Musing with Max

Musing with Max

December 14, 2010

Father Knows Best

I must have been 3 or 4 years old trailing after my dad as he went into the orchards with a basket. He was going to pick peppers from his cherished plants and I was going to help. We walked through the thicket of bushes and as we went by he picked all the peppers he could and threw them in the basket: every once in a while he'd pop one in his mouth and savored it as if it were the most delicious thing on earth. I stared up at him and my mouth watered, hmmm that looks delicious and pretty too, they were these little red things. Oh Daddy can I have one, please? Please Daddy please! He said no, he didn't think I would like it, I insisted and insisted as only a 3 or 4 year old can...relentlessly. He looked down at me and said "are you sure?" I nodded enthusiastically, I was ecstatic. He popped one in my little tiny mouth and suddenly I was on fire, my eyes were crying but I wasn't; what was this? Yuck, I spit it out and wiped my tongue, he laughed "I told you so". He used to put up jars of those same peppers which he had pickled in the top shelf of the kitchen cabinets and check on them adoringly until they were "ready" and then once they were he'd add them to his salad, I knew better by then. My Dad could make anything, and I mean anything, look delicious; he ate with amazing gusto and savored every bite. I remember staring at him as he ate the big bowl of quaker oats my Mom would make for him on weekend mornings. He ate the plain kind with a little cinnamon on top, I had it once, thought it was bland but continued to stare at him with envy as he ate his. When I was 13 he had a heart attack and they put him on a strict diet, no fat, no salt, no butter, no sugar...While he was recuperating at home my job was to make his lunch when I came home from school which consisted of a very plain hamburger patty which I sauteed in a dry skillet only in its own fat. I would serve it up with some lettuce and tomato on the side, no bun, no condiments, not even the beloved peppers. I would make one for myself so he wouldn't eat alone and the two of us would sit there and eat this tasteless lunch. He looked like he was having filet mignon. Today would have been his 96th birthday; in four days it will be the 36th year that he has been gone. Or has he? I can still taste that little red pepper.
He loved homey dishes so I will make this today for my Daddy-o

Fabada de Lentejas
1 cup of lentils, picked over.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 spanish chorizos,chopped into small cubes
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 medium tomato, not too ripe, chopped into cubes
½ to 1 cup chicken broth
salt to taste
pepper to taste
cumin to taste

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat and add the chopped chorizo. Cook stirring for about 3 minutes. Add onions, garlic and potatoes; season with salt pepper and cumin and cook stirring about 5 minutes. Add tomato and ½ cup of chicken broth and cook stirring now and then until potato is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Add additional broth if mixture becomes too dry.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil, add lentils lower heat to medium and cook until lentils are cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Make sure they don’t get mushy. There should be a little liquid remaining with the lentils. Lower the heat, add contents of the skillet and stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning.

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