Great Roast Chicken
"Let the jump come to you," is the direction I've heard from every trainer I've ever ridden with. It's a simple concept, which basically translates to “sit up, keep your leg on and let the horse carry you to the jump.” There are a lot of other things going on, of course. Show jumping is a galloping sport, judged on speed. A buzzer goes off giving you a predetermined amount of time, to jump a dozen or more obstacles in a course that's designed to challenge both horse and rider. If you get around within the time limit and you don't knock down any rails, there may be a jump-off, where you stay in the ring and jump six or so more jumps. The fastest rider with the fewest faults wins.
Having ridden my whole life, I understand that there's not a whole lot my hundred pounds can do to help my horse - except to sit up, keep my leg on and let him carry me to the jump. His fifteen hundred pounds of muscle were literally bred to get me over that jump. And he does it exquisitely. I constantly watch videos of us and inflict them on any poor, kind soul who will watch. Even with all my mistakes, watching us in action takes my breath away. Most of the time I'm sitting up and keeping my leg on. The thing I struggle with - the one element that is not in my horse's control - resides firmly between my ears. I'm a control freak, and it's hard to let it go. But when I clear my mind and let it all happen, it's an incredible rush. There’s an intense connection and trust between a rider and horse - and when you get it right, it's like magic.
I've loved horses for as long as I can remember. And I've been blessed with owning three incredible animals - one in high school, who I rode until I left for college, and the other two as an adult, when I picked the sport back up in my 30s. Riding has no age limit, and men and women compete on an even field. Yet even with all those years under my belt and the unbreakable trust that I have with my horse, sometimes I just can't obey the words I've heard countless times – “let the jump come to you.” My shoulders start tipping forward, and then it's a slippery slope toward leaning at the jump and taking my leg off. It’s as if everyone on a plane rushed to the cockpit at once. You throw off your horse's balance, which makes him chip, stumble or worse. Still, I ride almost every day and try to compete almost every month. Because it's my passion. I love my horse, I love my #BarnSquad and I love the challenge.
Which is what brought me to Venice, Florida, a sleepy little beach town on the west coast of the state. While the world was inaugurating and demonstrating, I was equitating. Thanks to social media I caught glimpses of a resplendent Ivanka and beautiful Melania. I cheered on my sisters and brothers who marched - because they had to. Because they could. Because we live in a free society that allows it. That celebrates it. No matter your politics - no matter your passions. I might not agree with you, but I fiercely defend your right to free speech. My great grandparents came to this country from Russia, fleeing the Cossacks. They settled on the Lower East Side of New York with a toddler - my grandfather - who went on to live the American Dream. As a second-generation American and a Jew, I am deeply inspired by the freedoms we have that so many don't.
Who knows what the next four years holds? I know that a lot of great people are going to do a lot of great things - just as we the people have done great things in this great nation for centuries. Whether in the White House, board rooms, museums or the streets. The struggle is real, and we are - all of us - fighting to survive, succeed and to leave the world better than how we found it.
I was glad to be away from it all and to focus on my passion. To be with my friends. And to enjoy a little sweet sunshine with my horse in Old Florida. It reminded me of the Miami I grew up in - before the Mariel Boat Lift and Miami Vice. When there was a feed store by my house that sold hay and baby chicks. When we kept a pony in our neighborhood, which was then all small ranch houses that have since been replaced by mansions. I re-connected with a slower, simpler time, which I needed more than I knew. I don't want to change the world, but I don't want the world to change me.
I will continue to work hard to let the jumps come. I know they won't all be perfect. I know I may get worse before I get better. And there's always a chance I'll fall. But I'm not giving up. The great far outweighs the alternative. I'm going to keep sitting up and keeping my leg on - in the jumper ring and in life.
Of all things in my life that could possibly compare to the discipline required to get out of my horse's way, roasting a chicken at a high temperature comes pretty close. You need to make your oven super hot, which can be a bit scary. There's a lot of sizzling going on, and if you open the oven door, there is smoke. Lots of smoke. Even though I've made it countless times to the same delicious end, I still get anxious and want to do something more than just leave it alone. Remember, all the work you need to do is on the front end. There's the brining overnight, stuffing the cavity and letting the bird come to room temp before you stick it in the hot oven. Then for exactly one hour you do nothing. The sizzle. The smoke. Don't freak out. Just let it happen – let the roasting come to you. What emerges from the oven is a bird with golden skin and juicy meat.
Preheat oven to 500F
1 Organic Chicken
1 Preserved Lemon
Few Sprigs Rosemary
1 Head of Garlic chopped in half
2 C Kosher Salt
Wash the chicken thoroughly in cold water and dry it completely with paper towels. Place a few layers of paper towels under the bird and set it on a plate. Slather the entire chicken with kosher salt. Then stuff it with preserved lemon, rosemary and garlic. Stick it in the fridge uncovered for as little as two hours but ideally overnight or up to two days. Pre-heat the oven to 500F. Take the chicken out of the fridge a half hour before you cook it and wipe off the salt. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season with pepper. Then stick it in the oven and cook for one hour. Take it out and tent it in tin foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before you slice it.