Friday, August 20, 2010
This is the current state of my kitchen. Maybe yours is worse and you're thinking: Lady, get a grip, it's not that bad! But this is bad for me. Because once I reach a certain level of plate piles, empty beer cans, used coffee filters and crumbs, something odd happens to me. I start accepting the mess. And once I've accepted it, I lose that sense of urgency that says I need to deal with it. Suddenly, I'm washing single items for use instead of just washing the whole lot. Next thing I know, I'm eating off of napkins and cutting boards to stave off the need for clean plates. Then, a bit later, if I'm feeling industrious, I may attempt to design new piles out of the old piles to make them look smaller and less demanding of my immediate attention. The piles will consume me, yes, but at this stage, nothing will compel me to actually get rid of them.
It's a popular idea that the state of your living space can be related to the state of your mind. My need for simplicity and fresh ideas and positivity has been buried under the hundreds of haphazardly built piles of worry; is my Dad okay? am I driving Husband crazy? is this skin irritation on my lips a flesh-eating virus? will I find a job ever/soon? And then of course there are the piles devoted to fretting over the external world woes, like the floods in Pakistan, the BP oil spill, the alarming amount of attention being spent on the 'cougar' phenomenon...
And when you've come home from your first-ever funeral, where you are but a breath away from real grief, the kind where you can practically taste the salt of all the tears shed, hear the rapid beating of saddened hearts and feel that peculiar fullness of emptiness, dishes mean even less to you.
But sometimes, even underneath the mental clutter, I'm still able to find a golden idea or two. Like this:
This is a pocket full of wonder. This is one of the simplest meals I've come up with in a long time, adding to the already abundant amount of deep fondness I feel for ready-made puff pastry sheets. This is the meal you make when there's virtually no free counter space in your kitchen and you are one straw away from the last straw. You simply clear a corner for yourself, step around the maze of cat and dog and the three pairs of shoes that have mysteriously migrated and settled under the kitchen table. Then you throw some things in a mini-chopper;
...give it a blast and end up with pesto! Then you chop up the last of the heirloom tomatoes with some green onion and let them drain a bit in a colander;
Next comes unfolding the puff pastry and cutting into 4 sections, so you can spoon some of the pesto and tomato mixture onto it;
Fold them quick, if you can, because once the pastry comes to room temperature, it's a nightmare of stickiness to get the filled triangles off the cutting board and onto the baking sheet. In fact, don't do this at all; unroll the pastry sheet on some parchment paper and save yourself a lot of bother! Once you manage this simple task, you are 15 baking minutes away from the kind of delicious meal that makes you forget your multitude of worries.
And the entirely new pile of dishes you've just made making dinner.
1 puff pastry sheet, thawed (keep refrigerated till you need it)
a handful of mixed heirloom tomatoes, or about 2 regular sized tomatoes, cut into smallish cubes
1 green onion, finely chopped
Pesto (either store-bought, or homemade; see recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Once pesto is made, and veggies are prepped, do what I didn't and unroll the puff pastry sheet on some parchment paper and cut into four pieces. Place a dollop of the pesto in the bottom half, topped with a spoonful of tomatoes on top (as in picture) Fold the top right corner over to the bottom left corner to form a pastry triangle. Do this for all four.
2. Place the triangles on a baking sheet (if you've used parchment paper, this is easy) and bake for 15 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately.
A Different Sort Of Pesto Recipe:
1/8 cup pine nuts
1/4-1/3 cup of basil leaves
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Juice of whole lemon
1 green onion, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup feta cheese
salt, pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in a mini-chopper or food processor, or I suppose you could mortar and pestle it too. Pulse till well combined and on the thick side, not as runny as a traditional pesto. Adjust ingredients to your taste.