Some days — I’ll be honest here, despite wee embarrassment (as my friend would say, small confession) — I don’t always eat so well. There will probably be an organic banana devoured while waiting for the bus, which is just fine. But then there might also be a bagel (sesame) with egg and cheese for breakfast instead of my usual oatmeal with soy milk, especially if I’m particularly starving, as I was this morning, after running a lot the day before (yesterday: 10 miles in the gorgeous sun. San Francisco, you were sweet to us this weekend.), with my usual cup of coffee (cream and sugar always. Um.). Also I might have baked over the weekend (which seems to be all I do these days) and brought in a little something to the office which means I’m sneaking little bits here and there, guiltily brushing crumbs off the stainless steel island in our light-filled kitchen so no one will know it was me (ha). And then lunch might be quite healthful (today, quinoa-spinach soup) but then I have a tiny bag of Doritos and later a handful of those addictive peanut-butter pretzels that I pretend are OK for me (protein!) but really I know are not (but, darn it, why do they have to taste so good?) — and you see?
So these days happen. I come home vaguely annoyed with myself and feeling slightly queasy from those pretzels (too much sugar and white flour makes me crash; I never learn) and and and. But then I remember: I soaked some beans the other night. I have a lot of spinach in the fridge. And some leftover tahini sauce. Ooh, and! A few new beets. And so dinner begins to form …
(Of course, in between coming home and sitting down to dinner I put a in the oven and yes! I confess! I had a few generous swipes of the batter. The couldn’t resist either, so I’m not alone — even if that’s a cold comfort. I told you was genius. Unfortunately this almost killed my appetite — but luckily, my appetite is pretty indefatigable and I persevered.)
Anyway though: dinner. Dinner is my special little meal, always in the back of my mind all day. No matter what I’ve eaten during the day — even if I’m completely pleased by my perfect balance of carbohydrates to protein to fresh fruit — dinner is always a chance to make up for it, if necessary. It’s also the only meal I can really linger over, and treat myself to. I start thinking about what I’m going to cook for my evening meal just around the time I wash my oatmeal bowl and place it neatly in the dish drainer around 8.30 a.m.; if it’s a Monday after the farmer’s market weekend I am extra excited with ideas. For example: I’ve been dying to make a sort of roasted cauliflower and English pea curry, maybe served over crisp brown rice (soon), or a full-meal salad with sauteed portabello mushrooms as its base and drifts of pale greens piled on top, visions of which came into my head on the bus ride home. My dinners are rarely fancy, but on the whole they’re crammed with vegetables, vegan protein, and whole grains. Which, another confession, is what I hope to eat every day of this life as well as the next.
Tonight’s meal was simple as simple can be. I made some whole wheat couscous and sauteed a few cloves of sliced garlic in a small frying pan. I dumped in some white beans (sorry — I usually use canned beans but for once soaked my cannellini runners properly and it’s true what ‘they’ say: fresh beans are ten thousand times better than even the best canned beans), threw in some tender spinach, and fried it all up salty and soft. I shredded a beet and half of a big carrot, drizzled a bit of lemon juice and olive oil over the top and mixed it in; then I sat down with the rest of my Orangina saved from Saturday lunch and a plate piled high. I may have cooed at it a bit; my dinner was perfect, just what I wanted. I hardly remembered those pretzels.
Delicious, delicious dinner for which I longed all day! Tonight, as most every night, you did not disappoint. And I am prepared to woo you anew tomorrow, with all my heart.
This weekend spoiled me. San Francisco slipped into its dream of summer — those rare days when the temperature hovers in the high 60s, the breeze is mild, and the sun shines from dawn ’til night descends — and I threw myself out into it as much as possible. I ate lots of good food (a burrito on Ocean Beach, a sandwich in Alamo Square Park, coffee from Mojo Cafe, large, ice cream) and slept in and went for a long run and sat in the sun for hours alternately reading and chatting on the phone and really, it was the most marvelous thing. Note to self: do this more often.
Note to you: soak your beans. And make this dinner. Long day, Monday blues, rumors of rain — this will make up for it. Hell — make every dinner something to celebrate and fall in love with. Write your own love story at the stove.
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous, prepared according to package instructions
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup white beans (soaked for 1 hour, then boiled for 20 minutes until tender; or canned)
1 1/2 cups spinach
In a small sautee pan, sautee the garlic in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes. Add the beans and stir well; lower heat and add the spinach. Sautee until wilted and beans are heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, over the couscous.