Friday, December 3, 2010

Artichokes

Today I had the most splendid morning. After saying goodbye to my son at his preschool--he who could not simply take off the shoes and put on the slippers, but had to toss socks to friends and flop the slippers around-- I met my dear friend for a walk. The early day was lovely; the sun was out, and even in the cold, it just felt good not to have a ceiling of clouds overhead. We headed out for a loop around Laurelhurst Park and then some, and chatted about life. I love being outside with her--she's the kind of friend that stops at houses and looks into them, scopes out pretty things and makes you look at them, appreciate them with her. When you stop to smell the wintersweet, she knows what a gift that moment is and breathes the fragrance in with you, smiling. I am so blessed to have her.

After saying goodbye to her back at her house, I took a stroll over to Movie Madness to pick up some dvds. We made a concious decision as a family to support the local video store instead of going with Netflix. Sure, it's not as convenient as mail, and yes, I know it costs a little more, but it provides more spontonaiety and it's local. I like being able to get something that took no emissions to transport...just my own two feet.

Feeling hungry, I stopped at a food cart plaza right nearby for a veggie dog. Not imaginative, but I wanted something to take with me, so a veggie dog was procured and I wandered home to the real prize of my morning: my artichoke.

Surely, this felt a little excessive food-wise, but I didn't care. Yesterday, the artichoke had been purchased with hopes for this exact moment. The time when I could eat it and No One Would Ask Me For Anything.
I was home, completely alone, with my just-rented season 3 of Arrested Development. I was making this artichoke. Nothing was stopping me.

The secrets to steaming an artichoke in decent time are simply this: trim it well and use hot steam right off. I cut down just as far from the top as I can without taking off too much of those crown leaves, and used scissors to trim the tops of the other leaves, working from top to bottom. Cut the stem and trimmed off the tougher outer parts that were scarred up or frostburnt. This is part of my artichoke ritual, and I enjoy it, truly. It's part of the anticipation, preparing the sacred flower for becoming food. I opened up the artichoke as far as possible, fanning out the leaves and making as much space between them as possible, and rinsed it with fast-flowing cold water. Pop it upside down on the steam basket; the heat gets right in there and the artichoke cooks faster, which was what I needed. Sure enough, 35 minutes later it was perfect and tender. Lemon butter and salt and oh! what goodness! I spent the next 20 minutes happily celebrating the time alone and the end of my week. Walking back to the preschool to pick up Kiddo was easy because I'd spent some time on myself this morning, and I could feel its good effect.

Today I had the most splendid morning: an artichoke lunch morning. It's splendid because it really doesn't happen everyday. These little moments are a respite from the daily hoo-rah of being a working wife and mother.  There's a whole spectrum of lofty moments and crushingly stupid drudgery and everything in between that we experience as parents, and overall, I'm glad to do it.

So, as long as I can have an artichoke alone from time to time, I'll be okay.

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