Don’t Call Me a Lady

Call me Brash.  Call me Bossy.  Hell, call me the other B word.  Just don’t call me a Lady. 
I’m a bit old school when it comes to the “L” word.  In my mind, those four letters are a gilded cage, a choke collar fastened to the twin chains of “modesty” and “demureness,” ones meant to keep women in line.  And they still make me flinch.

Ladies please.

I am old enough to have been brought up in a family that schooled me (however unsuccessfully) in all things “lady”; it was part of the era. Ladies sat quietly, legs crossed; nibbled their food; kept themselves tidy and presentable; were gracefully, elegant, thin, beautiful; spoke softly with neither command, nor authority and knowledge. But I was doomed to disappoint:  no beauty; my knees were always scuffed, my elbows rough and dry, my shoulders and feet too big, my hair full of knots. And I said what was on my mind.  I wanted to rub up against things, but lived under an umbrella of expectation:  Why wasn’t I more refined?  More girly?  A Lady.

When I was 16, Barbara, my petite, pearls and diamonds grandmother, gave me a black silk evening bag with a fake diamond and pearl clasp, saying, “Everyone Lady needs one.”  I was shocked that this was the most important accouterments she could imagine for my soon to be adult self when what I really needed were strong women who stood up to men, role models who showed me that a girl can grow up to be just what shewants.

Instead, I learned girls were passive, pretty adornments, like the dolls I was given meant to be looked at–things I wasn’t, nor had the slightest intention of being.  Their lot was to wait—for a prince, for happily ever after.  No one would write their story. 

I was too impatient for all that.

Please don’t tell me to get over it, that these things reside in some distant troubled past.  The world we live in is still too ruled by archaic ideas of how women should behave. You have only to look at the all-out war on the national and local level on women’s reproductive rights and the now infamous comments of the Dictator-in-Chief and his mostly guy cabinet to see we have not come a long way, baby.

This International Women’s Day I’m celebrating by thumbing my nose at it all, by bearing my unruliness with pride and celebrating the bitchy, the bossy, and the badly behaved.  I’ll be lighting a candle for Baubo, the most unladylike Goddess of all whose bawdy act of lifting her skirt made Demeter laugh and propelled her into resuming her quest to find her daughter. Like her, I’ll proudly act in some very unladylike ways, knowing such acts have the power to change the world.  

Brave New World

When Miranda utters these words in The Tempest, it’s clear they are the words of a naif.  She’s young and sheltered and–frankly–lusty. Her “brave” means handsome; Miranda is all about the surface. 

Most who invoke these words miss Shakespeare’s irony or haven’t read Aldous Huxley’s novel by the same name—What they summon, instead, is excitement about a changing landscape. 

For our new Emperor without Clothes, the phrase is clearly spin.  He’s the confidence man selling American his (empty) version of the story, whether he’s talking about how God himself kept the rain from his inauguration speech or tweeting his apples to oranges comparison of TV viewership of his big event. 

Pussy Hat, Caper WY
Yesterday, women across the world took back the phrase from the smoke and mirrors reality TV star who wants us all to be Mirandas. In our usage, brave means strong, and the new world is what is possible when we unite.  Over a million worldwide marched in response to what has clearly been a hostile takeover linked unmistakably to the message that women’s lives don’t matter. 

I know I am supposed to be writing about food and love and landscape, but the world seeps in—even here in my remote studio in Wyoming—where I’ve encamped to finish my book.

Words matter.
Truth matter.
I come from a family of invisible women. My mother was so ghost-like I don’t have one memory of her from my childhood.  She lived, for the most part, beneath the twin thumbs of alcoholism and abuse.  Another woman, a great aunt whose name I know was Nina, lived and worked as a servant in nearby home at 19, but by 21 was listed as an “inmate” in the North Dakota Hospital for the Insane. The silence around who she was and what happened to her is deafening.   

As of January 21, 2017, when women and, men and children joined the Women’s March in big cities and small towns—even on a boat in Antarctica–“brave” means holding ground.  We will not go back.

Women’s March in Casper, WY
Today is the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, an anniversary I mark by noting the following two items:  1) Already an avalanche of state-based legislation has been introduced to severely limit, if not deny, a woman’s right to make her own hard choices regarding her body.  2) Nina was likely institutionalize because she was raped, became sexuality promiscuous or pregnant out of wedlock, or spoke out about sexual misconduct by her employer.  She spent the rest of her life institutionalized and died at the age of 87, abandoned by her family. 

