Brand New World

Pop quiz: Your first child has arrived, 2 1/2 weeks early, after a blindingly short labor. Quick—what's for dinner?

You bolted from the house in a panic a few days ago, but now all three (repeat, three) of you are back home for the first time. You’re staring at one another, stunned, and you realize you’re going to need to feed yourselves. You have a fridge full of vegetables from the farmers’ market that you’d planned to cook before you spent the week living on bagels and Thai takeout. Quick—what’s for dinner?


Everybody looks so happy to see me. Wait until 3 o’clock
tomorrow morning. We’ll see who’s smiling then.

I took this quiz last week and, though you might have a different urge, I opted for simplicity—that first dinner was sorrel soup and a spinach salad. The soup (the original recipe is from Jerry Traunfeld’s wonderful Herbfarm Cookbook) is particularly direct: sweat an onion in a pot, then add a quart of stock and bring it to a boil. Strip the veins from the sorrel and stuff the leaves into a blender along with a handful of chives, then pour the hot stock in and blend until smooth. At fancy dinner parties I’ve sometimes strained the puree and served “chlorophyll shooters” in shot glasses, but poured right from the blender into bowls the soup is bright and lemony, with a flavor that embodies spring—just the thing for a brand new world.

One of the most touching presents we got for our wedding was a small bag of wild pine nuts that two of our friends gathered by hand near their home in southwest Colorado. I’d been looking for the perfect time to use them and Baby’s First Night Home was my excuse. I made a spinach salad with my favorite goat cheese from the Greenmarket, then toasted the pine nuts to tan and tossed them in. A cliché, perhaps, but really, really good—which is how it became a cliché in the first place.

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