March Eats (and drinks!)

We gave up restaurant dining* for Lent, so you’d think I would have a bunch of new recipes to share here! Instead, we’ve gotten into a comfortable groove with some of the favorites from the last two months – we’ve made the 1-pot curry a couple of times – multiple times in a week, in fact, because the recipe doesn’t use up an entire can of curry paste, and since it only lasts about a week in the fridge (and we love it so), we’ll make it again within a few days. We have roasted vegetables with awesome sauce** and a starch (generally quinoa or brown rice) on the regular. And we’ve been making chococado pudding** a couple of times per week. N has also mastered an amazing and simple marinara that serves as the base of an excellent puttanesca, though we’re both burned out on pasta at the moment.

So while it’s been a good month for cooking, it hasn’t been a great month for cooking new things.

1. Chocolate Cake with Date Frosting – My New Roots
I don’t get to bake very often – it’s better for us to not have treats in the house – but I like to use N’s birthday to make something sort of over-the-top. The My New Roots cookbook has a recipe for just such a cake, with layers of chocolate and blood orange and deep chocolate frosting. N (wisely) decided he didn’t need an entire cake, so I scaled down the chocolate cake recipe to make four cupcakes – the right amount for us after a treat-filled weekend. The blog post linked above is frankly more over-the-top than the cake itself, which, while delicious, was a little too wholesome for my birthday cake tastes – but this wasn’t my cake, and N was delighted, so we’ll mark this one a success.

2. New Brunswick – Serious Eats
While prepping last month’s Jeweled Rice, I kept thinking how nicely the aromatics would pair with whiskey. While the fresh mint and orange zest were gone long before we restocked the liquor shelf, I made use of other things we had on hand to try a few new cocktails. The New Brunswick made efficient use of the pink grapefruit that had been lingering on our counter – and is my new drink obsession, as it is a nice balance of sweet and tart.

3. Wild Rice Salad – My New Roots
This seemed really promising, but the soaked wild rice was just…weird. Normally I’m a fan of dishes that mix textures, but this wasn’t one of them. It was a little too creamy with not enough crunch.

Untitled

4. Baked Tofu
OK, this isn’t really a recipe so much as it is a different technique. I’ve never been super happy with my attempts to prepare tofu at home – sometimes the flavor is good, but the texture is almost always too soft for my liking. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve baked tofu a couple of times, and it’s SO MUCH BETTER. Baking cubed extra-firm tofu for 400F for 30-40 minutes yields chewy – maybe even a little crispy – cubes that are perfect for throwing in a salad or serving with roasted vegetables and awesome sauce. I’m super happy to have figured this out, and will be baking tofu like this ALL THE TIME going forward.

Weeknight color

* We gave up restaurant dining for Lent with a couple of caveats. First, N’s birthday always falls during Lent, which means that he almost always has to make an exception to whatever he’s given up in order to enjoy his birthday. This year was no exception to that rule – we went to Dusek’s and had a really wonderful dinner, though not quite as spectacular as my birthday dinner in January. Second, I had a few days of work travel about halfway through Lent, and while I could have technically avoided restaurants, trying new foods in different cities is one of my favorite things about travel. Third, we exempted meals/dishes that were already paid for via gift cards or other freebies since the intent was to save money. Finally, we exempted grocery store takeout since that’s often a weeknight sanity-saver on nights when we have to run errands and won’t otherwise have time to cook.

** I somehow haven’t talked about awesome sauce OR chococado pudding here. I will remedy that in another post.

This Week’s Reads (March 17, 2017)

A few engrossing things unrelated to politics this week.

‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death – The Guardian
A long and interesting read about the arrangements for the eventual death of Queen Elizabeth II in an era of British decline.

The Invention of ‘Heterosexuality’ – BBC
An interesting discussion of the construction of heterosexuality as a “normal”.

The Young Pope
A TV diversion! We finished The Young Pope this week. I picked up about halfway through the show, mostly as background noise while knitting, but found myself engrossed. After reading The Onion’s recaps, I want to go back and rewatch for all of the details I missed (and that whole business with the kangaroo).

Sarah & Duck
Another TV diversion, this one for littles and their parents. Sarah and her duck friend, Duck, have gentle and imaginative adventures, like setting up a shallot circus, or visiting a hotel for ducks. It’s hard to say who in our household is most excited to watch more.

This Week’s Reads (March 10, 2017)

When Your Greatest Romance is a Friendship – NYTimes
Cheating a bit with this one as it really should’ve been included in last week’s round-up. A touching, beautiful story of friendship which, like its flashier cousin, love, can be wildly chemical and, like love, can happen in an instant.

