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Posts Tagged ‘comfort food’

I don’t have any new shortages to report, although Lunchables, which seemed to recover briefly, are once again non-existent and frozen pancakes remain highly elusive. But I had to rush here immediately to alert you that iceberg lettuce at my grocery store is currently selling for $3.50. That’s U.S. dollars. THREE DOLLARS FIFTY CENTS. Iceberg lettuce

I am well aware that prices of many items are creeping ever upward, but this seems like a GIANT LEAP. Usually, a head of iceberg lettuce is somewhere between $0.99 and $1.50. So the increase feels rather dramatic. 

It wasn’t even a particularly large head of lettuce, either. Smaller than usual. 

I find it so curious that the label says “2 for $7” instead of “$3.50 apiece.” Does 2 for $7 sound BETTER? Because it doesn’t sound better to ME. When did ICEBERG LETTUCE become such a hot commodity?!?!

Well. The other types of lettuce seem to be holding steady at their normal egregious pricing, so I’ll just forego my beloved iceberg for something more nutritious and less delightfully crunchy, like romaine. 

I was so gobsmacked that I mentioned the price increase to the checker. He commiserated and said that the shock waves of the pandemic were causing very strange cracks in the system. Even though I haven’t noticed a big difference in staffing – I see the regular staff members I’ve come to know over the past decade – he said they are really struggling with understaffing issues. 

He was the only checker open – which didn’t strike me as too strange; it was eight in the morning after all. But there was a guy behind me with two items to my full cart, so I let him go ahead of me. Then a woman got in line behind me, also with two items. What was I to do in that situation? Let her go ahead of me, too? It would have taken five seconds but then what if the next person showed up and only had two items? Or five items? I told myself that I had done the nice thing, letting the one person jump ahead of me in line, and that I didn’t have to do it again. But she had SEEN him go ahead of me, and I didn’t want her to think I was a jerk. So I told her I thought that the customer service desk would check her out, since she had so few items. She thanked me and headed off to buy her muffin and juice at the customer service desk. 

The whole interaction was super awkward already, but then it became doubly so when I realized she was my old hairdresser. 

I swear to you that I blogged about breaking up with this hairdresser, but I rummaged around in my archives a bit and couldn’t find the post, so you will get a small recap: I went to this hairdresser for several years and liked her. But then she started outsourcing things to others so she could work on other clients. Not just the shampooing. But like… “Oh, I’m going to send you over to Dean to do your color while I cut this other person’s hair.” Or… “Kelly’s going to trim your ends and then I’ll be back to do your color.” I did not care for this. First, it was a salon that charges more based on your stylist’s level of expertise, so I felt a little miffed that I was paying for HER level but getting half of my hair done by Dean or Kelly, and who knows WHAT level they were… plus, I wanted to see HER because a hairdresser/hair-haver relationship is very intimate and based largely on trust. So after this happened a few times, I went elsewhere for my haircare needs. 

It’s so AWKWARD, though, to dump a service provider. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine having an end-of-relationship conversation with a hairdresser. “It’s not you, it’s me” sounds even more insincere when it’s directed at your stylist, right? So I just… ghosted her. (I did the same to the next hairdresser, too, which is even MORE awkward because she remains my husband’s hairdresser.) (Then my next hairdresser ghosted me, but that was because she didn’t return to work after the pandemic and who can blame her.) I have seen the old hairdresser out in the wild a couple of times, but on those occasions I spotted her from a distance and I think I was able to slip away before she saw me. Or if she saw me, it was as I walked speedily away, head down, eyes averted. Yes, I am very mature.  

But this was the first time I have seen her face to face. Not only that, but I SPOKE to her. I was wearing a mask and glasses, and I am several years older by now. Sure, I remember her name and her daughter’s name, and the type of books she likes to read, but I was one of many clients that she’s had over the years. So I’m hoping she didn’t recognize or remember me. 

There’s nothing to be DONE about this very small, very fleetingly awkward interaction. Even if she did recognize me. Even if she did think, “Wow, there’s that person who ghosted me half a decade ago.” Even if she reacted with anger or hurt feelings. I can’t change any of it. It will likely be years before I run into her again in public. And yet I AM STILL THINKING ABOUT IT, and may continue to do so for hours/days, twirling and twirling the interaction around itself, trying to reshape it or make it less awkward by perseverating on it. Why is being a human so rife with these little inescapable twinges and pains? 