If you think the move to restrict abortion (and access to birth control) is about anything besides a concerted effort to control women, you are mistaken. 

In this Brave New World, women will rise.  We are the resistance.

A Mind of Winter

Cabin in deep snow
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs 
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; 

And have been cold a long time 
To behold the junipers shagged with ice, 
The spruces rough in the distant glitter  

Of the January sun; and not to think 
Of any misery in the sound of the wind
In the sound of a few leaves, 

Which is the sound of the land 
Full of the same wind  
That is blowing in the same bare place 

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

            —Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man”
When I lived in my little cabin on Overland Mountain, Christmas was one of the darkest times of the year for so many reasons. The landscape outside had long since frozen over, raked with relentless high altitude wind between pockets of deep snow.  Inside was dim and dark–a combination of wood walls and the cabin’s placement (in the hollow, facing west) produced a formidable gloom.  Lighting was poor.  The owners had run lines across the exposed upward angle of the roof that ended in a single light bulb in each room suspended twelve or fifteen feet in the air.  Even during the day, my home was cave-like—the halo from the bulb overhead ineffectual and frankly, ugly, so that I relied on a single floor lamp and strings of white lights wrapped around the floor to ceiling tree stump along the south wall  to make my space merry in the darkest time of the year.  

Elvis and Me
Those were the days when it was just me and my dog, Elvis.  We spent so many holidays alone, armed with a fistful of movies (for me) and some delectable piece of meat to share.  I’ll admit that it was a lonesome time.  The absence of light; the short frigid days; the illusion that everyone else was reveling in some kind of warm holiday embrace packed a bitter walloping punch.  Most years, I just grinned and bore it.  Winter, I told myself, was the price of all those glorious summers on the mountain.

But, I was wrong.

I would learn what it means to be human at the hands of winter.  To see understand that there is a difference between being lonely and alone.

Aspens, Watercolor by Greg Marquez
Eventually, I came to understand the beauty of a barren landscape, to see the presence in absence.  In that future, one morning, out before dawn in the shivery early light of a February sky to get my paper, I watched a satellite break up, shedding parts like incandescent diamonds, across the star-filled horizon.  Snow lay sparkling beneath a full moon and the whole of sky and land shimmered silver and white.  I felt like I’d stepped into a painting.  It would be one of the most beautiful things I would ever see up there.  And its price would be the winters I collected, nine months of practicing being quiet, practicing stillness, on the top of Overland Mountain.  

Cooking in the Age of Anxiety


Rome might very well be burning. 

There is no denying the smell of smoke in the air and a horizon that looks so much darker than it did a just a few weeks ago. 
I have spent my days out of focus and a bit out of my mind.  

And yet, cooking up a storm. 
Chopping has become meditation as I let my hands move slivers of onions, chunky shards of carrots and granules of garlic into tidy piles. I keep my knife moving back and forth across a mound of parsley until it turns emerald green beneath the blade as its grassy scent rises.  And think of nothing as I slice translucent half-moons of red onions for a quick tart pickle.  How satisfying to watch mushrooms roast in a fond of sautéed chicken or listen to the sizzle of  oxtails caramelize in a cast iron roasting pan for a red wine braise.  How lovely to feel kale soften beneath my olive oil rubbed fingertips, to build the flavors of a meaty soup whose aroma fills even the basement.  

The making of things has become the one reliable way to unhook my brain from the near constant ticker of bad news, from apprehension about the days to come.  To give my body a task it can complete today, to accomplish something that sustains instead of destroys.

In times like these, we should all become bakers of bread.  There is nothing more therapeutic, more calming, more life affirming than the kneading of dough. 

My post-election advice?  Turn off you phone, your Facebook feed, your television.  Reach for the most comforting recipe you know and devote a few hours to it. Pour a glass of wine. Put on Mozart. And then give the ingredients your full attention.  Let your body do what perhaps your mind cannot:  softly focus.  Engage your senses.  Smell and taste—yes, but notice, touch, listen. Let the moment wash over you. Breathe. Imagine someone you love, read a favorite poem.  Let these small lights guide you. 

The truth is food does so much more than fuel bodies.  It sustains, comforts, calms, invigorates and binds. Its memories are fertile soil, its rituals—our roots.  Always practice the small things in times of uncertainty.   And do not despair.  

