The house is quiet. Amazingly, Blessedly quiet. I've been longing for quiet lately. It's a craving in my gut. I can't think of a time in my life when the noise of life has felt like such a heavy weight to bear. At 6:30 p.m. last evening I went to my room - like a teenager. I went there by myself. I curled up in bed and read some. Then my eyes felt heavy and I let myself doze a little. After that I read some more. I didn't feel like eating more than I felt like staying put. So I stayed put. Every time the door to my room opened the noise felt deafening, jarring. I didn't want to interact. No questions, thank you very much, because I'll feel coerced to answer. No music. No voices from a computer screen or tv coming at me. I even turned a fan on in my room so that I couldn't hear anything from the floor below. I stayed in my room until 8:30 a.m. this morning.
I'm not sure if I'm an extrovert or an introvert and to be quite frank, I don't care. I get impatient with labels (I'm remembering, back in the early nineties, a friend of mine peddling and pushing personality tests like doing it would get me into heaven) because I think that it can prevent us from truly listening to our 'self' and to what we need at any given time. It can also excuse a hell of a lot of behaviour that we should in all honesty seek to change. So this weekend I'm an introvert. Next weekend or even tomorrow, I might be an extrovert. Maybe not today but on another day and in a moment of gritty honesty I would tell you that I'm some of both and that I think we all are. I would also add that it's probably really important that we are all some combination of both. Can we allow this duality to exist within our 'self' (I'm not sure why I'm putting that word into quotes but it seems like the right thing to do at this moment).
Admittedly, I'm not comfortable with duality. We've been socially conditioned for generations now to avoid it. All black or white. Not a blend and never both. It's wrong politically. It's wrong religiously. It's wrong morally... and all that. I'm working on relearning those ideas. I'm working on feeling okay about how much I squirm when faced with it. I'm working on embracing the idea of needing that duality. We need to have both right and left in our society and in ourselves. We need each other. We need the happy and the sad, the good and the bad. It gives us the depths of feeling, emotion and appreciation that connect us together. We need *ahem* the black and the white. And we need the quiet and the loud. Today I'm happily hugging up the quiet. We're drinking each other in with gusto.
There are certain constants for me though and the desire to get my hands dirty both outside in the garden and inside the kitchen doesn't change. Whatever the emotional place I'm in, the getting of my hands dirty feeds it in the best of ways. Given that my sweet potatoes were nearly on the outs and that I had been meaning to make something like this for a long time, today was the the perfect day to dive into the project. These definitely make a winter meal and would go beautifully with some kind of braised meat. I choose to serve mine with some winter greens and bacon. The greens are definitely a must, the bacon definitely optional. I've cooked up enough for all of us to have a taste and then I put the rest (uncooked) into the freezer. I still didn't feel much like eating today but I did down some of these and I'm the better for it.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi adapted from Aida Mollencamp
serves 6 - 8
3 med sized sweet potatoes, halved
2 med/sm russet potatoes, halved
oil of choice
2 tsp + a sprinkling of salt
dash or two of pepper
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat (or Red Fife) flour
1 - 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
Heat oven to 350°F.
Rub the halved sweet potato and regular potatoes with oil, sprinkle with salt and roast on a roasting pan for about 30 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and cool. Scoop the insides of the sweet potatoes and potatoes into a bowl. Mash with a masher, forks or a hand blender (that's what I used).
Add in the 2 tsp of salt and a dash or two of pepper. Mix and add the parmesan cheese, beaten egg, the whole wheat flour and about 3/4 - 1 cup of all purpose flour. Mix well. If the dough is still damp but doesn't stick to your hand then it's fine and you don't need to add any more flour.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a square(ish) kind of shape and slice into about 8 logs. Flour your hands and roll the log out until it's about 1/2 - 3/4 inch in diameter. Slice into about 1 1/2 inch long pieces. You can roll each piece with the fork tines or leave them as is.
[At this point you can place the pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once the pieces are frozen then you can put them into freezer bags - you might want to do this if you won't be eating them all at one time. Once the gnocchi are cooked they don't keep.
You can also refrigerate for a few hours and bring to room temperature before cooking. ]
Bring a med/large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add a dash of salt. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and simmer for about 6 minutes. The gnocchi will resemble the texture of dumplings at this point.
Have sauce ready.
Remove gnocchi from the simmering water with a slotted spoon and toss in the sauce that's ready.
Pour the gnocchi onto a plate and sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese.
Brown Butter Sauce
will do about half of the gnocchi
1/4 cup butter
1/8 - 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
12 (or so) fresh sage leaves
Heat a heavy bottomed sauce pan over med heat. Add the butter and onion. Continue to simmer the butter over medium heat. Add the sage leaves for about 2 minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon. Once the butter starts to turn brown then turn the heat down.
Toss with the gnocchi and add in the sage leaves.
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- Wanda Thorne
- St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
My Favourite Cookbooks
- Wanda Thorne
- bok choy
- coconut milk
- cream cheese
- goat cheese
- green peas
- ice cream
- main course
- maple syrup
- peanut butter
- poppy seeds
- quick bread
- root vegetable
- side dish
- smoked salmon
- sour cream
- split peas
- stir fry
- sustainable living
- vanilla bean
- white chocolate