Monthly Archives: December 2008

Welcome to the World, Nora

On 19 November, we drove to Evergreen Hospital to evict my beloved tenant. She made no sign of leaving on her own, having blocked the exit with her bottom and legs.

I walked unassisted but not unaccompanied to the delivery room, took my spinal like a woman (nearly soundlessly and according to my labor nurse, like “a very tough woman”) and within a few minutes became mother to a daughter. A daughter, in the words of the surprised OB, assisting and nurses, who was “a very big girl”. Baby was 8lbs, 8oz, 20.5 inches. Strong. Pink. And with the most beautiful thatch of blond hair, which after her first bath made a silvery blond cap on her little head, prompting lovely spontaneous expressions from her nurses.

Looking at her, all the names we preselected seemed wrong. And in fact, I thought she looked more like a Walter in those first hours. But with time, hospital discharges, and the 100,000 Baby Name book, we figured out her name by the 26th: Nora. Her full name is Eleanor, but when I looked into her dark eyes, I saw a determined, decidedly unfrivolous person, looking back at me. Nora. She cried only for food and cold – no sense in making a fuss otherwise – and was as content as could be once full and warm. Nora. And yet, such a delicate little face, a halo of silky filaments, a little beauty completely unaware of a world falling in love with her, and acting accordingly. My Nora. Welcome to the world, little one.

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recipe: peperonata (red pepper stew)

Most of my favorite dishes are connected to autumn – harvests, creeping twilight, and foods that provide a luscious but comforting counterpoint to the refreshing nip in the air.  I hadn’t made this one in years – perhaps hadn’t even made it for H – but it was something he really enjoyed. It’s worth doubling and tripling.

Another bonus in our world of competing diet restrictions – it’s entirely vegan, but lacks the 70’s co-op flavor. All you’ll want to do is find good bread to sop up the juices.

From Verdura by Viana La Place:

2 red peppers

2 yellow peppers

or

16 oz of roasted red or mixed red and yellow peppers, packed in water not vinegar

1 pound boiling potatoes

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes or 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, sliced

1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and cut in quarters

10-12 basil leaves divided

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the peppers by cutting them lengthwise and removing the cores, seeds, and white membranes. Cut the peppers into 1/2 inch strips. Peel the potatoes and cut into rough 1-inch dice. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop the tomatoes.

Place the olive oil and butter in a braising pan. Turn the heat to medium and when the butter melts, add the onion and toss quickly. Lower the heat and cook the onion until it softens and becomes light gold. Add the peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, black olives, 4 whole basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir the mixture, cover, and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender but still hold their shape. Be careful not to overcook the potatoes.

Before serving, coarsely chop the remaining basil. Transfer the stew to a shallow serving dish or to individual pasta bowls and sprinkle with the remaining basil.

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