Good morning. You can only be really good at a few things in your life, and a couple of them ought to be family and work. Each takes time. If you’re going to add hobbies to the mix — bowhunting for turkey, say, or growing flowers or making decoupage — you’re going to have to give up on something and it shouldn’t be family or work. I often give up on sleep.
For instance, I’ve been making a lot of pizza this summer on the weekends. I like a good, long ferment on my dough. So, I wake up very, very early on Wednesdays to make it and get it into the fridge before work. I might stay up late to fiddle with the kombucha, or to cut meat and mix marinade so my spiedies will be ready for use on the weekend, tender for the grill, ambrosial in taste.
I’ve made lasagna before dawn, stayed up all night with briskets and pork butts, set alarms so that I can serve biscuits for breakfast, or adjust the temperature on tomorrow’s slow-roasting pernil. The activity brings a kind of quiet satisfaction. There’s no need to talk about when you did the work, or seek acknowledgment of it.
Well, maybe a little. Because these beef empanadas (above) are pretty good, no?
That’s my plan for today, anyway, for lunch. You might try them for dinner. As for the rest of the week …
Caponata, the salty-sweet Italian salad-relish of sautéed eggplant, tomatoes, caramelized onions, capers, anchovies, olive oil and vinegar, here gets the pasta treatment with ricotta and basil, a lovely weeknight meal.
We made caponata into pasta on Monday. Here you can take the flavors of a classic puttanesca sauce and make it into a salad with chickpeas and tomatoes. As good as it is for dinner, it’s even better for lunch the next day.
Come winter you’ll regret not trying to cook outside more, even if it’s just a tiny little portable grill in the heat. Grilled shrimp salad with melon and feta tonight! Get on that, please.
Now, it’s nothing to do with spice blends or the precise definition of medium-rare, but summer’s racing toward its finish, and you have only so much time left to read, as you should every August, Colson Whitehead’s excellent novel, “Sag Harbor.”
I love this accounting, by Callie Holtermann in The Times, of how a new generation is putting its mark on the iconic Boat and Tote bag from L.L. Bean.
Finally, here’s Tom Vanderbilt on Francis Mallmann, the king of outdoor cooking, in Outside. Enjoy that, and I’ll be back on Monday.