Nick Roumel's day off

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­The festivities started with me fretting over the window contractor being almost an hour late. Seven (yes seven!) windows in our lake house have spontaneously combusted over the last year or two, resulting in the same spider-web broken glass pattern that had me suspecting vandalism or storm damage. After one burst when I was standing right next to it, I realized something more curious was afoot.

Now you may be wondering why it took me so long to fix the problem. First, I tried my insurance company. Here’s a secret: insurance really doesn’t cover anything. Not my broken windows, not the giant oak that toppled into my yard from the neighbor’s, not the defendant I sued last week. I don’t know if it’s because they know I’m a plaintiff’s lawyer, or because they just like saying “we’ll pay, but you have a $1000 deductible and your rates will still go up even though it’s not your fault.” Whatever the reason, I have pretty much endured a lifetime relationship with insurance companies where the checks only go one way.

Eventually, and fruitlessly, I called numerous window companies. This time the problem was that I erroneously thought my windows were a certain brand that they are not. I would call and give a serial number off the window’s edge, only to be told to go look at it again with a magnifying glass. Then I was told that they have no idea what kind of window it is. Finally one guy came out and diagnosed why they were breaking on their own (something to do with a leaking vacuum seal), but because I had an off brand, he couldn’t help me.

I deduced that I had to call a glass replacement firm, and not a window replacement company. I found a responsive outfit, and the guy who came was nice enough. But when we got around to scheduling the replacement – on my big day off – he discovered many of the windows were cut to the wrong size, so he had to leave early.

So here I was, with this big day off, only half my windows replaced, enough food for two days, and two giant case files to organize and make discovery plans.

I started with a crossword puzzle, over a soundtrack of ‘70s cassette mix tapes. Finished that in short order, and went to begin another one; but my free trial had run out. It’s not that I’m too cheap to pay for the subscription, but I know full well it’s another distraction I don’t need.

I looked at my case files. They would keep. I went into the kitchen.

I had this recipe for a bizarre sounding coconut-roasted tomato sauce that fell into my inbox. It actually sounded like it might be interesting with fish and rice, or Polynesian pizza. So that’s what I made, and it turned out pretty good. I had to make two changes: I didn’t have ginger, so I substituted dried mango slices. That actually wasn’t bad, and I added some curry powder and cinnamon to tie it together.

Below is the original recipe – it’s quite easy, and you can modify it to your own desires.

Roasted Tomato Coconut Sauce

Amanda Cohen – NY Times

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 TBS minced garlic

1 TBS minced ginger

1 tsp red pepper flakes

 zest of one lemon, plus ¼ cup lemon juice

 4 cups roasted tomatoes (I used a 28 oz can of diced San Marzano)

1 131/2 oz. can of coconut milk (I used “Lite”)

1. In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes and lemon zest, then add tomatoes and coconut milk.

2. Reduce heat to low and cook until mixture just begins to simmer.
Immediately remove from heat and season with lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve over fish, tofu or rice. (I spooned mine over simple grilled tilapia with rice. I added grilled pineapple and red pepper. Yum!)
Don’t forget to fully ignore your case files for the maximum enjoyable experience. Happy Leap Year!

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Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht & Roumel, PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. 

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