toasted pumpkin seeds so I skipped the step involving the oven. I also forgot to buy sesame seeds so I just added a couple drops of sesame oil to give it the flavor.

We had chili lime chicken breasts with chipotle aioli one night and flank steak and grilled peppers one night. I like how recipes evolve the more you make them and soon you can't even recall the original way you learned to make a dish.

Joanne is stopping by after work for a glass of wine and l’apéritif. That's a French word I just learned from a blog. I might serve some of the dukkah and wrap chunks of feta with prosciutto. Sounds nice with a glass of red wine on a chilly spring day.

I've been a slacker at exercise the last two weeks and need to get back on the horse. I have learned that it's not good to beat myself up over this but to just get back at it the next week. Sometimes shit just gets in the way. I wish I had the gumption to run that 5k at Gustavus on Sunday but I'm not sure I do.

Here I go into the day. In spite of my sleepless night and my worries and all the bad stuff happening in the world, I'm putting on my running shoes and going to the Pulse. Then I'll put on my apron and go to the coffee shop to visit with customers. I believe in stubborn gladness.

1 comment:

Teresa Saum said...

This stuff is great. It seems to store well and we really like it sprinkled over olive oil so you can dip little chunks of bread in it.