Like A Lamb

2 Jan

2009 crept in while I slept.

Hudson River Sunset

For the first time since my age was in single digits, I slept through the transition from old to new year.  And though I would have liked to watch the tail-end of 2008 slink away into the shadows of history, I’m okay with my decision to get some sleep.  It bodes well for the new year. Maybe this one will contain more serenity (and naps) than the last.

For, like many, I am not displeased to have 2008 behind me.  In reality, it was a pretty good year for me.  I got promoted, and we bought the house, we went to Italy, my second nephew was born, I mastered pie crust, went to the county fair, was party to the world’s best dinner party story ever and had a successful surgery that will hopefully keep me hale and healthy for many years to come. These are good things.

But I also worked my tail off in 2008, as did Isaac, and while good things hopefully lie ahead for both of us, we could both use a calm 2009.  So, a toast!  May your 2009 be healthy and happy, full of friends, family and delicious food.  May your house retain its value, may your bank accounts stay in the black and may your new year be as full of naps as your heart desires!

But back to 2008 for one minute.  The thing that I have spent the most time thinking about during my break away from the blog has been recipes.  Turns out that, after careful consideration, the writing of recipes is the thing that keeps me from posting more frequently.  You see, I’m not a very organized or disciplined person when it comes to cooking.

I cook like like a trumpeter playing jazz, or like a writer working on a novel, or like Bob Ross painting fluffy little clouds.  This is bad for recipe writing.

I don’t take notes.  I often don’t even realize I’ve tossed an ingredient into a dish until Isaac later asks what that certain note is.  And so when I sit down to tell you about a meal or a dish and I don’t remember everything I put into it, I shut down.  The post dies, and I end up giving you nothing.

And so, I think I’m going to stop giving you real recipes, because sometimes the best part of dinner is the story that goes along with it, not the description of how dinner came to be on the plate (anyone from Iron Chef America out there listening?).

And so I bet you’re wondering if sheep tie into this whole thing in any way other than my bad analogy of 2009 creeping in like a lamb while I slept?  Well, yes indeed they do!  You see, sheep were the theme of our post-Christmas weekend.  It was supposed to be ducks, as I’ve been obsessed with Bittman’s recipe for duck porchetta¹ since Isaac mentioned it to me on our drive upstate on Christmas eve.

But alas, grocery stores in Columbia County don’t seem to stock un-frozen duck breasts with any more frequency than Fairway.  So we had to settle for something else, and seeing as we had mint left-over from the previous night’s dinner, that something else turned out to be lamb.

The lamb got a low poach in the oven² while I whipped up some herby mashed potatoes, a ridiculous yogurt and mint sauce and a gingered salad dressing³.  It was the first meal I felt like photographing in weeks.  It was fresh and green and utterly delicious, a bright spot of spring amid grey, dreary winter.

And then the next day, we went to visit the sheep of the Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. that had supplied us with yogurt (but not the lamb).  We spotted the black sheep and watched the donkeys cause mayhem amongst the flock and followed it all up with a stop off for sandwiches, with Hudson Valley Camembert, of course.

It was a pleasant weekend, but my mind was elsewhere, on the impending surgery.  It’s all I could think about.  It populated and colored every decision I made for weeks leading up to it, and then, poof! Just like that, it was over.  I’ve spent the last few days lazing about, knitting and cooking and puttering and recuperating, but I already feel 1,000 times better than I had just a week before.

And so I’d like to make a new year’s resolution that I hope you’ll join me in.  I resolve to never, ever skip another annual doctor’s exam.  My health (and yours) is far more important than any old meeting or deadline.

That’s nothing to baa at!


¹ I’m convinced Bittman has ducketta all wrong.  It’s a brilliant idea, but I think his execution is just all kerfuffled.  Look at the picture.  It just looks unappealing, all that raw, crunchy stuffing in the middle of a moist, succulent duck breast.  My plan for perfectting Bittman’s ducketta is two-fold.  1. The filling must be cooked, and 2. The duck breast should be butterflied and the skin wrapped around the whole thing, like a pinwheel, so it more closely resembles actual porchetta.  But so far I have been thwarted in my quest for non-frozen duck breasts.  Someday… Someday…

² Pour some vermouth into a dutch oven, add dried herbs that you think will taste good.  Rinse the lamb chops, place in the dutch oven and sprinkle with salt.  Place in the oven and bring up to 350°F, cook for 10 minutes, then bring the temperature down to 250°F and hold until all your sauces are done.

³ Yogurt-Mint Sauce for Lamb: combine sheep’s milk yogurt, finely chopped garlic, mint, dill, salt, lemon juice and olive oil together to taste. Gingered-Salad Dressing: Add a bit of fresh oregano, chopped flat-leaf parsley and a big knob of ginger grated on the microplane to your favorite oil & vinegar-based dressing. It’s surprisingly delicious.


20 Responses to “Like A Lamb”

  1. Julie January 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    Happy New Year! I’m glad to see your post and I’m glad to hear you’re feeling so much better. Feeling good after you’ve been sick/not well is always a great feeling. It’s also good to be reminded that good health is something to appreciate and not take for granted.

    Love these pictures. Columbia County seems to be one of the most picturesque places ever.

  2. A~ January 2, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoy stopping by to look and listen. The photos are always wonderful and your writing is so enjoyable. One of the first posts I read was about the visit by the turkey.(I felt like I was there.) I’m so glad that you are on the mend and look forward to visiting again.

  3. Katie in Berkeley January 2, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    Hoorah for that resolution! I come here for the writing and the images rather than the recipes, so the more of that, the better, methinks.

    May your recuperation be quick, but not too quick.

