Give two cooks the same ingredients and the same recipe; it is fascinating to observe how, like handwriting, their results differ. After you cook a dish repeatedly, you begin to understand it. Then you can reinvent it a bit and make it yours. A written recipe can be useful, but sometimes the notes scribbled in the margin are the key to a superlative rendition. Each new version may inspire improvisation based on fresh understanding. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as all that, but such exciting minor epiphanies keep cooking lively.
~ David Tanis, Heart of the Artichoke: and Other Kitchen Journeys
I have always, for as long as I can remember, wanted to travel to Greece. I don’t know when I first thought that. Maybe when, as a child, I was enchanted by mythology, particularly Greek mythology. Or maybe when I grew up and first tasted Greek food. I’m not sure, and it doesn’t matter. The results are the same.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get to Greece, but I can learn to cook Greek food. With that in mind, I treated myself to a new cookbook. Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die by Diane Kochilas (with photography by Vassillis Stenos). (My apologies for cutting off those important credits when I took the photo of the book.) The book is beautiful, and I am looking forward to exploring the recipes. It is not a vegetarian cookbook. There are recipes with meat and seafood. But I’m good at adjusting recipes that call for meat and making them vegetarian (or vegan, if I’m in a vegan frame of mind).
Yesterday I dipped into the book and made a dish with zucchini, a mix of fresh, baby greens (kale and spinach), garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. It was a simple dish with complex flavors. I loved every bite, and will make it again.
Today, for dinner, I made Eleni’s Baked Chickpeas. It takes a while to put together and to cook, but judging from the scents coming out of my kitchen right now, it was well worth the work. It has been a while since I’ve used dried beans and legumes, mostly because it is so much quicker to open a can. I’d forgotten how beautiful chickpeas look when they are transformed by water.
I used fresh herbs from my garden. The vegetables are from a local farm market, but they are not in season here yet. I usually try to cook seasonally, but this is the time of year when there are few vegetables to harvest. Asparagus, of course, is in season now. M and I have about had our fill of the green spears and are going to let the spears fern out, thus ending the asparagus season here on the ranch.
There are a lot of onions, peppers, garlic, and (of course) chickpeas in this recipe. I am looking forward to eating it later. I started it early in the day after reading the recipe and realizing it would take about 3-4 hours total cooking time. Add to that the time to prep and I needed to start it early so it would be ready by dinner time.
Before I started cooking, I went out for my usual morning walk. I did not take a camera. I am taking more walks without the camera so that I can spend more time just walking and being, and enjoying the walking and being. The morning was lovely. Cool, sunny with a few cloudy spells. Our resident wild turkey, whom we’ve named Frieda, was in the front yard when I stepped outside. Nick and Nora, two of many bunnies, were also out and about, munching on whatever it is the rabbits munch on for their morning meal. I recognize them because Nick has a little nick in one of his ears, and Nora always seems to be with him. To be honest, I have no idea which of the two is male or female, or if they’re both the same sex.
We’ve named the house sparrow that keeps trying to pirate the purple martin houses. Jack Sparrow, of course. Blackbeard wouldn’t have suited him at all.
I guess that’s about it from the Wabi-Sabi Ranch on this lovely Monday. Thank you so much for stopping by. Sunset tonight is at 7:50 PM. Join me on the dock if you want to watch the show, and stop by the house first to try the chickpeas. I’m pretty certain it’s going to be scrumptious.
Note: Outdoor images are from the weekend since I didn’t have the camera with me on my walk today.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