How to Undermine Trump – Jacobin Magazine
While the entire (brief) article is worth reading, I found the concluding paragraph particularly powerful as I continue to mull over this week’s Day Without Women:
[T]he nation’s cultural gestalt has shifted over the past century such that people identify more as consumers than as producers, more by what they own and buy than by what they do and make. This is unfortunate, because workers’ power is greater at the point of production than almost anywhere else. That power can and should be used to take on Trump’s agenda.

“The Best Revenge is Your Paper: Notes on Women’s Work – Los Angeles Review of Books
If you’re at all interested in emotional labor, gendered expectations and values around work, or the patriarchy, get thee to this article RIGHT NOW.

What Do We Do With the Clothing of Grief – Racked
This was devastating: We hold pain in our bodies and then cover those bodies with clothes, and in some strange osmosis the pain is drawn into the fabric and woven together with scent, time, and loss.

Republicans are now paying the price for a years-long campaign of Obamacare lies – Vox
Everything about repeal/replace hurts my head. The most recent version hurts my heart. This article does a great job of breaking down the statements, policies, and intentions behind the Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act, detailing how they’ve essentially painted themselves into a corner by making promises that can’t be fulfilled if they adhere to their party’s values. It’s all maddening and impossible.

You May Want to Marry My Husband – NYTimes
If you haven’t already read this love letter from a dying author about her remarkable husband, you probably should get your box of tissues ready.

This Week’s Reads (March 3, 2017)

This Mom Got Real About The Struggles Of Modern Motherhood – Refinery29
I read this on a morning when we were up at 5:07am with a massive diaper leak that required 6am laundry, which required planting the toddler in front of Lost and Found for ten minutes so that I could also clean up the kitchen enough to make desperately needed coffee as soon as it was reasonable to run the coffee grinder. I hate, hate, hate planting him in front of the TV, even highly vetted super sweet content, because I have this expectation that I should be able to manage him and all of the other balls that are up in the air. This article was a gentle reminder that it isn’t actually necessary to do all of those things simultaneously all the time – but sometimes it IS necessary, and ten minutes of TV isn’t the end of the world it means that IN ten minutes, I’m able to be more sane and present with my child.

#68 Vampire Rules – Reply All
Reply All is a podcast about the internet, and things related to the internet, and things only tangentially related to the internet. I started listening a couple of weeks ago and am currently working my way backward through the archive. This episode had me laughing on my commute, and then laughing at previous laughs, and then laughing some more. In it, the hosts try to figure out the backstory behind a creepy photo discovered on Tinder, which leads to a conversation about what’s acceptable in other people’s spaces, which leads to yes/yes/no, a feature in which the hosts challenge each others’ understanding of internet culture.

If you want to dip your toe into this podcast, may I also recommend #79 Boy in the Photo, which features the most amazing trolling that isn’t even remotely hateful, unlike most of the other trolling these days.

“We cannot find the bill”: inside the frantic hunt for the GOP Obamacare replacement – Vox
In case you needed another reminder that the leadership of our country is 100% cuckoo bananas.

February Eats

1. Red Blanket Sauce – My New Roots
We both love mole, but the mole options in our neighborhood, while delicious, are definitely not vegan-friendly. This spicy, rich, and warming recipe is a step in the right direction. We had the sauce over Ayocote Negro beans served in a roasted acorn squash (for the adults) or over cubed butternut squash (for the shape-obsessed toddler). The acorn squash was logistically difficult, and the sauce could’ve used more heat, but everything was delicious and will definitely be revisited.

2. Broccoli Falafel – She Likes Food
For my birthday dinner at Dusek’s, I had broccoli three ways – one of which was as falafel. I tried to replicate this at home after consulting a bunch of recipes. It – well, it didn’t work. The falafels dissolved when I dropped them in oil. They dried out in the oven. They crumbled when served with lemon tahini, a simple tomato salad, and arugula. Oh well – they looked pretty.

Broccoli

3. Oat Milk – Oh She Glows
Our Vitamix has opened up a world of possibilities for making our own versions of things at home. We regularly buy non-dairy milk, but making our own almond milk didn’t seem like it would be cost effective. Making our own oat milk, however, totally is. Steel cut oats – even organic ones – are cheap when purchased in bulk, and while most recipes call for additional sweeteners, all you really need is filtered water. This recipe calls for multiple rounds of rinsing and straining, but that isn’t strictly necessary either, particularly if you have a nut bag.