Taking Stock

For a week now, the freezer door has refused to stay shut.  I will close it, only to have Greg complain it’s been cracked open all night, a puddle of water the damning evidence on the floor. Both of us have tried in our own haphazard way to shove bags of peas and protruding ice packs back into the maw of the deep freeze, announcing triumphantly that “I fixed it,” only to find the door ajar an hour or two later in the golden light of the afternoon.    

So yesterday morning, while I was making Sunday coffee for coffee and The New York Times in bed, I took everything out of the freezer, and here’s what I found:  a dozen frozen bananas, a pint of Talenti Tahitian vanilla I didn’t know I had, the missing fruit pop I removed from its box because the box was taking up too much room, a bag labeled “lamb scraps” and another labeled “lamb pieces for stock,” a small round filled with a dark brown substance that is either chocolate frosting, demi-glace or bordelaise (the lid is frozen to the container), along with the requisite chicken and pork packs I knew were in there.
I also found the culprit to the door dilemma:  14 chicken backs shoved, along with 3 bags of frozen leek ends from last years’ garden in the door’s upper shelf.  Whenever I make chicken, I often buy a whole fryer, a bargain at my localish healthy grocery store for about six bucks.  Far easier to cut up the chicken myself than to pay the butcher to do it.  This leaves me with the back which goes into the freezer for a stock I’ve never gotten around to making.  Until yesterday.

Judiciously choosing ten backs, and saving four, Greg and I bought another three pounds of chicken wings and together, put the pieces onto two cookie sheets along with a coarsely chopped onion, celery and carrot.  We don’t often cook together, a habit we seem to have fallen into because the first rule of the kitchen is that s/he who cooks doesn’t do the dishes.  Our labor thusly divided, we tend to stay out of the other’s way.  Perhaps because it was a largely hands off venture, the stock seemed ripe for cooperation on a day that caught us squabbling about the most mundane things.
After checking the chicken parts three times, an hour and fifteen minutes later, I took the browned meat and veg out of the 450 degree oven, deglazed the sheets and poured everything into a big stock pot and covered it with water. Then Greg climbed the stairs from the basement at thirty minute intervals to de-scum the stock which simmered for three hours as I alternately napped and rooted for the underdog Steelers who were fielding a backup quarterback.    
I’ve been thinking about taking stock as summer fades fitfully—the forecast is still peppered with 80 degree days out here on the prairie, and just this last week, the morning glories breathed their last gasp at the height of their bloom, as night time temperatures dipped into the forties.  It’s been a lovely and sometimes difficult six months since I fell into full time writing, working most days in my office alone, River sleeping at my feet, trying to keep a rhythm going for my memoir in progress, while also being mindful of the rhythm in my relationship wit my artist-lover.

Writing is lonely solitary work.  In my particular way of accessing the best of it, I prefer quiet mornings without so much as a cheery hello or tender I love you before I am off to work. Speaking first thing seems to get in the way of my best words.  It is a habit I honed all those years when I was single and living on the mountain, but it’s tough on Greg, who nevertheless has been game as my writing days stretched from five to six a week this summer.  Still I worry that the gap I’ve created for my work has introduced a gap in my relationship.

At this point, it normally would be far too easy for me to panic, to see my dilemma as pitting professional fulfillment against more personal ones, to walk straight to the ledge and leap.  But the one thing I’ve learned in five years of being with Greg is that what’s happening today isn’t necessarily what will be happening tomorrow or next week.  Just at the moment when I’m certain I’ve fallen into a perilous rut—with writing, with Greg, with life–something surprises me.  Things change. The seasons tell us that.  And just like the surprise of those chicken backs or the dozen frozen bananas in the freezer which I vow to make into a fabulous something sometime soon, there are things left to be discovered, new stories to live and tell. 
As Greg and I shared a comforter on the couch downstairs and ate his famous natchos, from basement to bedroom, the house smelled like Thanksgiving, a lovely roasted and browned poultry aroma that brought to mind some of our happier holidays and inspired me to save our joint stock for turkey day, when we can be gratifyingly reminded that it was made by four hands not two.

Oh Fall! How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways.

I love thee for cooler days and the return to roasting succulent cuts of meat, for rich sauces made from boiled pan drippings, and the serene pleasure of mashed potatoes larded with butter.

