Chicken Livers and Sweet Potatoes in Our New House

After two months of signing papers, carrying boxes, fussing at Fred for misplacing things he’s never seen, and the other horrors associated with moving, we are finally settled in a house here in Durham. It’s only about eight blocks from the Federal and has a garage that will become an art studio. Fred is in heaven. I’m pretty happy too, because most of his paints, drawings, canvases, stretchers, tools, paintbrushes, and empty watercolors jars are no longer inside my–I mean, our–house. He has his cave, and I have my kitchen.

I am, however, beginning to suspect that we may never see each other again. Last week, as we were just starting to unpack, Fred disappeared into the basement with a load of boxes. Some time later, when he still hadn’t returned, I began to be concerned. I went to investigate.

Our basement is only partially finished. Half consists of a room with a tiled floor and finished walls, with a smaller room containing a shower, sink, and sump pump attached. The other half is unfinished and contains the heating and air conditioning system.

I entered the basement just as he was emerging from the unfinished portion. “What are you doing?” I asked.

He was aglow with pleasure. “I’ve been looking at the sump pump while you were running the washing machine upstairs! Fascinating! And just now I was checking to see how the basement was holding up after the rain. Everything looks fine.” He spread his arms out, his face beaming like a king who’s just learned his wife gave birth to an heir. “Isn’t this GREAT!?”

“Yes,” I muttered, barely able to reign in my enthusiasm–and suddenly realizing that unpacking was going to take much longer than I had planned.

While Fred explores the underbelly of our home, I’m getting the kitchen in order. Despite the chaos, the creative spirit was upon me this week. Most interesting and surprisingly good were the chicken livers and sweet potatoes we had last night. We continue our weight watching–Fred has lost 29 pounds and I’ve reached my goal of losing 15. The trick here, then, was to find a way to cook chicken livers without resorting to the default mode of frying. This method, cobbled together from James Beard and others, is simple and tasty.

Chicken Livers with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 2

1 lb. chicken livers
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup or more red wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic and stir. Add chicken livers, wine, salt and pepper, and stir. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until livers are done and sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 more minutes. Serve with the sweet potatoes, below.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes (from James Beard’s American Cookery)

Preheat oven to 400. Clean and dry 2 sweet potatoes and place on cookie sheet. Cook until tender, about 1 hour. Remove skins and mash with 1 tbsp. butter, salt, and lots of freshly ground pepper.