A Spot of Reincarnation

There’s a large pile of horse manure not far from the stable. I learned how to drive the tractor so I could reverse the back end into the pile of dung and cart it off to our newly cleared plot of earth that is now our Easter garden. It’s surprisingly fulfilling work. The tractor moves slowly, running on two forward speeds marked by two tiny pictures, one of a tortoise and one of a hare – really slow and slow. And there is no rush. Things get done, tasks get crossed off the list, but they’re not hurried. I sit behind the wheel, pass by the sun soaked avocado trees with waxy leaves shimmering, and at that moment I can’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be.

After preparing the land for our garden – pulling up weeds, spreading the horse manure around, and giving the plot a good soak – we planted the first of our veggies on Easter afternoon. Eggplants in the first row with a few bell peppers mixed in, another row of peppers and a row of tomatoes. Tomorrow we’ll add our rows of zucchini and watermelon. I sang a little tune while I watered this morning, propping up a few plants that seemed to be a bit droopy. We’re getting a late start, but we hope with ample water and sunshine and a little lovin’, our garden will thrive. I would love to stick around long enough to pick a ripe tomato from the vine, sprinkle it with salt and eat it like an apple, letting the juice drip down my chin.

 

Spotty, one of the sixteen dogs at the farm, is my friend. He reminds me of our old dog, Spotsie. Spotty is smart and energetic like our Spotsie was, plus they both have black and white spots. Lately Spotty has been my bedtime companion. He is not a small dog and isn’t the best snuggler, but he means well and I have a soft spot in my heart for him. I think, somehow, a little piece of Spotsie lives on in this Spanish Spotty.

 

I told Olivia that I wanted to cook dinner. She pulled a chicken from the fridge and suggested that I do something to it. I emailed my mom for our roast chicken recipe called “Tootsun’s Roast”, a family favorite. If you haven’t roasted a chicken before, I urge you to go to the store, buy a nice looking bird and start cooking. I swear it’s easy and impressive. Victoria and I whipped up a nice meal of roast chicken, mashed potatoes with rosemary and garlic, peas and roasted carrots. It was my very first roast chicken and it turned out really well, much to my amazement – crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. If you’re feeling inspired, here’s the recipe, courtesy of Pom Happel and The Blue Dress Cookbook circa 1984:

 

Rub the chicken inside and out with half a lemon.  Squeeze some juice inside the chicken and rub with the cut half.  Sprinkle the inside with some salt and pepper.  Cut up an onion or two into eighths and stuff into the chicken.  Add sprigs of fresh rosemary–tuck them inside.  Other herbs if you have them. Next, rub the outside of the bird with good olive oil and a healthy amount of coarse salt and pepper and another round of lemon juice.  Roast on a rack if you can at 350 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes (figure 20 minutes per pound) or so.  You want the outside nice and crispy brown, the inside juicy.  You can preheat the oven to 450–good and hot–and reduce the heat to 350 or so when you put in the chicken.  This helps to crisp the skin.  You can strew veggies alongside the chicken, too.  Any veggies will do.  If you do this, add some chicken broth and a little white wine after 15 minutes or so and coat the veggies with a bit–not too much–of olive oil before you put them in the pan.  With or without veggies, baste the chicken a couple of times during roasting if you think of it.  Don’t skimp on the coarse salt on the outside of the chicken–and you can strew garlic cloves with the veggies if you’ve got them.

 

Buen provecho!

 

 

 

 

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