This week has been one of those where nothing at all seems to go as planned. Recipe after recipe has caught a snag and disappointed me, my correspondences have fallen on deaf ears (or eyes, as it were), and every part of my body is rebelling against me in hormone-induced fits of rage. Just as I typed that sentence, my sub-woofer lashed out at me with an ear-bursting, fizzy demonic growl after I brushed it accidentally with my toe, so, see?–even my electronics have made a pact with this mellow-harshing, chi-killing, bad week monster.
Part of me is convinced that these strings of bad days come to us at the hands of some mischievous and malevolent force, like an evil wizards’ guild. I imagine that when a person suffers some unfortunate happenstance, the evil guild sends the person’s magical case file to the most dastardly wizard among them–a knobby and bitter fellow who relishes watching people experience bad days. I can picture him zooming in on his crystal ball to get a better view of me, laughing maniacally as he twists his “bad week” dial up to MAX BAD (or maybe it’s TURBO BAD–I don’t know, because I haven’t seen the buttons), stroking his evil wizard beard and watching in satisfaction as chaos ensues.
But I’m trying to convince myself of a different idea, one that some far-off and more reasonable part of my brain has, at some point, already acknowledged and accepted: that maybe, just maybe, my “week” of snowballing lameness isn’t a curse from the bad-week gods or any evil wizard, and that maybe, instead, it’s just a product or a perception of my expectation-clouded mind. (Boom.) My roasted sweet potato chili, the Brussels sprout hash, the responses to letters I so carefully composed, my interactions with people I care about, and every other thing–I expect these things to go a certain way. Sometimes they do and all is well, but sometimes they don’t, and I choose to bear a stacking weight of disappointment instead of just accepting and carrying on unhampered.
In an ideal future, I’ll simply have a chuckle and let those kinds of things just roll off my back. And I think that’s not too lofty of a goal, even for my present world. But until all parts of my brain agree to make nice in that peaceful place, I’ll take comfort in little things like hugs, chocolate, and homely food made with love, like these braised peas. They aren’t pretty, and they’re certainly not perfect, but they’re dang tasty and they’re comforting in just the fresh and invigorating way I need. They were my wonderful, delightful, no bad, very good peas for my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad (but all-in-all all-right) week, and I hope they might brighten your day, however good or bad it started.
Portuguese Braised Peas and Eggs
by jaime // the briny
adapted from Crumb
sweet, smoky, spicy peas bathed in fruity olive oil and + tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons red wine (substitute a little red wine vinegar if you’ve no wine on hand)
a couple dashes of cayenne pepper or ground dried chili peppers
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 large plum tomatoes, diced (I used a 14 ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes)
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, drop the onions in, stir, and let sizzle for a few minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for a few more minutes until onions are soft, translucent, and beginning to brown. Sprinkle in the ground chili pepper, smoked paprika, and cumin, and stir to coat the onions.
Pour in the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and let cook until hot. Stir in the fresh or frozen peas, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for several minutes, until peas are cooked through and hot. Fish out the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
Make four little divots in the pea mixture and crack an egg into each divot. Cover and let simmer on low for about 7 minutes or until the whites are cooked through and yolks are as soft or firm as you like them.
Spoon some braised peas onto each plate and top each serving off with an egg. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and some crusty bread, if you want. Feel the good and enjoy.