The Plus Side Of Flying Through Life Solo

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My blogs reflect the pain of my journey through grief since the death of my husband last August. I cry, I meditate, but I also try to be positive. I decided to write a blog about the plus side of being solo. It won’t take the pain away but it is a positive step on the road to healing.

I now have the TV remote all to myself. This means I can watch Jeopardy at night, instead of listening to political pundits pontificate about the state of our nation. The whole 2016 election is making me so nauseous that watching Alex Trebek is a blessing. I deleted all the action series Peter loved and stay with non-confrontational series that grip me but without blood and guts spewed all over the screen. I am not a reality fan but Project Runway is sheer perfection. Give me a good sitcom like The Big Bang Theory and I am content. I no longer have to watch tedious golf tournaments on television or watch the Raiders lose, although I still value the glory days of the LA Raiders with Marcus Allen and my heartthrob, Howie Long.

I sleep in one corner of my big, king-sized bed. When I get up in the morning, I fold the blanket over, and voila, the bed is made. Since I am an early riser, it was Peter’s job to make the bed. Having to just lift one corner over to do that chore saves my angst about missing him and his fantastic bed making. We’re talking hospital corners and inspection-worthy bed making!

A few months after Peter died I donated his clothing to a deserving charity. Now I have an extra closet. I still keep a few of his sweaters so I can bury myself in his scent again and feel close to him. But I must admit, it is nice to have a closet for winter clothes, and one for summer clothes. I know, I live in LA and it is 80 degrees much of the time, but it is great to have lots of room to see my Imelda Marcus collection of shoes and my bevy of Zara jackets organized by color.

I can crank up the air conditioning to frigid. Peter didn’t love the AC blasting in our bedroom but now I have the freedom to have it in the Arctic zone if I choose. He didn’t like the overhead fan whipping around but I get to have it at 30-mile-an-hour speeds if I have a hot flash!

I can eat vegetables for dinner with all the cilantro I desire. Peter abhorred cilantro so I have now planted a pot of cilantro in my herb bed available to top off my dish of veggies. I have read that some people possess a gene that makes them sensitive to cilantro. Since Peter’s sister and my son all hate it, I guess there is a truth in this theory.

I can have cereal for dinner and chocolate for breakfast. I buy vegetables and cook them with truffle salt and butter. When I am really down, I make a dish called Seven Hour Lamb, which is worth every long hour of cooking. The recipe will yield enough dinners to keep me going for a month. I prepare this on a weekend and allow it to cook all day. The dish is melt-in-your-mouth comfort food, which soothes my tattered soul.

With all my ruminating on being confident in my solitude, I would surely give up all these things in a nanosecond to have my sweet Peter back. I would relinquish the remote, abstain from cilantro, and empty the closet for just a few minutes more with him. Since that is not an option, I will just have to learn to fly solo, enjoy the perks that come from living alone, and relish my lamb and noodles.

Serves: 8-10
This is a classic French recipe in which the lamb is cooked for such a long time at such a low-temperature, it can be eaten with a spoon, hence the name “gigot à la cuillère.” I love to prepare the dish a day in advance to allow the flavors to grow.
Use either a roasting pan covered with foil, or a Dutch oven that will go under the broiler.

1 6-8 pound bone-in leg of lamb
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ¼ cups dry white wine or dry white vermouth
4 cups beef, lamb, or chicken broth
1 14 ½ ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, including liquid
12 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
1 bay leaf
12 shallots, peeled (and if they are large, halved)
6 medium-size carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
4 medium-size parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks
Garnish: freshly chopped parsley and freshly grated lemon rind
Accompaniments: wide noodles.

1. Heat the broiler to high.
2. Make sure the lamb is totally trimmed of the “fell,” the outer thin, papery covering. Trim away much of the fat as well. Place the lamb in a deep roasting pan and broil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it is browning. Turn the lamb and repeat the process on the other side. Remove the lamb from the oven and reduce the heat to 275ºF.
3. Transfer the lamb to a plate and pour off as much of the fat as you can without losing the lovely browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Place the roasting pan over one or two burners and add the wine. Boil the wine until it is reduced to about half, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a full boil.
4. Place the lamb in the pan, scatter the shallots, carrots, and parsnips around the meat, and bring the liquid back to a rolling boil. Cover the roasting pan with heavy-duty foil to seal it. Place the pan on a rack on the lower third of the oven. Braise the lamb for 6 to 7 hours, gently turning the meat ever 2 hours, until the meat is butter-tender and falling off the bone. You really want the lamb to cook very, very slowly.
5. Transfer the lamb and vegetables to a platter with a slotted spoon. Don’t worry if the meat is falling off the bone. Cover the platter with foil to keep everything warm and pour the pan juices into a fat separator. Season the pan juices with salt and pepper to taste, and serve the lamb and vegetables on a bed of wide noodles with the warm pan juices ladled over and a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley and grated lemon rind.

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