So, it’s been cold. We can start with that. The kind of cold where you walk outside and feel like your body has just been slammed into a brick wall. Where the rawness of the air makes your lungs feel like they will implode and all the tiny hairs on your face get covered in a thin film of ice like lichen over an old stone. After awhile, you stop even trying to thaw out your toes in front of the space heater, because you realize it just isn’t going to happen.
And while I can attest to just how horrible and defeating this endless stretch of cold has been, there must also be something of the masochist about me, because a part of me has also been enjoying it. The cold puts everything into forced perspective. When I walk outside, for instance, you would be amazed at how quickly my mind is cleared of petty concerns such as what my husband meant when he said my hairstyle was interesting. All I care about is surviving long enough to experience the small blast of warm air from my car’s heating vent. For those few seconds, the promise of heat is the only thing in the world that concerns me.
Life is simplified. I never have to wonder what to wear, because on most days, I’m wearing just about everything I own. Priorities are re-examined with a more critical eye. Everything is measured against one golden standard: is it worth leaving my heater? Do I really need to drive into town for groceries, for instance, when there is still a half a jar of peanut butter and some perfectly good frozen corn? Of course not! The groceries can wait. So too can the friends or family members I am scheduled to meet up with. If they won’t come to me, then I’m not coming to them, I’ll reason to myself. And besides, isn’t that what the telephone is for?
Perhaps it’s a form of tunnel vision. Perhaps it’s a delusional response to prolonged environmental stress. But I find I feel quite content seeing life through this simplifying lens; where a hot shower is heaven and a shirt warm out of the dryer is the greatest form of luxury imaginable. I suppose it makes me appreciate things a little more and to learn to make do with what I’ve got. I never would have thought to make dosas, for example, if I hadn’t been rummaging around in a nearly empty pantry, searching for a reason to put off the cold for just a day longer. It’s amazing, the creativity born from cowardice. A bag of rice and a jar of lentils are transformed into something exquisite, especially when you throw in the last of the tahini and the wilting bunch of kale in the back of the vegetable drawer. No king ever ate a meal that tasted better than this one. And if they did, I’m sure they didn’t appreciate it half as much.
- 2 cups brown basmati rice
- 1 cup lentils (red, brown, puy, split peas, etc.)
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Coconut oil or ghee, for cooking
- Place the lentils and rice in a bowl and add enough water to cover by an inch. Let the mixture soak for several hours up to overnight.
- When you are ready to make the dosas, strain the water off the lentils and rice and place them in a blender along with your onion and salt . Start by adding just enough water to cover the mixture and turn the blender on low, slowly increasing the speed. Blend until your mixture is smooth, adding water in 1/4 cup increments until you have a consistency similar to crepe batter or thick paint.
- Heat a small amount of oil in a large frying pan over high heat, just enough to coat the surface. When the pan is piping hot, use a ladle to pour the dosa batter over the surface of the pan. You can use the bottom of the ladle to spread the batter out evenly, or you can pick the pan up and tilt it around to spread things out (depending on how heavy your pan is). Whatever technique you choose, try and spread the batter out thinly and evenly, as if you were making a crepe.
- Let the dosa cook for several minutes, until the edges start to pull upwards away from the pan and the surface begins to solidify. At this point, use a spatula to flip the dosa over and cook for one minute more. The flipped surface should be golden brown.
- If the first dosa sticks, don't despair. Just like crepes, it often takes a few sacrificial dosas until the pan gets to the right temperature and you get the hang of when exactly to flip. If you continue to have trouble, thin the batter out with a little more water. That usually does the trick.
Adapted from Casa Moro by Sam and Sam Clark.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch lacianato kale, sliced into thin ribbons
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- juice of 1 lemon
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook for around 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the onion begins to caramelize and looks golden and sticky. Add the greens and the allspice along with a tablespoon of water and cook until the greens are just wilted and the water is cooked away. Add the lemon juice and check for salt and pepper.
- 1 cup tahini
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup hot water
- Place the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small mixing bowl. Add the water in 1/4 cup increments, stirring to incorporate, until you have a nice pourable sauce. The sauce tends to thicken as it sits, so you may find you need to stir in another tablespoon of hot water just before you serve it, to loosen things up.