an elaborate ruse

“Do you know what the special is at Klee tonight?” I said as I walked in the door from work on Tuesday.
“Egg noodles with hazelnut pesto, sprinkled with crushed pretzels.”
“Are you saying that you want to go to Klee for dinner?”
“No. I’m just saying that there is a special that sounds really good. Doesn’t it?”
“It does.”
“We haven’t been there in months and months.”
“Debbie, are you saying you want to go?”
“Alex, I didn’t say that. I was just, you know, noting that if we wanted to eat that, we’d have to do so tonight. They won’t have that special again for a whole week!”
“I thought you wanted to make the carrot thing tonight.”

and then

Right… the carrot thing. When Alex and I ate at The Spotted Pig last month, my second-favorite salad (after the mixed bean one, of course) include roasted mixed-color greenmarket carrots, cumin and avocado. I didn’t expect to like it so much–I worried it might be too sweet or heavy, but once again, that heavy helping of lemon juice woke the whole dish up. I have been itching to make it since, and a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket last weekend made it possible. By Tuesday, the avocado was ready to go, and from that point on, everything went wrong.

First, there was the cruel temptation of a neighborhood restaurant’s Tuesday night special that would demand no work, no dishes later, oh and provide us with wine, ideal as we were out. Next, we realized that the orange carrots had turned rubbery, soft and generally ew, and needed to be replaced. Then I decided that although the original dish had used unpeeled carrot, mine were looking a little rough so I decided to peel them taking the gorgeous purple with it! I pouted insolently. Next I realized we were out of ground cumin, which I had forgotten (I told you we are cumin-junkies; seriously, I think we went through 1.5 cups in just over a year). Too lazy to grind my own, I tossed the carrot with the whole-seed variety instead.

rainbow carrotsrainbow carrots

But, it was this last snafu that caused Alex to stand up from the sofa, raise his right finger in the air, clear his throat and declare “This is an elaborate ruse!” You see, I burned the carrots. What? Yes, people, I burn dinner too. It’s not my fault! They cooked really fast, and I resent the implication that I was just trying to finagle for us a (labor-free, dish-free and wine-filled) dinner at Klee.

Which was really good, mind you. I might have to burn dinner more often.

burnt carrots

One year ago: Romaine Pesto and Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

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27 comments on an elaborate ruse

  1. Larry

    Well, after looking at the menus and the photos, I fully understand you burning the carrots but he probably would have taken you if you had just said “yes” early on when he asked you.

  2. RA

    Great dialogue, excellent plot structure – I love this. Too bad about “the carrot thing,” though. Do you think you’ll try it again when you have everything you’d need?

  3. Ne

    Deb and Alex,
    I cannot begin to tell you how much I love your blog. I have been reading many (many) food blogs for a long time now, but eventually each one of them gets boring and un-creative. Smitten Kitchen is absolutely marvellous! I love your writing Deb, it’s so enticing and beautiful! And Alex, ALL the photographs are breathtakingly gorgeous!! The writing, the photographs, the contents, the recipes, the choice of food, the style of food…everything shows how brilliant you both are and how very beautifully you live your lives!
    I just felt that I should not forage around your website anymore before letting you know how much I adore it!!

  4. EGM

    LOVE the new “One year ago” link. It’s triggering ‘”Oh! I wanted to make that when I first read that post” (Romaine pesto and egg stuffed tomatoes have been bookmarked for… a year!) and also remind me just how long I’ve been a fan :)

  5. Hello there!
    Stumbled on your site and looks like we are neighbors.
    Gorgeous photos and set up for your recipes! I love that there is another Union Square Greenmarket shopper out there, too. Have you tried the avocado squash from the asian stand that’s there on Fridays? Soooo good!
    All the best,

  6. deb

    Joy — Sadly, this never made it to the recipe-writing stage, so I can’t tell you with any authority what would work. What I had intended to do was toss the carrots with olive oil and cumin, salt and pepper, roast them until they were soft, but not overly brown (I might put them in a covered dish next time), put some avocado slices on top and then squeeze fresh lemon juice over it. Perhaps more olive oil. If you try it, though, let me know! Otherwise, I’ll tackle this again… one day.

  7. I really remember reading that post from last year! It’s startling because I didn’t realize that I’ve been reading your blog faithfully for over a year–the longest I’ve ever regularly visited any website beside Hotmail!

    So thanks for all the time you put into the site–I really enjoy it. Especially now that I started college and suddenly cooking and really good food is no longer a regular feature of my life; (not even a microwave in my dorm room! They said there was a kitchenette in the description but there isn’t even a fridge, let alone a stove/oven! It’s very very very sad) So for the moment, until Thanksgiving break, I get to live vicariously through you. :-)

  8. Bettina

    oh, it’s good to see that dinners gone wrong aren’t exclusively mine. huzzah. i’m curious about the hazelnut pesto and crushed pretzel combo. how was it?

  9. Melissa

    You might not be perfect but you are very, very good…I made the Online Relationship Bean Dip and World Peace cookies for a football tailgate today and they were amazing! I got so many undeserved compliments on both. Thank you so much for such good recipes!!

  10. Chelsea

    So I’ve been reading the blog for…god, a while now, back when it was Anyway, I’m now currently addicted to flickr and I’m now missing your posts because I see the pictures, then later on check the blog and think I read it already because I’ve seen the pictures before…Anyway, that’s the long way of saying that I’m loving both the posts AND the pictures too now. :)

  11. Recipe please! Even if it did burn, I have a ton of carrots just from the field that I’d love to trythis with … the concept sounds lovely so post the recipe if you think it advisable for us to have a go at it too. :)

  12. Jim

    Gotta love clever ruses. I used one last night to get Italian pickup instead of slaving to make pesto pasta. The key is listing just how many steps it would take to go from 0 to fed–hearing them consecutively your audience is likely to groan and go find a takeout menu.

  13. Oh how well I relate to this post. Each Saturday I wake up eager to create some new culinary masterpiece. By the time I have looked through every cookbook that I own (formulating my own recipe from the techniques learned there) and dragged my poor husband through a grocery store or two I am clearly too exhausted to cook. Now I have an escape plan, thanks Smitten Kitchen!

  14. I gave this a try – about 3 cups sliced rainbow carrots, tossed with a tablespoon of olive oil and about 3/4 tsp ground cumin, plus some salt and pepper. Roasted at 425 for 25 mins, then sprinkled with some lemon juice. After tasting, I decided to add a sprinkle of cinnamon, too. I didn’t have avocado, unfortunately. But we liked the carrots. The seasoning was fairly subtle – I would have enjoyed it with even more cumin, but my husband probably wouldn’t have, so it was a good compromise. (On the other hand, he probably would have loved the burnt carrots…)

  15. Crushed pretzels? Seriously? That sounds like a ruse to me.

    Love the pictures of the carrots. The purple ones reminded me of the purple string beans we picked up that we were so excited about that, when boiled, turned (inexplicably) green. How dull is that?

  16. Chelsea

    That’s it?! I love your blog and like a crazy obsessed woman I check it often. Roughly 10 times a day searching and such. I was really hoping to find some life changing miraculous recipe for the carrots at the bottom…Hmm.