Let us now change subjects abruptly to meal planning.

I went to the grocery store with one meal in mind, and while I was there I came up with several possibilities. So now I have a full fridge and a nice list of dinners to make for my family this week.

Dinners for the Week of November 15 to November 22

WAIT A SECOND IS THANKSGIVING NEXT WEEK WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TIME WHERE HAS IT GONE?

  • Fire Fry: We haven’t had this in a long while, and I am craving crunchy veggies in a fiery sauce. My husband made me promise to drastically reduce the amount of spices I add to the yogurt though. He is no fun at all. 
  • Chicken Paprikas: Another meal we haven’t had in far too long. And I have a bunch of cooked, shredded rotisserie chicken in the freezer just waiting to be added to a rich, creamy, potato laced sauce and poured over noodles. 
  • Asian Chicken Salad: I think my husband will appreciate this meal, as it is neither tacos nor chicken/zucchini stir fry, both of which he is tired of. I will probably make some teriyaki dressing as well since I don’t care for the peanut dressing listed in the recipe.
  • Chicken/Zucchini Stir Fry: Oh yes, I love this stir fry. It’s so easy and so tasty and all the zucchini makes me feel so virtuous. And despite my husband feeling like we have it all the time, we do NOT and it has been many weeks since we’ve eaten it and it is time once again. 
  • Thai Red Chicken Curry: Am I in a stir fry mood or what? 
  • Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Polenta: Why yes, this has been a recurring bullet on my dinner posts since October 25. I STILL have not made this meal, but the short ribs are in the freezer waiting to be immersed in red wine until they collapse in drunken ecstasy and the polenta is very calmly waiting on the shelf and I have a nice package of inexpensive-compared-to-iceberg-lettuce romaine waiting in the crisper, so perhaps THIS is the week it will all come together.

What are you eating this week, the last week before THANKSGIVING, which is somehow nearly upon us?

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Another week, another complete lack of dinner-planning motivation and meal-amnesia: what do I eat? what have I cooked in the past? what is food? Literally the only thing I can think of is the soup I made yesterday. (It was delicious and produced enough leftovers for several days. I hope.)

Well. We have to start somewhere. Maybe if I keep clacking my fingers on the keyboard, a miraculous idea for something edible will erupt onto the page. 

Dinners for the Week of October 7-10

  • Burritos: Good. Easy. Hopefully won’t make my tooth hurt too much. 
  • Chickpea Curry: We haven’t had this in awhile and it’s super easy. Done.
  • Bolognese: My husband requested this specific meat sauce for his birthday, and who am I to deny him something he wants, even if it does require simmering meat in milk? I will probably make myself some Gigi Hadid vodka pasta instead, because of the milk and also the tomatoes and also the meatloaf mix, which squicks me out. Hi, yes, I am very picky about weird things.
  • Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma: I have some broccoli hanging out around the crisper, so I’ll steam that and make some couscous to sop up all the delicious sauce.
  • Takeout or Scrounging

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

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We are having an especially long weekend, what with Rosh Hashanah following Labor Day. That’s just one thing I am feeling thankful for, this morning. I am also thankful for the beautiful weather – sunny and warm-but-not-hot, with that characteristic rim of cold on the edge of the breeze that signifies the beginning of fall. We have had a lovely weekend so far – I saw a dear friend on Saturday for my second-since-the-pandemic-began attempt at dining at a restaurant (we ate outside and sat at a table that was blissfully distant from any other diners), Carla stayed home with a babysitter (a vaccinated student at Carla’s school who was one of her counselors at camp this year) and had a blast, and then the three of us went to a friend’s house for (outdoor) dinner, which was so so lovely. (This particular friend is an amazing cook.) (Also I still feel compelled to note that everyone is vaccinated except the kids, all of whom attend the same school anyway.) I am thankful that I got to go to a salon and have a professional dye my hair for me, and that she also kindly offered to trim my single, enormous white eyebrow hair. My husband is no longer on call as of this morning, for which I am DEEPLY grateful. And tomorrow, Carla and I will have the house to ourselves as my mother-in-law undergoes surgery. I am grateful for the alone time, but I am also grateful that my mother-in-law is getting such quick treatment. If you can spare some good thoughts for her, please do; we are all expecting the best, including her doctors, but obviously we are all also QUITE ANXIOUS. 

