I had just finished reading An Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler’s wonderful, 21st century take on MFK Fisher’s lovely book about hunger and food, How To Cook A Wolf. Appropriately, I was hungry, and even more appropriately, there was not much in the refrigerator. To keep the wolf from the door, I had only some leftover cooked grains, a shallot, some turnip greens and eggs. In the past, turnip greens have become compost here; Adler convinced me to save them (as I already do beet and kohlrabi greens). But after the turnips, glazed with miso, had accompanied a stir fry earlier in the week, the turnip greens continued to linger in the crisper, becoming less crisp.
Adler’s book opens with an entire chapter on boiling water so that’s where I started — by just putting a pot of water on to boil — while I looked at my skimpy provisions and considered how to turn them into lunch. In Chapter Two, How To Teach An Egg To Fly, Adler remarks, “poached eggs…are especially good at turning what looks like two-thirds of a meal into a whole one,” and so I began to set my course.
By the time the water had boiled, I’d trimmed and washed the greens, and I tossed them into the water. Adler has me boiling more than steaming, and when you’re hungry, that’s a plus — it’s quicker. While they simmered, I chopped (should have sliced; it’s prettier and more pleasing to bite) the shallot into a dish and poured a splash of vinegar over it. Once the greens were tender, I scooped them out onto my plate with a slotted spoon and tossed in the cooked grains to warm in the rolling, now pale green water. Maybe the grains would pick up some color, or vitamins; maybe not. Still, it pleased me to keep the pot going. After a minute or two, I scooped the grains out onto my plate next to the greens, sprinkled the shallot over them both, and poured the shallot-y vinegar into the boiling water; then I lowered the heat and cracked an egg into the pot to poach. One, two, three minutes and the egg was set, ready to sit on its bed of grains and greens.
A drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and the meal was ready. Lunch, out of scraps and one pot of boiling water, in ten minutes flat. Thanks, Tamar.