Cinnamon Tea + Tennis Lunch

This is what I’m grateful for today. After a largely uneventful afternoon, sitting at my desk writing the first pages of chapter 1, then deleting, writing, deleting, I took myself to a coffee shop. Mostly because, well, I can’t be crazy in public. I ordered a cinnamon spice tea–I want to say the Harney and Sons kind–in an effort to take the edge of my already hopped-up-on-caffeine self. It was absolutely delicious. And words magically began to populate the page. So thank you cinnamon tea.

Tomorrow, Katherine and I are driving  to Wilmington to play in a 7.5 tennis tournament. Our team, well her team that is now also my team, had a super season. I’m very excited about my packed lunch: sandwiches with brie, proscuitto, avocoda, tomatos; bananas; grapes and cookies.


Roast Chicken and Spinach Salad

There is nothing more delicious than a well-marinated piece of roasted chicken, crispy skin smacking of crushed garlic. Hurricane Sandy has sequestered my friends in DC, but here in Durham all I have as an excuse for the luxurious day I’ve spent at my desk is a loud wind at my window. I’m not much of a grilled-chicken-on-white-rice kind of a person because well white rice is dry rice. We eat our rice smothered with daal or some spicy curry so I usually look askance at rice that looks unflavoured. But I must admit this turned out wonderfully. It was a bit of a mid-week effort so it involves some pieces of chicken legs that I had left over in the freezer. Line a baking dish with some foil; marinate the meat; and bake it.

Marinate the meat with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, plenty of chopped garlic and olive oil. Add a splash of dry white wine, from a bottle desperately in need of finishing. The recipe works totally fine without the wine too but add a little bit of water to the pan. Bake the chicken for about 40 minutes in a 375 F oven, turning twice and letting the wine emulsify into a thick sauce. The sauce coats the rice perfectly. Kind of a garlic butter without the butter. Hmm, maybe I’ll add some butter the next time around. I tossed a spinach salad seasoned with some balsamic and olive oil (salt + pepper) just to add some colour to the plate. It was the perfect complement. Delicious.

I wonder what makes me happier: the hour of preparation and the feeling (while i sit at my desk and write) that there is something delicious happening in the oven or the meal itself?

Butternut Squash Soup for Two

The most wonderful thing about this soup is its bright yellow-orange colour. It really looks like fall in a cup. I lived in Cambridge for some years, and fall there was incredible. The air was brisk; the trees enflamed, orange, yellow and pink. We really have none of that in Durham, which goes from summer to winter. There are leaves on the ground, yes, but they do not crunch underfoot. The weather is milder than the scorching summer heat, but it has none of the magic that makes you want to drink a steaming cup of cocoa and sit down at your desk for hours of work.

But having said all of this, I do love the change fall brings to my kitchen. I love all varieties of squashes, pumpkins and root vegetables. They are best simply baked with a drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt; or pureed with some garlic for a delicious soup.

1. 1/2 a Butternut Squash
2. 5 Cloves Garlic
3. Olive Oil
4. 1/3 Cup Vegetable Stock
5. 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
6. Pinch Nutmeg
7. 1 tsp Thyme

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Peel and cut up the butternut squash and arrange on a baking pan or sheet. Drizzle over some oil and salt. Bake for 20-30 minutes. In a saucepan, roast 5 cloves of garlics and olive oil. Add baked butternut squash, garlic, and vegetable stock. Add spices, and warm through. Puree in a blender. Then add the soup back into the pan and add a 1/3 cup of water. On a low flame, let it cook for another 15 minutes. This makes enough for two. Enjoy with a dollop of sour cream.