I’ve been unable to write about Edward this winter and spring because while he continues to make wonderful recipes, and I continue to collect them and test many, and Megan continues to photograph them, I haven’t known how to address the fact that the house in Katonah has been in turmoil due to Ellie’s diagnosis of dementia. I still don’t. I feel weird revealing her condition, but if I am going to continue to post Ed’s recipes, something he wants me to do, then I have to come clean. We are worried and worn out. But I am lucky that my siblings Cham and Lisa are sensible and generous collaborators in her care. We meet, we strategize, we have a martini.
But Edward is another story. He trudges up to the studio to paint, turning over the garden, going to Arthur Avenue on Fridays to shop and hang out with his buddies and talk food. Maybe his naps after lunch are a little longer, but he is like a tugboat: strong and tough and slow, he pulls along the whole artifice of the house, the garden and the studio–the life they had–behind him into the next day.
Twice a day he cooks for himself and Elinor: fish on Fridays and Saturdays, chicken on Sundays with vegetables, pasta for lunch only, and liver, fava beans, and oysters because Elinor is anemic. They sit at the table, and have a glass of Edward’s homemade wine. He’s using up bottles in the wine cellar these days, and loves to say “I made this in 1978 and it’s better than ever, but you have to add some ice.” This, to mitigate the sourness. In fact, I think all the whites in the cellar have turned. If Elinor is not too agitated, after a glass or two they take a nap together on the couch. In the evening, Edward makes lighter fare. This month he’s been making chicken and spinach soup.
It’s incredibly easy and surprisingly delicious, even a bit rich tasting, but the success of this dish depends on homemade stock. Edward makes his every Sunday evening with the chicken carcass from Sunday lunch. It is one of the patterns that I think keeps him going, in more ways than just nourishment.
2 pints chicken or beef stock
4 bird’s nest pasta
4 cups spinach leaves, washed
Juice from ½ lemon
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium sized pot, bring the stock to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Add the pasta and spinach. Cook until the pasta is al dente and the spinach has wilted. Add the lemon juice, Parmesan, and seasoning, and serve.