I am having a hard time adjusting back to work after my 10 days off.
Those 10 days allowed me to set my nose to the wind and let myself be floated along by whatever tickled my fancy. Authentic friendship days in Almere, old and new friends and contacts in London, blissful languorous days with my love in Eindhoven, at Beda market, in the Bredere dunes and seeing my dearest Bonnie Raitt sing of the sadness and rebelliousness of my heart.
These days were filled with new impressions and places, well-known faces and new ones, a sense of sharing and taking part. A welcome fire to warm my most inner core.
And then bam! Back to life, back to reality!
But is it that? Is the pettiness, incompetence, hurtful tediousness and distrust reality? Or is it just the reality of a world where only quantity and never quality reigns?
My soul burns with frustration.
The black dog has come out of hiding, he has been sniffing at my feet for the last 24 hours looking up at me with his sad eyes.And this afternoon he crept into my lap and took over my space. The heat and comfort of his weight both welcome and abhorred.
This past year has been a difficult time for me and my family. But we are getting through the scrapes, the scabs are healing though they quickly reopen if brushed the wrong way. The struggles at work make it all more difficult, yes sometimes even down right unbearable!
Thoughts race through my head as I try to recapture the beauty and memories of the past 10 days. But the kinship with the unwanted, unloved, distrusted and being at the mercy of the selfish are hard to battle.
I turn to the things that comfort me: my food, my creativity, searching for my self-worth and glimpsing it at several corners waving only faintly but still there.
I shake myself and shove the black dog off my lap and grab my Ipad hoping it will give me inspiration for doing something with the fresh fava beans that have been wilting in my vegetable drawer in the fridge for a period longer than I care to admit or remember. I have never made fava beans before.
Surfing through recipes on the web I am captivated by two recipes:
Cacio e pepe with Peas and Favas reported by originally from Melissa Clark, of the the New York Times, a favorite recipe maker of mine.
So I thought I would combine the two recipes and cook up:
Cacio e pepe with Grilled Fava Beans
Marinating and grilling, peeling and skinning the fava beans, my fingertips still slightly raw from the hot pods as I write, give me a chance to reassess. I let my mind run free and pour my fears and uncertainties into my inner ear for circumspection.
Once the naked fava beans were happily soaking in their smoky marinade, I decided that being Rapunzel on the 10th floor wasn’t going to make it any better – especially with my short haircut it seemed to long a process especially with a heavy black dog on your lap.
So out I went to the store to get the pecorino. A sundress, sunglasses and my phone camera. I forced myself to smell the fragrance of the trees and flowers, to see the leftover cherries on the tree branches to high to reach, to hear the birds chirps and the cars on their way home whizz by. Yes, this was real. This was here. This was now. And I slowly eased back into confidence, assuredness and resilience.
For I am from Phillips Academy and we are “Non Sibi”. Not for one’s self.
I know that I am not selfish, that I share my love, my comfort, my joy and my sorrows, my ideas and my creativity with the world around me. And I will not stumble and I will not fall. Not again.
And I am grateful to you all for letting me share this and my food with you.
Go away black dog and are not welcome anymore!!
Cacio e Pepe with Grilled Fava Beans
Adapted from Heidi Swanson & Katie Thisdell
Ingredients for the marinade:
- 600 grams / 1 1/3 cups fresh fava beans unshelled, washed
- 3 TBSPS olive oil
- zest of ½ a lemon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 pinch of dried thyme
- Fresh groud pepper Szechuan if you have it
Ingredients to later add to the marinade once the beans are grilled:
- juice of ½ a lemon
- ½ sprig rosemary needles, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
- 4 mint leaves, chopped
- a few coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)
1. Light the grill and set to hot. Mix the olive oil, lemon zest, sea salt, dried thyme and ground pepper in a large bowl. Add the fava bean pods and mix to coat them with the marinade. Let sit 5 minutes.
2. Move the bean pods onto the hot grill and reserve the marinade. Add the second list of ingredients
3. Grill 4 minutes and each side, then turn off the grill, cover it and let the pods sit another 4 minutes. Return the grilled bean pods to the bowl with the marinade; mix again and let stand to cool 5 minutes or until you can handle the hot beans.
4. Start opening the bean pods and squeezing out the beans into the marinade discarding the pods. I did it by hand, hence the warm fingers.
Don’t worry if some of the charred pod comes off leave it in the marinade with the shelled beans it adds a smoky flavor.
5. Once you have shelled all the beans, squeeze them out of their skins back into the bowl. Slit them with a sharp knife if necessary. Stir once more and let sit while you go to the store to get the pecorino, otherwise until you make the cacio e pepe.
Yields about ¾ cup of skinned fava beans.
Cacio e Pepe according to Melissa Clarke
Adapted from the originally published June 26, 2013 in the New York Times
- 1/2 pound / 250 grams of spaghettini
- 2 TBSPS / 30 grams butter (I use lactose-free)
- 1/2 TBSP very coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup / 40 grams shredded pecorino more for serving
- 1/2 cup / 50 grams grated Parmesan
- Coarse kosher sea salt, to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup / 120 ml cooking water.
2. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add pepper and sauté for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add 1/4 cup / 60 ml of the cooking water and the remaining butter to pan. Stir until butter is melted and sauce begins to thicken, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the cooked pasta, pecorino and Parmesan and toss until cheese melts, about 30 seconds. Add the fava beans. Toss very well to coat, adding more pasta water if pan seems dry. Season with salt to taste.
4. To serve, sprinkle each portion with more pecorino and drizzle with olive oil.
P.S. I drizzled by favorite white truffle oil from Tuscany over mine!