Monday, August 29, 2011

The Way I've Been Eating

This blog has long been neglected by me, although certainly not by the sisters. My only explanation is that it's been hot (consistently over 115 F last week) for months now, and my new how-to-survive-the-PhD-with-mental-health-intact strategy is to not stress over always eating new and exciting meals when nutritious, comforting, and easily repeatable meals will do.

But I feel bad that I have nothing to share. Knowing others are in the same place, here's what we've happily been eating a lot of lately.

1)Beans & Grains. Tonight it was quinoa with caramelized onions and chickpeas, spinach, and roasted tofu. I drizzled the whole thing with a pesto/hummus mixture thinned with lemon juice. Yum. Another variation is to make S's lemony rice but bulk it up with black beans and garlic broiled tofu.

2) Toasted sandwiches with hummus, melted cheese, spinach and tomatoes on gluten free bagels. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I've never relied on gluten-free substitutes, and the gfree bagels are expensive. But it is so nice and easy to make a meal when you have something like that on hand! I'm torn. Probably it is too expensive of a habit to keep up.

3)Stovetop popcorn and vegetables with hummus. This probably does not a dinner make, but some nights when we're both getting home after 8 or 9, it sure does the trick.

4) Scrambled eggs served in warm corn tortillas with salsa and avocado. A weekly favorite of mine because P makes amazing scrambled eggs. The trick is fresh basil, finely shredded turkey, sharp white cheddar, and a lot of patience, apparently.

5) Fruit. Fruit. Fruit. Did I say fruit? I've been tearing through the summer produce. Normally I eat 2 cantaloupes, a bag of grapes, several pieces of stonefruit, and an apple or two a week. I'm not sure how I manage this and keep us in our budget, but I just shop the sale produce. It's the only thing that sounds nice in the mornings when it is already 100 degrees before 6am.

6) Chili and stew. Yes, it is 115 degrees out. I know this is bizarre. But the crockpot is so easy, and frankly, it allows me to pretend I do not live in this dusty, inferno-ish place. For all the vegans out there, I highly recommend this spicy peanut stew (although I had to use much larger spice quantities than she calls for).

So that's it. Nice and boring. But maybe it will help someone who is feeling the pressure to always cook amazing things. Trust me, this has been a huge stress reliever for me!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Greek Stuffed Peppers

I rarely let myself post various forms of stuffed peppers because, well, stuffing a pepper is less 'recipe' and more 'fridge cleaning.' But these I'd love to make again. They WERE a fridge-cleaning project (bunch of kale from the garden whose time had come, leftover caramelized onions from bbq earlier in the wknd, tomato paste I made with the juice left from the tomatoes I canned last weekend, etc.), but I'd re-create the ingredients I had just to have them again.

Four orange or yellow bell peppers with nice, roomy, symmetrical cavities
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 large, sweet onion, chopped and caramelized (with the oil from caramelizing)
1 bunch kale, torn
1 jar of slow-roasted tomatoes
1/2 can of tomato paste
several TB lemon juice
feta & parmesan
heaping teaspoonful of chopped garlic
salt & dill

Put everything but the cheese (and the peppers of course) in a covered frying pan over high heat and cook down. Stuff the peppers, alternating filling and thin layers of feta. Tuck the remaining filling around the peppers in a deep, square glass baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan over everything. Cover baking dish, bake at 400 for 35 minutes.

I wish I had thrown some pine nuts on top, come to think of it. Spinach would be nice in lieu of kale. Etc.!

Andalusian Gazpacho

A blended gazpacho with bread as an ingredient, pale peach in color, from law school classmate Felony Kirsch. I, too, dislike chunky gazpachos. I do not dislike this!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Orange-Currant Scones

I've made other scones from time to time, and I always regret not sticking with these. They're from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, and they are everything you want a scone to be. Since I seem to keep purchasing terrible drywall-esque "scones" from the coffeeshop most proximate to my office every morning, I figured I'd lean into the fact that I enjoy eating butter for breakfast, and do it right.

Makes 12.

3 cups flour
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

2 sticks cold butter
1/2 cup dried currants (actually very easy to find - sunkist makes 'em)
1 TB orange zest
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (they say whole, I use 2%, the scones are still sconetastic)

Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets w/parchment.

Mix dry ingredients well. Take butter out of fridge and cut it into the flour mixture (an ulu works well for this!) until it's the size of "small peas" (per cookbook). Mix in the currants and zest.

Then beat the egg and milk together in a large bowl, and fold the dry ingredients into those, mashing the dough together with your fingers till you get it to cohere. (It's OK if it's still streaky w/clumps of butter).

Divide dough in half, and plop each half in turn onto a lightly floured surface, and pat it into a 6-inch circle (it will be about an inch thick) - I find you don't need a rolling pin for this, hands are fine. Cut each circle into 6 wedges, put on baking sheets, and bake for 25-30 mins, until barely golden. Scones are pale critters, so be careful not to overbake.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Guest Post: Duck with Tart Cherry Port Sauce and Hazelnuts

In a new apartment across the country from home, the lovely and linguistically savvy Heather breaks in her kitchen:

Where the craving for duck in August came from, I’m not sure. But I found this recipe and followed it almost exactly, except for the duck breasts part.

I could not locate duck breasts or, for that matter, any ducks at all (except live ones) in my town. Spokane came to the rescue with whole ducks (and maybe would even have coughed up duck breasts if I’d looked harder). So whole, in fact, that they still retained both head and feet. Which my husband (dear man, and used to animal feet from his Chinese parents) promptly removed with a cleaver. So, if you can find the duck breasts, let me know how it turns out.

If you have to get a whole duck as I did, simply roast for 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the duck, and then slice off what you like. I didn’t season the roasting duck except for a bit of kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper, as I didn’t want the seasoned meat to compete with the flavor of the sauce. They say the hazelnuts are optional, but they are delicious with the meat.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Nearly every blog we link to already has a recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes, and for good reason. My four little plants have been producing like champions, so I needed a way to make dozens of ripe Big Boys and Lemon Boys (hmm, all my tomatoes are male) last a little longer. If you have the same "problem," this is the solution. It takes tomatoes and makes them into Tomatoes Squared.

Just halve them, lay them out face up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with salt, and stick them in a 200 degree oven for as many hours as it takes (I decided mine were done after 5 hours). They'll be a little shriveled but still bursting with juice and really amazing flavor. Put them in jars and cover with olive oil, and the statute of limitations for using them is extended well beyond their fresh state.

Ed. 9/22/13 - Works great even for grape tomatoes if you have the patience to slice them!  And, they freeze well like this for winter use.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Late Summer Cocktail

the following guest post was dictated to A by our beloved mum:

Freeze blueberries, drop them in the bottom of the glass, pour in a shot of citrus vodka and fill to taste with sparkling blueberry lemonade (68 cent zero calorie MIRACLE bottle from WALMART). No high fructose corn syrup!

Top with a squeeze of lemon. Devised to enjoy on the porch in the heat of the summer.