Hello, foodies, lovers & friends. I know I haven’t been super regular about posting of late. It’s the end of the semester, I’ve been out of town (seems like all I do is travel!), and I’m preparing to go on tour with an amazing band. I’ve also been going to the gym semi-regularly (my new year’s resolution had a bit of a delayed start) and obsessing over the Hunger Games audiobooks, so, uh, I haven’t had time to post. It’s hard to focus on cooking when all the muscles you haven’t flexed since high school basketball have gone soft, and you’re listening to young people fighting for their lives in the jungle! Heavy times!
Suddenly it’s Wednesday! How did that happen? I’m so busy this week I barely noticed the days slide by. Also, after I started drinking coffee again (all the saints be praised), it was all I wanted to talk about. And, well, that’s not exactly original fodder for a blog. We all know that coffee is wonderful. Even the people at Harvard think so. IT’S SCIENCE.
Anyway, where was I? While writing about how I thought I would get distracted by coffee, I…got distracted by coffee. Ahem. This blog post is about our dinner last night, not about the steaming delicious cup of heaven in front of me right now.
So this morning I totally had a giant plate of eggs, topped with cheese and sour cream, with a side of DEEP FRIED BACON and a huge slab of cinnamon raisin toast with strawberry jam and cinnamon sugar, and I washed it all down with a giant latte made with whole milk.
About two or three years ago, when I was still waitressing regularly, a bunch of my coworkers decided it was time to do a little spring cleaning: from the inside out. Someone had read somewhere that the “Master Cleanse” was a healthy, no-fuss way to kickstart your natural mechanisms and boost your energy, mental function, and overall well-being. If you’ve never heard of it, read all about it here. Essentially, it’s a juice fast that typically lasts ten days and involves, ahem, flushing the toxins in your body out the back door, if you know what I mean. You drink lots of the special spicy lemonade, which is a mixture of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and filtered water, and you also do what’s known as a “salt water flush” daily. It can get a little gross but it’s suppose to be very good for you. At least, that’s what we reasoned.
My boyfriend doesn’t eat vegetables. I say this in all seriousness. He’s a relatively healthy guy, mind you, though his diet isn’t what you would call diversified. His ideal meal: chicken, mashed potatoes or pasta or white rice, some kind of sauce that is orange or tan, and bread. Soft white. Creamy yellow. Simple, straightforward textures. I, on the other hand am all about the crunchy greens, the crackly browns, and the color. As much color as possible. I do most of the cooking (ok, all of the cooking) around these parts, and he is normally a very good sport about the ways I try to sneak vegetables into every meal. The truth is, though, that left to his own devices he would be more satisfied with a nice big plate of Trader Joe’s frozen Channa Masala than tasting my experimental warm bacon spinach salad (I mean it had bacon on it, and he still was wary!).
So you can imagine my joy when he pronounced this ratatouille (which, just so we’re clear, is all vegetables) the “best meal” I have “ever made.”
Lately I’ve been trying new things in the kitchen. One of the best things about having this blog is how much it forces me to get creative. I’m constantly inspired by all the amazing recipes other bloggers post, and having a blast looking back over family recipes and recreating them. But this, while incredibly stimulating and fun, doesn’t actually fit my normal eating and cooking habits. For example, when I am just cooking for myself, I probably eat the same thing for dinner three nights in a row, just to use up the leftovers. Incidentally, I have been thinking about adding a link at the end of each recipe called “Leftover Ideas”, as I always end up having to buy a lot more than what I actually need for a recipe. Because seriously, what do you do with that jar of specialty spice paste that you used exactly one teaspoon of? I’d probably just use it up over the course of a few weeks in a few different recipes, but how many recipes can you blog about using the same ingredient over and over? Musing, musing. What do you other bloggers do?
Anyway, on to today’s recipe. I made this for dinner the other night and it was a hit. I was inspired by a specialty ingredient I discovered recently, and now own a giant package of that will probably sit in my fridge for weeks. First. World. Problems.
Life has taken such a monumental turn for me these past few months. I have seen another continent and moved out of my hometown. I am currently unemployed and get to spend my days cooking, reading, walking, and googling cats on the internet. Life is beautiful.
So let me just make it clear that when I say I miss Ann Arbor, I don’t mean I’m unhappy here. Quite the opposite. There are, of course, plenty of things that are different enough to notice and take issue with, like the traffic (oh, the traffic). Suffice it to say I’ve been honked at and wanted to honk back more times in the past month than I ever have in my life. But let’s not talk about the traffic. It’s not like I miss Ann Arbor’s traffic.
If you’re anything like me, you love winter mostly for the food. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like the snow and even the cold (that’s the Michigander in me), but the food in winter just fills you up in a way that summer food doesn’t. It’s an excuse to eat for comfort. It’s too rich, too sweet, and too filling but somehow it’s better that way. The best dishes in winter have the capacity to warm you from the inside out, to satisfy your soul as well as your palate. And the colors are better. Warm oranges, rusty reds, deep evergreens. It’s like your favorite sweater, only you get to EAT IT.