Sunday, January 10, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I bought half a rack of lamb at a halal grocery in Massachusetts, and today, for Tom's birthday, I will be figuring out what to do with it. I haven't dealt much with lamb in my career as a cook: when I was younger, I didn't like the taste; and when I was older, I was learning to cook goat instead. I'm optimistic, however. Compared to sinewy goat, tender lamb should be a breeze.

Here's the proposed menu:

Appetizers: smoked salmon, goat cheese, fresh bread sticks; Allagash tripel ale

Main course: Roasted rack of lamb rubbed with garlic and parsley, mashed potatoes with scallions, roasted brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes; homemade vegetarian egg rolls for the non-meat eater; Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella 2012 (which costs $11 at Micucci Grocery in Portland and, according to the sign, tastes better than you'd expect)

Salad: red grapefruit segments tossed with pecans and mixed greens

Dessert: pears poached with star anise, on a bed of ginger whipped cream

* * *

Today's weather is forecast to be a sloppy rainy snowy mess.  It is comfort to rest my eyes on the giant bouquet of red roses and white stocks that I brought home for Tom yesterday. The boys are still asleep, the cat is pacing, the fire in the woodstove is clicking and sighing. I woke up too early this morning, gasping in a nightmare panic over schedules and responsibilities--the stupid torments of an overdutiful brain. But despite the unpleasant trigger, I'm not sorry to be awake now, sitting here in my thick bathrobe, drinking black coffee, gazing at fat red roses and a lowering sky.

I suppose I should start mixing bread dough or peeling pears. Maybe I should quote poetry or try to explain why I'm not exactly enjoying Moving On (the 1970 Larry McMurtry novel I'm reading) but why I also kind of like what the novelist is trying to figure out how to say. But recently I've been reading a series of posts on another blog that circle around painting and literature and personal reactions to them, and I've discovered that I can't understand what on earth this writer is trying to tell me. How do these particular works of art connect? Why am I unable to follow this person's leaps and declarations? I feel cowed by the impossibility of conversation, overwhelmed by the writer's pedagogical desperation, and I get worried that I might be doing the same thing to you.

So I will not talk to you about art. Today is the day that I know nothing about art. I only know that these roses on my kitchen table are beautiful but also ridiculous--too big, too red, too wrong for January in Maine . . . like looking at someone walking down a snowy gravel road in open-toed alligator stilettos.

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