Two days ago, we arrived here at the farmhouse from town. The wind blew around the house all evening and night in moans and ghostly howls. Dingo kept barking at it, and in the course of a night in front of a crackling fire, we watched Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” video, the one where she dances like an embarrassing 70s suburban mom discovering her inner Wiccan. It is an insidious earworm like few other songs, and it’s now stuck hard in my head, permanently, I fear.
Yesterday was calm and very cold and sunny. Today is the first snowfall of the year. It’s powdered-sugaring out there. Happy December.
We finally ate the very last of Thanksgiving yesterday in the form of the rest of a red cabbage-spicy chorizo-white bean soup made with the second half of the turkey broth. The first half of the broth received the leftover pearl onions in béchamel, along with a chopped leek, a bag of frozen peas, and all the turkey meat I’d pulled off the bird and chopped before I put the bones into the broth. The soups were slurp-worthy and stood up well to the intensely savory, shimmeringly rich broth. The first was creamy, oniony, and filled with bits of green and chunks of meat. The second was purple and porky and full of soft, mealy beans, and we snarfed it, there is no other verb, for dinner, and then lunch the next day.
“I feel like Dingo,” I said at one point, looking up from my bowl with dripping jowls to see Brendan eating rapidly, with canine concentration.
Thanksgiving leftovers are the ultimate reward of hosting Thanksgiving dinner. After I made the broth, I pulled another big bowlful of meat off the simmered bones and added the rest of the cranberry-walnut sauce to it. We mounded this insanely delicious turkey salad on hot toast with mayonnaise and chutney over the course of one lunch and two breakfasts, until it was gone. When no one was looking, I wiped the empty bowl with my finger and licked it.
The rest of the mashed potatoes got turned into little pancakes fried in a cast iron skillet in peanut oil till they were crisp on both sides, then served with two poached eggs on top. The rich warm egg yolk soaked into the light, flaky potato and bits of browned onion.
The question arises in a vague but persistent inner voice once the fridge is empty again: what should we eat after all the holiday fare is well and truly gone? Those leftovers provided a helpful scaffolding for invention, and now I’m feeling lazy and uninspired. There’s nothing much around right now but some gluten-free pasta, a bag of frozen peas, some parmesan from a month ago, and aromatics. So tonight, we’ll have pasta with pea sauce. And there are couple of leeks in the bottom drawer for potato-leek soup, so that’s two days of lunch. But what about tomorrow night’s dinner? What about the next day?
I miss those old mimeographed school-cafeteria menu charts with their soothingly didactic regularity: Monday: sloppy Joes, Tuesday: tostadas, Wednesday: spaghetti with meatballs, Thursday, Salisbury steak, Friday, fried chicken… On days when there was going to be Mississippi mud cake for dessert, I’d spend the morning daydreaming about it in insatiable anticipation. Why was cafeteria milk always so fresh-tasting and ice-cold in its tiny individual cartons?
Anyway. Thanksgiving food eases the transition from fall harvest food to bone-warming winter stews and soups. It got very cold very early this year. The sun sets in the mid-afternoon. Yesterday, there were little ice balls in the lawn, and the streams had a top layer of ice. This morning when we woke up, there were lace frost curtains on the bottoms of the windows. The season of pot roast is upon us.
Stovetop Baked Eggs with Breakfast-Vegetable Stew
Dice an onion. Chop a package of baby Portobello mushrooms and one red pepper. Peel and smash and coarsely chop as many cloves of garlic as you like. Sauté all of it together in a large skillet in half oil, half butter until limp. Add a lot of chopped baby arugula, more than you think you’ll need, in two batches and cover as it wilts down to almost nothing. Add half a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes, a lot of hot red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Stir and simmer uncovered for seven minutes, then sprinkle parmesan cheese over it in a layer like an early snowfall. Crack four eggs one by one onto the surface of the vegetables and pour just a jot of cream or half-and-half over each egg yolk. Cover and let bake on medium-low heat until the whites are just barely set and the yolk is still runny. Serves 2.