Comfort food

September 26, 2009

The temperatures have dropped a bit, and I don’t know if it’s that or the exhaustion I’ve been fighting, but I’ve been heading straight for my comfort foods this week.

I don’t know what it says about the person I’ve become that I’d rather have a giant bowl of roasted vegetables than a piece of cheesecake when I’m tired or in a bad mood, but roasted eggplant is just so good now that I’ve finally developed an effective method to reduce the bitterness (slice, salt over a colander for an hour, then rinse and lay out in a layer between two paper towels and beat the slices to near death with an empty beer bottle. I assume other bottles would work but I’m just going from my own experience here). I guess I just need to embrace it because this pasta with eggplant, zucchini, mini-romas, and garlic was a near-perfect meal.

emotional eating that I can get behind

emotional eating that I can get behind

The pictures in this post are going to be even worse than normal, just to warn you. See above re: exhaustion.

The eggplant and zucchini that we had in the crisper were both huge, so the pan of vegetables I roasted (375* for 45 minutes) was actually full to overflowing. So we had a whole glass dish of leftovers to complement another comforting favorite: barley risotto. Just plain this time, as the mushrooms we were going to use were green-tinged and slimy. Awesome!

I was going to put the picture in, but I just can’t. I respect you too much. It’s terrible. If you want to see some barley risotto, here’s one I don’t find completely embarrassing. I’ve also made it about 28 other times if you’re looking for recipes. I was getting into arborio rice but we’re on a grocery budget again and barley is less than 1/2 the price, pound for pound, so it’s back in our lives.

Today, we finally opened this jar of tomatillo salsa that we’ve been trying to open for literally weeks and had some black bean chilaquiles to celebrate.



These were easy and warm and comforting – a perfect Saturday night meal. I just cut up two tortillas and burned them again on 450* for 10 minutes. I turned the oven down to 350* and cooked a diced green pepper and a small diced onion in a skillet with some olive oil on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. I turned the heat down and added about a cup and half of black beans, just to heat them up for a minute or two because I didn’t defrost them. Then, I layered the chips, beans/peppers/onions, and about a cup and a half of roasted salsa verde into a baking dish and baked for about 25 minutes, until the chips were really soft. Chilaquiles aren’t traditionally baked but I needed my one large burner to cook some chickpeas and so in the oven it went. On the side, some tomatoes from my favorite kid at the farmer’s market who keeps a really careful tally of how many pints of his tomatoes have been sold so that his dad knows how much he’s going to have to pay him out later.

And now, for more comfort, there’s TV on DVD waiting for me. Between Netflix and Hulu, I think I actually watch more TV now than I did when we had cable. Today, I even made Matt go to the video store to rent two discs of 24 because I’m completely addicted to it (I know – is it 2001 already??) and even though we already pay 20 dollars a month for Netflix I was somehow able to justify it because we walked to the video store so we were saving money on gas.


Goodbye, sweet cable.

September 15, 2009

I was really right about that whole canceled cable = increased blogging, yeah? We turned in the DVR tonight, so now it’s really over. Thank God for the internet.

As soon as I saw Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini on Smitten Kitchen last week, I knew I had to make it. I love few things more than roasted tomatoes and they had tiny little sweet onions for $1.50 a box at the farmer’s market, so I was sold.



I skipped the whole toasting the bread step and just had Matt slice up a loaf of French bread, which was awesome with the roasting juices. My onions weren’t as soft as cippolini, so after the tomatoes roasted for about 45 minutes, I cranked the oven up to 450 and let the onions collapse and blister before adding them to the mix.

This is delicious, even without real cippolini. I guess 128 commenters don’t lie.

I’m still here.

August 9, 2009

WOW. I am SO BAD at this blogging thing. I don’t have any real excuses but I guess I’ll blame my life, which seems to be having trouble coming to terms with the fact that I have a blog. Life, which demands that I use my free time to do stuff like exercise and cook and read and get sucked into the lives of a few certain “real” “housewives” in Atlanta and go to the movies. Jeez, life. Stop monopolizing all of my time. These mediocre pictures aren’t going to blog themselves.

