What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices? ~ Robert E. Hayden
As Thanksgiving approaches and the days get colder, I often think of this poem, Those Winter Sundays by Robert E. Hayden. It makes me mindful of the many gifts of love I receive so freely that I might take them for granted. They come from people who do them without the need for recognition but simply from their own charity.
Those Winter Sundays
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
If you are the main meal preparer for your family, you might just be one of those people. You wouldn’t dream of being thanked for what you do because you do it for the pure love of the ones you prepare it for, but I hope that you do get thanked for all you do!
This homey dish, Potaje, is usually prepared during Lent in Spain. It is a food of love in which preparation has to begin the day before it is to be eaten. The chickpeas and the bacalao have to be soaked in water the night before. You could save yourself some time by using canned chickpeas and fresh cod. I hope you enjoy it.
*Recipe is adapted from 1080 Recipes cookbook.
Potaje (Spanish Chickpea Stew)
- 2 cups dried chickpeas
- pinch of baking soda
- 8 oz. bacalao dried salt cod
- 1/2 head garlic broken into cloves, unpeeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 small onions
- 1/2 to 3/4 lb. spinach
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz. canned diced tomato or 1 large tomato seeded and chopped
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp spanish paprika
- 1 sprig fresh parsley
- Put chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water by 1 inch and add a pinch of baking soda and a pinch of salt. Let soak overnight or at least 12 hours.
- Put the bacalao (salt cod) in water to cover and let soak at least 12 hours changing the water at least 3 times.
- Drain the chickpeas and rinse.
- Reserve 1 of the garlic cloves and put the rest in a large pot along with the chickpeas, cover with water by 2 inches.
- Peel and quarter one of the small onions and add it to the pot along with the bay leaf.
- Heat to a boil and turn the heat down to medium low and cook for 2 1/2 hours adding more water if needed.
- Drain and rinse the bacalao and chop into 1" cubes and add it to the pot and cook for 30 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, chop the remaining onion and saute in the olive oil over low heat for 10 minutes until light golden brown.
- Add the tomato and cook mashing the tomato to break up for 10 minutes more.
- Stir in the flour and cook for two or three minutes.
- Add the paprika and remove from heat.
- When the mixture has cooled a bit process it in a blender or food processor until pureed.
- Stir mixture into the chickpeas. Season to taste with salt.
- Pound parsley and remaining peeled clove of garlic in a mortar or process in a food processor.
- Mix in 1 tablespoon of liquid from the pot and then add mixture to the chickpeas.
- Add the spinach and cook for 15 minutes more.
- Que aproveche!