- Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. `
I could not get the image of "faery vats of berries" and "reddest stolen cherries" out of my mind. And even though there are indeed signs of spring (my tulips are 1-1/2 inch up from the ground - yes, I measured), vats of berries and reddest stolen cherries are not readily available yet. In honor of the endless winter ending and spring slowly springing, I poached some pears - cherry red. Hailing from Valle d'Aosta - the Italians Alps that borders France and Switzerland, this is a sweetly- spiced dish that lulls you when there's just a wee bit of chill in the air. Valle d'Aosta is said to have a forbidding climate - perfect for warming, spicy concoctions. I suppose if you come from Sicily, you might find it chilly. As an almost-Minnesotan, I may find it warm.
Pears Poached in Spiced Red Wine* - serves 2
- 2 pears, peeled, bottom sliced so the pear can stand on its own (I used bosc pears)
- 3/4 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 cup sugar 1 cinnamon stick
- 3-4 cloves
- additional water to cover
- *Pomegranate juice and grape juice are good options if you don't cook with wine. Just sugar to-taste - you won't need 1/2 cup.
- To finish: I served it with some lemon yogurt and strawberries. Also consider whipped cream or creme fraiche. ` Note: The pears should be ripe - they should not be hard as nails when you buy them. They also shouldn't be over-ripe as they may not hold their shape during cooking. (What a fuss-budget I've become)
In honor of the still-to-come green landscape, I turned to wonderful, peppery arugula. (Thank-you Cooking Light.) Combined with cooked barley, chickpeas, salt, pepper and equal parts of olive oil and lemon (just a little), this hearty salad also bids good-bye to the North Wind and welcomes the robin. Vary the amount according to your taste - but do dress lightly and it will stand the test of time (i.e. be ready for your lunch box the next day).
And the asparagus has returned and I buy a pound every day. From Proud Italian Cook - it's simple: roasted asparagus (asparagus trimmed and roasted in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and grape tomatoes). Dressed (again lightly) with equal parts lemon and olive oil, tossed with tangy feta cheese - half of it was missing before I brought it to the table.
Lest you think my life is a party of pretty words and endless eating, do know that I spent an agonizing day wondering if one of my young characters should have a Dick Tracy spy decoder ring or a Man from U.N.C.L.E. decoder ring or a James Bond one. What will the kids relate to? And so I return to the age of acquarius and faeries... and "spy" toys that come in cereal boxes. While "In the Year 2525" plays in the background. Does Randy say, "Groovy" or "far out?" And if you need some enchantment in your days - look no further... there's magic in these words.