Dreams and Lemons
Do you ever get the sensation you’re spinning your wheels? Metaphorically speaking, of course. I can’t seem to shake that sensation since I got back home, with floundering productivity here on the blog and other facets of my work. Last night I had a frighteningly vivid dream, illustrating just how deep my spinning mental wheels had sunk into my subconscious.
The Dream : I was fast asleep (yes, I dream sometimes that I’m sleeping, I’m that desperate for it), slowly becoming aware of a pain in my hip. I thought I’d get up to walk it off. Groggy, I managed to stub my toes four times as I made my way out of the dark bedroom. Between the pain in my hip and the pain in my toes, I decided to just roll down the stairs, landing smack dab on a cat (couldn’t tell which one since all of ours are gray tabby cats). I freaked out, thinking I had smooshed my cat to death! I ran outside into the parking lot, which was eerie in the moonlight and ice cold, sobbing and swinging the smooshed cat around, trying to get air back into its lungs. After what felt like hours of dizzy spinning and terrifying panic, I suddenly realized the smooshed cat was really just the fuzzy rug from the bathroom that had gotten gray from all the cat hair I’d been failing to clean off of it. Nearly hysterical with relief, I began to make my way back into the house, only to find my hip and toes hurt even more, so much so that I couldn’t walk. So, for whatever wacky dream-state reason, I just rolled myself down the driveway (because it goes downhill, unlike the walkway to my house) instead and the last I knew, I was rolling along some littered side street in my neighborhood, clutching a cat-hair infested bathroom rug.
See what I mean? You’d feel like you were spinning your wheels too if you had dreams like that! Luckily I woke up right then and found my beloved cats safely snoozing at various locations around the bedroom. But I did resolve to get another post up on the blog pronto to prove that I wasn’t just some unproductive rolling slouch with only a dirty old bath mat to her name.
To start with, here’s a slideshow of the interesting people I crossed paths with while traversing around Portugal. I was struck over and over again by the lines etched in their faces, both of joy and of sorrow. I had not realized how turbulent Portugal’s history had been until I took time to read my guidebook’s synopsis one afternoon on the beach. These people have had many ups and downs, and it shows in the way they gaze upon the world.
Now, to return to our previously scheduled programming on this blog: FOOD!
I had what some might call a spartan kitchen at my rented cottage and took a lot of pleasure in creating very simple and very fresh meals from what I gathered during each day’s treks out into the Minho regions small towns.
Let me take a minute to rave about the sublime luxury of picking lemons off a tree outside my cottage. The act of picking lemons for yourself is no doubt old hat to some of you lucky readers who get to exist in a moderate to tropical climate. I, on the other hand, had never before picked a lemon for myself. You’d better believe I picked a great many of them during my eight days at the cottage. Jose, the estate owner, was quite insistent that I take as many as I liked. I wonder if he regrets that now…
One evening I had a nice head of broccoli, some baby potatoes, parsley, a local soft cow’s cheese that was a bit stinky (in a good way), some olive oil made in Portugal (but bought at the grocery store) and, of course, lemons. What unfolded from these components was the perfect meal to fill a hungry belly that had been hiking the remote mountain trails in the Peneda-Gerês National Park.
Lemon and Herb-Tossed Broccoli and Cheese with Smashed Potatoes
1 large head of broccoli
1 lb. baby potatoes
1 lemon, juiced
Soft cheese (as little or much as you like), cut into thin slices
¼ c. olive oil
Fresh or dried herbs, chopped (parsley, oregano, and/or basil all work well)
Salt and pepper
Cut the broccoli into florets. Steam, covered in a medium pot, just until tender. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until fork-tender.
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until quite hot. Add steamed broccoli and sauté until it begins to lightly brown. Remove from heat and toss with the lemon juice, herbs and salt and pepper.
Remove boiled potatoes from water and smash just a bit with a fork (or cut in half if you like a tidier presentation). Toss with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
Place broccoli and potatoes on a microwave-safe serving platter. Layer cheese over everything and microwave on high for one minute, or just until cheese is melted. Serve immediately, preferably with a good glass of Portuguese wine.
(serves 1 hungry hiker)