When I found myself running behind schedule on Saturday and unable to keep my promise to make Navarin Printanier, or lamb stew with spring vegetables, on our appointed time, I came to the conclusion that Lisa would eventually understand when she learned how frequently I am tardy. Seldom are the days when I don’t feel like Sandra Bullock dropping articles from my armful of items as I’m running to my next engagement. I never mean for it to happen; it’s just such a slippery slope. I didn’t quite feel that she was ready for that yet.
As it turns out, Lisa didn’t cook her stew on Saturday either, and once again we found ourselves talking on the phone while preparing our lamb and chopping our vegetables. This time we chatted as if we were sitting at the same table preparing and assembling the ingredients for our next project. We talked about our friends; the friends with whom we recently came into contact and those whom we wished we did. We talked about the ongoing events of our lives and our plans for the future, intermittent with my questions about what happens if I don’t cut all of the thin clear skin off of the lamb to the taste of parsnips. We laughed about and loved the term of our circle dubbed “Peas in a Pod”, as we have the privilege of belonging in a friendship of extraordinary women. It truly was a fulfilling conversation between friends. Again, we hung up at the time I needed both hands to continue cooking.
It took about an hour toiling over trimming skin and cartridge from my boneless leg of lamb (at $22.00 for about 3.5 lbs). Yep, just trimming the lamb.
Fortunately, I always find this type of activity to be relaxing and very soon found myself happily in my zone. My kitchen was soon filled with the satisfying aroma of browning meat, followed by the inclusion of the seasonings, broth and tomato paste. I felt relaxed from my hectic weekend when my Navarin Printanier, happily housed in my beautiful green iron Rachel Ray roasting pot, was finally placed in the oven.
For the first time in my life, I engaged in preparing and eventually eating turnips and parsnips. I was excited at the notion of trying new vegetables to my repertoire. Lisa told me that parsnips are often used in place of carrots in this type of dish, and as a root vegetable, it made sense. If I liked them, it would be another great way for me to sneak in an additional vegetable into my sometimes-healthy diet. After the first hour of roasting, the vegetables were put into the pot, which marked the beginning of the home stretch to mealtime.
The stew was perfect. It was a rustic and hearty meal without any of the sophistication found in other dishes. I ate it over jasmine rice – of course, because everything is served with rice in a Filipino household – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. All-in-all, the Navarin Printanier, like my friend Lisa, offered a sense of comforting familiarity.