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Last week Jason and I took five days and four nights out of our schedules in order to get out of Los Angeles. Four nights and five days for what seemed was just a minute.

We packed a cooler, a change of underwear, our camera, an ipod worth a decade of continuous music, Cosmo’s squeaky toy, and a liplube, and off we drove to New Mexico.

There, Jason’s best pal, his soul brother, his BFF Paul welcomed us at his log cabin hidden amongst sky-reaching pine trees on top of a mountain. Fourteen glowing eyes, twenty-eight legs and six tails total, all of which belonged to Paul’s cats, froze motionless behind his back at the threshold of the house upon our arrival.

If you’re quickly doing the math in your head, and 2 plus 2 just won’t make 4, know that one of the seven felines was a Manx. Ah… six tails indeed.

And then Cosmo appeared. Out of the car he sprang and around the house he span sniffing the ground and learning about his new circumstances. He spotted a cat, one of the seven that had dispersed in the darkness, and set his aim. Little did he know, the cat (all of them) moved with the speed of light (from his perspective) and flew through four bedrooms, the kitchen, and a vast living room in the same time poor Cosmo was still trying to find a way out of the first room alone. The three of us stood there, the speechless spectators, and quickly came to a conclusion that no intervention was required. Cosmo would never catch up with any of the kitties, hence no threat was posed.

The cats watched Cosmo's every move.

Cosmo had his eye on the cats.

Sequestered within the heart of the forest, wild coyotes crying in the distance, we set by the fireplace and exercised our brains talking for hours on about life and humanity, ecology, the origin of Homo Sapiens, Terence McKenna, fire fighters, the stars above and the volcano nearby. At sunset, we drove to the peak of the mountain and watched the sky.

We walked through the woods for hours, down to the river and up, by the Aspen girls. Then, in complete darkness we found the way out onto the highway and back to the house.

We cooked all meals, from breakfast through dinner. Well, I cooked, but always surrounded by eager and willing helpers. All it took was a hundred dollars that we stretched between four people and three meals a day over the July 4th weekend.

Five days away from home, from my kitchen, and from my computer turned into a full week of catching up. Not only did I not have time to write, but also I had to gear up for a whole lot of cooking for my upcoming Lunch Deliveries.

Before I withdraw back into my kitchen chambers, I want to share with you a dinner idea. Something different. It’s a simple peasant food with a smoky twist I put together one day recently–ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES WITH SMOKED MACKEREL.

There’s such a colorful and flavorful variety of root vegetables you can make this dish every time anew. Pick three veggies at a time and reinvent the meal over and over again. You could do carrots, turnips and kohlrabi. Add potatoes for extra body. Next time try diced rutabaga, parsnip, and squash. Add Brussels sprouts for color. Then you still have beets in various colors, same as carrots, plus a celery root, and a fennel bulb to twist it all together. Roasted onion never disappoints either.

To roast your medley, first preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash, peel and dice all veg keeping them all more or less same size. Toss the bunch into a roasting pan, sprinkle with olive oil, add a bunch of fresh thyme (leaves picked or whole brunches scattered around), half a spring of fresh rosemary (or leaves picked and scattered around), a few crushed garlic cloves, and 1-2 bay leaves. Season generously with salt and pepper and mix everything about making sure all pieces have been treated justly. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of veg or chicken stock to the bottom of the pan, and slide the dish into the hot oven. Roast for 30-45 minutes (depending on your veg and the dice size). Half way through, dive in with a long spoon and toss the medley about.

When finished, scoop as much as your hungry soul desires onto thy plate, top with chunks of smoked mackerel (that you had previously scraped with a fork from the fish itself, leaving the bones and skin behind), and freshly picked dill. Treat the fish with just a few drops of lemon juice, sprinkling from up high. That simple touch thus turns the meal automagically into a hedonistic thrill.

I can’t even describe the pleasures you are to experience upon the first nibble. The creamy flesh of the oily fish melts together with the savory vegetables producing a carnival of joy in your mouth. Don’t just take my word for it. Try it at home, I dare you.

I didn’t go to the store today because I fell in love with Jason.

I had no money, nor my driver’s license for that matter, as he took them along with my car this morning. We switched “horses” today, and my wallet drove away along with Jason into the horizon. Why was it in the car in the first place, you ask? It’s all Jason’s fault.