I love thee for sweet baked squash paired with pork, for pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, for Greg’s chicken curry and green enchiladas, for spicy green chili served with apple-jack quesadillas.

Cranberry Sauce
I love thee for cranberry sauce.
I love thee for the return of foods that warm and comfort and transform home into an opulent elsewhere with candle lit dinners and evening baths, red wine and Beethoven.
The Big Pancake
I love thee for Sunday mornings when the sun angles through bedroom window, and Greg and I take many indolent hours with The New York Times, the big pancake and River .

River and The New York Times

I love thee for the jars of San Marzanos suspended with basil and garlic, every bit of it grown by our own hands, and the knowledge that the first blizzard’s spicy rigatoni will have its seeds in July’s hundreds of yellow star-like blossoms, in August’s ripening heat.

Spicy Rigatoni

 I love thee for the color of aspen lighting the mountain, the sound of leaves skittering across the road, and for the return of winter birds:  Junco, chickadee, nuthatch.

I love thee for all the flowers of the garden in their last poignant bloom.  I love thee for the fields steeped in honeyed gold, for the last thunder of the year and the anticipation of first snow.
Greg’s Black Hollyhock – photo by Greg Marquez
And finally, I love thee the most for cozy nights when I can crawl into the skin of sleep—after too too many months of nights too hot for touch—suspended in my artist-lover’s embrace.  

Dog Days, Part 2

When I introduced River in this blog a few months ago, I announced in a tongue and cheek way that he came from a Texas kill shelter with “a suitcase full of yet to be revealed ailments,” lamenting a case of very treatable but not inexpensive cancer and a mystery back problem that required X-rays, NSAIDs, a narcotic pain killer and half a dozen acupuncture appointments. Before we could even contemplate pet insurance, his list of pre-existings had Greg and I asking each time, “What else can go wrong?”  

In answer, River’s baggage opened a bit wider in July to reveal the need for not one but two knee surgeries, the source of the back pain and likely the result of his member-of-the-pack lifestyle down south.  At first, Greg and I were struck dumb with our luck, but dutifully proceeded for what was best for the 18 month husky-mix with the startling amber eyes:  He had knee surgery #1 three weeks ago.  I cried at the thought of River, not yet with us for a year, in the hospital overnight, in pain and perhaps confused.  But except for some initial discomfort, he was fine.  A few days after surgery, River was putting weight on the knee and a week later, pulling on his lead.  The real test, we realized, would be keeping him quiet for another six weeks, when the plan was to have his other knee done and so bring us all to Christmas morning with a more agile and healthy canine.

Greg and I took it all in stride, rearranging funds to support the pup, who we’re certain never lived inside or with humans all the while kicking ourselves for the insurance that could have been. It’s clear our “junk yard dog,” as I call him affectionately, has had a tough past life:  Besides buckshot, he’s got facial scars and broken or missing teeth and bow legs, but Greg and I vowed we’d make his future better.

River, Post-Op

On Labor Day, the suitcase spilled more of its ugly contents, revealing additional past neglect, when River was rushed to CSU Vet Hospital for emergency surgery on what turned out to be a previously undetected necrotic hematoma (a battle wound from his junk yard days) that ruptured, spilling blood and bacteria into his abdomen and over-loading his kidneys.  Prognosis:  Uncertain, but expensive.

When River survived the critical 48 hour post-operative window where his chances with sepsis were 50-50, we rejoiced. And each step of the way—insertion of a nasal feeding tube, blood transfusion to support anemia caused by bleeding, we’ve said yes.  I could no more tell the vet to stop trying to save our dog’s life because it cost too much than I would have told the doctor to halt the aneurysm procedure that bankrupted my mom. 

I know that puts me in a particular category of dog owner and the fact infuriates me. Quitting has been either mildly hinted at or outright suggested by a few well-meaning people. This kind of reasoning goes hand in hand with the phrase: “He’s a dog,” a pronouncement that implies what for me are uncomfortable categorizations of living beings.  River is not an investment and he’s not expendable.  He’s our dog.  And he deserves as good a shot at a happy life as we can give him. 

w/ dialysis bandage and feeding tube

So when the hospital called on Friday to say River needed dialysis, a procedure that doubled our bill, you know what we said.  We’ve now spent more than we did on both our cars combined.   