I am grateful, but anxious. While it felt so wonderful to see friends and do “normal” things this weekend, I still get this breathless giddy feeling of getting away with something. And then comes the worry that we are pushing too far, doing too much. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. 

I am grateful that we can provide a home base for my in-laws while they are in town, that we can offer comfort and love and support while my mother-in-law is preparing for surgery and recovering from surgery and determining next steps. But I am not accustomed to extra people in my home. I feel like all I do is vacuum and wash dishes and scrub counters and tidy and unload the dishwasher and prepare meals and clean up after meals. I cannot tell you how many times I have buffed the stainless steel into a mirror sheen this past week.  Why a gleaming refrigerator should do anything to soothe my anxiety is beyond my powers of comprehension. My mother-in-law, bless her, always offers to help with food prep and clean up. But even as I want help, I DON’T; I want to do it my way, and we have very different ways of doing things and I feel like I get (gentle, well-meaning) push back when I try to explain my preferences. And beggars can’t be choosers, right? Why should I even have preferences when the help is being offered? 

I am trying – really, really trying – to be laid back, to go with the flow, even though those things are contrary to my nature. Even though my means of restoring equilibrium is to be alone with my thoughts for long hours. Right now – with Carla crafting ten feet away, her audiobook playing another endless round of Socks by Beverly Clearly – is as close to “alone” as I can get these days.   

And, of all people, this period in our life affects me least. Everyone is worried, everyone is stressed. My in-laws are living out of their suitcases, worrying about my mother-in-law. My husband has been working nonstop for the past seven days; he too is an introvert who needs time alone; and this is his mother who is undergoing surgery and perhaps other adjuvant therapies. My daughter, accustomed to our quiet, three-person home, has had her routine – freshly readjusted, now that school has begun – upended yet again, and she too is worried about her beloved grandmother. My father-in-law was set for knee surgery when my mother-in-law’s health needs popped up; he’s climbing up and down our stairs every day on a bum knee, having to stuff his own pain and health concerns down while he worries about his wife of fifty years. 

Well. I am trying to be a good host, a good daughter-in-law. Trying to be welcoming, and warm, and doing what I can to make the house comfortable and to address my family’s needs. 

The main thing I have control over is food. Which brings us to dinners this week. 

THANK YOU, by the way, for all your suggestions about what to feed my houseguests. I have been asking literally everyone this past week what they serve to houseguests, and I have discovered two things: 1. Talking about food is, for me, endlessly fascinating. 2. It is very hard to turn wonderful, delicious-sounding suggestions into usable options for my particular family. (My in-laws don’t really eat pasta; I hate tomatoes; my husband and his whole family don’t really think of soup as a meal.) 

I still LOVE to hear suggestions, though. And want to visit ALL OF YOU so that you will make me your delicious houseguest meals. Please and thank you.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for this week. 

Dinners for the Week of September 6-12

Hamburgers: For Labor Day. Burgers are easy and everyone will eat them. My husband wanted potato salad from the grocery store, so I got some. I have the ingredients for my favorite chickpea salad, which I prefer to potato salad, and may or may not make it for myself (and whomever else wants it). We have no dessert, but I could whip one up if necessary; I even have a box of brownie mix if it comes to that. (I happen to love brownies from a mix.)

Lebanese Chicken with Charred Cauliflower: I may attempt to make this for the family, although I tend to avoid experimenting with new recipes on my poor unsuspecting in-laws. It sounds yummy and fairly easy, and I am fueled by Nicole’s love of cauliflower to eat more of it.

Steak and Potato Skewers with Rosemary Chimichurri: I made this once before and it was yummy (and surprisingly easy). 

Charcuterie Board: These are SO fun to put together and I tested the idea with the family and everyone was receptive. I have happy anticipation at the prospect of searching through the grocery store for fun little treatsies to include on the board.

