Friday, January 05, 2007

Recovering from the holidays

I get a little email newsletter with recipes from Lynne Rossetto Kasper, who does the Splendid Table radio show on NPR, and I think she wrote one of the best synopses of how we are all feeling this week, the first week of the new year - "I regret nothing", she said, but it all had to stop sometime - meaning the roughly three-week period of overindulgent eating and drinking that most of us do over the holiday season.

I actually threw some food away - not cookies, but the over-sugary sticky buns from the New Years brunch - they were good when they were warm, but they lost it; the last edges of the stratas; the last two blueberry muffins, after one of the cats knocked them on the floor; some Trader Joe's Thai Chili Lime Cashews, that I just don't like - they are almost too spicey and they have a nasty fake-lime flavor; some chocolates, also Trader Joe's; and fruitcake - I only baked the Simnel cake this year, a fruitcake that's really for Easter, or, as I just learned from my Waitrose food mag that came today, Mothering Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent. It's a light fruitcake with a band of marzipan in the middle - I made a plate of little hunks of it for the brunch, and no one ate them, so I chucked them - but I kept a hunk in the back for the fridge that I am eating myself, slowly; I had a slice for breakfast this morning. I think it is like British Christmas cake - the marzipan is squidgey as Nigella would say, although I think for Christmas Cake, the Brits put the marzipan on the top.

All the cooking mags are publishing recipes to recover from the richness of the holiday season, now that all the articles about what to eat on New Year's day for luck are done. I bought all the stuff to make Hoppin' John because that's the lucky food that I have decided to believe in - beans & rice seems like a good antidote to party food. I did not make the dish on New Year's Day, I just cooked the peas. On Wednesday I finally made them into a dish that I have been making a lot, that won 2nd place in the REAP recipe contest this year (scroll down) - Masamba, which is greens with peanut sauce from Malawi. Although I did feel a little odd about it - I wanted to write about it the other day, and couldn't remember the name of the dish, so I did some Google searching, and if you search on "foods" and "Malawi" you get a lot of articles about how hungry they are there, there is no food security. It seems a bit ironic that two well-meaning Madisonians, who lived in Malawi for a while, contribute the recipe for a poor, almost starving, people's dish to a recipe contest here in the fat Midwest, and it wins 2nd place.

But not to wallow in irony too long, it's because it tastes good, and it's fast and easy - and you can make it with whatever you have, whatever greens - I used kale - onions, peppers, even adding black eyed peas, like I did this time. And you can stuff it in pita bread and eat for lunch the next day, too.

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