River’s prognosis is wait and see. The future is uncertain.  But isn’t that what the Buddhists say?  All we have is today.  And I am hopeful as I write this while feeding my sleeping pup through a tube. Earlier this afternoon, he mildly licked some soft food from my fingers–that’s progress.  And he’s home, taking up the whole bed again. So long as I can look the dog in the eye and he’s looking eagerly back, we will keep going.

The Clock of August

In the yard this morning
Let’s face it, August is heavy with expectation. We’re all thinking about what’s to come, all the while larding our calendars with things to do before the golden days of autumn settle in, before the evenings are too cold to sit outside, before the early mornings are perceptibly darker. Our bodies swing between hurried preparation and a kind of manic relaxation:  One more vacation, one more weekend getaway, one more long hike, one more fourteener before bad weather and back to school. My Facebook feed has been one non-stop pleasure-fest, so full of friends’ exploits and accomplishments that next year, I’m banning all beach photos.  You think they’d have an app for that.

Plainly put:  August is a ticking clock. 

Our Giant Sunflower
For me, it’s been rather a time bomb. I woke up this morning realizing I’ve washed up on the shore of summer feeling as if I’ve missed it. There have been no vacations this year, no camping, no Persieds, not even one hike, though Greg and I managed a few bike rides. I’ve barely set foot in the garden.  Instead, I’ve merely glanced at it from my office, an 8×10 space where I sit and write for four, six, eight, or, as on one fevered day, thirteen hours. And while it’s true that writing every single day is the dream of a life I’ve long had, the bubble popped this morning on its romance.  This summer, my artistic life has obliterated all else.  

The Glory herself
Of course it’s my own damn fault.  In some ways, it’s been easier to sit at my desk as an excuse to escape the string of 90 degree days appearing more often than not since the beginning of June. But that’s not the whole story:  I’m nothing if not a toiler and a doer and, whether rocket fast (kitchen prep, cleaning, weeding, chores) or slow and plodding (writing and writing and writing), I manage a sturdy, cement-like focus, letting all else—pleasure, anyone?—fall away. 

So I’ve arrived on the eve of September realizing I need to take not only a breath, but a sledge hammer to all this concentration. It began this morning, when I broke routine (coffee, journal, work on book) and stepped outside before 8am for the first time all summer. 

A fat morning glory yawned open against the garage and I plucked three strawberries and a handful of beets. Lemon basil bolts from neglect, but the vegetable garden is thick with the promise of tomato and peppers.  My monster sunflower, pregnant with blossoms, towers fifteen feet in the air and the rosehips are fat as raspberries.  Taking it all in,  I resist the urge to plot and plan.

This holiday weekend, though it makes me breathless, I vow to take all three days off from writing.  Plans?  I have a few which include poetry and Greg and hammock time, or perhaps a bike ride to the Farmer’s Market along with a drive up to the hills.  Whatever it is, no matter how much fun or spectacular or beautiful, I will not be posting the pictures on Facebook.



A Menu For Change

Okay listen. Like you, I’ve been unable to look away from the daily idiot-grams tweeted by the Demagogue Who Would Be King.  Inside these last burning days of July, I’m boiling, not because of the heat dome currently centered over the nation, but because one loud-mouthed pied piper whose only credential is that he has made some money is piping a tune straight out of the Third Reich.    
Into this end-of-the-world-as-we- know-it scenario, I have inserted a little fantasy. In the Isak Dinesen’s story Babette’s Feast, a French Chef, a refugee who has been working for two dour and stripped down Danish sisters, makes one memorable meal for her benefactors.  It’s clear as one course replaces the next, the food has both regenerative and transformative powers:  A romance is rekindled, crabby pettiness is replaced with neighborly joie de vivreand sensuality breathes life into Scandinavian stoicism.
Ignoring Herr Millionaire’s latest call for foreign nations to meddle in his fight for the House He Would Make White, I tried to come up with a menu that would transform the Big White Shark from Jaws into an animal whose size matches his I.Q.  At the very least, my goal would be to wipe the sour from his puss and reduce his testosterone emissions to within normal limits.    
For starters, I’d serve Agadashi Tofu—creamy tofu surrounded by a translucent fried batter and sunk lovingly in a warm salty broth.  Tofu ranks high on the list of foods packed with estrogen, a hormone that would immediately cause Mr. Reality TV to replace his too often touted “I” with a more communal “We.”  Bonus, it might also soften the frequency of references to his “member” in political debates, if not the member itself. 
The first course would folllow with YUUGE platters of raw oysters, big fat ones like Kumamotos, which would be served by a nice pairing of gorgeously round and fleshy women dressed as bondage mistresses and are-those-real-or-are-they-fake drag queens. Of course, No cocktail sauce allowed.  After which I predict like all good fascists, The Emperor Who Has No Clothes will embrace his inner Submissive and go hence forth on his knees.  
The main course has to be Deep Fried Brains. We’ll say they’re croquettes.  Immediate improvement as he gobbles them all.