TAKEOUT. God bless all the restaurants that offer wide ranging options and delicious food.

What are you eating for dinner this week? 

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I am going to complain only briefly about my body’s continued avoidance of sleep. As is the law of Internet magic (which works only once per situation, sadly), I slept Very Well Sunday night – from 10:30ish to just before 6:00. I only woke up twice. It was lovely and refreshing but did not compensate for the many many previous nights of poorer sleep. Then last night I woke up twice after I went to bed at ten, and then was awake between 2:30 and 5:00 ish. And then awake for the day at 6:30, which sounds like a reasonable time to arise but did not feel reasonable at all.

If you’ll allow me to recap: Friday night: slept until 3:30 am, then up for the day. Saturday night: slept until 4:30 am, then up for the day. Sunday night: nearly SEVEN (7) blissful hours of near-consecutive slumber. Monday night: large chunk of the night spent awake and despairing, up for the day at 6:30 am. While I wasn’t getting decent sleep before Friday (the one night I counted, I woke up EIGHT (8) times), it was at least preferable to being awake for giant swaths of the night. 

This is all to say that I have nothing at all to give to meal planning. I am relying heavily on a) takeout, b) comfort food, and c) easy things that we eat all the time. 

Dinners for the Week of April 27 – May 3

  • Chicken Paprikas: This is not the recipe I use (I use one from Joy of Cooking and modify it to my specifications), but it’s similar enough. Except I use 4 cups of chicken stock instead of the crushed tomatoes, and chicken breast instead of thighs, so maybe it’s not really similar at all. Also I put potatoes in mine. 

  • Tacos: Yes, I just said I was making the Cuban sheet pan chicken into tacos. But THESE tacos will be ground beef tacos. Totally different.

  • Takeout: However many times is necessary.

What’s for dinner at your house this week, Internet?

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You will wonder, in a moment, why I am calling this “My Take on the TikTok Baked Feta Pasta” when my version has neither feta nor tomatoes in it – two crucial ingredients in the original aforementioned TikTok pasta, the third and fourth being “pasta” and “olive oil.” 

You will likely wonder why I even glanced toward the TikTok Baked Feta Pasta, when I neither have TikTok nor can I stand tomatoes nor do I particularly care for feta. 

And yet, here we are, with me sharing a recipe (“recipe”) for my own version of a recipe I have neither tried nor wanted to try nor followed. 

Perhaps – you might think, trying to wrap your mind around my motives and this post – what appealed to me about the TTBFP is its simplicity. You put a few ingredients in a dish. You toss them in some olive oil. You throw the whole thing in an oven and then, 20 minutes later, stir in some pasta and voila! you have a meal. 

Well, you could be right, except that I went and made the TTBFP much more complicated, eliminating its simplicity right from the get go. 

I think it’s time to stop trying to understand me; I sure don’t, and I’ve lived with me for 40 years. Let’s get to the recipe. (“Recipe.”)

Baked Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pasta

Servings

Approximately three, if each serving takes up about half a soup bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 1 head of garlic (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Pasta of your choice (I used cellentani because it is pretty and fun to say)
  • Arugula (optional)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with vegetable spray, just because you distrust olive oil’s food-sticking-prevention abilities.
  • Throw your chopped onions and sliced mushrooms into the baking pan. Add salt, pepper, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil and mix it all together with your hands. 
  • Make a small space in the center of the veggies. Nestle your goat cheese right in there. It’s okay if the veggies want to snuggle right up to the goat cheese. 
Wouldn’t you like to snuggle up to a nice goat cheese pillow?
  • If you are using garlic, slice across the top of the whole head of garlic with a sharp knife, exposing some of the cloves. Nestle the entire head of decapitated garlic (how can a head itself be decapitated? I trust you understand.) into a corner of the pan.
  • Drizzle everything with another tablespoon or two of olive oil.
  • Drizzle everything with a teaspoon or so of balsamic glaze. Who’s kidding who here. I did not measure. Just drizzle until you feel like you’re done. I did some sloppy crisscrosses and called it good. 
Glazey crisscrosses!

