Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A tale of two lambs...

It was the best of lambs, it was the worst of lambs, it was the fat on flesh, it was the lean on meat, it was the epoch of marbled fatty glory, it was the epoch of not one ounce, it was the season of spring, it was the season of winter, it was the spring of hope for a perfectly roasted leg, it was the winter of despair over disappearing sauce, we had everything before us, we had...well...everything still before us (I got nothing here, the tables were both full of magnificent food), we were all going to direct fatty lamb heaven, we were all going direct (I so fought the urge to write directly. I did. directly) the other way, the lean way.

There was no king with a large jaw or queen with a plain face but there was a kosher lamb with a large bone and lots of nice marbling on the throne (well, platter actually) of our royal home, there was an organic lamb with plain, unmarbled meat on the throne (well, platter actually) of our royal chalet. In both places it was clearer than crystal to the lords (well, us, but we can be lords, and ladies, of course) of the homes and chalets (to be honest I think it was just me but whatever) that things in general were settled for ever (forever!).

Pardon? say you? What in the heck am I talking about? you ask?

Well, I have a tale of two lambs. I have a lesson learned.

And what say you are these tales and lessons? Well, don't hate me but I'll tell you tomorrow. Okay? Tomorrow! I swear!  ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

To daydream ...

Cue intro...and ...action! Happy Wednesday dear readers. I have finally made it out. Ish. Truth be told dear readers, for the last several weeks I have been imprisoned at home under the vice grip of a mighty supergerm and said supergerm's minion army of ...well ...supergerms! Surrounded by tall, white mounds of crumpled tissues strewn about like dunes in a desert, glossy red lozenges, mustard colored tinctures, cups, glasses all sprinkled about on the table that had become my base-camp... all evidence of unprecedented (or at least super nasty) malaise, I've spent my days...and as if that were not enough, I am also, of course, burrowed eyeball deep  in my mid winter IhatewinteruninspiredlazycrankysleepysickfreezingunderblanketItotallyhatewinter, mood. 

One early Monday morning though, the sun poked me in the eye. Literally. And no. It was not the solar storm. I gave this intruding ray of light the fish eye, peeked out from under my blanket and began intense self coercion strategy to get myself out of the house. It worked. I dragged my resistant (resistant like my spirit was hanging onto the couch with both hands while I had its feet type of resistant) body to my beloved market (which I have been neglecting for weeks and weeks) and simply sat down. And then the most magical thing happened. Dear readers, have you ever seen those movies where someone has been trapped in a dark cave with no human contact for like ever and then they finally (and dramatically) get rescued and then they get above ground and somehow they are sitting in this beautiful grassy field and the sun is shining on their dirty pained face and they like (I don't know what has gotten into me and using valley girl "like" for the last few days but anyway) squint up and try to smile? Well, that was me. Minus everything I just said. I was just sitting at the market. But it felt just like that! 

As I started to look (squint) around, it was as if the cloud lifted and I, was that person in that field (market, whatever).The sun was shining all around me through the large, beautiful windows. I was surrounded by farmers and people I have missed since the summertime. It was quiet because it was quite early. My jasmine flower scented green tea was steaming away and the homemade yogurt I had just bought was topped with strawberries. People were smiling. Hugging one another (I swear!). I found my inspiration dear readers. This beautiful little (arguably the biggest outdoor market in North America but whatever. It's my little market) market is the place that feels completely right for me. I feel at home. I am reminded of soul and spirit. Of hard work and of beauty. Of deliciousness. Of a warmer time to come. Of how lucky we are that we have people who work the land. I have to tell you though that in all honesty dear readers I was completely shocked to see all these little blue Fleur de Lys (I really hope I got that right and that's what is in fact on our flag ...) everywhere beckoning and saying we grew here! In warmer times but we're still here! Beets, potatoes, squash, garlic, dried herbs, hearty winter greens, eggs, cabbage, apples, parsnips, carrots...all here, all from us, all for us.  It was lovely, dear readers. Just lovely. A frosty, brilliant, beautiful, mid winter, lovely early Monday morning.

So all this to say, my current aspiration is to become one of those market people. You know the ones. They arrive most mornings, early, set up shop on the coffee house patio, laptops perched on table, coffee's (or tea in my case) splendid aroma steaming from cup, getting ready to write, create, strategize or... to daydream.

Now, I do have a recipe. And it is one I love dearly.

Time to dish. 

Dearly loved, Lamb Orzo

Here is what you need:

  • About 1.5 kilos of lovely lamb shoulder, cut into 4 cm cubes
  • 2.5 onions, sliced
  • A small handful of oregano (I used the one I dried from the summer. It was awesome.)
  • .5 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • Good olive oil, as much as you like (coat the bottom of your pan)
  • Can of good tomatoes, chopped (I get mine whole and then chop them myself)
  • A liter and a bit of chicken stock 
  • Lam bones (for extra flavor)
  • A few marrow bones (yep, for extra flavor)
  • Lots and lots of Parmesan, please, grate it yourself
  • Good crusty bread
  • Good full bodied wine

Here is what to do:

1. Heat oven to 375. Cut the lamb into 5cm (ish) chunks, then brown (it and your bones and marrow) over high heat. Then place in a wide casserole dish. Add your onions, oregano (yey!), cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon and olive oil, and toss them around in there until nice and coated. Add salt and pepper. Then bake! Uncovered, for 45 mins, stirring once halfway. Just once...

2. After this, take it out and pour over lovely chopped tomatoes and your chicken stock, cover tightly, then return to the oven for 2 hours, until the lamb is almost falling apart

3. Once done and beautiful, remove the cinnamon sticks and then stir in the orzo. Cover again and back in the oven we go for about 25 mins, stirring halfway through. Just once. The orzo should be cooked and the sauce luscious and bubble. Then, the final magic. Take that awesome Parmesan and grate it all over the pot. Bam! Serve with crusty bread and lots of good full bodied wine. Bam!

I LOVE TO WRITE! I LOVE YOU DEAR READERS! Yes, you really are seeing this. No, there is no good reason why it is here.