Coconut chicken

Once the contents of all my closets and chests were restored, and the floors were mopped (the burglars wore boots) and the insurance claims filed and all the accounts re-secured and the locks changed and everything that couldn’t be undone had been let go– once all of that was done, there was the matter of hunger.

I poured myself a bowl of cereal and, like an amputee who swears his limb is still there, sat down where the computer used to be with a spoon tucked into my hand.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  The trappings of my home, of my way of life, were gone.  The absence of stimulation was deafening.  I unwound the power cord I’d hitched around the sliding glass doors and slipped out onto the lanai to watch the sun rise; puffs of wind rushed through the avocado tree and down the spine of the hedge.

Then, after cereal (itself as much a distraction as a meal), alone again.  The feeling was of a power outage.  No hums or whirs or soft purrs from spinning drives, no flicker of screens, no run of keys tapping under my fingers, no remote control to clutch in the palm of my hand.

I rehitched the doors, looked at the big empty shelves where only books were left and thought: I can either leave home, or actually read one of these. 

And so I tucked into the couch with Moro  East to dream of char-grilled spring onions and yogurt.  Sat at the dining table with Harold McGee and caseins.  Fell into bed with Nigella, whose “How to Eat” was my first cookbook love (I only ever made one recipe–the ratatouille, in summer–but that wasn’t the point.)

>>My favorite piece on the topic of Nigella Lawson.

 And (do you know the feeling of looking up from the computer and realizing you’ve missed lunch?) after all that it was 9:40 a.m.

So I pulled frozen chicken out of the icebox, and filled the slow cooker with thinned coconut milk and curry paste, and black peppercorns and red pepper flakes and garlicky chili sauce and glutinous rice and dunked the chicken pieces into this.  They cooked up beautifully, and the rice thickened the sauce to something heavenly.

I heated up a big saute pan and wilted baby bok choy in garlic and oil; added Hamakua mushrooms and, when the greens were done and out, finished the mushrooms in a Sichuan peppercorn butter and wine.

Sizzled fresh Kauai shrimp with the delicious bacon jam Pia made for my birthday (how did the burglars miss this?) and dabs of roasted garlic paste and more chili sauce. 

(Pictures to follow– I have neither Photoshop nor camera cord or card reader and am in no rush to restock with things.  But I wanted to get this post off my chest and move on with a bulgur salad I saw in Moro.)

It is easy to sweep up, say, broken glass–but sometimes difficult to pick up the other pieces. The locksmith and the policeman were very helpful and the banks were just fabulous.  But the real help–what I really needed–it came from friends and neighbors and family who showed concern and support; Pilates teachers who helped me take deep breaths and feel at home in my own skin; young people who squealed and splashed in the pool; and cookbook authors who emboldened me to see what was left in the fridge and to make something of it. 

Thank you.


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