All week the bundle of asparagus I bought at the market last Sunday has reproachfully waved deep-jade tips at me from its perch, firmly wedged in between the milk and a bottle of Sauternes, each time I open the refrigerator door. Tomorrow, I say, and then before I know it Friday is here, the end of a week full of hastily thrown-together dinners cobbled from odds and ends lingering about. It happens when I don't plan my week, when things like last-minute invitations and leftovers pressed on me by generous hosts throw a wrench in the vague plans I have in my mind. At the end of a week like that I find myself with a bundle of asparagus and two onions. R. brings me eggs that she and K. got from some farm the other day, and I almost gasp out loud when I open the carton and see how beautiful they are, jumbo eggs, blue and pink and brown, and one glorious, speckled one. But somehow I don't feel like eggs tonight.
At some point in the day I found myself hit with a sudden craving for creamed spinach. I don't know why - maybe it was the chocolate chip cookies from Safeway or the two small slices of chocolate cream pie from Costco that I ate absentmindedly for breakfast and various snacks before and after lunch. I come home and find an onion rolling around in the fridge, a bag of spinach in the freezer. But first, the reproachful asparagus - I trim the stalks, wash and dry them, and toss them with a little olive oil and sea salt before spreading them out in a roasting pan, then shoving it all in the oven. While the asparagus roasts, I chop half an onion, slip it into foaming butter balanced with a slug of olive oil. When the onions are translucent but not caramelized, I sprinkle in some flour, let it cook, realize I should have used up some of the leeks as well. Whoops. Next goes in milk and half-and-half. Usually I just use milk, but the half-and-half was leftover from a recipe, and I don't drink the stuff, so in it goes.
Now I can smell the asparagus. I take it out, stir it around a bit, and put it back for a little bit. The milk is bubbling on the stove; I add the thawed and drained (basically using a towel and a colander) spinach, stir it in, let it cook away. The nutmeg grater is hiding; while I search for it I pause just long enough to take out the asparagus and sprinkle on a little more sea salt. I eat a stalk - it is wonderful, tender and slightly caramelized, salty-sweet, the tips just a bit crunchy. The spinach is almost done, and I throw in some grated Parmesan, salt, a few grinds of pepper and nutmeg. It is a weird dinner, all green, like a steakhouse meal without the steak and potato. The benefits of living alone, a plate on your lap, Doris Day in the dvd player.
I eat the cupcake I saved from yesterday, moist dark chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream frosting. The cake has a moist, fine crumb, but the frosting is too sweet. Addictive, though. Already I am thinking about how to recreate it.