  • Shove the pan into the oven and set a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Boil some salted water. I don’t know how much; however much you need to cover however much pasta you use. I used half a box of pasta which turned out to be FAR too much pasta, because I forgot how dramatic mushrooms are. They get very hysterical about being baked and shrink to almost nothing. I would say a quarter of a box of pasta would suffice, if you like your pasta nice and sauce-y.
  • Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook it for two minutes under whatever duration the box recommends.
  • When your pasta is done, drain your pasta BUT RESERVE SOME PASTA WATER. I always reserve way more pasta water than I need, just in case. 
  • Check on your pan at the 25-minute mark. If the mushrooms and onions are starting to brown and your goat cheese is resembling a puddle, it’s probably done. I had to cook mine longer than I thought, but I also accidentally turned off the timer at some point and have no idea how long it actually baked. It could have been 20 minutes, it could have been 30. I considered, at one point, turning the heat up to 450 F for a while, to see if I could caramelize the onions a bit more. But I was concerned about how those little drama queens (mushrooms) might react (burning into charcoal).
The goat cheese looked much more melty in person. Also, the mushrooms are being deceptive here. They still seem plentiful. But they are NOT.
Different view of those now much diminished mushrooms.
  • Remove your pan from the oven and marvel in an irritated way at how drastically your mushrooms have shrunk. 
  • Remove the garlic. Use the tip of a sharp knife to dislodge some of the cloves from their papery outfits and add them back to the pan. I used about 1/5 of the garlic, I’d say, because it seemed like an appropriate amount of garlic for the quantity of mushrooms remaining. Plus, I am going to use roasted garlic in some focaccia this week – I have been saying I would make focaccia for a year and I have NOT DONE IT YET, despite wanting to and planning to and even putting it on my meal plan twice, but THIS IS THE WEEK, it is happening – so I saved the rest of the garlic for that purpose. 
  • Stir everything together. Add some reserved pasta water to achieve the sauce consistency you prefer. 
The goat cheese stirs up so nicely. Far better than FETA, I’m sure.
  • Add some pasta to your pan and stir some more. Add more reserved pasta water if you like. 
Are you beginning, now, to see just how FEW mushrooms remain? It’s like half of them took the day off.
This is it. Even with the pasta, it takes up less than half of the pan. Also, it’s not the most photogenic meal.
  • Put your mixed pasta into a dish. If you are so inclined, add a handful of arugula. 
Now it’s pasta salad! No, just kidding. I do think the arugula adds a nice peppery contrast to the richness of the pasta.
  • Drizzle the bowl with more balsamic glaze. Enjoy!

Will I make this again? I can’t honestly say, at this point. It was tasty! And it was filling! The goat cheese makes it super rich and creamy, so one serving was plenty. It was easy! (Though the mushrooms, all on their own, the prima donnas, make it time consuming.) But on the side of NOT making it again, it is so disheartening to spend eight hours washing and peeling and slicing mushrooms only to have them minify in the oven. How is minify an actual word? I seriously thought I was just being lazy, but it has a dictionary entry and everything. I also wish the onions had had a chance to caramelize a bit more. 

If I made it again, maybe I would have to use EVEN MORE mushrooms. And maybe I would cut them into larger chunks. Using more would increase the amount of prep time… but it might also increase my enjoyment? Hard to say until we try. And we may never try. After all, have we learned nothing from the focaccia intentions?

In all, it was fun to try. It was yummy. And now the recipe has been recorded for posterity. 

The end.

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All our snow is gone. It melted over the rainy weekend. We are getting more sun, more frequently. And it is MARCH. I am GIDDY with the anticipation of spring. Normally, I love winter. And we ended up making the most out of this winter, spending a LOT of time outside and with friends (all masked of course; it’s sad that I still feel the need to add this assurance, but such is life in these mask-divisive days). So I am definitely sad to see it go. BUT I am delighted that spring is around the corner. (My husband, the killjoy realist, advocates caution around getting too excited for spring; it’s only March, he says, very reasonably; we could still have plenty of winter yet.) (Carla and I drove through a brief blizzard on the way home.) (NOTHING STUCK.) Spring means warm weather! It means meeting friends for walks in the park! It means firing up the outdoor heater and having friends OVER TO OUR BACKYARD! It means increasing spans of sunshine. It means increasing numbers of vaccination. It means we are moving ever closer to whatever “normal” will mean once most people are vaccinated. I AM EXCITED. 

