Apparently my instinct when I am sad and stressed is to cook a lot. The creative act is usually comforting to me, and gives me the sensation of being productive.
I have, in fact, have been making generally crappy food. A few observations.
Do not leave eggplant skin on to make roasted eggplant puree. It is bitter and horrible. No added ingredients will cancel it out. Forego the fiber, you psycho. Toss the skin!
Turning a chicken nuggets recipe into a summer squash nuggets recipe will not work. Squash and chicken do not in fact have a lot in common.
The leftover egg wash from an unsuccessful batter experiment (see above) will not successfully turn into a mini-batch of peanut butter cookies. They will taste like egg and little else.
1/4 of a cup of molasses is not sufficient sweetener for an entire dozen muffins. It doesn’t matter if you add naturally sweet (and taking up cupboard space) prunes.
If one sweet potato doesn’t seem like enough to produce a thick soup with your huge amount of vegetable stock, it isn’t. And then you’ll have to keep flinging in/pureeing more vegetables. And boiling the soup vigorously in the hopes that evaporation will help you.
A cure to this general lunacy that befell me right after my job ended (before my bonanza of vacations, which is now unfortunately over, began) was distracting myself.
On one Saturday, this began with taking a fifteen mile bike ride.
The second thing was to hang with the Best Friend. In a matter of 24 hours, I finished with Americorps, my boyfriend left town for the weekend, and my family took off on a family trip… sans me. Thank God Lydia was here! (TGLWH!)
Both being fans of both cooking and economizing (have you heard, I’m unemployed?), we made dinner together.
To begin with, a HIGHLY delicious stuffed pepper (the peppers- which were local- I have my boyfriend to thank for, since he gifted me his farmer’s market produce before he left for Chicago).
Sauteed onions and shrooms in a healthy amount of oil. Added almost a packet of Goya sazon, a bunch of jarred marinara sauce, and some cooked LENTILS and BARLEY. Mmm mm!
Then glazed them with a highly ghetto mixture of more of the marinara sauce, ketchup, and the last of the sazon, and baked ‘em at 400 til tender.
Go figure, this was great. It was sort of based on David’s lentils, which his Peruvian mama taught him to make, which he said he did just by cooking lentils and adding a whole bunch of fried onion halfway through plus some Goya adobo. So that, stuffed in something.
I have never been a bit ketchup fan, and kind of just made the glaze as an afterthought to keep the filling from drying out, but go figure: it was great. Nice and sweet and tangy, a perfect complement to the earthy flavors within.
The lentil mixture was wonderful and filling and hearty. So much so that neither of us felt the need to eat all that much. Which meant leftovers!
The sweet potato soup was the aforementioned broth mishap. Still, it involved cumin and cinnamon, and who doesn’t love those? It ended up tasty, if thin.
The best part of these pictures is that I was getting a really annoying reflection off the soup, so Lydia held up a towel behind the table, blocking the late day sun, so I could get this shot. She is a champ.
Then I had a powerful, POWERFUL hankering for frozen yogurt. But also wanted to go out for a walk in the beyootiful weather. So that meant walking to Little Korea; the Korean bakeries can usually be counted on to have frozen yogurt or some delightful frozen concoction (more on that in a bit!)
Went into one and admired the usual splendor…
This one was noteworthy for having, like… a painting made of bread!
And also a hilarious cake that had every sort of bizarre cake topper ever- at the same time- piled ato pit. Reclining baby… American flag… animals… vehicles… balloons.
We ended up splitting some BINGSOO!
You pay a fortune for what is essentially ice that has been put in a blender but goodness it’s tasty.
First of all, it arrives looking like something out of Alice in Wonderland
And you dig in to what is described as just “fruit” bingsoo and discover all kinds of delightful things!
vanilla ice cream
The combination was not something I’d have ever come up with but was FANTASTIC.
Also felt pleasantly hydrated at the conclusion of the evening (Lydia kept having brain freezes :D)
The evening concluded with my favorite episode of Freaks and Geeks (“Lady… when I’m with you, I’m smiling!”) and lots of playing with Sheila.
This is impossible for me to resist.
I approached lunch the next day with “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.
If life gives you not-sweet-enough muffins, melt them into porridge! I made crumbled-up-muffin-mush the same way I’d make oats- I thin sliced and cooked down half a banana in a pot, added muffin and milk/water combo, and cooked down til thick and rich.
It was REALLY GOOD. A good muffin rescue technique, take note.
When life gives you sub-par watermelon (as it has, in fact, for me basically all summer), make what I’ll call (though someone who’d had the real deal would probably be iffy on) “watermelon agua fresca”. Watermelon. Lime juice. Blender. Refreshing bliss.
And when life gives you uncertain times, make comfort food. For me, tomato sauce and poached eggs are prime example. I cut up a tomato, threw it in a saucepan, and cooked it down speedy to make a quick tomato sauce. Then I poached an egg in that tomato sauce, and sprinkled fresh basil all over the top. It was great!
Plus tea. Lunch. With a placemat, at a leisurely pace. I need to appreciate these things.