This is the greatest thing that I have ever made.

April 30, 2008

Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Parmesan

I have no idea how it turned out so well. I’m a perfectly competent cook, and I like what I make most of the time. But this was in a class by itself. I’ve only had risotto once or twice, and only in restaurants. And since rice isn’t always my #1 grain, I liked it even better with the barley.

I’ve been intrigued by this recipe for a week or so, but I didn’t want to make it tonight because I didn’t get home until after 7, but after taking stock of my vegetable situation, I saw that the asparagus wasn’t going to make it much longer. So I bit the bullet, figuring it would be an okay night for dinner to turn out poorly, since Matt’s at work. I should have a similarly pessimistic attitude every night, and see if all of my meals turn out this well. And now I really want Matt to get home and try it so that I can see if maybe it was just me.

I’ve had terrible allergies since I was in middle school, I think. I may have the year confused, but really, I can trace most of my health problems to 7th grade cheerleading camp, so I’ve decided that’s when my allergies started. Today I walked around like a zombie with enormous red eyes and a sniffing problem. So, like a junkie, really. Anyway, one of the reasons that I didn’t get home until 7 was that I went to buy this:

That’s my new BFF, the neti-pot. I had just rinsed it, so that’s water. Not anything gross. If you’re unfamiliar with this magical contraption, here’s a video for your educational pleasure:

I have to say, it was much messier than this clip would have you believe. But that’s okay, because I can actually breathe through my nose again.

Which seemed like the perfect opportunity to enjoy some granola.

Hey it’s 9! That means it’s almost time to force-feed Matt some risotto and get all in his face, saying “Is it good? It’s good, right? Really good, right? RIGHT?”


Quinoa fiesta

April 29, 2008

Working until six is TOTALLY SCREWING WITH ME. Tonight, after work, we went to get groceries and to pick up the new Portishead album and by the time we got home, unloaded the groceries and got dinner started, it was almost 8. What nonsense is that? I barely had time to watch Miss Rap Supreme (don’t worry, I still managed to do it; good thing, too, because Ghostface Killah was on there, and he hilariously didn’t seem to understand where he has or why he was there). Anyway, I don’t know how long this new schedule will last. Definitely through this week, though, because I need my Friday afternoon free to take a nap and enjoy a matinee of Iron Man without guilt.

Anyway, since we had to get groceries and time was limited, I made a quick dinner. Quesadillas, quinoa, and a black bean and corn salad recipe that I got from the vegan cookbook Matt picked up for me last week.

God, that picture is kind of awful. Sorry. Blogging is hard.

I also ate an insane amount of granola for the third day in a row. And by insane, I mean, I’m sick right now. We went to Lawrence again on Sunday while our bathroom situation was being dealt with, and I wanted to get like, I don’t know, a cup or so of Wheatfields’ granola, which is so good that it has to be made with sugar and oil and other things that taste good but are not good for those of us with delicate constitutions. But they only sell it by the pound, and somehow, standing there in front of the register, I decided that I Could Handle It, so I came home with an entire pound of it (well, not all the way home). I’m not going to take a picture of it. The pain is too fresh.

I’m going to let Beth Gibbons lull me to sleep now.

Eating local

April 28, 2008

We’re lucky to live in a state that is so heavy on the agriculture, because we can buy local produce, dairy products, baked goods, etc. And by baked goods, I mean cookies.

So, at the first farmer’s market of the season, I picked up some spinach. I buy those plastic containers of baby spinach all the time, but I’ve never cooked regular fresh spinach. It was much easier than I expected. Also, even more awesome. I made “Garlicky Spinach” from Joy of Cooking.

Now, I’ll admit it. It could have been the cheese that made it so good. But Matt had his sans cheese and he liked it, too. It’s always exciting to find a vegetable that I can effectively cook, especially when I only paid a dollar for a basket of it.

We had it with some pasta topped with a sauce I made to use the rest of the zucchini balls.

I was really hungry so I just snapped this picture before inhaling my dinner, but maybe you can appreciate it for its representation of the gritty realities of my life. Yes, those are our recyclables. And, yes, that is a pink heart-shaped tablespoon (it was ON SALE). Also featured is the top of a juicer. I don’t know where the bottom is so I just… leave it on the counter. Next to the tofu.

I’m going to continue working on the assumption that we all live this way. Please don’t ruin it for me.

I’m going to go clean up now. Something smells funny in here. I can’t help but think it could be related to an incident that occurred on Saturday night in which our upstairs neighbors broke the tank of their toilet and water suddenly rushed into our shower and light fixture and shot out of our electrical sockets. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to create a makeshift indoor umbrella to use in your own bathroom, just in case someone else’s refuse happens to rain down on you.

Actually, just writing about that makes me tired. Maybe I’ll go to sleep instead. I’m experimenting with my work schedule and I worked an extra hour today. Once you factor in cooking time, a few episodes of The Wire, and a good chunk of time spent thinking about what I should be doing (dishes, ironing, investigating the stink), you’ve got bedtime.

Some kind of chicken

April 26, 2008

When I was growing up, we weren’t a very adventurous family in terms of eating. This explains why I’d never eaten totally normal things like pears or hummus until recently. So, pretty much every night for dinner, when I’d ask my mom what we were having, she’d say “Oh, some kind of chicken.” And so, every time I make chicken, I think of her, fondly. Especially tonight, since she actually provided the chicken that I so expertly prepared.

Spicy Citrus Chicken Packets with vegetables and couscous

With some ginger beer. To be followed later by barley beer. You know how much I love my grains.

Close-up of the chicken packets. It’s a fancy way of saying: cooked in foil. This is a Clean Eating recipe that Matt requested. Something about those orange slices just makes the chicken so much better.

