Wednesday, February 29, 2012


"Mama, are those real tears on your face?"

"Yes. Feel them."

I cried when I learned you were a boy.

"Mama I've never seen you cry."

Dash pats the tears into the skin under my eyes as if he's applying a very special cream.

"I had a hard day, Dash. Dance with me."

I cried when I didn't want you to come out of me.

"Mama, are you crying because you missed me today?"

"Oh Dashi,  I did miss you today. But that's not why I'm crying. Please dance with me."

I cried when I first held you.

"Well, mama, I had a hard day too."

"Tell me. What happened?"

"Well, I was barefoot."


"And I stepped on this pokey thing."

I cried when I weaned you.

He shakes his head, remembering the horror of it all.

"Dash. My day was harder than yours."

I cried when you did a front flip out of your crib.

"Wait, mama, there's more. I was playing with Eric and you know that girl Rose?"


"Well, she told me that if I touched a certain digging toy that I would die."

I cried when I dropped you off at preschool for the first time.

"Okay. Your day was hard."

"Yes," he starts to cry. "And I don't want tomorrow to be so hard."

I cried when that little shit at school called you stupid.

I grab him by the wrists and he scampers up my body, legs monkey-wrapping around my waist. We dance, our faces smashed together, butterfly kissing, real tears mixing with real tears.

I cried when I realized my main job was to keep you alive.

"Dash, I've been told my whole life that soup can make you feel better."

We scour the kitchen and gather the scrappy, the limp, the sprouting, the freezer-burned, and the long-forgotten odds and ends.

And we make some motherfucking soup.

printable recipe
serves 4-6
This soup is very easy to make. You can soak beans overnight or just used any canned/jarred white beans.  Find every vegetable scrap in your fridge from old onions slices to wilted bok choy to rubbery carrots to a stump of brown fennel. All should go in. All will taste good. This is the template.

4 slices bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
6 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 anchovy fillets
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup white wine or Lillet Blanc
12 yukon gold or German butterball potatoes, peeled, halved, and sliced
8 white turnips, peeled, halved, and sliced
8-10 cups liquid (any combination of chicken stock, vegetable stock or water)
parmesan rind
2 cups white beans (navy, cannellini, great northern, or butter)
6 sausages (raw or pre-cooked)
1 head kale (or any hearty green like chard, spinach, bok choy, or collards)
lemon juice
sherry wine vinegar
chopped parsely
cooked bacon, chopped or crumbled

In your soup pot, fry up the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and place on paper towel. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Add olive oil. Over medium heat, add onions, carrots, and celery. Add big pinch of salt. Cook until tender (about 10 minutes).

While the vegetables are cooking, make a puree out of anchovies and garlic (with mortar and pestle or a chef knife on a cutting board). Add puree to vegetables. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add white wine. Cook down for a minute. Add potatoes and turnips. Add enough stock and/or water so that the vegetables are covered. Throw in a parmesan rind. Bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add white beans and cook for another 20 minutes with the lid off. You want the potatoes, turnips, and beans to start to fall apart and thicken the soup.

Fry up the sausage in a separate pan until almost cooked through. Slice and add to the soup.

Stack all the kale leaves. Slice into 1"pieces. Add to soup. Cover with lid for two minutes until kale is wilted.

Stir. Taste. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and/or sherry wine vinegar.

Serve topped with chopped parsley, parmesan, bacon, olive oil, and crunchy salt.

It's always tastier and thicker the next day. Freezes beautifully. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


3 a.m.

Dash is horizontal in my bed, dreaming, his feet walking up my face.

And I am brain-churning, teeth-grinding, eyes-wide-open awake.

I press Dash's toes to my lips and imagine, one by one, losing everyone that I love. A car crash, a murder, several kidnappings.

I shake my head from side to side to expel the tragedy fantasies and slide into a more typical middle-of-the-night worry list.

Did I place the battery back into the smoke detector? What's causing the dead animal smell in the attic? Warm cabbage salad with almonds, anchovy vinaigrette, and navel orange? Or bacon and pine nuts? Why did I have that third glass of wine? Did I lock the front door? Who the fuck am I?

6:45 a.m.

