0225 Impromptu Egg Mess

Tonight we prepped at SELMA, where I peeled potatoes for 90 minutes and Shane dealt with some totally gross squash with a level of grace and composure that made me very impressed and proud. I promised him we’d leave at 8 so that he could watch his basketball game, so instead of sharing the communal meal, we found ourselves hungry and with a dwindling stock of useful foodstuffs for a quick meal.

I’ve yet to master the omelet, but I long ago perfected the ‘egg mess’. I was introduced to the egg mess by a high school friend after three of us had spent an afternoon building a monster, scrubbing paint out of each other’s hair, and generally doing the sorts of silly things that seem like a good idea when you’re a 16 year old weirdo. All that silliness made us hungry, so Adam made an egg mess – kind of like an omelet, but less precise.

So in honor of Adam, Emmi, and that long-lost monster, tonight’s dinner was an egg mess, and a damned fine one at that. A handful or two of spinach, an onion, and a Roma tomato sauteed in butter. A couple of eggs beat together, then poured into the warm pan and moved around until just barely cooked through. A few slices of Margaret’s Sweet Wheat, dug out of the freezer and toasted. Fast and delicious.

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0224 Crock Pot Azorean Spiced Beef Stew

I got smart this time and did the prep for this stew when we got home from the movies Tuesday night – as if the workday’s worth of anticipation wasn’t enough to drive us mad with hunger.  This stew was amazingly flavorful – savory, with a subtle sweetness from the cinnamon sticks that spent all day in a delicious bath of beef stock.  I like eating from this part of the world – the heartiness and subtlety of Iberian food appeal to me in ways that the richness of French cooking or the wide range of Italian cuisine don’t.  Maybe it’s the Camino.  Maybe it’s chorizo.  Maybe I’m just a pork-and-potatoes kind of girl.  Either way, we’ll be making this stew again.

Recipe:
Crock Pot Azorean Spiced Beef Stew from A Year of Slow Cooking

Beers + Beards

Handsome Beer(s) Man

Just thought I’d mention that Shane’s been hard at work on two projects, one of which is entering its third month, the other of which is newly hatched and already quite fun:

  • 100 Beers of 2010 – in which he is trying and reviewing new beers.  We figured that he had two solid months’ worth of unique beers in his stash.  If you like good beer and are interested in trying new things, I’d highly recommend his reviews.
  • BeardHype – which celebrates ‘the fetishization of vinyl, beer, posters, clothes, whatever.’ – basically your quintessential Shane interests.  Fun, frequently updated, and visually stimulating.

0223 On Leftovers

When we lived in Virginia, Shane frequently went out for lunch with his coworkers, so when a meal produced leftovers, I’d be stuck eating it for a few days.  Since we’ve moved to A2, we’ve been diligent about planning for leftovers and brown-bagging our lunches.  I don’t know what Shane’s lunch spending was like, but I’m confident that we’re saving both time and money, while also probably eating better lunches than previously (though GMU had a pretty spectacular cafeteria).

All of this is to say that tonight we had a dinner plan, but then I was tired and Shane was hungry, and it was just easier to warm up bowls of last night’s soup with a few slices of bread.  The soup was even better the second day, as is often the case with leftovers.

0222 Chicken Soup for a Snowy Day

This morning started with just about the best mood one can ask for on a Monday. I was happy, I had a delicious bagel for breakfast, and I was out the door on time. And then I took a hard fall on my ass on the icy driveway, and spent the rest of the morning lying prone on the couch with Hello Kitty ice packs in my underpants.

All of this is to say that it’s a good thing we hadn’t planned anything elaborate for dinner.  In fact, it was just about as simple as it could be.  During one of my trips out of bed in search of ibuprofen, I put last night’s chicken in the stock pot with a bunch of water and let it simmer away for the rest of the afternoon, warming up the house and making everything fragrant.  When we got hungry later in the evening, I sauteed some carrots, garlic, and onion along with leftover chicken and some corn from the freezer, then added broth and Israeli couscous.  The soup could’ve used  more flavor, but it was warm and comforting, and that’s just what we needed on a day when the snow would not end.

0221 Chicken in Milk

We were both pretty suspicious of this recipe, but when The Kitchn mentioned it in a round-up of roast chicken recipes, I figured it was worth a try, especially since we had all of the ingredients on hand.

This is a weird recipe.  I have to say it.  It’s just weird.  I mean, a good part of the joy of roasting a chicken is the crispy and flavorful skin, not to mention the gorgeous rendered fat for gravy or roasting veg.  None of those things made an appearance in this recipe.  Instead, the chicken is briefly browned on all sides, then roasted in a bath of milk, lemon zest, garlic, and sage leaves.  This process yields an impossibly moist and tender chicken – in a fragrant but weirdly lumpy sauce.  And let me tell you, ‘weirdly lumpy’ is not a characteristic I like in my meals.

