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The Meal

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Given the dearth of recent comments, I feel liberated to indulge the frustrated food blogger inside of me once again:

Book Club--"Meal Of Dreams" (mp3)

Sunday lunch. Something strange happened. Maybe something revelatory. My daughter was the one who noticed it.

There wasn't that much on the table--soup, three open-faced sandwichs, a bowl of cut-up strawberries, three glasses of water. My daughter said, "This is the way people are supposed to eat."

I didn't know immediately what she meant. I expected a plea for a complete transition to vegetarianism, maybe a push for a weight-loss diet. "How do you mean?" I asked, tentatively.

"Look at all this. We know what every single thing that we're putting in our mouths is, where it came from."

I realized that she was right. The meal was unusual in that regard. Short of milling the flour for the bread and refining the sugar on the strawberries, I had pretty much made everything. It kind of gave me chills, like centuries had suddenly dropped away and I was stuck out on a farm or prairie somewhere making everything from scratch. But it kind of felt good, too. But that really isn't the point. The point, as always, is that anyone can do the same thing.

The soup was a carrot soup, literally nothing but carrots and water with a good bit of onion and some ginger, curry, salt and pepper. It was supposed to have cilantro oil or something like that to drizzle over it, but I didn't get to it and it didn't need it.

The sandwich was, admittedly, several steps, but none of them difficult:

The bread was wheat flour, white flour, buttermilk, a little butter, a little sugar, salt, and yeast mixed in a bread machine and allowed to rise and baked.

Atop the bread was homemade ricotta cheese, nothing more than whole milk brought to a temperature of 190 degrees, then removed from heat and 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice added per quart of milk. It's allowed to rest for 5 minutes, then strained for an hour or so.

Atop the ricotta was pesto, pesto from last summer that I had put into an ice cube tray and frozen into handy pieces. This pesto was nothing more than basil I had grown, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Not even nuts.

Layered on the pesto were strips of roasted red pepper. Nothing easier/tastier in the world. You simply cut the peppers in half, put them on a baking sheet under a broiler until they're black, then get some tongs and toss them in a plastic bag for 20-30 minutes, after which the skins pull off pretty easily. Then slice them up, toss them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, maybe lemon and that's it.

Yes, there is something very satisfying about making everything that there is to be made. And, yes, then you do know everything that you're putting into your body. The other good news is that when you make any of the things I've mentioned above, you can't help but make more than you're going to use, so you've likely made enough to do it all again or, maybe better, to have some ingredients for some other dishes: ricotta for lasgne. Me, I cut up the rest of those roasted red peppers, sauteed them in olive oil with some garlic and green onion (which grew again from last year's garden) and pureed them in a blender with some of the leftover ricotta cheese for a delicious, different tasting pasta sauce.

If only I could distill my urine into drinking water, I'd be totally set, eh?

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