Cooking in someone else’s home is hard. You don’t know which knife is the best. You’re uncharacteristically clean. You’re unsure whether you can just rinse a cup that was only, sorta, kinda used or if you really have to use soap. The burners never get hot fast enough, the oven gets hot too quickly, and eventually your just throw your arms up spoon feed yourself some peanut butter.
I said bye to my kitchen on Sunday as I packed up some clothes and moved out of San Francisco for the summer. There are geese outside my window here. And a lake. Yesterday, I took a long walk beside a corn grove. I even walked for 25 minutes without seeing another person. It didn’t make me nervous. I sat on a lawn chair, next to a pool. I listened to a waterfall. I read Bon Appetit, laughed with a friend, stared at the lake, stared at the geese.
When I first visited Israel, someone told me that one of the worst things I could let happen to my life was routine. At the time, it seemed kind of dramatic, especially on the heels of the second Lebanon war. I see now how naive I was. Routine shrinks our eyes. It offers a temporary comfort in exchange for substantial discovery, growth, radical amazement. It’s frustrating when we open a cupboard for a glass only to find cereal and vitamins, but eventually we find our way to what we set out looking for.
I started a new job on Monday, in a new city, with new people, new questions and some unfamiliar independence. I don’t yet know the best coffee shop around, the cheapest nail salon, or which file to put in which folder with which cover sheet. I suspect the next ten weeks will feel like I’m in someone else’s kitchen every day, at every turn. It’s exhausting. But like my friend was essentially saying, the worst thing we can do is remain the same.
What You Need
2 c dry farro
1 tsp salt
juice of 3 lemons
1 garlic clove; chopped
2 c celery; sliced (you could substitute for cucumber, too)
6 or 7 radishes; thinly sliced
5 thyme sprigs
2 c arugula; (before) chopped
2 leeks; sliced vertically, chopped, then roasted
1/4 c olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 c red grapes; halved and roasted
salt to taste!
How To Do It:
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Toss the leeks with olive oil and then roast for 15-20 minutes (or until they are crunchy). When finished, raise the temperature to 450 F, toss the grapes in a wee drizzle of olive oil (and pinch of salt!) and roast for about 7 or 8 minutes (they should get wrinkly and look like an old person’s forehead). Remove from the oven, stick your finger in the juice and smile.
While those items are roasting, cook the farro with salt. In a large bowl, mix the farro with the lemon, garlic, celery and radish. Toss in the thyme and arugula and add the grapes last. Enjoy!