Bella hovers. Sighs. Stomps. Shakes my shoulders. Pulls back the comforter. She shrieks, "We're going to be late for school and I hate being late."

"Bella. Please. CHILL. Just five more minutes."

Dash yells from the kitchen, "Mama, don't be mean to Bella. I love her."

Crash. Breaking glass.

Now I'm up.

Bella watches as I pull on yesterday's jeggings, white t-shirt, grey cardigan, and boots.

"Mama. You wore that yesterday. And your pants are so tight."

Dash enters the bedroom. "Mama. Why are you wearing your bathrobe?"

"Dash. This is a sweater. Can't you see that?"

"You need your coffee. It makes you stronger and nicer."

Bella yanks my t-shirt down to cover my belly and then takes a brush to my hair. "You would look so pretty with your hair in a high ponytail."

"I don't like to feel like a cheerleader."

Two sips of coffee.

And I fly.

Zit covered. Dog walked. Sharing toy found. Pork thrown into slow cooker. Field trip waiver signed. Six and seven "times tables" practiced.

8 a.m.

No time to sweep up the broken glass. Milk is left out. Compost never makes it to the curb. Teeth aren't brushed.

We speed to school, avoiding small children and dogs, blasting music, chewing mint gum.

"Daddy comes home Saturday."


"Dash. Bella. I'm so sick of Adele."

"Me too," says Dash. "I prefer Mozart. And Handel is nice too."

Bella looks disgusted and pushes her face further into her book.

"What? Dash? HANDEL? Where did you come from?

"From you, mama. I came out from behind your legs."

Bella would jump out of the car if we weren't moving so fast.

"Okay, lovelies. What's for dinner tonight?"

We decide on spaghetti carbonara with bacon (for Bella), Marcona almonds (for Dash), parsley, garlic, thick balsamic (for me), and three different cheeses.

6:45 p.m.

Broken glass swept up. Maya Angelou poem recited. French dictation practiced. Anchovies pestled. Nuts bashed. Garlic and shallots softened. Wine poured. Pitcher of pasta water reserved. Parsley chopped. Dog tranquilized. Another glass broken.

Pasta tossed, topped, drizzled.

Eat. Clean. Read. Snuggle. One kid down. Threaten to take away all playdates and sleepovers for the next year. Another kid down. 

10 p.m. 

Pour third glass of wine. Write. Fall asleep in bath. Drag ass to bed. Wish for my husband's hand, to encompass the crown of my head, to gently press me into sleep. 


printable recipe
Serves 3
This is a very forgiving recipe. Play. Cream or no cream. Or half and half. Or chicken stock. Skip the egg. Replace parsley with chives. Skip bacon. Use any hard cheese. Whatever.

6 slices bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped or microplaned
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
4 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
1 egg
juice/zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped flat parsley
1/2 cup heavy cream
1.5 cups grated cheese (any combination of parmesan, pecorino, romano, piave)
salt for pasta water
1 pound dry pasta
for toppings: olive oil, balsamic (thick if you have it), salt, pepper, chopped parsley

Put on a big pot of water to boil pasta.

In a medium-sized cast iron or nonstick pan, fry up the bacon to your liking. Remove cooked bacon and place on paper towel. Pour out most of the bacon fat and reserve for other uses. Turn pan to medium heat. Add olive oil. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add vinegar and cook for 30 seconds. Turn off heat and set aside.

Bash anchovies with a mortar and pestle. Add almonds and bash until almost a paste but not quite.

In a large bowl (in which you will serve the pasta) add almond/anchovy mixture, egg. lemon juice/zest, parsley, cream, 1 cup of the cheese, salt, pepper, and cooked shallots/garlic. Whisk together.

Once the pasta water is boiling. add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add pasta. Before pouring pasta into a colander, scoop out and reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water. Cook pasta until al dente.

Add cooked and drained pasta to almond, anchovy, lemon juice/zest, parsley, cream, shallots, garlic mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup pasta water. Use tongs to combine. Taste. Add more pasta water, cheese, salt, and pepper as needed. Taste again.

Serve with toppings on the table: crumbled bacon, pasta water, parsley, parmesan, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.