So I am what they call a doer, and this spring/summer, I was sort of visibly going insane without a job to get done and a daily routine and a general feeling of… business.
But man I have been so lazy lately. I have been ROCKING my leisure time.
All I want to do is hang around with Steve and eat food. There has been a lot.
A lovely tableau in my living room…
(Actually this was a decidedly low-key soup and salad because we had seriously spent the ENTIRE DAY eating.)
But on a more exciting evening, I strolled down after a workout to discover my love in my kitchen, listening to This American Life on my laptop, making me fajitas. This. is. the. life.
He preps very beautifully.
And he said I had already spoiled him too much on his birthday so now I had to just sit and relax and eat. Well. Sure!
The first thing made was pico de gallo. I got to be quality control, which meant him going “Try this!” and me going “Mmm” and him going “Does it need lime?” and me going “I dunno, sure!” and then eating some more, and then going “Mmm” and him going, “Does it need jalapeno?” and me going “I dunno, sure!” and then eating some more and going “Mmm!”
And then I kind of just lazed around, idly surfing the internet while my boyfriend sautéed me vegetables (he is HEALTHY and ENVIRONMENTALLY AWARE too!). I would look up from time to time and admire his arms.
It is fun (well, if you’re a control freak like me it is fun once you have emotionally dealt with ceding your kitchen at least temporarily to someone else), it is fun to watch someone else’s cooking methodology that you never would’ve thought of.
For example instead of microwaving your tortillas to soften, why not let them get pliable by putting them atop the steaming peppers? It probably imparted some flavor, too!
Dinner was decidedly well rounded (quinoa, black beans, tortillas, the veggies, the pico). And because it involved Steve, it also involved Sriracha.
Once their tortilla domes were removed, the fillings were beauteous…
And Steve insisted on making me my first fajita, something whose methodology he has given a great deal of thought.
Atop the tortilla we have first quinoa and beans, then pico, then the mushroom-squash-onion mixture (the onions were SO yummy, and I’m SO glad he uses more oil than me when he cooks :D), then the pepper mixture, then MORE pico.
It was resplendent. So much so that I could not stop taking pictures.
Once I’d taken a few bites, he went “NO! I FORGOT THE SRIRACHA!”
This was quickly remedied.
It was a glorious, glorious, meal. Fajitas were eaten and then we just kept eating… more.
Earlier in the week I took things in a more Asian direction with my current favorite exotic ingredient:
Spicy black bean sauce! Its main ingredient is fermented black soybeans (!) and it tastes just… rich and dark and meaty and salty and intense. I like it as a sauce for mild things, because it has so much of its own flavor.
So, I pulled out some flounder. Dusted with cornstarch to (er, in theory) help it brown up in the oil and also to serve as a thickener for the sauce I planned to throw on it.
Got out my very professional peanut oil (tip: peanut oil is great for a stir-fry because it has a very high smoking point; unlike other oils it is very unlikely to burn even if you put it on high heat. If you have a hard time finding it at a regular grocery store, as can often be the case, go to your nearest Asian store. They’ll hook ya up! And as you can see, you can just hunt the foreign-looking aisles for pictures of peanuts :D)
And then what happened? I’d call this browning fail:
I think really this can be chalked up to the fish not being dried enough before I dusted on the cornstarch and put it in the oil, so it steamed rather than browned. Chalk that one up both to me being sort of skeeved out by any raw ingredient since I’ve been so veg-heavy lately; and the fact that I hate hate hate using paper towels because they are destroying our planet.
Anyway the fish was cooked through, if uninspiring looking. So I took it outta the pan with a slotted spoon and then tossed some sliced shrooms in the remaining oil.
Once browned and loverly, I pulled out some frozen peas (if you haven’t already caught on, I confess that these veggies were considerably less beautiful than my usual endeavors because I’d missed a farmer’s market run and the cupboard was SPARSE).
Frozen peas aren’t local and organic, yadda yadda. They are yummy. And so colorful!
I returned my fish, along with a bunch of the black bean sauce. The aromas became entirely tantalizing, the liquid released by the no-longer-frozen peas united with the cornstarchy fish to form a beautiful sauce, and best of all beautiful little sticky/crunchy bits formed on the bottom of the pot.
Steve and I both livvvvvvve for crunchy bits.
And thus my simple, clean-out-the-fridge-and-freezer stir fry was complete. Seriously, guys, get some black bean sauce. So you’ll know what I’m talking about!
To feed the man’s appetite, the meal was rounded out with some brown rice (I make a dry cup’s worth, since I eat about 1/4 cup’s worth and he eats 3 times as much as I do- sure enough, twas perfect!) and some Trader Joe’s shrimp dumplings.
Though now that I’ve had the real thing in Asia, Trader Joe’s dumplings just don’t arouse the passion in me that they once did, I will say that their pleasantly gingery filling makes for a surprisingly nice white wine pairing.