I was never the girlie girl who bought jewelry, handbags, shoes for every possible outfit, and all the other elements in THE ACCESSORY CIRCUS. I had a backpack, or a back pocket to store the stuff I needed when out and about. Then, while still living in New York, I met a girl as girlie as they come, who through her brains, charisma, and heart, was and still IS the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. Her name is Aveena and she’s a dear friend.

Aveena in Italy

It was under her influence that I finally went shopping for earrings, an extra pair of stilettos, sunny colored shirts (frocks would be pushing it), and a couple of purses. It took all Seven Dwarfs and two weeks at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to teach me how to carry myself in all that armor and look a tad less awkward than Ellen DeGeneres in her prom dress.

Flashforward a couple of years, I make myself at home in Baja enjoying the beaches and rollerblades, when this guy crosses my path at a Downtown art show and sweeps me off my feet with no warning. Meet Jason. We start hanging out on a daily basis, and I find myself carrying fewer things each time I’m with him… less make up, less clothes, less of a purse. I stick my driver’s license and a credit card in my back pocket to free my hands and alleviate distraction while with that boy. As the Friendship progresses and turns into a Flammable Romance, I no longer feel the urge to carry shit around. These days, I only leave the house with items that fit in one hand or in Jason’s back pocket.

So now you understand why I didn’t get the groceries today, because I fell in love with Jason. It’s annoying how disgustingly wonderful he is. He’s just the best there is, and I love him to pieces – from the top front to the back end.

Jason The Man

He’s also the reason I make an effort in the kitchen and come up with dinners like tonight: SEA BASS IN MUSTARD SAUCE WITH BUTTER-STEAMED FINGERLING POTATOES DUSTED WITH DILL. Consequently, YOU get those recipes! The Jason’s Fan Club suddenly no longer sounds like a joke. Feel free to send in your vote.

In the meantime, let’s get cooking. Get the following items handy:

–       1-1.5 lbs of fingerling potatoes, cleaned, skin on

–       2 fresh fillets of Sea Bass, washed and patted dry

–       1 tbsp of Dijon mustard

–       1 tbsp of whole grain mustard

–       2 tbsp of sour cream (organic, if possible)

–       1 shallot, finely chopped

–       1 tbsp of drained capers

–       salt + black pepper to taste

–       2 tbsp of butter

–       bunch of fresh dill, roughly chopped

In a non-stick pot, melt the butter and throw in the potatoes, sprinkle with salt, cover with a lid, stir around the whole pot and set on a low heat. The starchy bulbs will cook themselves in their own steam. However, make sure to give the pot a shake every so often, without uncovering it, to prevent the guys from burning their rear ends. It will take 20-25 minutes to complete the task. You can test if the potatoes are ready to rock & roll by sticking a tip of a knife inside one of them. If the tip slides in smoothly, you’re good. Next, sprinkle everybody in the pot with a bunch of fresh chopped dill, another pinch or two of salt and pepper, close the lid again, shake the pot around, and voila – you’re ready to serve the Fingerlings.

However, while they’re still steaming up on the stove, heat the oven to 425˚. Lay your fillets comfortably in a baking dish, sprinkle with salt and slather with the Mustard Sauce you made before.

Oops, have we not talked about that yet? Then grab a small bowl and dump you mustards and sour cream inside along with the shallot and capers, a dust of salt and paper, and mix them all up.

Your fish is ready to go into the oven to get warm and cozy – for 10 minutes. That’s it. Don’t put too much sauce on top of your fish, as you don’t want to overpower the delicate flavor of the Sea Bass.

It’s time to plate the dinner. If you think something’s missing, I bet it’s salt. Just a dash of salt brings the flavors out and the meal (any meal) starts making sense again.

Fingerling Potatoes

Speaking of salt, get rid of that nasty iodized salt that tastes like a high-school chemistry lab in a box, and replace it with kosher salt. It’s clean, healthy and as inexpensive as the other crap.

It took no more than half an hour and you just made yourself a Royal Meal … for no special occasion. Just celebrate because it’s Wednesday and begin the festivities with a masterpiece din-din your dining table has never seen before.

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