It's a funny thing, but when you get married or otherwise commit yourself to another human being because of love, you not only commit to their lovable habits, but also the ones that kind of drive you nuts. I've always been wary of being "that" women - you know; the one who screeches at her husband like a fishwife, nagging incessantly about trivial things like socks on the floor, porn watching, not being a mind-reader. So by and large, I don't screech. But there are a few things Husband does that I find confounding and on occasion, incredibly irksome.
1. The fan.
I don't know if he's always needed it, but in order to go to sleep, we have to turn on a big fan because the whooshing noise comforts him. I say 'we.' It's somehow my job to turn it on before climbing into bed because he always goes to bed before me. Sometimes I'll forget on purpose because I like listening to the city as it goes to sleep, but he'll actually wake up and ask if I can turn on the fan. He does this thing where he pretends he's dying and makes his voice all dry and weak and makes me promise to turn it on. He never tires of it.
2. The Encyclo-dictionary.
Oh. My. Lanta. The number of times we debate something, no matter how inane, whether it's the pronunciation of 'archipelago', or the what year Koko, the signing gorilla, was born, and he says to me, eyebrows raised with disbelief "Are you sure?" and then wields that yellow-paged, leather-bound juggernaut of know-it-all-itis at me, just to prove me wrong...
3. The piles.
Piles. Everywhere. Piles of comic books, piles of unopened mail. Piles of clothes. And the very special one we call the 'melted Cameron' pile, because it is quite literally a pile composed of pants, underpants and shirt, stacked Russian nesting doll-style and piled next to his side of the bed, so in the morning, he just needs to put on the shirt and step back into the underpants and pants and poof! He's ready for the day.
But I don't screech. I don't want to be a fishwife, and really, these aren't such big issues. Besides, I'm not perfect. There are things about me that must just drive him mental. Like the Purple Bathrobe which I live in when I'm at home. I know he's sick of seeing it. Or my pea-sized bladder on driving trips. I'm willing to bet that drives him absolutely bonkers.
Wow. You know what? I couldn't think of anything else that I do that annoys him. It was really hard even just coming up with the bathrobe and the bladder. Maybe I'm not as annoying as I think he thinks I can be?
(Or maybe he's just holding it all in.)
Because I do plenty of things that annoy myself. I worry incessantly about dumb things. I read too much celebrity gossip. And I seem to be incapable of making food that doesn't belong on a lunch/brunch menu. Muffins, scones, loaves. Savory tarts and quiches. Pizzas and salads. I'm obsessed. And this meal I made the other day is no exception. I can't help myself.
When I saw these leeks;
And bathed the spinach in a Christmas-light reflected pool in the sink;
well, I guess I just have to accept that adventure is not what I'm looking for in cooking. And I think I'm okay with that. I may never try to master Julia Child. I probably won't make handmade pasta. There is a very good chance that I'll never get past the brunch/lunch menu.
But as long as I am still dazzled by the humble beauty you'll find in vegetables if you look closely; as long as I am seduced by the fatty magic of cheese and am able to produce food that tastes really good, good enough for me to take a minute to absorb that I made it that way, well, I reckon I'm probably doing things just right.
And if ever I'm in doubt, all I need to do is check the Encyclo-Dictionary.
Spinach-Blue Cheese-Leek Tart (pastry from Everyday Food November 2010 issue)
1 bunch of spinach, well rinsed and squeezed dry
1 leek, split lengthwise, then cut into 1/4 pieces, rinsed well
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup cream (I used half and half, but you can use buttermilk or 2% milk as well)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat olive oil and white wine over medium heat in pan. Add the spinach and wilt it; then add the leeks. Cook till everything is soft and fragrant and the wine has mostly been cooked off. Set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the blue cheese, cream and eggs and puree till well mixed.
3. Put the veggies in the pre-baked pie crust (see below for recipe) and then pour the cheese mixture over top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the middle of the tart is set.
In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp coarse salt to combine. Add 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea sized pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp ice water, pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. (I had to add two more tbsp of water to achieve this) Form dough into a 1 inch thick circle, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm; 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
When ready to use, thaw to room temperature and roll it out to fit an 8-9 inch pie pan. Pre-bake to prevent sogginess at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or till lightly golden. Use a fork to pierce the bottom to create steam holes, and weigh down the crust with beans or pie weights to prevent the crust from puffing up.