Real evening off with my honey. Not the kind where I have to scoot off back to my desk to finish one more chapter. Real walk with the pups. Not the kind I quickly run them around the block wishing they wouldn't play hide and seek for 20 minutes. Real adult conversation with my mother. The kind that leaves me feeling punched to a pulp but hopeful and strong. Real shower. So hot and rejuvenating my fingers get wrinkly and my skin becomes red. All real.
It's easy to think of everyday things as regular happenings. Amenities, privileges and responsibilities to others. They're not. I look at my window overlooking the creek and all I see is marsh land gently swayed by the breeze and the incoming tide. I realize then that what we, B. and myself, work so hard to maintain, even when we struggle, is never taken for granted. I am thankful that my feet are grounded into grasping what is important. We enjoy running water and electricity, education, freedom of speech and assembly.
I spent pretty much the last two weeks split between the work laid out before me and the TV turned to Egypt. It made everything we were doing, him grading paper and me writing the final chapters of my manuscript, trivial and small. And it was. And it was not at the same time. One more time I was privileged to watch another Berlin wall fall, another Romania do away with dictatorship, another Kosovo say no more to oppression and fear.
And once more I was reminded of the privilege I had to work my passion for a living and to be given the tools and freedom to do it right. So with one eye glued to the television and the other on the computer screen, I buckled down and finished writing the last chapter and appendices. When everything was uploaded to the server around noon, I crashed. We both crashed actually. Wiped out. My brain could not come up with one more proper sentence. My heart was happy for I had exercised one of my fundamental privileges, to be free to write.
We took the rest of the day "off". A luxury these days but we drew the curtain closed, put on old LPs, a sea of pillows down on the floor and just chilled. Bill, who held me figuratively and literally for the past three months I was writing held me one more time as I fell asleep in his arms. All the Valentine's day commercial things might have gotten to me, but he's my rock. And we take care of each other.
Even when things are crazy busy, there are a few things I will not make compromises about. Quiet time just the two of us with no radio, no shop talk, not bank/house talk is one of those. The other is food. Nourishing, well prepared and wholesome food. It's one of the few things we can do to keep us going. Share with friends is even better.
When I made this salmon and Swiss chard quiche, I actually had enough for a second one so I grabbed the phone and told our friends the house was open if they wanted to come and have a bite with us. And then I made a big plate of grilled salmon and spaghetti so I called another set of friends. Before I knew it we were 10 around the dinner table sharing a good meal and a few good laughs. Taking some time off and making sure that we eat well is one of the best thing I did these past few days.
These coming two weeks are going to be packed crazy. Virginia Willis, Angie Mosier, Gena Berry and crew are going to be here this whole week for the second round of her book Basic to Brilliant Ya'll with Ten Speed Press. I am so excited I can't stop bopping around. We work hard but at the end of the day we play just as hard...ehehe! The week after that I am starting a photo shoot for a more commercial client and pairing with a dear friend of mine on the project. Details soon but it's going to be some good grub too!
Anyways...I know tomorrow there is going to be a deluge of sweet things and chocolate on the blogosphere so I thought I'd give you a couple of savory recipes with salmon which we all know is wonderful for the heart... The grilled salmon and pasta dish was so refreshing and light that I made it again the day after!
Salmon and Swiss Chard Quiche:
For one quiche (serves 6)
Note: If we don't wish to make this gluten free, reduce the egg yolks to 1 and use 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flours instead of the brown rice, millet, sorghum and cornstarch.
For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup (80gr) brown rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch
Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip together the butter and mustard on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add all the different flours and cornstarch and mix briefly. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan. (I went with rectangular this time) If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 15-20 minutes until completely done. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 5 days if not using right away or freeze it for up to 3 months.
For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (I used 1/2 of a giant sweet Vidalia), sliced thin
1 cup packed Swiss chard (red - green rainbow - your choice), washed and patted dry
One 4-oz salmon fillet, raw and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
salt and pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
Prepare the filling:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Heat the oil in a large sautee pan over medium high heat and cook the onion until translucent (about 3-4 minutes), add the Swiss chard and cooked until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme and parsley. Layer the onion and Swiss chard at the bottom of the crust, top with the pieces of salmon and slowly pour the egg mixture over it.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the tart starts getting golden brown and the custard is cooked.
Grilled Salmon Spaghetti with Grape Tomatoes and Capers:
One 6 oz salmon fillet
3 oz dry gluten free spaghetti (we go with quinoa pasta usually)
3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes
2 teaspoons capers
salt and pepper
Pan grill or grill the salmon until cooked to your liking. Let it cool and chop it roughly or just shred it apart with your fingertips. Place it in a large bowl.
In the meantime, boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Once cooked, drain, and mix it in with the salmon, halved grape tomatoes and capers. Mix and adjust seasoning if necessary. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and prinkle with a few fresh leaves of oregano.