Last night, there was a severe storm in the mountains where I live. Waterfalls appeared like a Disney landscape from nooks that had passed unnoticed last week. My road became separated from civilization by a huge fallen oak tree, perhaps torn down by the wind, perhaps struck by lightning. The road itself became a river, the creek a raging torrent.
And so, the best plan was to stay home, light a fire in the old wood-burning stove, and create a superb organic chicken and organic sweet potato stew by candlelight.
While I generally prefer the taste and texture of raw ingredients, now and then I crave the comfort factor of a good old-fashioned home-cooked meal. The stormy night added the poetry we sometimes crave to my cast iron Dutch oven, bubbling gently for a few hours on the ancient heat of the fire.
To create balance and add vibrancy, I served the hot stew on a bed of tender English pea shoots, wild spinach and crisp mustard greens. The heat of the stew wilted the leaves in a fabulous way, tenderizing them and releasing their green flavors. The stew itself was flavored with an unusual blend of dried tarragon, savory leaves and bay leaves with harissa, smoked paprika and Himalayan salt.
And so, as my friend Brandon said, I made a delicious lemonade out of the lemons I was given last night… and suddenly being stranded up a mountain on a stormy night seemed like the best possible way to spend the night.
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