Dessert?  I can guarantee he gets none until he stops behaving like a two-year old in a gold-plated sandbox.  

Unless of course I can find a recipe for Humble Pie. 

Letting My Yolks Run Over

There really isn’t any food as erotic as the sunny side up egg.  Think of the way the synapses in the brain sizzle at the sight of a golden yoke oozing its buttery pleasure in brothy soup, on top of a pile of greens, or spilled, meltingly, from the mouth of pasta.  Let’s face it—that’s pure sex.

Last year, I started making pizza carabonara—having never before been interested in the pasta version, a reaction to an early boyfriend in the 80’s with bad taste and a penchant for using olive oil only instead of eggs — and fell instantly in lust with the combination of creamy garlic and mascarpone-topped crust larded with lovely chunks of sinful pancetta, brought perfectly into focus with an egg (or in my case four) and a bit of romano cheese.  Oh, the thrill of fat on fat. The way my head begins to purr as the yolk spreads itself over what must be the four pillars of food pleasure:  crunch, salt, garlic and umami (cheese). 

It’s fair to say that my life lately has been a little dogged–definitely in need of some sexing up.  So last week, a little hung over, I made burgers for the artist-lover and me, something that feels to me like slumming.  While it’s true that there is nothing like a good juicy burger—I find them excruciatingly difficult to make at home.  Absent the searing heat of a flat top, I’ll confess I can’t get a burger right.  The problem with most (cheap) BBQ grills is that they don’t get hot enough to caramelize the meat quickly while still retaining a mid-rare center.  But fresh off a night of a little too much Friuliano, I needed some grease and Greg was jonesing for what he calls regular food.  

So burgers it was.

I fried some bacon and then took an hour or two to slow sauté thin brown onions until they were crispy.  Then I fried an egg.  The trick is to heat the pan so it is searing, melt butter, wait for the bubble and crack the egg before instantly turning the heat down to medium low.  This way, the white will cook all the way and the yolk will be runny.  I put this little trifecta (crispy onion, bacon, gloriously runny egg) on top of my cheddar burger—bun toasted, of course—and the result was so sublime, it shoved my long-time favorite–the blue-cheese burger–permanently to back of the bus. 

I’d long ago learned the pleasure of the runny egg—from my buttoned-down mother who taught me to dip my toast into sunny side up eggs when I was young.  Her pleasures were secret and the combination of butter melting into the slightly thickened yolk is a memory of mom I hold close to me.  She ate eggs every day of her too short life.

The Artist-Lover’s workHorse painting in progress by Greg Marquez
The good news for the rest of us is that the secret pleasure of the egg is now sanctioned:  Fat is back.  We know it’s good for the metabolism and it has a calming effect on the brain.  (If you don’t believe me, think of how you feel when you eat that pint of Ben and Jerry’s—it’s chemical and it’s real).  There is no reason to avoid the perfect beauty and eroticism of the egg.  At our house we buy the pricey Omega-3 kind, for health, for mood.  Like my mom, Greg eats eggs every day for breakfast, sometimes scrambled, but sometimes adorably served as Toads in the Hole. 

Me?  I like my eggs all day long.  Try a poached egg on top of spicy arugula salad dressed with truffle oil and lemon and shaved parmesan.  Spinach salad with bacon would work just as well.  Perfectly poached asparagus plated in a row simply begs for the sensual weight of an egg laid lovingly on top.  Imagine the silky pleasure of a perfectly cooked yolk spilling onto pungent mushroom risotto or fried sweet potatoes with wilted chard. 

For all my egg-fearing friends, here’s the challenge:  Dip your toe in, make runny eggs, let yourself sink in.  Be sexy.  And serve it up, with an egg.