  4. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) January 2, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

    Your stories and photos are what keep me coming back. Recipes are everywhere, but you are the only one who can tell your stories. Hoping you and Isaac have all your dreams come true in 2009. xo

  5. Pauline January 3, 2009 at 8:40 am #

    I was introduced to you by Lydia of the Perfect Pantry and I’ve enjoyed your writing ever since. Hope the New Year brings an uneventful recuperation. I look forward to your stories and photos.

  6. robin // caviar and codfish January 3, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    I’m so happy you are healthy and rested Ann! Cheers to the new year!

    I look forward to your posts, recipes or not.

    Side note: how was the cheese? –I’m willing to drive hours for a good cheese. :)

  7. Christina January 3, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    Baaaaaa to recipes. Most of your readers can figure out the details if you give them the nudge in the right direction.

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I was thinking about you over the holiday and have been wishing you well and quick healing. Your pictures show that you have the perfect place to recuperate–I hope you continue to enjoy this restful time.

    On another note, I wanted to tell you that I like the new format of your site. It’s very clean and creates an effective backdrop to your stunning photography.

    Okay, this is turning into the longest comment ever. Argh. Happy New Year. I hope 2009 brings you peace.

  8. Will B January 3, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    Happy happy happy! Glad you’re back! Our resolution was to be positive about our daily lives – and do something nice for someone every day. Sounds simple, no? There is a grocer here in town that may have fresh duck – let me know if I can post it (I don’t want to make an endorsement if that’s your policy). Anyway, nice to hear from you and enjoy the winter! Oh yes, eat dessert first!

  9. maggie January 3, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

    that yogurt sauce sounds killer.
    I agree with you, the recipe writing is what keeps me from posting every night, too.

  10. ann January 3, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Julie — I certainly think Columbia County is one of the prettiest places on earth! You should come visit :-) It is such a relief to feel better after feeling scared for so long. Yay 2009!
    A~ — I’m glad you liked the turkey post. It’s funny, I think my two most popular and most liked posts are about birds. I wonder if that has any significance…

    Katie — Thanks! I’m so glad you like what you get around these parts, that embiggens my heart ;-) Thanks for the well wishes!

    Lydia — Thanks so much! I hope you and yours get everything you’re hoping for in 2009 as well.

    Pauline — Thanks for the kind words! Looks like I owe Lydia another cocktail :-)

    Robin — OMG, you must go out and find yourself some Hudson Valley Camembert, it’s possibly the dreamiest stuff on earth, or, better yet, come for a visit! There’s lots to do around here, especially with a dog :-)

    Christina — You can never comment too much in my book :-) I’m glad you like the new look. I was getting bored with the green. I’m now considering seasonal changes :-) Thanks for the well wishes. I hope your 2009 is even better than your 2008, because I think you had a pretty good year last year :-)

    Will — Those are excellent resolutions! Shoot me an email with the name of that grocer: chickeninacart AT gmail DOT com. Thanks!!

    Maggie — Glad to know it’s not just me. I love yogurt sauces so much, especially minty ones.

  11. Jennifer Hess January 4, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    ann, I love the new look, and I totally understand about the recipe thing. :) Here’s to a healthier, happier 2009!

  12. Anne @ Pink Galoshes January 4, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. The low poached lamb sounds divine.

  13. Luisa January 5, 2009 at 4:28 am #

    Yikes, so sorry to hear about the surgery, but happy all is well. I’ve been meaning to schedule my annual doc appts for 6 months now, so this post is a nice little kick in the pants. Happy New Year!

  14. Christine January 5, 2009 at 2:16 pm #

    Totally appreciate you writing, recipe or no recipe.

    So glad you’re feeling better. And here’s to a happy and calm 2009 for us all.

  15. Ulla January 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    I am so glad to see you are back! Those photos are wonderful. I was thinking of you and am happy to hear the operation was a success. I am SO with you on a relaxing new year. That is my resolution in fact, to be nourish my mental self. Anyways, happy new year!:)

  16. ann January 6, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    Jenn — Thanks! Yeah, I figured you’d understand :-)

    Anne — It’s very lamby, so if you love lamb, it is in fact dreamy!

    Luisa — Please do! It never occurred to me that I would get old and that it would become important, but it has. So it’s good practice to get into while you’re still young! I’m glad you had fun with your family, Happy New Year!

    Christine — Thanks! Those are very kind words. Thanks for commenting!

    Ulla — That’s an excellent resolution. I think I might tack that onto mine :-)

  17. Sarah January 8, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    So glad you are on the mend, Ann. And here’s to lots more serenity and naps in 2009 – I think those are very good things to hope for.

  18. Toni January 11, 2009 at 12:57 am #

    Ann, you are a photographer and a writer as well as a cook. Like others, I come for the photos and the stories at least as much as for recipes. Just happy to hear you are feeling better. Here’s to a New Year of health, prosperity and creativity.

  19. ann January 13, 2009 at 7:16 am #

    Sarah — Hear hear!

    Toni — Thanks. It’s so nice to hear from everyone that they’ll keep stopping by. It makes me happy. Happy happy new year to you too!

  20. Lenora January 15, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    Very cheering indeed to have you back Ann. Love the new format, too. I figure all most of us need is an idea, a nudge, a snapshot of a dish to get our little gray cells formed around a recipe.

    “May you live a long life, full of gladness and health. With a pocket full of gold, as the least of your wealth.

    May the dreams you hold dearest, be those which come true. The kindness you spread, keep returning to you.

    May the friendships you make, be those which endure; and all of your grey clouds, be small ones for sure. ” Old Irish toast, author unknown.

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