“The local independent radio station used to broadcast an excellent news analysis every day at five-thirty, right in the midst of dinner preparations. For love or money, I couldn’t bring myself to turn it off. After all, you can’t let yourself get out of touch; and it wasn’t as if it were TV–my eyes were still one-pointed. For months I went on working with half my mind, listening with the other.It took a while for the evidence to mount up. Occasional injuries weren’t such a big deal. Salting the soup twice or overcooking a carrot or two still wasn’t serious. Missing steps in the recipe?–who’s to know, anyway? The real problem wasn’t with the food. It was with the cook. A half hour of the Latest and I was decidedly rattled by the time I got to the dinner table–fragments of half-heard news reports skittering through my mind, veiled predictions of war, famine, and depression weighing me down, leaving a terrible taste in my mouth, distracting me from our family and their more immediate concerns. I was gradually coming to realize that it isn’t just food you serve your family. I wanted to nourish them in subtler ways as well: my state of mind couldn’t help but affect theirs. If I wanted our meals to take place in a congenial, relaxed atmosphere, I had not choice but to come to the table in a calm, cheerful, and relatively unified state of mind.So little by little, news coverage gave way to music. Before long, though, that too came to be a distraction. If I were going to listen to music, I wanted to listen to good music, and give it my complete attention. Five-thirty was obviously not the time. At last the radio was stilled, and I was able to admit to myself how deeply satisfying it is to work in silence, the mantram bubbling away within, providing a peaceful, regular
rhythm to work by.” (46-7)
I have to admit: none of the recipes from the original Laurel’s Kitchen stand the test of time that well. Broccoli spears with yeast butter? Zucchini with green rice, which consists of parsley, rice, and cottage cheese? I wanted to make a recipe from the book, take pictures of it, and have it for dinner in honor this post. But I just couldn’t do it. When the book was first published, vegetarianism was odd enough that anything without meat seemed good. Now, of course, some of the best meals available in the world just happen to be vegetarian. It’s easy to make exquisite food that happens to avoid meat. And the updated Laurel’s Kitchen contains some darned fine recipes. But not the old one.
So, instead, I followed the ethos of the book and made do with the vegetables I had in the house. I gathered up carrots, celery, leeks, zucchini, baby bok choy, garlic, and the yellow pepper on my table. You could use any vegetables you wanted for this.
°Preheat the oven to 450°.
° Coat the vegetables in a light drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and your favorite herb of the moment. (I used thyme last night.)
°Pour the oiled vegetables into a roasting pan. (I like to line it with aluminum foil, to keep the pan tidier.) Put it into the oven for a good thirty minutes or so. Some of the vegetables, such as the leafy leeks or bok choy, will be ready sooner than the others. Take them out first. Vegetables are done when they are browned, glistening, and smell so heavenly that you can’t wait another moment to eat them.