Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hello my love, missing you very much, here's a huge hug and kiss for you, hope you are doing well. I've just spent an hour in the kitchen putting together what promises to be a beautiful dinner. I've baked a nectarine frangipane tart with last summer's frozen fruit, a pastry crust, and almond butter layer - I'm inspired by the Polish apricot-almond Easter cake mazurek, variation on the theme.

The main course will be "clay pot chicken." I was inspired by a Mark Bittman recipe recently in the Times that suggested braising chicken with vegetables. The recipe was a little too involved for me, at least for a chicken. But it inspired me to resurrect my long-neglected clay pot cooker. I soaked the bottom and lid in water for a while so that the ceramic doesn't crack in high heat.
I filled it with pieces of cut-up chicken and rough-chop vegetables: celery, carrot, onion, whole garlic cloves, green beans, quartered russets, halved mushrooms, fresh-ground pepper, herbes de provence (fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme might be nicer), and as an afterthought, a few glugs of red wine "for the pot." So it's sort of a very easily flung-together coq au vin. I'm letting the oven cool now - I've just pulled out the rustic tart - and when it's back to room temperature, I'll put in the dampened clay pot, covered, and set the temperature to 500. The clay slowly heats without incident, and once up to speed nukes for about an hour - I haven't made this in years so I'm a bit vague on the timing, but that's about right.

A very hearty, warming dish on a day like today - gray and damp all day, the sun never came out. It's okay, the day flew by - blessedly so, since I find myself if not literally counting the days, then just so looking forward to next month that every day ticked off makes me happy that I'm one day nearer to you. I did a lot of cooking today as it turned out, strawberry pancakes for breakfast, seasoned ground turkey, tomato, and kale pasta for lunch. I had the car for the afternoon so I went to the supermarket and took a walk at the conservation area. Then I drove to the library. I haven't been there in several weeks. Last time I went I got the speeding ticket on the return, which sort of soured me on going to the library. I'm simply not going to take 9H anymore, it's the fast, blank straightaway highway that gets me in trouble. I'll stick to 9 that is positively Massachusetts-like in its abrupt speed zone changes that keep me on my toes - 45 to 55 down to 35 forever then an excruciating 25 and back to 45 - like that.

Darling, darling. Am so not in a literary mood, as far as writing goes, this moment. Wish so much we were in each other's arms. At the library Ovid's Amores awaited me on reserve. I've just glanced at it, so far no "elegiac couplets" as wonderful as the Book 1, Number 5, Corinna at siesta, but this one's charming - and so see, in my bitácora way, I am writing you a longish letter (because, between you and me no news is bad news) spacing the lines close and filling the margins so it takes you longer to read.

Ovid's Amores, translated by Guy Lee
Book I, Number xi
Napë, the coiffeuse,
no ordinary maid,

backstage-manager of my love-life,
my silent prompter,

keeper of Corinna's conscience,
averting crisis --

please, Napë, take her this note,

You're flesh and blood,
no fool.

You must have suffered in Cupid's wars
so help a comrade in arms.

If she asks about me, say I live for our next meeting.
This note will explain.

But I'm wasting time. Hand it to her when she's free,
make sure she reads it then and there,

and watch her face meanwhile --
there's prophecy in faces.

See she replies at once -- a long letter.
Blank wax is a bore.

Get her to space the lines close and fill the margins
so it takes me longer to read.

Wait. Why tire her fingers pushing a stylus?
YES will do, in huge block capitals.

I'll garland those writing-tablets with Victory's laurel
and hang them up in the temple of Venus

above this dedication:
'From Naso - in wooden gratitude.'
Darling Naso, next month when we meet, you won't mind will you if I take a break from my el blog? I know that blank wax is a bore, but I think you'll hardly notice in the half-light of one shutter closed, the other ajar, your hands and mine both all over the place running loose...


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