It has been Another Week: more killing in the United States and abroad, violent political instability, and don't forget the generous side of racism from the star of the Republican National Convention.
But this morning, on my way to Other Avenues to buy ingredients for lentil soup (because it is a wintry, foggy, 55 degrees in San Francisco), I found myself walking behind two men, one black and one white, and they were out for a walk with a dog. Just before moving to the side to let me pass and greeting me with a big, warm "Good morning!" I overheard them discussing the history of the Black Panthers. In those few seconds of eavesdropping and exchanging greetings, I got exactly the reminder I needed this morning: Things may not be good in the world, but the potential for greatness in our connections with each other is staggering.
As I mentioned, it feels like winter where I live. If you go 20 miles north, south, or east you'll find summer; we'll get ours in September or October. So, unlike most people in my part of the world, I'm coming up with reasons to turn the oven on. Another reason I'm excited to use the oven is that for ten days, we didn't have one. The glass oven light cover had shattered, and it's only thanks to Marc's keen research skills and perseverance that we didn't have to replace the entire (20 year-old) stove because of this one, very basic part.
While we were relegated to stovetop cooking and reheating, we ate a lot of salads. I started by incorporating a warm element, like boiled new potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces, and then adding other vegetables and greens, some cheese, sometimes a super ripe avocado and other times just a simple red wine vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is best with shallots, but I often skip them when I'm short on time (or short on shallots). We topped the salads with chicken or boiled eggs, and in one case, jarred herring (which was terrific).
Two actual recipes I've followed and loved recently are Runner Beans with Swiss Chard Stems and Basil (can't find runner beans? fresh green beans work great), and Chickpea and Celery Salad (it is even better the second day, photo is at the top of this post). And in case you need a recipe for the swiss chard leaves, try Sautéed Swiss Chard with Garlic and Lemon.
I wish you a good week, full of delicious vegetables and staggeringly good connections with strangers.