4. Red Velvet Pancakes – Chocolate Covered Katie
We don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day in our family, but since the toddler had cards and small gifts from other family members, I thought it might be nice to have a special breakfast treat. These pancakes were…OK. I was suspicious going in when both the fat and the sweetener were optional. I get it. She’s trying to make the pancakes “healthy”. I try to do that as well, and agree that often things are sweetened far beyond what’s strictly necessary. However, 2-3 tablespoons of optional ingredients in a baking recipe seems dicey when those ingredients aren’t mix-ins like dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. So I included the fat (sunflower oil) and the sweetener (coconut sugar), because otherwise what’s the point of a special breakfast treat. In the pan, they behaved somewhere between pancakes (bubbling in the middle) and cake (cracking when moved). They came out really thin and really in need of maple syrup. Everyone enjoyed them, but I don’t think I’ll make them again.

5. Eggplant Cannelloni with Sunflower “Meta Feta”
This recipe came from Sarah Britton’s new cookbook, Naturally Nourished, which is lovely but so far not as universally successful as her first book (which I’ve raved about endlessly here and elsewhere). This recipe was equal parts wonderful and – eh. We loved the sauce. We loved the rolled eggplant. We did not love the sunflower “meta feta”.

Seriously, Sarah Britton, what GIVES with the sunflower seed obsession? It’s not rice. It’s not cheese. It’s nothing like rice or cheese. There are plenty of other things that you can use in place of rice and cheese. Stop trying to make sunflower seeds happen.

We’ll make this again, but we’ll either use cheese (for me and the toddler) or crumbled seasoned tofu (for all of us).

Eggplant cannelloni with sunflower

6. Portabella “Pizzas”
Another recipe from Naturally Nourished. We had leftover sauce from the eggplant dish, so we used that instead of the fresh sauce recommended in the recipe. I added a handful of kalamata olives since we had them on hand, and a bit of grated cheese for me and the toddler. These were delicious, albeit a little tricky to eat. We’ll definitely make them again.

The recipe called for six portabella mushroom caps and claimed to serve 4 (or maybe 6) as an entree. 2 caps each left us hungry for the rest of dinner. One cap each would make a wonderful appetizer, not a substantial dinner, even for a toddler.

Portabella

7. Quinoa with Black Beans and Radish Salsa
Another Naturally Nourished recipe, though with no pictures or links, in part because this was made on the screamiest night of screamy toddler screaming that has ever been screamed. It was simple, hearty, and delicious: quinoa tossed with black beans and oven-roasted carrots, topped with a fresh salsa of radishes and shallots. Both recipes were straight forward and easy, though the yield in the salsa was way off – somehow 1.5 cups radishes + other ingredients was supposed to yield 1 cup of salsa. Hmm.

8. Twinkle Twinkle Jeweled Rice
This is such a beautiful, time intensive dish from Naturally Nourished. I halved the recipe and it still made a huge amount of rice. The orange zest overwhelmed the other flavors, including of the fresh herbs, so I’ll use maybe 1/4 of what is recommended the next time. I used currants, cherries, and raisins for the fruit and almonds and pistachios for the nuts.

Twinkle Twinkle Jeweled Rice

9. Golden Curry Coconut Dal
Another no-photo, no link recipe from Naturally Nourished made on a super hungry night with an overtired toddler and overly hungry parents. N was famished and devoured almost the entire recipe. The toddler asked for more – twice! The recipe indicates that this scales up and freezes well, so I imagine this will go into the weekend batch cooking rotation.

This Week’s Reads (February 24, 2017)

How Doctors Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously – The Atlantic
This is horrible and accurate. While you’re feeling angry at the medical establishment, may I suggest also listening to this three part series on Bad Medicine from Freakonomics Radio? The second episode is particularly relevant, as it discusses the role of women in drug and device trials.

The Sanders/Cruz Debate was the Best Political TV in Ages – Current Affairs
I wish I’d seen this debate, and wish that THE debates were structured more along these lines, requiring candidates to dive deep into issues that matter and allowing voters to get a better sense of the true qualifications of the people in whose hands we’re investing tremendous power.

Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber – Susan J. Fowler
As if you needed another reason to dump Uber, Fowler, a former engineer, goes into great detail about a corporate culture that facilitates and enables sexual harassment by looking the other way if the harasser is a rising corporate star and punishing the victim if she stands in the way of the company’s (or the harasser’s) advancement.