Yesterday as I was walking home from lab in the middle of the day to put my laundry in the dryer (the most ordinary of ordinary things), I saw her.
Or, well, perhaps she saw me because when our eyes met I got the feeling that she had been watching, observing from a distance, as we closed the distance between us, while I hadn’t really been paying attention.
We nodded. A quick “hey” as we strode by in that awkward way of people who don’t really know each other, and yet. Do.
But really, what do you say to the woman who tried to save your father’s life. But didn’t.
I know that it wasn’t her fault. She was a good doctor who had the unfortunate luck to be on the wrong service on the wrong floor at the wrong time with the wrong patient who had made all the wrong decisions.
Just like I was a good daughter who was wrongfully unaware of the mess she was walking into as she joined her parents on that first day in the emergency room. A daughter who had known that something was amiss for a while. A daughter who was relieved that whatever it was would finally be addressed. A daughter who was hopeful that things could get better.
A daughter who was wrong.
In a way, it was comforting to see her.
She was there at the end.
She has a piece of him somewhere in her memory that I want to hold onto. And as long as she still works there, as long as I get to walk by her at 11:30AM on a Tuesday right outside my apartment building. Then it’s as if I get a piece of it too.
But then again, in a way. It was not. Because if none of this had happened, if none of it were real, then we would not know each other. I might walk by her every day and have no idea.
And so as long as she and I can look into each other’s eyes as people who knew each other, once. It means that it was true. That, yes, it was a nightmare, but not in the sense that I want it to be.
Some days I’m pretty good at pretending that none of it ever happened. And then there are some days, like yesterday, when I am blindsided by the fact that it did.
Tart making is perfect for times like that. There is something very satisfying about rolling out a round of dough, molding it into a tart pan so that all the pieces fit just so, and filling it with something delicious. The winter squash/caramelized onion/swiss chard/gruyere combo pairs perfectly with the hearty buckwheat-infused crust, reminding you that maybe you can’t change everything that is oh so wrong about the past. But, at least, you can make something very right.
As a side note, I just want to thank everyone for all of the supportive comments and emails over the past few weeks. It has really meant a lot to me. In addition, I have a sort of request for you. I always feel awkward doing this, but as some of you may know, I am running the NYC Marathon in four weeks with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. While previously, I didn’t have any real connection to the cause or to cancer in general, this year I am running in honor of my father. My goal is to raise $1250 for LLS and I was wondering if any of you would be willing to donate to help me do so. While my father did not have leukemia or lymphoma, a lot of the research that LLS funds goes to combating cancer in general, as many cancers have common origins and mechanisms of disease. Any donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated. Here is the link to my fundraising page – http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyc12/joanneeatswell. I apologize that it is not set up in any real way, but I just haven’t had the time. I hope to get to it as soon as possible.
Buckwheat Harvest Tart
Serves 6, adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook
For the crust
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
For the filling
- 1 small delicata squash, cubed
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup grated gruyere
- To make the crust, add the buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, and the salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and thyme and pulse until the butter is in pea-size chunks. Keep pulsing while adding the vinegar. Add the cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, stopping when the dough just barely holds together. Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in saran wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 13-inch circle (about 1/4-inch thick). Lift the dough into a 10- or 11-inch fluted tart pan. Press the dough into the edges and up the sides, patching up any holes along the way. Gently roll your rolling pin across the top of the tart pan to remove the extra dough and create a clean edge. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the crust. Fill the tart shell with pie weights (I use dried beans). Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake until the top looks almost dry, another 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool.
- While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and the cinnamon. Spread in a single layer and bake until the squash begins to brown around the edges, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the garlic. When it becomes fragrant, add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the chard is wilted, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Peel and half the onion, then thinly slice it. In the same pan that was used for the chard, heat the remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Stir every so often until the onion is caramelized, about 20 minutes. When the onions are light brown in color, add the balsamic vinegar. Stir and turn off the heat.
- When the chard is cool enough to touch, squeeze out any excess water from it and return it into the bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until well combined and then add to the chard. Mix in three quarters of the squash, half of the cheese, the onion, and a few grind of black pepper. Gently mix together. Pour into the tart pan, spreading the filling into an even layer. Scatter the remaining squash and cheese over the top. Bake in the oven until the egg is just set and the top is starting to brown, 24-28 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting.