[My mom’s birthday cake, February 2009.]
Today is my friend Kate’s birthday. She’s one of my very best girlfriends — the kind of friend with whom you can spend a consistent 72 hours and never stop talking (over-caffeinated or not) about: dogs; books read and yet-to-be; Colorado; families; tea; travels; everything else. She’s the kind of friend you love so much you can’t help but to send little packages of things like chocolates and books you know she would like just because, and she does the same for you (birthdays not required).
She also makes these delicious mini cheesecake things that are totally addictive and can whip up a mean batch of pierogi. She always knows the right thing to say and leaves the best messages (I like to think we’re kindred spirits in the very Annest sense) and is a fantastic writer. This past August we did a ridiculous one-day trip to New Jersey to visit our respective grandmothers and ended up at some hole-in-the-wall place on the way home where we made our own root beer floats out of glasses of root beer and dishes of vanilla ice cream because for some reason they wouldn’t sell them together (don’t ask) — and though we were totally exhausted we had so much fun. She’s one of the smartest, funniest, prettiest women I know, and I’m so glad to call her my friend.
I could go on.
The other thing about Kate is that she and I both share an affinity for roasted vegetables, particularly roasted cauliflower. So when I chopped a bunch of chard the other night, put it in a pan, drizzled the leaves with olive oil and salt, and then slid the whole mess into the oven for about 15 minutes to hang out with the cauliflower that was halfway to being caramelized, I couldn’t help think of her.
It was delicious, that chard. I know it sounds a little strange but please believe me when I tell you that it crisped up beautifully into neat, punchy little pieces that crunched and melted in my mouth. I maybe even swooned a little. We all know I adore chard in various permutations, but I’d never tried it roasted before. For some reason — perhaps because it was another rain-drenched night and even though I know I should close all the windows I just can’t (need that fresh air) and thus the wind blows through rather coldly — I simply did not want yet another (delicious as it is) chickpea-garlic-chard stirfry. So into the oven it went.
My dinner was simple: a pile of roasted chard, a couple of tiny roasted potatoes, that glorious cauliflower, some orange juice. It was a fine dinner indeed — light, vegetable-y and quite satisfying. Then I poured myself a cold glass of milk, cut a slice of chocolate cake, and sat down at the table with a sigh and one of the best books I’ve opened in a long time (thanks, mom) to tuck in.
You see how it’s the little things.
1 bunch chard
Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash the chard and cut off the stems. Chop leaves coarsely and spread in a baking pan. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and salt and place in the oven. Roast for about 15-20 minutes until the chard is wilted and a little bit crispy.
Today would be a fantastic day to take off for our long-delayed trip to the Maldives or even just a marathon Showtime session with Truman, but unfortunately … Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful day planned full of good friends, good drink, and good food. I shall toast you with a piece of cake and make sure to have one waiting the next time you are able to visit.
So many hearts to you, and the happiest birthday ever, ma cherie.