back to basics

no-knead bread

When life gets complex and decisions need making, and all I want to do is crawl under the covers and hide, bread is simple. So is soup. So in preparation for a busy week ahead in which I'm back to two jobs with a long commute, I stayed home on a Sunday in my pajamas and made both bread and soup, a new one, fresh green pea, and a favorite, Armenian red lentil.* All three meals were simmered or baked in the new Le Creuset pot. (Thank you again, Jeffrey.)

All day I've been reflecting on the tacky, nouveau-riche family in the documentary Queen of Versailles, so lazy and entitled the kids let their pet fish and lizard starve to death in murky tanks while meandering among uncountable piles of pedigreed dog shit strewn around their super-sized McMansion after the servants were downsized, the lecherous, emotionally abusive patriarch hunkered away like an ogre among towering stacks of paper in his den, while his tarnished trophy wife totters around barefoot with her fake boobs popping out. The film presents a rather devastating metaphor for early 21st-century American culture. (If we don't see ourselves therein, we are as blind.)

This week I've been reading Morris Berman's Dark Ages America, which among many things talks of the American frontier as collective escape hatch allowing our forebears to run away in perpetual immaturity from the restrictions of living in community, living with roots, the ties that bind. Each day I fight the impulse in my genes to flee and start over elsewhere, which of course never works. (I'm old enough to have learned that.)

And I've been thinking about the rhetorical game in Nathan Englander's short story, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank": Which of my loved ones and neighbors would risk their lives to hide me from Nazis—and which would not? And would I them?

Dishes have been done (by hand) and put away. As on most winter evenings, I have a candle burning, jazz on the radio playing low, and green tea cooling in a mug. It's 8 p.m. and already time to head for bed, to read myself to sleep because 5 a.m. comes too soon. My little cat will curl most of the night somewhere along the warm hills of my body as we wait for the sun to return.

*Note: The Armenian soup recipe in the linked article calls for "juice of 12 [sic] lemon," a typo for 1/2 which would make the soup inedible.

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