Frankly, with all the good roast chickens out there, I see no reason to make this one again.  Weirdly lumpy indeed!

Oh yes, and I should mentioned that we braised more brussels sprouts, devoured them, and had to rochambeau for the leftovers.  I won!

Recipe:
Chicken in Milk from Happy Days with the Naked Chef

0220 Wedding Update & Lunch at Mia + Grace

We’ve waffled a great deal about wedding plans – in part because our living and working situations have changed dramatically since we first got engaged, in part because our families are in different cities and have very different life situations, and in part because we just couldn’t come up with a plan that worked for everyone while still making US happy.  We toyed with eloping, and it was that line of brainstorming that led to Lake Michigan beach towns, which led to Muskegon.  Why would we decide to get married in a town that we’d never visited?  Because of views like this:

To the Lighthouse

SO that’s what we’re going to do.  Lake Michigan and gorgeous lighthouses in the background.  No backup plan.  No changing plans again, because if we do, we’re going to the courthouse, and no one’s allowed to get mad at us.  It’s going to be incredibly small and relaxed, and then over the summer we’re hoping to have receptions in Illinois and Ohio so that our many loved ones can celebrate with us.

We took a much-needed and belated daytrip to Muskegon today to scout out wedding locations and test-eat the restaurant where we’d like to have dinner that night.  We tromped around in the snow on the beach, took a lot of photos, and sort of squinted our eyes to imagine what it’ll be like in two months.  We walked on the icy sea wall all the way out to the lighthouse, where I freaked Shane out a bit by clambering around to investigate a giant ice formation.  All that walking and wintery lake air fanned the flames of our peckishness, so we were both pleased to find Mia + Grace quickly and to almost as quickly have beverages in front of us and delicious smells wafting towards the table.

The owners and chefs of Mia + Grace espouse a farm-to-table orientation, which is demonstrated in the list of farm friends on the butcher paper menus on the walls.  This orientation towards supporting local agriculture was one of the things that really drew us to the restaurant – and also made us wish that Mia + Grace were in OUR neighborhood rather than several hours away.  I had the butcher’s plate, which today featured house-made mortadella, salami, a spicy sausage, and duck rillettes with delicious toast points, a ridiculously large and peppery cracker, and onion jam.  I’m not a big fan of mortadella – meat with things in it has always struck me as weird – but the duck rillettes in particular blew me away – savory, creamy, sweet, and impossibly rich.  Shane had the spaghetti and meatballs, with hand-rolled pasta and pork and beef meatballs cooked slowly in a sweet tomato sauce.   I regret not being hungry enough to try any of the amazing desserts – but look forward to being able to do so on a special occasion coming soon.

For Keeps

0219 Your Breakfast Suggestions!

So all this week, I’ve been trying out some of your breakfast suggestions.  I wish I could say I’m applying some level of scientific rigor to the process of determining what will keep me full between the hours of 7:30am and noon, but really, I’m just eating whatever sounds appealing from your suggestions, drinking my coffee, and then trying not to snack.  So far I have tried:

  • Multigrain Cheerios with blueberries that we picked and froze in the fall.  The prescribed serving size for Cheerios is one cup at 110 calories – not enough, so I had 1.5 cups with milk and the berries, and felt full until late morning.
  • Peanut butter toast and strawberry yogurt.  Too many calories for not enough full.
  • Steel-cut oats, soaked overnight, with dried cranberries and brown sugar.  It’s been brought to my attention that perhaps I don’t know what steel-cut oats are supposed to be like when cooked – my friend Erin followed my preparation method and said her oats were gross and uncooked.  I think next week I’m going to have to try a longer preparation so that I can see what I’ve been missing.

Stay tuned for more breakfast updates – and I gotta say, I’m jealous of how well many of you eat in the mornings.

0218 Pasta, Pesto, Salad

I thought it might be a good idea to go running Wednesday night since the temperature appeared to be above freezing.  And by ‘above freezing’, what I mean is that it was 33.  And oh, did my lungs and knees pay the price!  I spent all of today on the couch or in bed sleeping and generally feeling really uncomfortable.  All of this is just my way of telling you that we had no dinner plan – and definitely not one that I was in any shape to execute.

In Jamie’s Dinners, Jamie Oliver presents a set of foundational recipes that can then be used in a variety of meals – pesto is one of these dishes, and it has served us well.  When I picked up basil for Sunday’s polenta, the options were .4 ounces for $2.99 or 5 ounces for $4.99, so I bought the larger package and made up a bunch of pesto with the leftovers earlier in the week.  That pesto made for a quick and delicious pasta dinner accompanied by a salad with sun-dried tomatoes.  Sometimes simple and easy is also just right.

Recipe:
Pesto from Jamie’s Dinners