"This much I do Remember"
by Billy Collins....
It was after dinner.
You were talking to me across the table
about something or other,
a greyhound you had seen that day
or a song you liked....
and I was looking past you
over your bare shoulder
at the three oranges lying
on the kitchen counter
next to the small electric bean grinder,
which was also orange,
and the orange and white cruets for vinegar and oil.....
All of which converged
into a random still life,
so fastened together by the hasp of color,
and so fixed behind the animated
foreground of your
talking and smiling,
gesturing and pouring wine,
and the camber of you shoulders....
that I could feel it being painted within me,
brushed on the wall of my skull,
while the tone of your voice
lifted and fell in its flight,
and the three oranges
remained fixed on the counter
the way that stars are said
to be fixed in the universe.....
Then all of the moments of the past
began to line up behind that moment
and all of the moments to come
assembled in front of it in a long row,
giving me reason to believe
that this was a moment I had rescued
from millions that rush out of sight
into a darkness behind the eyes.....
Even after I have forgotten what year it is,
my middle name,
and the meaning of money,
I will still carry in my pocket
the small coin of that moment,
minted in the kingdom
that we pace through every day.....
Forgive me. I can feel myself getting overly sentimental.
At its very essence, a shared meal is an intertwining of lives, a minted moment we carry with us. That is why I so very much enjoy creating meals with others, and sharing recipes, especially those that already come with their own stories and history. Because those recipes and meals become a part of me, intertwined in my own life, maybe even for generations to come, if I’m lucky.
A certain Brussels sprout recipe will forever conjure memories of a friend and the Thanksgivings we’ve shared for the past three years. I cannot make galumpkies without thinking of my Papa, and my mother too, who caught a batch on fire once and had to run the smoking pot into the front yard. There are many many more recipes I’ve gotten from family and friends that feed more than just my body when I make them; meals that remind me of certain houses, certain kitchens, times of year, smiling faces, music, and always the sound of laughter.
Just this last Sunday, a friend came over to share his mom’s recipe for stuffed grape leaves. I wish I could say I had photos and a recipe to share, but the three of us devoured them before I could even break out the camera (a sign of a delicious meal indeed!)
What I can share, is what I did with the leftover ground lamb. There wasn’t enough lamb to make two burgers, so I added a little bulgur (soaked in water for about 30 minutes,) stuffed them with goat cheese, and pan fried them. Once on the bun, I topped them with a caramelized red onion relish I made a few days ago, a little spinach and kewpie mayo mixed with a little lemon zest. Very very good! And a recipe that will definitely stay in my repertoire.
Caramelized Red Onion Relish
From Small Batch-Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard
This recipe boasts it is best served with barbequed or broiled meats such as steak, lamb chops, and chicken.
2 large red onions
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup dry red wine
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp of salt and freshly ground pepper
1.Slice onions into very thin slices. Combine onions and sugar in a heavy non-stick skillet. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes or until onions start to turn golden and start to caramelize, stirring frequently.
2.Stir in wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high hear, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid had evaporated, stirring frequently.
3.Season to taste with salt and pepper. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
Cheers to future meals and memories and the people who have woven themselves into our lives through shared meals!