My meal plan for this week doesn’t particularly reflect spring, though. It still reflects a person who requires hearty stews and warm bread. That’s okay. We can hold onto the pleasurable bits of winter a bit longer.

Dinners for the Week of March 1-March 8

  • Mulligatawny Soup and Miracle No-Knead BreadBecause I have mirepoix already portioned out and frozen, this meal is SO SIMPLE. And delicious. The only thing I have to think about is mixing the bread ingredients the night before. Everything else is easy peasy.
  • Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Baked Potato: I guess my theme for the week is Easy Meals? Doesn’t get much simpler than rough-chopping an onion, dumping it into the slow cooker with a pork tenderloin and some BBQ sauce, and letting it cook down into fall-apart perfection. 
  • Chickpea Bowls: We haven’t had these in awhile and these are the perfect intersection of hearty and spicy. I add a bunch of bell peppers and a chicken breast when I make this for dinner. Maybe I will make a double portion so I can have some for lunches as well.
  • Hungarian Mushroom Soup: This is a recipe my husband recommended; he so rarely puts forth a dinner option that I tend to leap on the rare suggestions with great enthusiasm. This soup sounds kind of stroganoff-esque. It does require fresh parsley, though. I ABHOR parsley, but my husband and I talked it out and I am going to BUY PARSLEY and CHOP IT UP and PUT IT VOLUNTARILY into the soup. We’ll see what happens. 
  • Some sort of salad we can dip into all week: Not a whole lot of veggies happening this week, so I think I will get some lettuce and some easy toppings (cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, scallions) so we can have side salads should the mood strike.

What are you eating this first week of March?

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This week at the grocery store, the spice section featured postings of an ominous note:

If there is a paprika shortage I don’t know WHAT I will do. 

Also I keep wondering if the magic feta pasta (roast cherry tomatoes with olive oil and a block of feta, then add noodles) could work with any other vegetables? Okay, okay, I do see recipes that are experimenting with spinach or butternut squash instead of tomatoes. And here’s one with mushrooms and feta and spinach that looks like a possibility. But my ideal baked pasta would have mushrooms and goat cheese… and onions… and roasted garlic… and maybe some balsamic? And a few handfuls of arugula thrown in on top. Basically this pizza, but in pasta form. YUM. 

Well, I haven’t purchased any mushrooms because I am not yet ready to try out my idea. But it’s on my mind, that’s for sure.

Dinners for the Week of February 9-15

  • Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Potatoes: I am really in the mood for potatoes and roasted meat. Must be the intense, bitter cold we’ve been having. (Which is about twenty degrees warmed than the bitter cold my best friend back home is enduring. So I will count my blessings.) 
  • Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowls: I have literally never once ordered a chicken burrito bowl from Chipotle, but oh man, these sound SO GOOD. 
  • Instant Pot Chana Masala: Our favorite local Indian restaurant has not survived the pandemic. It was not the most consistent place, but when it was good, it was good. I really hope the owners are doing okay. Anyway, I miss Indian flavors and this chana masala sounds warming and delicious. (I would probably add some bell peppers to it, as is my wont.)
  • Broccoli Beef: This is an old standby, but we haven’t had it recently.

This weekend also features Valentine’s Day, so I really want to make these adorable striped sugar cookies with Carla. Although I have had kind of a brownie hankering lately… These raspberry brownies look amazing… and I wish these Mississippi mud brownies were in my mouth already. 

My husband and I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day (although this year, I am extra sad about that because flowers and a date night would be so wonderful) (neither of those things is going to happen, unless I buy myself flowers) (which I might), so perhaps we will get takeout? Is Valentine’s Day going to be a big takeout day this year? Maybe we’ll do it Saturday instead. 

What’s on your Valentine’s Day menu – sweets and treats or otherwise?

