Tired Eating

Tired ... But Not Too Tired To Eat Ice Cream
Photo by dmhergert

I started a new job this week. This new job, as it happens, requires a lot of hands on time with WordPress, so if you stop by this site and things look weird, it’s likely because I’m testing something here before putting it on an Important Library Server Or Something.

So yeah, this new job. I’m busy. A lot busier than I’ve been at work – with few small exceptions – since leaving GW two years ago. I have a lot to think about and work on, I attend a fair amount of meetings, and by the time I get home, I am zonked. Like, ready to go to bed at 7:30 zonked. Like, so much for a solid workout routine (missed 2 days each in January and February, then 2 days THIS WEEK SO FAR) and so much for making dinner. I apologize that I haven’t blogged, but honestly, my meals have looked like this:

Monday dinner: crackers, havarti, carrots and ranch dressing, roasted squash, hot chocolate. Most of this was consumed while Shane was working out, as I could NOT wait until 7-8 when he was done.
Tuesday dinner: Shane was at the shop, so I had post-workout carrots, crackers, string cheese, toasted tortilla, steamed carrots (yes, carrots x2) and ranch dressing. BIG bowl of ice cream after teaching.
Wednesday dinner: We used our buy-one-get-one coupons for Chipotle for burrito bowls full of carnitas and other good stuff. I ate half of mine, saved the rest for lunch, and ate a bunch of chips instead.
Thursday dinner: grocery store takeout (chicken tenders, pasta salad, small piece of chicken parmesan), crackers, carrots, pepparkakor.

Here’s hoping that next week brings more energy and less stress, especially since I’ll have my on campus teaching behind me and a full ten days until I have to teach again. Man, I’m tired. And hungry.


A Week of Bachelor Eating

I could tell you all of the pathetic meals I dreamed up while Shane was gone.  We hadn’t totally restocked the fridge, and I wasn’t totally in cooking mode yet.  I went to Ferndale for a half day, and then had houseguests for three nights.  My meal planning went something like this:

  1. Open the fridge.  Stare at the contents.
  2. Open the crisper drawers.  Move a few things around.
  3. Open the cabinet.  Stare at the contents.
  4. Return to the fridge.  Complain to the cats that I didn’t want to eat anything in the fridge.

And so it went for nearly a week while Shane ate his fill of schnitzel and weird vegetable terrines, with the occasional good meal sandwiched between a lot of odd conference food.  One night I had yogurt, a pear, and peanut butter toast for dinner.  Another night my Couchsurfers treated me to dinner at the Roadhouse, where I had excellent, if overly mustardy, pulled pork and we split two desserts three ways:

Roadhouse Dessert

After the Roadhouse dinner, I was determined to get my ass back in the kitchen, so I pressed a block of tofu overnight and made this:

Proof that I did cook at least once while Shane was gone

For the tofu:
16 oz package extra-firm tofu
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, one crushed, the other thinly sliced

Press the tofu in the fridge overnight to get rid of excess moisture. Slice into 8-10 slices of roughly equal sizes, then marinate in the remaining ingredients for 30 minutes to one hour, then broil until cooked through and golden, about 10 minutes on each side.

For the sprouts:
1-2 cups fresh brussels sprouts, halved, stem end removed
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp butter

In a medium saute pan, melt the butter, then add the garlic and saute until golden. Add your sprouts and cook over medium heat until a little golden and a little wilted. I find it’s helpful to cover the sprouts to help them sweat a bit. Yum yum.

I also had a great squash idea, involving one acorn squash and some leftover pancetta:

green tomato, acorn squash, other squash all home grown
Photo by burtonwood + holmes

Preheat your oven to 375. Take a small acorn squash. Cut it in half with a sharp knife. It’s probably safest to cut off the top so that you have a flat surface and the squash doesn’t rock around. Place your squash halves on a baking sheet and add a spoonful of brown sugar to each half. Top each half with a thin slice of pancetta, then place in the oven. Forget about it for an hour or so until your house smells amazing. The pancetta will be crispy, and the interior of the squash flavorful from the rendered fat and the brown sugar. You might want a pinch of salt, but that’s about all you’ll need.

Long story short: I’m glad Shane’s home and that we can go back to eating like civilized people.

0824 Pasta and a Simple Tomato Sauce

I brought home another five pounds of tomatoes from the garden on Sunday.  The Romas were set aside for roasting and for last night’s goulash, but the rest went into a small but fantastic batch of pasta sauce:

Garden Tomatoes

They simmered and sweat away in our big stock pot until the juice rendered out, then I ran them through the food mill to remove the skins and seeds.  A few more minutes in the pot with a handful of herbs from the front bed, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be freezing this batch of sauce.

It was too good to wait.  I stirred a ladleful into my macaroni Sunday night, and it was fantastic.  Shane’s went out to dinner with a friend, so tonight I had a simple dinner of linguine, a bit of goat cheese, and a generous amount of the beautiful sauce.  There’s half a cup left, and I’m tempted to just sop it up with the rest of the no-knead bread.

