Garam masala roasted cauliflower

December 9, 2011 § 19 Comments

It’s the quality of the light at this time of year, more than just the quantity.  There’s something about it.  Do you know what I mean?  It seeps into my pores, follows me around, tints my day in a very particular way that I can’t quite describe.

When there’s snow on the ground the sun is so amplified during its brief daily visit that you don’t necessarily notice.  But, when the ground is brown, littered with twigs and oak leaves, you can feel that the light is almost timid.  It sneaks up above the horizon, peaking about with a muted – sometimes pallid – glow.  You can tell as soon as it comes up that it’s already contemplating its journey back down, leaving us in darkness again.

I feel as though I barely get my day going and then I’m looking up and it is rapidly becoming dark outside.  And, try as I might, even though it may only be 3:30 or 4:00, I can’t really concentrate on getting any more work done.

If I’m working from home, when it gets dark it means it is immediately time to initiate that day’s Cozy Winter Evening, something I feel is essential if one wishes to keep from being overcome by dreariness.  For me this involves turning on a couple of our lights that cast a very warm yellow glow, lighting candles is good too, turning on some cheesy music (this is key), and taking a moment to briefly contemplate the tiny Christmas tree that we decorated and now have perched on the dining room table. « Read the rest of this entry »

Apple cider and curry glazed beets

December 3, 2011 § 7 Comments

Everything I’ve been cooking lately seems to be orange.  Have you noticed?  If you haven’t noticed, forget that I said anything at all.  Orange food?  What?  I cook the rainbow!

If you have noticed, know that I thought I was going to be breaking out when I dreamed up this beet recipe.  I envisioned deep claret purple.  But then I rooted in my vegetable crisper drawer and was reminded that I had selected golden (read: orange) beets.  Hmph.  Well, we’re getting our vitamin A in these parts.

Whatever the color, these beet nubbins turned out to be a spectacular treat.  Like candy.

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Acorn squash stuffed with sausage and cornbread

November 7, 2010 § 3 Comments

One of my most vivid food memories from when I was little was eating baked acorn squash filled with apples, sugar, and butter.  It’s the sort of thing that sticks with you when your age is in the single digits – being allowed to eat something that tasted basically like apple pie, mushed into an edible golden bowl.  It was one of the things I really looked forward to when fall rolled around, and was something that gave our family dinners, which I have already completely idealized in my hazy memory as these wonderfully cozy affairs a la Norman Rockwell (but which in reality I believe also involved quite a few lectures on why we should eat our vegetables, how unkind it is to mommy to say “yuck” when she has taken the time to cook you dinner, and how we really needed to polish our manners – proper use of the knife and fork, elbows off the table, do not burp…you need to know this because what would you do if you were invited to dinner with the king of Norway?!), an extra specially snug feeling.  I swear, something about eating stuffed  acorn squash tinges the evening with a friendly golden glow.

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How to Deal with Random Root Vegetables, method 2

March 11, 2010 § 3 Comments

This post is in honor of my dear, dear friend Marit who is currently working in Cameroon where, apparently, they have a lot of root vegetables to eat.

Method 2??!!  You exclaim.  But, there was never a method 1!  True, but only sort of.  I consider my soup strategy to be a method of dealing with random root vegetables and therefore have moved to regard it as such and make this into method 2.  All in favor?…  Motion sustained.  Now, moving on.  The gradual appearance of buds on the pussy willows tells me that spring is tiptoeing in.  However, at least in the Boston area any new little vegetable shoots know enough to keep their heads down for a while longer, and we’re not getting spring vegetables unless they’re shipped in from a distance. (Anyone noticed yet that I’m quite obsessed with the weather and the seasons?  I think it’s a northerner thing – all the Norwegians and Minnesotans I know are similarly obsessed.)  I imagine that when people grew most of their own food, and local food was simply the way of life, rather than an environmental/foodie movement, this time of year in Northern climates offered some of the most frustrating eating.  The days are growing longer and warmer; the hope of new growth is in the air; but nothing is growing yet so we’re scraping the bottoms of our barrels and grubbing the root cellars to find the last of the storage vegetables to cook up.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples

December 8, 2009 § 1 Comment

The universe seems to have some sort of rule that I am not allowed to be productive for two days in a row.  Yesterday was fabulous!  I was completely focused and plowed through my work, which never happens on a Monday.  Today…oi!  It’s nearing lunch time and I have yet to accomplish anything beyond standing up to stretch every 5 minutes and then sitting down in front of my computer and finding myself checking the weather online for the 976th time (it’s cold and sunny, by the way).  Somehow I think it may not have been in my best interest to decide to work from a café instead of my office today (Beyonce serenading me is somehow not helping with the process of curriculum editing, who’d’ve known?!).  So, in the hope of doing something at least very slightly productive, I have decided to stop trying altogether and instead think about butternut squash.

Why butternut squash?  Well, a) because I’ve been cooking a lot of it and b) because it is such a low maintenance vegetable I feel like I might be able to muster enough concentration to deal with the thought of one right now.  Butternut is one of those great vegetables to stock up on because if you keep them somewhere cool and dry, they’ll keep for a good long time without any extra attention and you can pull one out whenever you’re looking for something to cook.  My friends Griff and Liz bought a bunch of squash in bulk last year in the fall and stashed them all over their apartment – we kept discovering them peeking out from under the couches, behind the doors, on bookshelves (everywhere except the pantry!).  The squash lasted them right through until early summer, not once complaining of neglect. « Read the rest of this entry »

Roast a chicken before work (or at least some chicken legs)

September 4, 2009 § 1 Comment

Now, I know I’m not a particularly “normal” person.  I’m definitely prone to a weird behavior or two.  But now the question is, does the fact that I just roasted some chicken legs before I even made it into my office this morning make me certifiable?  (No, I don’t actually want to know the answer to that)

Here’s what happened:  I had taken some chicken legs out of my freezer a couple of days before.  But, life and last minute dinner engagements left the defrosted chicken sitting, neglected and forlorn, on a shelf in the refrigerator (trust me, there’s nothing more forlorn than raw chicken perched in a refrigerator – except maybe old, withered carrots) until it reached a point where I was worried that, if I didn’t use it immediately, it would go bad.  And I hate wasting food – I get all worked up about it, for some reason.   However, I knew I was going to be at my office until late that night, and wouldn’t have enough time to cook it once I came home before I became so ravenous I would gnaw my arm off.  The only reasonable solution, I determined, was to roast the chicken legs before heading in to work so that they would be quick to reheat that night.  The craziest thing about the whole situation, really, was how incredibly easy it turned out to be.  I only had to get up 5 minutes earlier than usual. « Read the rest of this entry »

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