A glorious mess – curried carrots with carrot top pesto

June 25, 2012 § 20 Comments

Joel left on Friday to go to Ethiopia for a week for work.  At the end of this week we’ll be meeting up in Norway to visit my family and to have a little vacation time.  But, until then, it’s just me and Squid holding down the fort.  The fort that looks suspiciously like our apartment.  Hmm.

Already I’m eating weird.  It’s what I do when I’m eating alone.

I can definitely identify with the people I speak with who tell me they don’t cook or have stopped cooking because they are by themselves.  It happens all the time.  It can be really hard to stay motivated.  My problem, I’ve come to realize, is not that I don’t enjoy cooking for one.  I actually like cooking for one just fine and don’t mind fiddling with recipes to scale them down.  But, I hate eating alone.

For the longest time I thought I was an introvert.  Wrong!  Actually I was just shy.  Terribly, terribly shy, for many years, though much less so now.  But, I get much of my energy from being around people.  Apparently I always have.  It should have clued me in long ago when my mother told me about how even as a tiny child I was perfectly content to play all by myself, but only so long as there was someone in the room alongside me doing their own thing.  Somehow, it still took me until just a few years ago to actually make the connections.

Anyhow, I feel the same about meals.  So much of eating is communal for me, when I’m by myself I sort of forget that I need to eat.  Probably because of that underlying dislike of eating alone.  So, then when I suddenly remember that I probably do need to eat something, my blood sugar is already a little too low and the hanger is building.  I still pull myself together enough to cook, but I slap together all manner of ridiculous thing.

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Butternut caponata

February 17, 2012 § 24 Comments

I was thinking of calling this butternata, which, to me, makes it sound like it is a sonata of or about butter, which sounds bizarre and wonderful.  Don’t you think?  But, I didn’t want to mislead anyone.  There is no butter involved here – though a generous hand with the olive oil more than makes up for that – except of the ‘nut squash variety.

And, speaking of butternut squash, have I told you about my friend and the bulk squash episode?  I probably have already.  But, I consider us all old friends here now, which means you’re going to have to listen to my stories, whether or not you’ve already heard them, and laugh and gasp and nod in all of the right places.  I can’t wait.

We have a friend who, one fall when he and his wife lived near us, tagged onto our CSA to buy a bulk order of winter squash.  And bulk was what he received.  I’m not even quite sure how many pounds of squash he ordered, but it was on a magnitude you’d usually associate with a grocer’s.  Joel is piping in, “it was probably, like, a hundred pounds. At least.”

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Curried tuna salad sandwich

February 7, 2011 § 9 Comments

I packed the saddest lunch with me to work last Friday. Well, maybe not the saddest, given that I’ve packed some pretty sad lunches with me in my time. Like the day in college where all I managed to scrounge together was a couple of Tablespoons of peanut butter in a Tupper ware. Or the day of cold leftover rice and a can of tuna mixed with mustard. These are the strange, pathetic things that happen when the refrigerator is virtually empty and I’m going somewhere for the weekend, so I put a moratorium on grocery shopping. Such was the case on Friday when my lunch consisted of a tiny limp dressing-less salad – saved from being entirely irrelevant only by the presence of a few chunks of avocado – and a piece of sprouted grain bread.

I think I was hungrier after I finished eating it than when I began. Then I decided to walk the 5 miles to a meeting I had to go to. It was sunny out for the first time in days and this had convinced me that walking was the best way to get from any given point A to any desired point B, which I think would have actually been true, except that the sun had not taken it upon itself to bother with melting the thick coating of ice on the sidewalks, so I wound up walk-skate-slip-sliding the 5 miles. By the time I reached my destination my stomach was growling loudly and angrily, and for whatever reason, the only thing I could think about was meat Stromboli. I probably would have eaten a stick at that point, but what I really really wanted was a Stromboli absolutely packed with lots and lots of meat. Feeling borderline deranged I rushed into a Whole Foods next door to where I was going, and when I beelined to the deli/cafe section, miraculously, they were serving Italian meatball Stromboli! Saved!  My guardian food angel must have taken pity on me.

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Dreamy celery and apple salad

January 11, 2011 § 11 Comments

Wait!!!  Before you cross your arms with a “harumph,” and turn away muttering, “Celery?  Seriously?  This is taking the whole healthy eating in the New Year thing too far.  Celery is what you put in your rabbit’s hutch when it looks at you with big brown eyes that say ‘give me something crunchy but flavorless.’  It is not real human food…” Before you do that, first listen to me when I say, “I agree!”  I really do.  Unless it’s a vehicle for eating peanut butter and raisins, I rarely put celery into the category of food.  Rarely.  But, I do make occasional exceptions.  After all, you do need celery to make a good mire poix for starting off many a soup or stew.  And I wouldn’t have quite believed it, except that I tasted it myself (and by tasted, I mean devoured it), this salad gets a big old exemption as well.

The reason I made this salad it that I dreamed it.  Literally.  I woke up after having this salad in my dream, and I figured I really ought to give it a try in a waking state too.  Not that being in one of my dreams necessarily makes something a good idea.  Quite the opposite.  I frequently dream about things like being in a train depot on the back of a giant turtle that is about to dive under the water, or climbing an endless staircase into an orange sky surrounded by people with balloon heads, or polar bears reenacting tragic love stories by Shakespeare (actually, that one might be a good idea.  Venture capital investment opportunity anyone?).  But, I had such a good feeling about this salad as  I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and the rest of the details of my dream slipped into the fog of lost memories, that I couldn’t resist digging up the ingredients and giving it a try.

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Spinach gone right (with raisins and nuts)

March 29, 2010 § 4 Comments

I’m helping a friend out, right now, with testing recipes and taking photos for a cookbook that she’s making as a fundraiser for Re-Vision House Urban Farm, a really cool organization that provides fresh, local food and job training to women in an associated homeless shelter.  It’s really awesome, the feeling of being able to contribute to an organization whose mission you really believe in, and it’s also pretty wonderful because I’m having ridiculous amounts of fun in the process of making this contribution.  It kind of flies in the face of the message you’re subtly fed when you grow up Lutheran.  Messages a la Garrison Keillor about how life is supposed to be hard work with a bunch of suffering in the mix, and it is your job to make the best of it because it could be worse.  I have to admit, I actually believe a lot of that message, I mean, I’m old enough to know that that’s just being realistic.  However, it seems that that doesn’t have to be the end of the message, that it could use a little addendum that reminds us: ‘and hey, sometimes it’s really fun too, and just because something is hard work or happens to be your duty doesn’t mean that it can’t also be occasionally quite enjoyable!’

Now, I’m afraid I’m going to be  ridiculous and relate this train of thought back to food…because for me, everything seems to relate back to food (maybe because I’m hungry again!).  It’s just that, the first dish I tested and shot photos of for this cookbook gave me the same message, in a weird way.

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