In case you weren’t paying attention, my canine buddy lost her cancer battle at the end of July. This resulted in an instant demolition of my daily structure.
In the days immediate following, I allowed myself to wallow. The result was losing touch with my workouts and my writing. It might seem antithetical, but my newfound free time was the worst thing that could happen to my productivity.
That’s how I’m wired. Action begets action. Inaction…you get the picture.
So, the Friday before Halloween, I brought home a coach who promptly sorted my shit. I’m now completely exhausted and much more productive. Just in time for Nanowrimo and the holiday eating season.
Spirit, a three-year-old rescue Husky has run me ragged and diligently helped me dog-proof the house again. Did you know there was still a packet of fish food on a bottom shelf? I didn’t either. It’s not there anymore.
My new schedule and resulting tiredness has me temporarily reshuffling my cooking. I need quick and easy and no extra grocery trips. So I put off my crazy ice-cream ideas and the pretzel making experiments.
Nothing is easier than sautéing some kale. Kale sautéed with red onion, apple and red wine vinegar. Topped with a veggie sausage.
Also super easy – a baked Portobello cap with parsley, tomato, fresh parmesan and an egg. Plus some salsa.
Easy baked chicken thighs in a marinade of garlic, orange juice, balsamic, and soy sauce. Used for a sammich – on toasted oat bread, with fresh baby spinach, avocado and a good mustard.
This stuff takes nearly no effort and hardly any time (other than the marinating time for the thighs). Even Spirit can pause her shenanigans long enough to let me prepare this food. Almost.
Having to, unplanned, get a new refrigerator is a weirdly refreshing experience. Like getting a first apartment with your first real fridge. An empty canvas.
I have a habit of periodically rearranging how I use the shelves and drawers for no reason anyway. As my usage habits change, I rearrange accordingly for max efficiency. That’s what I tell myself anyway. In reality, it is probably the result of manic boredom.
Either way, I’m still stocking back up and it’s reined my cooking in. Back to a more simplistic style. As my weekly produce arrives, I use it up on the spot.
And so we have…some simply stuffed portobello mushroom caps.
Baked in the oven at high temp (450 F or so) for about 20 minutes. Then stuffed and put back in the oven until it looked ready (5-7 minutes more).
The stuffing is a mix of flash-sautéed minced garlic, cilantro, green onion, grated parmesan, fresh basil and bread crumbs.
The Assemblage. The garlic was late and missed the class picture.
Mixing up the stuffing. I sautéed the garlic first to mellow it out. Drizzled in a little olive oil just to bind it up. I also layered a few thin tomato slices in the mushroom caps before piling on the stuffing. Because I can.
Looking good out of the oven. Crisped up lightly on top.
I thew down some really ripe tomatoes and topped them with the remaining green onion, salt and pepper, and the bits of stuffing that were beautifully crisped and nearly stuck to the bottom of the baking dish.
The Olympics have come and gone.
There were some interesting stories. The Swedish women’s soccer team was fun to watch. Ryan Lochte is still a moron.
For all the hand-wringing about what would happen in Rio, it ended up being a fairly typical version of the Olympics.
Table tennis is fun to watch. The US men’s basketball team sleepwalked themselves to a gold medal. Fencing is weird. The equestrian course was brutal.
In the spirit of the thing, I decided to do some Brazilian-style cooking on Saturday night.
I can state with conviction that a Brazilian fish stew is a tasty and relatively easy dish to make. There was a bunch of chopping and it took some time (primarily marinating), but the complexity is in the flavors, not the cooking technique.
I used this recipe as a starting point, altering spices to my liking and using catfish (it was available and it is sturdy enough to withstand the cooking in tact) and scallops (added last minute so as not to overcook).
I drank an Argentinian wine while cooking. Don’t tell Brazil.
My never-ending quest to use all the zucchini in the world continued with some zucchini fritters.
Really easy to make and pretty tasty.
Very few ingredients. I used this recipe, but added roasted garlic.
Yeah, um, cherry pie.
I went off this recipe, more or less. Added some blueberries and didn’t use all that sweetener.
Pretty easy to make. I only used the sweetener for the cherry-blueberry chia jam. If I do it again, I wouldn’t even bother with that. Left the crust and topping without the added sweeteners.
I really liked the crust. I used sticky coconut shavings to help it bind and give it whatever sweetness it needed beyond the listed ingredients. Would probably make an OK cookie with a little adjustment.
I’m hoping the general lack of sugar will mean I can still fit into my hair band pants. Sweet cherry pie, yeah.
Next in the never-ending installments of “what do I do with all this squash,” comes Butternut Squash Ice Cream.
Don’t give up on me. You can make ice cream out of anything. Of all the things people have made ice cream with, butternut squash isn’t even high on the WTF list.
It’s a sweet squash anyway. Besides, once you add a boatload of sugar and cream, everything tastes fine.
I used this basic recipe from JamesBeard.org, so you know it’s legit.
Paired it with some butterscotch sauce, pistachios and chopped dates. Worth waiting two days.
This winter has not been the snowpocalypse that last year was. Frankly, I prefer all that snow if this winter is my only other option.
Sleet and mud is just not as exciting. Not to mention the extra half hour it takes to clean the dog after we get inside. She glories in mud pits and her paws hoard dirt like a dragon sitting on a pile of gold dust.
That famous rodent claims there will be an early spring. We barely had any winter. I wake up praying for cold these days. It makes the swamp in the park easier to deal with.
Rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties!
What better time to savor some chili. I used up all my space-hogging squash for a squash and black bean chili. Three types of squash (butternut, delicata, acorn), one groundhog sized yellow onion, red bell pepper, black beans, tomato, garlic, bay leaf and spices. I went with smoked paprika, cinnamon, ground coriander, and ground up dried chile de árbol.
Chili is catch as catch can. That’s the joy and wonder of it. Stuff a pot full of good things and let it simmer for a while. Add some toppings and serve. I topped with some greek yogurt, chive and toasted wheat tortilla strips.
Really good stuff. Spicy with a hint of sweet. Even better the next day, as happens with this kind of kitchen magick.