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wear them I did—in my belly

wear them I did—in my belly

Since Christmas morning, I’ve been nursing a mild but persistent cold, the sort of thing that manifests itself in unladylike snorts every few minutes and a nasal bedroom voice by early evening. It hasn’t slowed me down, but it’s made soup sound exceptionally good. So this New Year’s Day, I shelved my tentative plans for good-luck black-eyed peas masala and opted instead for a cauldron of rustic chicken stew.

And because it was indeed a cauldron, I invited my favorite Dutchman, he who crafts beautiful cutting boards, spoils me with sausage and greens, and boasts woodsman biceps as big around as my head. [And I don’t take this last lightly, seeing as the diameter of my head is pretty large; when I was little, I’d wind up in tears every time my mother tried to put me in a turtleneck.]

Nicho arrived, as is now the norm, with Swiss chard and a bag of dog food for Index, who trotted in happily and curled up on the floor in the hallway. I put a small pot of stew on the stove to reheat and cut thick slices of the Essential Baking Company’s Columbia Bread, brushed them with olive oil, and slid them into the oven to warm and crisp. Nicho set to work cleaning and chopping the chard,

which we sautéed quickly with olive oil, a dash of white wine, sea salt, and—at Nicho’s wise suggestion—a few dabs of Dijon mustard stirred in at the very end.

We sat down to deep, wide bowlfuls of stew ladled over the crisped bread, which slowly swelled with broth and yielded deliciously to our spoons. Nicho’s mustard chard made a wonderfully earthy and complex side-note, and we scraped our bowls and plates contentedly, talking between slurpy mouthfuls, watching Index sleep alarmingly soundly at Nicho’s feet. Then, rising to clear the dishes, Nicho presented me with a suspicious pink-and-white striped Victoria’s Secret box, hinting only that what lay within “could be worn.” Tucked beneath a layer of pink tissue paper I found a Ziploc bag full of homemade oliebollen and appelbeignets, doughnuts traditionally served in Holland to celebrate the New Year. And wear them I did—in my belly.

The oliebollen (which translates enticingly to “oily balls”) were cakey, dense, and only slightly sweet, freckled throughout with currants and golden raisins,

and the appelbeignets were surprisingly light, a round slice of apple tossed in cinnamon, coated in batter, and fried to golden.

I can only imagine how treacherously delicious they were the night before, fresh from the fryer and still warm. Nicho blames them for his so-called “winter chub,” which, by all appearances, does not exist and anyway is seasonless, having been a topic of conversation since early fall. He was admirably restrained, only eating half an appelbeignet, but I threw caution to the wind and downed one and a half oliebollen and the other half of his appelbeignet. After all, I’ve got the old “feed a cold; starve a fever” thing on my side.

coating it just enough I will enjoy today's serve with the chocolate drops that’s what I did. Sort of since we both loved it so much get the balance of flavours right nasturtium flowers and serve life will give its best back to you I've written about it here a tomato-based sauce
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