This past week has felt about loss and burden. Being on the other side of it, perhaps makes it easier to talk about.
As I mentioned before, we are moving in a couple of weeks and are currently in the preparation phase, the one where you must tackle the clutter, the daunting mountain of things that make up a life and yet do not sum it up.
Part of me just wishes to escape this phase, longs for travel, for an escape, for Greece and France, for Paris at 5 in the morning, for dipping bread in olive oil and tomatoes by a Greek beach, for the discovery of new places and people in foreign lands, for walks in the countryside with no agenda.
As I climb up this mountain, I find myself longing for a flat road.
But this mountain is nothing but a transition, one that is helping me process loss, I suppose. The loss of my life as I knew it and had planned it. And the burden transformation necessitates.
Just like when Pablo started on solid food and I decided we were going to eat as well as he did, I must apply to myself what I have been practicing with him to nurture and support him through his difficulties.
In time of crisis, instead of distracting him, I aim to become very present, right there with him, supporting, putting emotions into words, patient and accepting.
So now I must stand beside myself, as I climb and get anxious, frustrated, exhausted and discouraged. Be present with myself, and supportive, patient and accepting. And later, there might be Greece and France.
Acceptance. This might just be the secret to it all. Unconditional, guilt-free, trusting acceptance. Of oneself and loved ones, of one’s own needs, of help, of feelings, of life’s meanderings. Only then can we see their beauty. Or their purpose.
Through it all, I’m always grateful for Pablo’s gentleness and complete acceptance. His existence is my daily poetry.
As we manage the logistics of the chaos ahead, time for cooking will be very limited. But I realized last week that it wouldn’t occur to me to start eating processed foods, quick frozen meals or to skip the family meals and eat on the run, even then. It’s not an option in my mind. I certainly need the connection, togetherness, and simple beauty of our family meals more than ever. They help me recharge my batteries.
And it’s also not really necessary. What will our meals look like in the next few weeks, as we are surrounded by boxes and limited in kitchenware? Lots of Greek salads and crudités, (the summer season is still blessing us with gorgeous produce), easy pan-fried meats, fish, shrimp, and pan-fried vegetables like zucchini and eggplant. Quick proteins like smoked salmon and sardines and eggs. Lots of things we can make ahead, to have for a couple of days: grated carrot salad, lentil salad, chickpea salad, quinoa, gazpacho. If our meals are slightly lighter, we’ll enjoy a little more cheese, yogurt and summer fruit as dessert.
One very simple meal I’ve been wanting to share with you for some time, but finally was able to take some pictures of before we sit down to eat it. This grilled duck with radishes and cherries offers a great mix of salty, slightly bitter and sweet. If cherries are out of season, you can certainly omit them, it’s also delicious with just the radishes.
So I will post at a slower pace the next couple of weeks as we get settled, and will probably share very simple meals.
And I will be looking forward to sharing so much more from our new home, with a smaller kitchen (yikes!), but such a lovely window for photos, a vegetable garden and fruit trees to boot.
Roasted duck with braised radishes & cherries
Adapted from Petit Larousse des Recettes des Légumes du Potager by Valérie Lhomme
Serves 2 + 1 toddler
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time : 35 minutes total
Age for babies: Mixed thoroughly into a puree, I would give this from 6 months on (perhaps adding some potato for consistency). More baby duck recipes here and here.
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 bunch of radishes
2 tbsp sugar (or honey)
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp salt (I used lapsang souchong salt here)
1 tsp pepper
4 small duck breasts
Wash and pat-dry the radishes, cut the stems short. Pit the cherries.
In a medium sauté pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the radishes, the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring here and there, until they become slightly golden.
Then add a little bit under 1/4 cup of hot water, and the cherries. Stir, lower heat to medium low, cover and let braise for about 15 minutes. Then, keep warm/covered.
(At this point, I do a few other things like set the table, prepare our vegetable first course. Then I continue a few minutes before we sit down to eat)
Preheat your broiler at 500°F.
Make a salt and pepper rub by mixing the salt and pepper (and some lapsang souchong tea strands, I’m obsessed with this tea right now!) in a bowl.
Make a few incisions (3 in each direction) through the skin of the duck breasts (but not all the way through the skin). Rub each side with the salt & pepper.
Place the breasts on parchment paper in a baking dish, skin side down.
Place in the oven (very close to the heat elements) for about 5 minutes, then turn them over (skin up), for another 5 minutes. Then turn off the oven and let rest with the oven door open for another 5 minutes.
Serve 2 duck breasts on each plate, top with some radishes and cherries and drizzle the cooking juices from radishes over both.