So, anyway, we’re doing pretty well making our way through the larder. We’re almost out of grains! I’m not sure that’s been true in our household since maybe 2005. We’ve been taking advantage of some lovely local produce, so here are a few examples of summer bounty.

corn/tomato/red onion salad

corn/tomato/red onion salad

Moosewood black bean chilaquiles (my first time baking my own tortilla chips- I burned all of my taste buds off during tasting)

Moosewood black bean chilaquiles (my first time baking my own tortilla chips- I burned all of my taste buds off during tasting)

paella with yellow romas, green beans, okra, and onions

paella with yellow romas, green beans, okra, and onions

pasta with cherry tomatoes and mixed basil pesto

pasta with cherry tomatoes and mixed basil pesto

curried stuffed zucchini with tomato salad

curried stuffed zucchini with tomato salad

I love summer produce so much. Now if we could just get the temperatures to drop a little so that I don’t feel like I’m on fire when I’m cooking with it.

At least I’m on vacation

July 3, 2009

I think “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” is the best word to describe the way I’m feeling right now. The week before vacation always leaves me a little frazzled, probably something about the way I leave myself 261 “loose ends” that I could have tied up, I don’t know, ANY OTHER TIME. This is all exacerbated by the fact that my body has pretty much decided to shut down its sleeping function, leaving me with a combined total of about six and a half hours over the past two nights. But hey, who needs to sleep when you can use the time you’re not sleeping to tie up loose ends??

I don’t know if it’s related to any of that, but I’ve only been interested in side dishes lately, save for the monster-sized order of vegetarian fajitas I got at La Fiesta the other night, the remains of which landed on the floor tonight while I was cooking dinner and completely interrupted my culinary flow. Landlords, take heed: fajitas are reason # 17894 that “oatmeal” kitchen carpeting is not a good idea. If for no other reason than that Martha Stewart does not have a section devoted to fajita stain removal on her website.

Dinner was okay anyway, just a repeat of potato/chickpea salad with some different kind of potatoes from the farmer’s market this time. Plus, cheesy polenta (bring some water to a boil [4x the amount of polenta you want to use], stir in polenta, stir stir stir, add cheese, salt, pepper, oregano [or whatever], stir stir stir; serve).

a bowl full o' starch

a bowl full o' starch

Those carbs really comforted me in my time of kitchen carpet stress.

I also tried my hand at braising a few days back, after a stellar experience with braised spinach during my birthday dinner last weekend.

brown rice, braised green beans and summer vegetables, tomato/avocado salad

braised green beans with summer vegetables (and some other stuff)

When the braised vegetables (delicious) were done, I realized I hadn’t made any plans for what else we would eat, as I was heavily involved in making a fruit salad for a barbecue. So I grabbed the rice from the refrigerator and chopped up some tomato and avocado for a “salad.” I’m lucky I hadn’t already made my simple syrup for the fruit salad dressing, because I might have panicked and added that in there, too.

Also, we survived our frugal June and now it’s July and I fully intend to splurge on stuff like peaches from now on. I have some math that’s strategically designed to show how awesome we are, but I’ve been up since 3:30am and people have been setting off fireworks outside for the last 5 hours and I just don’t have it in me. But rest assured, I’ve sent off for my very own bindle. I earned it.

Maybe dreaming of it will lull me to sleep. Tomorrow we might attempt to tackle the interstate again to go celebrate Matt’s birthday, and I’m going to need all the energy I can rustle up just to yell over the roar of the car.

In training

October 28, 2008

It’s only Tuesday, but I feel like the bulk of my week is over, because my two longest days are out of the way. I think it’s better this way, because now it’s smoother sailing until Friday afternoon, when I get to leave a little early to make up for the super long days.

