I didn’t buy the boots. I found some good ones, all right, tall snazzy black numbers with a chunky, tapered heel (40’s?) and buttons running up the sides, but I didn’t avoid buying them because I’d made strides in my personal struggle with consumerism and world hunger.
Nope, I just took the cowardly exit and kept my feet firmly planted in my ratty black Danskos.
“Don’t you want to try them on?”
My dad is king of the take-the-giftee-shopping-a-week-before-Christmas approach to holiday giving. (This man is a genius. When I was little, we used to hit the mall together on December 23rd or 24th, then I’d wrap my own gifts up and he’d come down to get them and put them under the tree.)
No thanks, Dad, they’re not quite what I had in mind.
But I did pounce on the mittens he picked out. They’re wooly black- and white-striped things, half-gloves, really, with a mitten top that folds back and secures with a button. Fabulous. And really, can you think of anything inedible that feels as good rolling around in the mouth as “mittens with buttons”? I’ve been rhyming it behind my front teeth all morning long. MiTTins with buTTins.
Anyway, we were quite successful shopping for other family members, and made good use of our time in downtown Seattle. We took Grandma June to Le Panier, where her eyebrows rose up beneath her bangs. We remembered eating croissants in Paris together, in – what was it? – 1991. I looked at her and wagged my own eyebrows up and down. “Looks good, doesn’t it?”
We made our way to the pastry counter. “Do you want to split something?” I asked her. She looked confused. My dad gave me an encouraging look that I interpreted as “I’ll split something with you if she doesn’t want to.” June window-shopped down the length of the counter, oblivious to the server’s impatience. Finally, she turned to me. “No,” she said. “I’ll be having my own.” I glanced at my dad, who immediately turned his back to me and ordered a pain au chocolat. Apparently my I’d gotten the wrong message.
“So this is where I come from,” I said, aloud. They agreed. “We’re Swiss, you know,” said June. “We don’t like to share our chocolate.” I ordered apricot.
We agreed to share bites, but right when I passed my pastry over to my father, and set his chocolate version at my place, a barista called out my coffee order. I came back no more than twenty seconds later to find he’d taken a bite of mine, and switched plates again, reclaiming his snack before I’d had a chance to taste it. Sneaky bastard! Yes, this is where I come from, I thought. If I’d chosen the chocolate one, I’d have done the same thing.
But I called him on it anyway. Grandma June chewed him out. He gave me a bite.
Then we bought scallops at Pike Place Market, along with spinach and a pink-striped lemon, which the lady at the fruit stand promised will be pink inside. I wanted to cook something special for dinner, something June would never make for herself but something not to restauranty, but I really, really didn’t want to spend the night concocting a complicated recipe, with my back to her. I didn’t want spend time letting the cooked food cool in the best light, next to the sink, while I snapped a million photos, waiting for the right one. I didn’t want to write with her in the room, and tinker with flavors until I got something mindblowing; I wanted to be with her. So I scribbled a few things down, threw a few of her favorite ingredients into a few pans on the stove, and tried to focus on dinner with Dad and Grandma instead of eighteen recipes left.
The soup was even more delicious the second day, which is a good rule for soup as far as I’m concerned. The scallops landed perfectly between the sauteed spinach and beans, not as nicely browned as I’d hoped, because I rushed and forgot to dry them off before searing them, but pretty enough to impress. June was thrilled, I think.
We forgot all about the pink lemon.
Oh, and the orange-honey bread pudding holds up quite nicely, by the way. I baked it Monday morning, and it made a delicious Tuesday night dessert, just reheated (with foil on top) in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.
Pan-Seared Scallops with Sauteed Spinach and Mustardy White Beans
Recipe 346 of 365
Note: I used three pans for this. You can probably figure out how to do it in fewer, but this is how it went down last night.
TIME: About 20 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings
Sautee a couple sliced shallots in olive oil until soft. Stir in a can of rinsed, drained white beans, 1/2 cup white wine, 1/2 cup stock, and a scoop of mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Move the beans to a back burner to simmer.
Heat another big pan over medium-high heat, and add a swirl of olive oil. (I would have added a good dose of garlic, but Grandma doesn’t like garlic.) Add a big bag of baby spinach. (I actually used a pound of untrimmed grown-up spinach, from two bunches, but trimmed all the tough stems off.) Season the spinach with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring or turning the spinach with tongs, until wilted.
Meanwhile, pat 8 big scallops dry and season them with salt and pepper. Heat pan #3 up good and hot, and sear the scallops for a few minutes on each side in a thin sheen of olive oil, until seared but still soft to the touch in the middle.
Add a splash of heavy cream to the beans, simmer them another minute or so, and divide them and the spinach between four bowls. Top with the scallops, and serve immediately.