By Isa Covo
And so it goes, day after day, the coronavirus cases increase, the deaths mount, people grieve, workers lose their jobs, the food pantries have never been so busy, proud people feel embarrassed for not being able to feed their families, and our President tells us that things would get worse if we change administration. How is that? Is it the unfounded fear that guns will become illegal? The belief that factories will close, and other improbable things? What we need is a clear-eyed, concrete plan to turn things around, and so far, there is nothing showing on the horizon.
I am lucky; I am comfortable at home. From my windows I can enjoy the magical transformation of the trees from a uniform green to an explosion of colors, the changing light of the day and at night the lights bring mystery to the cityscape.
But I am alone; I eat alone. I rarely see my family, and at a distance. My young grandchildren are changing but few are the occasions where I have a chance to witness the change, hear their stories, play with them.As for the adult one embarking in a new life, our exchanges are by telephone. A disembodied, albeit warm, voice. All our members miss what is a family, the closeness of it.
There is a bonus in this story though. It has been the first time that I can remember that we were able to have a peek on TV at the interiors, however limited, of the personalities, commentators, journalists, commenting on our current situation.
About you, how are you doing?
I wonder if the life we are experiencing now, where few are spared, will make us better, more humane, more united, more caring. Be positive, have hope that the best is yet to come. VOTE.
Although not eliminated, tomatoes are not as frequently used in Northern Italy as they are in the Southern part. So here is a tomato-less minestrone, which is also pasta-less.
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 2 leeks, sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 2 cups celery, sliced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup, about 6 ounces, cranberry beans, soaked overnight
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 5-6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 large baking potato, peeled but left whole
- 1/3 cup short-grained rice, well rinsed
- 2 cup spinach coarsely chopped
- 2 cups cabbage, shredded
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon chopped sage
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Grated Padano cheese
- Chop the onion, Slice the other vegetables into half-inch slices.
- In large heavy bottomed saucepan heat the oil over medium heat, and add the onion, leeks, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring about five minutes until the vegetables become fragrant.
- Add the beans and stir to coat with the oil. Add the garlic and the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium low, cover the pan and simmer for about fifty minutes.
- Add the whole potato, and continue cooking for ten minutes, then add the spinach, cabbage, and rice to the bean mixture. Stir in the butter and the seasonings. Cover and simmer for another fifteen minutes.
- Add the chopped herbs and simmer another five minutes, making sure that the beans and the potato are soft. If necessary, simmer another ten minutes or so until the desired softness. The beans should be soft but not mushy or falling apart. Before serving, cut up the potato with a spoon into irregular coarse pieces.
Serve the cheese on the side to be sprinkled on each serving to taste. Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Note: If you wish, you may replace the spinach with other greens, such as kale or Swiss chard, but the cooking times may vary.