I usually get excited when I wake up on some winter morning to find the trees pleasantly fuzzed into looking like a living Monet. The world feels more approachable in the fog. It is more quiet, the hard edges of buildings are softened, the sunlight diffused and unintrusive, and the mist of it makes pretty little droplets on my eyelashes when I walk. Fog is, in my humble opinion, just lovely.
Today however the fog must have made its white way behind my eyes. And when the fog rolls on the inside there is nothing lovely about it. It makes me listless and unable to see the end of my thought. It makes me apathetic. Kathleen Norris calls it acedia. Nothing feels right. I am like over-cooked chicken broth--should be colored but clear and never ever cloudy.
It is a darned good thing I have started writing in public because otherwise I might be tempted to give in. Instead, ah, I write. And because I am supposed to write about food I have to remind myself how I usually get out of such a funk: make beautiful food. Make beautiful healthy food that tastes fabulous, fresh, and wintry spiced all at the same time!
Quinoa-Stuffed Collard Greens
Adapted from The New York Times (12-31-09)Martha Rose Shulman
1 large bunch collard greens, stemmed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups approximately cooked quinoa (or other grain)
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup golden raisons (or raisins or currents), chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Juice of 1 lemon
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Stem collard greens. Blanch two minutes then cool in bowl of ice-cold water.
Heat half of oil over medium heat in a large lidded skillet, and add onion. Cook until tender. Add garlic, cinnamon, allspice, salt and sugar, and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add quinoa, pine nuts, and raisins, cook a few minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the mint and dill.
Oil a wide, deep, lidded pan with olive oil. In order to fill the leaves, place vein up on work surface and put 2-4 Tablespoons filling on bottom center of each leaf. Roll a little to cover, tuck in sides and continue to roll and tuck. Place seam side down in the pan fitting the stuffed leaves in snug layers. Drizzle on the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and pour on the lemon juice. Barely cover with water.
Cover the stuffed leaves with parchment paper, and place a plate over the paper to weight them during cooking. This will keep them from opening. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour until the leaves are tender. Remove from the heat, and carefully remove from the water. Allow to drain on a rack set over a sheet pan. Serve warm or cold, plain or with some salted yogurt with garlic. Enjoy!