Island Time

Why, hello there. It’s been a while. I’ve been away for the holiday, hibernating under a blanket while a Nor’easter blew in hard across our bay, reading Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, and watching an endless string of Friends re-runs on DVD. (I was advised not to tell you about the three British period dramas I checked out from the library and also watched. I think my friends are worried that revealing my inner 60-year-old woman will affect my chances of ever finding a  husband under 40). I had a post all written to share with you while I was away (about beet salad, my new obsession) but honestly, given the Ferguson decision and the aftermath of protests and riots, it felt trivial to tell you about my lunch outings. So instead I tucked in to turkey and lazed around with family and tried to remember the things in life that are really important. 

Sometimes it’s nice to just pause time. Things are slower on the island - that’s why they call it island time, I suppose. There is space to wonder what the cows are talking about as they gather in a herd around the hay feeder. (Well, at least my sister wondered that…I think she was joking. I hope.). Mornings are about who will scramble the eggs for breakfast and fighting over the word jumble in the paper. Yeah, like the real, printed-out-on-paper paper (The Seattle Times arrives daily on the early ferry and requires a 6am drive to fetch. One morning the paper was delayed and didn’t arrive ’til the second ferry. Oh, the horror! Luckily Sue, the ferry dock operator, called our landline to let my dad know it had finally come in. What is this, 1985??)

On Thanksgiving morning my sister and I walked the three miles into town. Trucks filled with bundled up drivers passed us as they headed to buy last minute provisions at the village market. Everyone waved as they passed. Just a finger or two. Like the hand version of “howdy.”

I drove over to Erin’s house where wood was being chopped in a clearing, the wood fire was lit, (where I was apparently overwhelmed by the need to use passive voice) and Eric and I engaged in an epic trivial pursuit game that lasted well over three hours because neither of use could seem to get the darn pink pie piece. (To be fair, the 1981 Genus edition has a bias toward Star Trek, G. Gordon Liddy, and a whole bunch of movie stars I’ve never heard of).

It’s also worth nothing that I consumed an obscene amount of miniature citrus

At the annual holiday bazaar I bought a sheepskin from the Navajo Churro sheep some friends raise and slaughter every year. (For Luka's bed. If he doesn't eat it first.) My old high school physics teacher stopped me amongst the booths of local handicrafts with a snide comment about how we are both unemployed - he in retirement and me in he-doesn’t-know-what-but-it-can’t-possibly-be-worth-the-money-I-paid-for-my-education. Ok maybe I’m projecting a little bit. (I should’ve told him that at least I learned that you can’t just round the force of gravity from 9.8 meters per second squared to 10. He took a more “conceptual” approach to physics…)

I guess, in retrospect, my Thanksgiving really wasn’t a whole lot different than it would have been in 1985, minus the pink scrunchies and childhood aversion to any type of Thanksgiving food coming into contact with any other kind of food whilst on the plate. 

Now I’m heading out to gather the ingredients to make this soup for friends who are coming to dinner tomorrow. It’s the perfect antidote to the crusty snow that has frozen into a death trap on my front steps. Brace yourselves - it’s also the only recipe I regularly cook that has meat in it (!) It’s not much, but it’s totally necessary. My good friend Amy (not Amy. Amm-mee. Like Am. Then Me. Ugh, it’s hard to explain.) made this soup for me a few winters back. It’s hearty, warm, and better after it hangs out for a day or so. It’s best eaten with thick slices of chewy bread. I hope you have somewhere near you that sells bread like that; I’ve discovered two local bakeries that absolutely kill it in the bread department. But back to the soup. Sausage. Veggies. Kale. Beans. Did I mention the sausage?

Amy’s White Bean, Kale, and Sausage Soup
Serves 4-6

1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 links spicy Italian sausage
2-3 carrots, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 box (32 oz) chicken stock
2 cans white beans
1 can tomatoes
1 head kale, chopped into ribbons
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
One sprig each of fresh thyme, oregano, and sage, finely chopped (dried will also do)

Note: I make this soup in my cast iron dutch oven, though you could also use a big stock pot. 

1. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and just soft. Remove sausage from casing and add to pan, cooking through.

2. Add diced vegetables, chicken stock, beans, and tomatoes. Add finely chopped fresh herbs Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

3. Add chopped kale and cook until wilted, but not losing its color. 

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper (mine usually requires a fair amount of both). 

5. I like to serve this with thick slices of hearty bread. Maybe even grate a little parmesan cheese on top.