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Well. Today is the day. We have voted. Carla is home with me; her school gave everyone a day off to ensure the teachers and staff could vote. I am filled with a buzzing, nervous energy as I am sure so many are. Let us hope I can channel it into cleaning and walking on the treadmill rather than into eating leftover Halloween candy. But either way, we will be gentle with ourselves.

We have sunshine today and mild temperatures. Perhaps I can cajole Carla into going for a long walk through the leaves. (She sees this unexpected holiday as a chance to watch TV.) Perhaps I will spend the day cooking. Perhaps I will curl up with the newest Robert Galbraith book (we can discuss the internal wrestling of enjoying artwork by deeply problematic artists another time). Perhaps I will chip away at a holiday gift guide post I have been working on. Perhaps I will watch more episodes of The Mindy Project, which is a balm. Who can know yet where this day will take us.

This week’s dinners are all about comfort and joy, ease and nutrition. With the exception of paprikas, I’ve got protein, carbs, and veggies in abundance in each meal on the list. Best of all, these are filling, delicious foods I look forward to, no matter what. Today is Tuesday, so we will have tacos. Gorging oneself on tacos is much more soothing than one might expect.

Dinners for the Week of November 3-8 (Election Week 2020)

  • Tacos

I am also planning on making some apple crisp. If there is a more comforting dessert, I don’t know what it is. Plus, the work of peeling and chopping many apples promises catharsis.

Hope and well-being and so much love to everyone.

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Do I write about anything besides food? Is this a thing where I have A Serious Problem and I am just breezily unaware of it? I’m hoping it’s just Keto, which forces me to think about food waaaayyyyy more than I want to, and way more than is probably healthy.

Right now is my food witching hour. Well. Witching Hour #1. (The second takes place after Carla goes to bed when I flop onto the couch and watch something ridiculous.) This is the period of time between when I am starting to get hungry for dinner (about 4:00/4:30) and when we actually EAT dinner (anywhere between 6:30 to 9:00, depending on my husband’s schedule and/or my ability to time the dinner correctly). 

(This is also some sort of mating witching hour for a local… chipmunk? bird of some sort? other creature that makes repetitive clock-ticking – but, like, a loud cuckoo-style clock-ticking sound, not a tiny click that a normal wall clock makes – noises every single day at right about this time?)

(Well, now whatever it is has finished his business and has moved on. Soon the neighbors will release their dog into their backyard where he will bark persistently until they let him in. Which takes MUCH longer than it reasonably should.) 

Anyway, I am typing this post right now to avoid snacking. I have already snacked on my Allotted Keto Snack, which is an ounce of cheddar cheese, and which was delicious. I have been doing Keto for one week and two days and it has been going fine – you know, as fine as it goes when you hate it and all food seems super sad and/or requires too much chewing. But today I have been smacked right in the face by Severe Cravings.

Maybe if I write them down here I will transfer some of the craving energy from my belly into the Internet. That’s a thing, right? Like how if you post about your baby sleeping through the night, she is guaranteed to wake up seven times the next night and for every night for the next three months? Maybe it’s like that with cravings: I tell you all about them, and then they disappear. Yes. That is going to happen.

At some point, I hope to have a relationship with Keto that is less restricted. Where I can take little breaks. Or even… eat regular amounts of carbs on the weekend or something. I don’t know. But right now, everything feels very fragile and precarious, and I’m worried that one rogue glass of wine is going to tip me right off the wagon and into a bag of tortilla chips.

(Here is where I note that this weekend, we have not one but TWO [outdoor, masked-except-while-eating] family get togethers [of the exactly three families we have gotten together with since March, these are two of them] and so I am already sure that I will be pretty lenient with myself. My husband is making these amazing cookies, for one thing, and for another, we will be watching football [outdoors, on their deck; I don’t understand how this will work either; do they have an outdoor TV?] and football goes so very well with beer. Maybe I will take some Michelob Ultra with me?)

(Also: TWO get togethers??? That seems so incredibly extravagant. But it is also coming at a good time; this is the anniversary of my friend’s death and I am feeling wan and tearful, so being with other friends should be a lovely and welcome distraction.)

I am slightly surprised by the things I am craving most fiercely; for one thing, “chips” is not up there. Not that I’d throw a plate of nachos out of bed, mind you. But I have other carbs on the brain.

