We always head north for New Year’s Eve to stay with our good friends, Gregory Ann and Peter. This year I was in the denoument of a mild case of flu and looking forward to one of Gregory’s miracle cures. Usually these involve a tincture with an oily timeworn label and an expiration date whose year begins with a 1. Gregory extracts a treatment from the depths of one of her baskets, swears by it, administers it, and the healing commences. It’s the perfect way to end the year, saying goodbye to lingering ailments.
Once, after I slogged my way through a mud run, I spent the night at her house and she cured me of a headache that no over-the-counter pill would touch. I have decided that I won’t army crawl through corrugated PVC pipes in the freezing rain again unless the government is paying me to do it. But if you should acquire a stabbing headache by engaging in any torturous, recreational foolishness, take note: peppermint essential oil applied to the temples does wonders. An organ-scouring cup of nettle tea doesn’t hurt either.
Gregory is a preschool teacher by day and an amateur practitioner of the ancient healing arts by night. This time the remains of my flu were exorcised by, well, exercise. She tricked me, but given her covert vocation, this is not surprising. We left for what I thought was a friendly jog but what turned out to be a wheezing plod up a steep, 1 1/2 mile long incline known as Clearlake Hill. I coughed and hacked my way up (she was singularly unruffled by the exertion but that’s not because she’s in better shape than me, that’s because she is a witch). We eventually emerged into the glorious frosty sun and a view of the Skagit Valley that someday, not too soon, I will be willing to earn again. On the way down I realized that I had been death-marched through a ritual that had forced me into healing. My lungs felt so much better (once they stopped burning).
Even more than her potions, it is her meals that are truly restorative. When we arrived, she was preparing to make frittata for a choir party. The rosy red potatoes from her neighbor’s garden were slated for inclusion and it all looked quite promising. I blithely agreed that a fritatta was the perfect dish: “So easy!” I said. About an hour later, with four adults installed at chopping stations, Gregory’s hens earnestly squeezing out eggs, and us wondering if one of the idle chickens could grate cheese, I sourly commented that my fritatta only takes five minutes.
This version from Everyday Food Magazine will give you a dicing callous, but the end result is the most flavorful egg dish I have ever eaten (or ever will eat because I don’t think I can coax myself to do all that work). I enjoyed it at four meals over the course of 46 hours if that is any endorsement. The roasted garlic was savory and satisfying and put me, officially, out of the frittata business. I retroactively despise every so-called frittata I have ever made.
If you have surplus time and patience, and are looking for a cooking experience that verges on spiritual discipline, I recommend this dish for brunch (or lunch or dinner). We doubled the recipe because if you are going to go to all that labor, you might as well get two. Then again, if you only really want one, then you will dispense with some of the chopping time. I insisted on eating a piece in the car on the way to the party which gave me the oppurtunity to greet the delightful members of the Edision Lutheran Church choir at their holiday get-together with a chunk of roasted broccoli dangling from my front teeth. Gregory dispatched it handily and then we celebrated the journey.
Trudge on, and enjoy the view. Happy New Year!