Though I have not worked at the Oil & Vinegar store since December, I have a good stock of product and continue to cook with superior ingredients. My dinner last night was a duck breast marinated in Cara Cara Orange/Vanilla balsamic vinegar and Lemon infused olive oil. Cooking for one is a challenge both in proportions and in getting up the energy to eat alone.
More interesting is the cooking style I’ve developed lately, while spending three days a week with Gunther and Elise. Our routine has evolved and I often cook lunch for the three of us while she is out at appointments or running errands. They traditionally eat a hearty farm lunch, full of fresh organic vegetables, salads, grains and small potions of meat. Before Elise leaves, we lay out the ingredients. When Gunther is napping, I putter around in the kitchen, watching the birds and reveling in the preparations. There is no microwave, though I learned to use the convection oven and it seems far superior. She too uses oils from my former store and all manner of vegetables are sautéed on the stove while the tea kettle whistles.
Working in another woman’s kitchen is an adventure. Different implements, traffic patterns between stove, sink and refrigerator, pots and lids that are so well used and known by their owners are foreign to me. Over time, I’ve learned where things reside and have developed my dance between the prep stations.
Today’s lunch was leeks and cherry tomatoes sautéed then set aside; the Kasha was sautéed with an egg yolk then simmered with broth. The leeks and tomatoes went in and it sat on a warming burner. Next I cleaned and chopped sugar snap peas, green onion, red and yellow peppers; slipping them into simmering butternut squash seed oil. Last week I made a carrot and parsnip soup when Elise spent the morning having dental work. Their farm produces a fair amount of what they eat. Chickens, cows, goats, and sheep produce eggs milk and cheeses; she shops almost daily for other fresh organic items. The bread is always rich and dark, the tea cupboard stuffed with herbals for every mood, and the fridge overflowing with berries I parcel out slowly to Gunther like candies.
Most days when he rouses from a nap he sits with me as I cook; he watches the birds and comments on the squirrels and chipmunks who dance under the feeder. I finish up the cooking and set the table. Lunch dishes are the lovely blue and white set, cloth napkins and a jug of cold water adorn the table. It is sometimes a chore for him to get through the meal without help. There is no shame or embarrassment. Elise or I merely shift our chairs so one of us can give him a hand. He was 12 years old when World War II broke out in his home country. No food is ever wasted and every bite is savored.
Food binds us together. Preparing food is to give of your heart.