  1. Bagel. This is my top food fantasy right now. A thick bagel, soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, perfectly toasted. Coated in a slick layer of butter with salt and a nice gooey topping of honey. Oh my GOD. 
  2. Wheat thins. We have a box in the pantry and I ate one this past weekend and it was SO GOOD and I have been thinking about gobbling up its brethren ever since.
  3. Triscuits. We also have a box of these bad boys because I was eating cheese with Triscuits all summer when I needed a little pre-dinner snack. So now when I eat cheese, there’s a Pavlovian Triscuit bell that rings in my head.
  4. Apple anything. A nice, crisp, juicy apple. Apple cake. Apple crisp. Apple pie. ANYTHING WITH APPLE.
  5. Mango smoothie. I think this is a spite craving and will be therefore fleeting; I made a smoothie today with raspberries but before I did that, I looked up how many carbs mango would set me back and it was A LOT. My raspberry smoothie left a lot to be desired, so I have been really jonesing for the mango version I used to make for myself and Carla on nights she had ballet.
  6. Bruschetta. I would love a nice crusty baguette, sliced into pillowy rounds, and coated with wonderful things like spinach and artichoke dip or a mushroomy tapenade. YUM.
  7. Garlic bread. Droooooooool.

I thought for sure I would really want pizza, because I love pizza with all my heart. But I have been making a Keto version (with fathead dough) and I guess it is an adequate-enough stand-in that I am not missing pizza too much. (Yet.) (Adequate is the absolute highest praise I can give the fathead pizza dough. I think all the people who say it tastes just! like! regular! dough! have either been on Keto for too long or have never eaten really good pizza.)

I would also love a big glass of Sauvignon Blanc. And a Coke. 

I have thinking about Coke so intently today that I may temporarily suspend my “no artificial sweeteners” rule and drink a Coke Zero. We’ll see. 

What are you craving right now?

Thank you for joining me on this cravings journey. It is now time to put my dinner in the oven and feel resentful toward our neighbors and their dog who has, right on cue, begun to bark in their yard.

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This weekend, our grocery store was out of yeast again. Well. They had single-serve packs of organic instant yeast for $1.09. But that seems a little desperate, to me, considering you can buy a three-pack of the non-organic instant yeast for something like $1.19. In only moderately related news, the yeast for baking was on the shelf right next to the nutritional yeast which seems like a situation rife with potential misunderstandings. I don’t even know what nutritional yeast is (I think you can put it on popcorn???) but I am pretty sure it won’t make your dough rise.

Also: almost completely out of pepperoni, except for two sad packages of gourmet pepperoni that no one in my house will eat. Hormel all the way, baby.

ALSO: This is the first time in six months that I haven’t purchased a jar of pickles. Carla proclaimed that the pickles from the most recent jar were “sour” (isn’t that… the point of pickles?) and hasn’t eaten one since.

I am glad to be back to a weekly grocery shopping schedule. It feels more normal, for one thing. Plus, we are definitely wasting less food.  (Although I still need to work on limiting my fruit buying.) The next thing I need to adjust my shopping to fit: Not having Carla around all day. She is no longer eating lunch and two snacks at home, which somehow adds up to a LOT less food (and pepperoni) I need to buy. We somehow only went through one and a half pints of tomatoes this week! Either Carla is getting tired of tomatoes, or perhaps she does the majority of her tomato-eating during the school day. Time will tell.

Here’s what we’re eating for dinner this week:

Dinners for the Week of September 14-20

There is no cocktail of the week this week. I have grown weary of cocktails. Well, more aptly, I have grown weary of making cocktails. It is much easier to open a bottle of wine, if one requires an alcoholic beverage. Or to mix a little grapefruit juice into half a can of seltzer, if one isn’t in the alcohol mood.

I am also making this purple plum torte, which I have made for a couple summers running and which I adore. Right now, plums are abundant, so I bought a bunch. If you haven’t tried this torte, it is VERY easy and SUPER delicious and the perfect summer-to-fall transitional dessert. Or snack. Or breakfast.

How are you, Internet? What are you eating this week?

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