At work, I have a straight-shot view from my sample corner to the front of the store. The other day, an older man, let's say early 70's, bee lined straight to my back corner with his red grocery basket in hand. He hobbled a little but had a smile on his face. He, of course, took a free sample before giving me his pitch, which from what I could gather was possibly the reason he came into the store in the first place. On the back of a bank deposit slip he had handwritten, all caps, the name of his wife and her self-published cookbook she recently listed on Amazon. "It's all gluten free recipes, you should go there for ideas, we eat her lasagna once a week and it's my favorite." He was sweet and sincere, seemed like the kind of guy I would love to feed - the sort that is enthusiastic and grateful. "I will definitely check it out, sounds great. Tell her congratulations, that is a really wonderful accomplishment." I meant it. Both that I would check it out and that I was impressed someone of her assumed age had the drive to self-publish a book, without pictures, in a well-covered however niche subject, and got it on the internet! "Ok great, and could you please leave a review?" You guys. I spend a lot of time frustrated with the general public while I am giving away free food in the corner of a grocery store. Maybe you've worked retail and that makes humanistic sense to you even though our hearts are compassionate and loving. It is taxing. Most people don't say please and thank you (and I LOVE good manners). But a husband that will come in promoting his wife on the back of a deposit slip and request that a complete stranger also write a review after our two minute conversation - those are the people that I want to come across in my everyday. I am keeping that slip in my purse, if only to remind me how that man made me feel. To remind me that it's never too late, that we ourselves are in charge of doing things we dream of doing. That our people, the ones that really truly love, support and encourage, those are the people I want close and that is the person I want to be for people I love. The kind that runs around town with hand made fliers.
Hugh and I have had quite the past few weeks whilst deciding on taking the leap into owning a home. Our cost of living will increase significantly, we have weekends full of projects for the foreseable future, and the fact that our income fluctuates is not changing amid this great risk. So much money and paperwork. So many tears and sleepless nights. So much unknown. But even people with 9-5 jobs have unknowns. Nothing is certain. For anyone. Ever. You just try to make manageable decisions from what you know of the present. What I DO know is that I have my person - the one who is scared along with me but also excited to get our hands dirty and make it ours. That unpredictable and risky road, we'll figure it out.
This season of life has turned out to be considerably different from what I thought it would be. I pictured myself six months pregnant, having my feet rubbed, pinning pictures of baby nurseries and eating french fries but it looks more like afternoons in the city library working on my book and collecting boxes from my second job to pack up our apartment. There is some sort of wonderful reality that doesn't often get considered in expectations. It surprises me every time and yet I can't help but build conjectures about what life "should" look like. So much of our story is going to unfold in this next year, best not to make assumptions.
Speaking of expectations, I thought I was the girl who would get you great dip recipes prior to important weekends where lots of dip is involved. Alas, the Super Bowl has come and gone. This is the dip I brought to a friends house and it's worth sharing for future dip recipe needing occasions. It's a teensy bit spicy and reminds me of warm hummus in the best way - the way that has a thin layer of golden cheese on top and smells of bright fennel and lemon. Better late than never on this one.
ROASTED FENNEL AND WHITE BEAN DIP // Serves 8
Recipe adapted from Food 52
I like browsing the community picks on Food52 to see what people are making and like to see in recipes. This recipe of theirs had some great feedback. For my own taste, I added a kick of red pepper and simplified the directions a bit to save dirtying one more pan. You can refer to the original recipe if you don't mind dishes as much as I do.
I have a little leftover and plan to thin it with broth to make a soup. I'll try to remember to report back.
- 1 large fennel bulb (reserve the fronds)
- 4 cloves garlic, in skins
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp. rosemary leaves
- 2 cups cooked Cannelinni beans, well drained
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. fennel fronds
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400.
Roughly dice the fennel. On a rimmed baking sheet toss the fennel and garlic cloves in the olive oil with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 30 minutes or until edges are browned. In the last few moments, add the rosemary to the tray, toss it around and bake just another minute to soften.
In a food processor, combine the white beans, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper flakes, fennel fronds and parmesan. Add the fennel, rosemary and push the roasted garlic out of its skin into the processor as well. Pulse everything together into a rough puree. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed (we like lots of herbs, lemon and pepper). Turn the oven up to 450. Transfer the dip to a baking dish and sprinkle the top generously with grated parmesan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the dip is warm and the cheese has browned.
Serve warm with crostini, crackers, crudite, flatbread etc.