February 15, 2011 § 2 Comments
Last week I lost my balance. It started literally: sliding on my backside down
snow ice the texture of large grain sea salt, something resembling an elongated tea-tray strapped to my feet. It ended figuratively with some particularly unattractive pouting and sulking. I don’t especially like being bad at things, and the crosser and more frustrated I got with myself and my lack of overnight snowboarding prowess, the more my inner-hormonally-challenged-14-year-old self reared her spotty head. Add to the mix a couple of nights of insomnia in an unfamiliar bed, stir in a stressful work week, and sprinkle with a hectic visitor schedule, and it would be fair to say that my equilibrium was well and truly off kilter.
It’s all too easy in such situations to deprioritize cooking. It becomes another chore, yet another item to cross off a looming list. The take-out menu winks seductively from the drawer; the pizza joint on the corner wolf-whistles as you walk by. At the most peril are those times when you need to cook for you and you alone. Just as we turn to the language of food to show someone support, love or pleasure, the food choices we make when no-one else is watching tell their own stories. They reveal how you are talking to yourself and betray the time you think you deserve. If you reach the third consecutive day of lunch consisting of a bowl of cereal eaten one-handed in-between emails, you know it’s time to act.
And so, yesterday I put down tools, turned off the phone and put on my current favourite album. One bunch of iron-green dino kale, a substantial handful of the prehistoric leaves shredded away from the tough stems and into fork-manageable strips. A couple of meaty cloves of garlic, chopped roughly. A small handful of dried chiles de arbol, seeds mostly removed, crumbled into flakes. A pair of sunny pasture-raised eggs, ready at the side of the stove. Two slices of a favourite farmhouse levain, set in anticipation on a plate. A good slick of olive oil in a non-stick skillet, to which the garlic and chiles are added and briefly sauteed, followed by the kale. A generous pinch of sea salt and a minute more of sauteing. Eggs cracked straight into the pan, broken quickly with a spoon and tossed over and under the now bright leaves. A minute for them to firm up and the scramble tops the waiting bread. It’s simple and doesn’t really take that much time but it shows care and thought: it nourishes the body and the mind. Perhaps it’s because kale is to my 14-year-old-petulant self as garlic is to Dracula but I feel my balance return. Later that night I go to yoga, hold Warrior III and do not so much as wobble. I am back.
a generous handful of kale leaves, tough stems removed and roughly shredded (or any other robust green such as chard or spinach)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
a tablespoon of red pepper flakes (from dried chiles if you have them in the cupboard, otherwise from a jar is fine)
a tablespoon of olive oil
2 slices of bread or toast
If you want your bread to be toasted, begin by getting it ready, as everything else happens pretty quickly. Then, heat the oil over a medium to high flame in a saute pan. I prefer to use non-stick when I cook eggs. Add the garlic and the chile flakes and move quickly around the pan for around 30 seconds, taking care that neither burn. Add the kale along with a good pinch of salt and continue stirring frequently for another minute, until the kale turns bright green and begins to wilt and soften. Turn the heat down slightly to medium.
Working quickly, crack both eggs into the pan on top of the kale and immediately break up with a spoon. Give them a few seconds to start to firm up, then stir again to cover and coat the kale. The eggs should be cooked within about a minute: you want to ever so slightly undercook them as they will continue to cook from their own heat even when you take the pan from the stove. Tip over the waiting bread and eat immediately (at a table, away from the computer).