Lime roasted asparagus and zucchini balls. These are the guts left from last night, professionally melon-balled by Matt.

I think I’ll have some fruit in a little bit. We have a mango that’s looking kind of sad.

The farmer’s market started up again today, which is quite exciting, because it’s right across the street from our apartment. Last year, we only went once, but I think we’ll be hitting it every week this spring/summer. Especially now that I know about all of the baked goods. The produce was still a little sketchy, but I picked up some cheap local spinach that looked decent, so we’ll see what I can do with that.

I also did the Arthritis Walk with Matt and Donna, went to the gym, got coffee, did some work, and now Matt’s watching No Country for Old Men and I’m trying really hard not to because it’s a little intense for my current state of mind. So, I think I’ll drink some beer and eat some fruit and call it a night at like 8:30. Perfect. That should give me a good, solid 12 hours of sleep and make it easier to face my Sunday.

Doctor day

April 25, 2008

I still have no idea what’s wrong with me but I did have several new kinds of uncomfortable experiences today, so I guess that’s something, right?

My appointment with the nutritionist was great, though, and I learned a few important things. Perhaps most notably, my sister and Donna have been right all along, and I need to increase my daily caloric intake. Otherwise, though, I am awesome. Her words, not mine.

We also talked about the importance of eating Different Colored Foods, which I already knew, but which helped solidify my plans for dinner. We had stuffed zucchini and carrot salad.

Pretty colors.

The zucchini dish was based on this recipe, but modified so that they’re stuffed with bulgur and ground turkey breast instead of bulgur and beef. Matt expertly got the innards out of the zucchini and now we have a huge bowl of guts that I need to use for something. I guess I’ll figure it out.

Anyway, these were awesome. Since I had my bases covered nutritionally but still wanted something extra, I did a carrot salad inspired by this one over at Not Eating Out in New York (which is a great blog). I used that ginger-lime dressing idea, and added some goat cheese and pine nuts to it (see, more calories).

I’m still low for today, but we’re about to go to the mall and maybe I’ll get some frozen yogurt. I’m sure that’s what she meant by increasing calories, right? I know she said something about calcium, too. Plus, we’re doing an arthritis walk tomorrow morning and I think you’re supposed to carb-load for those. Right?

In other news, I got my tax refunds today and now I have to decide what to spend them on. So far I’ve come up with: not student loans.

That’s a solid start.


April 24, 2008

If you haven’t caught on yet, we typically don’t eat a huge amount of meat. Cows and pigs gross me out as a rule, so no beef or pork, and sometimes I get tired of heartlessly hunting the chickens, plucking them, etc. It’s a hard knock life.

We’ve had a lot of poultry lately, because every time I asked my mom what she wanted to eat while she was here, she said “No bulgur. Chicken.” So, I stockpiled chicken and turkey and we’ve eaten a lot of that recently, and there’s more in our future before it goes bad.

I lost my way again.

Oh, right. Okay, so, to take a break in the middle of all that poultry, I decided I wanted to experiment with a new protein source, so I tried Veganomicon‘s chickpea cutlets.

The cutlets were okay. I think they tasted almost too meaty, though. I made six, instead of the four that the recipe called four, so they were a little smaller. They’re kind of plain on their own, so I decided to mimic the gyros I used to get at Mediterranean Deli when we lived in Chapel Hill and Matt worked right next door to it. Oh, to live in a town with a Mediterranean restaurant…

Anyway, so, I broke one of the cutlets into two pieces, whipped up a tahini-yogurt sauce with Donna’s consultation, and shoved it all in a whole wheat pita.

That’s the rest of the tahini sauce. Is that gross? Sorry, I have no food filter.

I wanted to put some lettuce and cheese in there to complete my at-home Med Deli creation, but they wouldn’t fit, so I just had a salad on the side with mixed greens, goat cheese, and an agave-lemon dressing.

Since I know you were all concerned about this, I did go to the energy efficiency thing last night. And, good thing I did, because they had three door prizes (compact fluorescent bulbs, natch), and three of us showed up. So I scored a free light bulb.

Tomorrow I have to fast before my CT scan and echo cardiogram. For FOUR HOURS. This may not seem like all that long, but it’s from 10-2, a timeframe during which I typically eat AT LEAST twice, if not three times. What? I’m a snacker.

I’m also going to a nutritionist tomorrow, which means that I have three medical appointments in one day – a new record! At least one of them is food-related and, therefore, fun.

Okay, what now?

April 23, 2008

It’s 6:03 and I’ve already made dinner, eaten dinner, and cleaned most of the dishes. Am I some kind of robot?

Here’s what we had tonight:

Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese.

I love these Cooking Light 20 minute dinners. They’re awesome for Wednesdays when there’s a 30 minute window between my coming home from work and Matt leaving for work. I changed a few things up with this recipe – spinach instead of arugula, balsamic instead of red wine vinaigrette, cut down on the olive oil. But, I did follow their suggestion of serving it with pita wedges. Because I do what I’m told.

And now, I’m sitting here watching Work Out and they’re FREAKING ME OUT with all their talk of visceral fat and gross stuff like that. One of the reasons I ate dinner so early was that I was planning to go to this program on energy efficiency at the public library, but now it’s raining and windy and I feel really lazy, so I’m not sure. Is it wrong to drive 3 blocks to a program on greener living?

Maybe I’ll stay home and be energy efficient by not getting off the couch. I can pick some recipes from this awesome book Matt brought home from work for me.

I like how it looks like it’s suspended against the back of the couch. I’ve been afraid to tell you this, but I’m a magician