Tonight we went to a barbecue. It was supposed to be a bocce barbecue, but the wind picked up and by the time we finished our roast beef, salmon, potatoes, salad, and Thai prawns in spicy coconut milk with chilies and bits of tomato, onion and cilantro and sourdough bread to mop up the broth, we wussed out and packed it all inside to drink wine around the table and listen to 80s music over coconut-lemon bars and brownies.
Soon enough John Cusack came up in conversation. At which point it was revealed that V, whom I must make a point of getting to know better – much better – perhaps she’s in the market for a new best friend? – lived in the Chelsea Hotel in New York in the 80s and actually hung out with John and his sister. (What a bonus wedding present that would be, hey? Joan Cusack for a sister in law? Could the package really get any better?)
But wait, it gets better. She went to see Pretty in Pink with him. He called her and asked her to go, even. John Cusack called and invited her to a movie. It was the advance screening, at which they showed an alternate ending in which Andie (Molly Ringwald) ends up with Duckie (Jon Cryer) instead. It was the one they both voted for, but I guess the consensus was that she live happily ever after in cinematic history with Blane (Andrew McCarthy). So I’m sitting there eating brownies with someone who went to see Pretty in Pink with John Cusack, for real and true. I touched her as much as I could subtly get away with sitting casually next to her at the table. I’m down to two degrees of separation now. It’s a good thing I have size 11 feet – they do come in handy when I need that extra reach.
(In case you’re wondering the same thing I was, I did ask why she didn’t end up with him, and she said it was because she already had a boyfriend; one of the Kids in the Hall.)
So this all came up about three hours ago, and since then I’ve had a bit of fuzzy feedback in my brain that sort of flushes out all other information, both coming and going. So I’m afraid I can’t really relay much in the way of May long weekend goings-on thus far. I just need to have some time to settle down with it, to ponder how a girl not much older than I ended up leaving Calgary for New York and doing laundry with Iggy Pop and his wife in the laundry room of the Chelsea, going to see Pretty in Pink with John Cusack, and then wound up at a patio table with me, laughing at W when he came out of the house pantsless to ask one of us to wipe his bum. Sometimes I’m just so blown away by the possibility of it all.
I will, however, tell you about a chick pea-asparagus-brown rice dish I made last week and again yesterday afternoon, and which I will undoubtedly make again. I had a big bunch of asparagus, and I have to say I’m a little bit done with asparagus – it was completely uninspiring and going south quickly in the fridge while I summed up the gumption to do something with it. So I moseyed on over to 101 Cookbooks and typed in “asparagus” – it’s like the grown-up version of shaking the magic 8 ball – always interesting to see what pops up. Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice. It lived up to its name, and then some.
I did streamline it a little, and skilleted everything separately in order to really brown and caramelize it all. Yum. I can tell this is going to make it into my regular rotation. (If I have one?) I’d definitely make a batch for John, if he ever asked me to.
Stir-Fried Chickpeas and Asparagus with Brown Rice and Lemon Tahini Dressing
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
a drizzle of canola or olive oil
1 19 oz. (540 mL) can chickpeas, drained well
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 bunch asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
2-3 cups precooked brown rice (cold rice fries up better, with separate grains instead of turning pasty)
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon (or 2-3 tablespoons)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. hot water
1 garlic clove, finely crushed
To make the dressing, shake everything up in a jar. Depending on how much you like, you may have enough for a second batch of chickpeas with asparagus.
Heat a generous drizzle of oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat; add the chick peas and cook for a few minutes, until they start turning golden. They will sputter and pop as they cook. Add the garlic and a bit of salt and cook until they are nicely golden and getting crispy. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
Add the onions to the pan, along with a little more oil if you need it. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until golden. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for a minute or two, putting the lid on the pan if it helps, just to allow the asparagus to brighten and soften a bit. Dump that into the bowl with the chickpeas.
Add another slick of oil to the skillet and cook the rice for a few minutes, just to warm it through and brown it a bit as well. Add the chickpeas, onions and asparagus back to the pan and toss it around to warm it all through, then divvy it among bowls and sprinkle with almonds. Drizzle with a bit of the tahini dressing, and pass more at the table.
One Year Ago: Maple-Rosemary Pork Satay and Berry Crumble Cake