I was planning to go to Rep Recycle after work, but I just didn’t have the strength to lift weights after teaching so much, so I decided to come home. This is usually an exercise death sentence for me, as I come home really intending to be active, but then… well, then I’m at home. Tonight was different, though, because I’ve gotten myself all pumped up about this 5k I want to do in a few weeks, so I decided to go out and enjoy a not completely freezing cold afternoon by doing a test 5k. I mapped out a newish route with Gmaps Pedometer and it was pretty awesome to actually run in neighborhoods and look at houses instead of running in a million circles at the park, or running nowhere on the treadmill. I do need to get some kind of late fall in Kansas-appropriate attire, though, especially if I’m actually going to pull it together and do this 5k.

Anyway, while I was out, Matt started dinner, which was penne with roasted tomatoes and white beans. It was awesome! The roasted tomatoes made the whole meal for me, but I think I’d make it with sun-dried tomatoes if I happened to be short on time.

Also, pasta is good for people who are “in training” right? Because, even though I only might do a 3.1 mile run/walk, saying that I’m “training” for a “race” makes it all feel that much more important.

Now I’m going to go watch some basketball and pretend there’s not a bag of peanut brittle calling me from the kitchen.

Bon appetit

October 21, 2008

I took a break from bok choy to try out a recipe that a co-worker, Antoinette, shared with me a few weeks ago after seeing my failed attempts at eggplant preparation. This was her healthier version of a Bon Appetit recipe from 1994, and it was excellent!

Pasta with eggplant and tomatoes

Pasta with eggplant and tomatoes

I think I inadvertently selected some sort of strange setting on the camera, because I couldn’t get a normal-looking picture. Anyway, for this I used some skinny little farmer’s market eggplants, diced tomatoes, parm, and a mixture of whole wheat penne and rotini. The recipe called for rigatoni, but grocery store sales dictate my eating life, so we had this pasta instead. I think it probably came out about the same. The only sad part was that we didn’t have any fontina cheese, which the recipe also called for. We just subbed extra parm, which was good, too.

Looking around the Bon Appetit website for the original recipe, I stumbled on this article about Durham and Chapel Hill. I got all caught up in it, and I never found the recipe. It’s a good article, but it makes me feel like I missed a lot in the six years I spent living there. I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience.

I’m feeling better today, but, in an effort to get a head start on my self-care New Year’s resolution, I think I’ll be heading to bed early tonight. Like, about now. I’m halfway through a good book and I need to rededicate myself to it.

Sunday, Sunday

October 12, 2008

Sundays are kind of a lose-lose situation, right? If you get a lot of things done, then you feel productive but you didn’t really get to enjoy your last day before work starts. But, if you don’t do anything, you get to the end of the day and, well, nothing’s done. I had the first kind of Sunday. Oh, and apparently some people have tomorrow off in celebration of Columbus. I’m not happy about that.

Anyway, to cap off my fairly productive Sunday, I got pumped up and went to that 3-2-1 class that almost did me in last week. I warmed up on the stepmill, walked around the indoor track, and went to get ready for class when I saw that it had been replaced by “Buttz and Gutz.” Why? Those are not even words.

So, I went to yoga instead, but since I didn’t have my mat with me, I had to use one of theirs, and I find it hard to focus when my mat smells like some unidentified person’s feet. Ultimately, it was good that I didn’t get too relaxed, as I needed all of my mental acuity to play “dodge the drunk kid in the dark” while driving home. I mean, it’s a Sunday night. But maybe they didn’t get the memo that we’re not celebrating Columbus Day.

Oh, and before I went to the gym, I tried this bar, which I finally found at People’s today:

Z-Bar in Spooky S’mores flavor. It was good, but it didn’t taste that different from the Chocolate Chip to me. Also, notice that it’s extra spooky because this camera has such a zealous flash. It makes everything look brighter than it is. If I didn’t know those were my jeans, I wouldn’t recognize them because they don’t look like that in real life.

Back at the homestead, I made Quinoa Vegetable Stew from one of my Moosewood cookbooks. Really, it’s just quinoa and rice with a vegetable stew on top (mine was onion, garlic, green bell pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, fresh basil):

It was pretty good. Filling, but a little bland. The recipe called for cilantro, but I didn’t have any. Maybe that’s what was missing.