0820 Big Bowl of Kale

Big bowl of kale

Recipe for a good solo dinner:

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Thinly slice two large cloves of garlic and add to the oil, moving around until golden.  Wash, stem, and shred as much kale as you happen to have in the fridge.  Shake out the excess water, then add to the pan.  If you have a lid that fits – or that kind of fits, or that at least covers your pile of kale – cover the kale and let it sweat a little, removing the lid and moving the kale around every so often.  Eat while reading cookbooks and planning the next week’s meals, then go for ice cream later.

0817 Tomato Toast and Corn on the Cob

We had planned to have grilled chicken with another batch of that delicious cilantro pesto – but Shane and Aaron’s moped work ran long, and I ate solo instead.

I’ve never been intimidated by eating solo.  I’m not sure why this is.  I’ve always relished the experience of going to a restaurant, ordering whatever I want, eating it at my leisure, and lingering over a glass of wine and a good book.  Sometimes it’s lonely, but most of the time, it’s a lovely and indulgent experience.  I can probably say this because I’m in a relationship and eating solo is the exception rather than the rule – but this was the case even when I was single.

At home, though, solo eating is more of a mixed bag.  Sometimes I’m eating down the fridge, making bizarre-o meals out of whatever’s available.  Sometimes I forget to eat.  Sometimes I prepare elaborate dishes.  Tonight was somewhere in between – an ear of extra juicy sweet corn with a pat of butter so tempting that Mina kept stealing it, followed by tomatoes on toast with a good pinch of fleur de sel.  And then, later, a small bowl of Cheerios, a convenient snack while knitting and watching TV.

0723 Fast Food (sigh)

Let’s not talk about how terribly I ate today, OK?  Too many cocktails + painfully hot weather + a solo evening while Shane was braving frighteningly foul weather at the 13th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival equals a hungry and unmotivated E.  It was the kind of night that required ice cream, knitting and a lot of crime drama reruns.  All of those things happened, but healthy eating did not.

0603 Solo Eats

Shane left for DC tonight, so I’ll be dining solo for a few days.  This will mean one of two things: I will either go out for meals by myself, taking my book as company, or I’ll eat incredibly weird things at home.

I like to think the latter tendency is a brown-eyed trait – my dad has always been good at making weird piles of leftovers or using up the last of a couple of boxes of cereal when left to his own devices.  When I cobble together meals like this, as I often do when Shane is away, I feel like I’m both a kitchen martyr, taking one for the team so that food doesn’t go to waste, and also a super homemaker, making a meal out of things that would otherwise likely be thrown away.

Tonight I fell somewhere in between.  I grabbed a bite of take-out on the way home from the Flint airport – not enough for a full meal, but enough to tide me over – and then had a snacky dinner of a biscuit and blanched asparagus, followed by a few strawberries and part of a banana.  While making granola later, I snacked on pecans and dried cranberries.  In total, I think I had a real meal, but it was spread out into bits and pieces over the course of a couple of hours.  We’ll see if my meals get better or worse from here.

0129 Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Did I have dinner?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  I don’t have much of anything to do at work these days, which often leads to boredom masquerading as hunger.  Combine that with an office kitchen that frequently overflows with snacks and is located three feet from my cubicle, and you’re in for danger.  Today was another one of those GET THE WORK SNACKS AWAY FROM ME days, so I wasn’t hungry when I got home at 4:30, and then had plans to attend the Ann Arbor Folk Festival with my friend Amy.  I had a handful of grapes on the way out the door, and then found myself starving at 11:30 when I dropped her off after hours of really wonderful music.  So if I did have dinner, it was the chicken nuggets I ate in the car at midnight.  Not a meal worth waxing poetic over, I’m afraid.

On the other hand, the Ann Arbor Folk Festival was a real treat.  Amy came into tickets unexpectedly, and I was pleased to be her +1 on a bitterly cold night.  The Folk Festival is an annual event sponsored by The Ark, an intimate downtown venue of some renown in folk music circles.  This year the festival celebrated its 33rd year – previous years have featured such folk luminaries as Pete Seeger, Stan Rogers, John Prine, Sweet Honey in the Rock,  and Ani DiFranco.  I hadn’t heard of most of the artists we saw on Friday – Michigan band (who need to update their website) Nervous but Excited, dude-with-a-guitar who kept dedicating his songs “to the ladies”  Jer Coons, fun “urban roots” band Po’ Girl, the very stompy Hoots & Hellmouth, and southern rock-infused Band of Heathens – but enjoyed being exposed to a bunch of new music I definitely wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.  Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab) and Jay Farrar (of Son Volt) primarily played songs from the soundtrack they did for a Jack Kerouac documentary released last year – the music was moody, and while I haven’t seen the documentary, I can imagine it pairing quite well with the depicted period of Kerouac’s life.

The highlight of the evening for me, however, was a solo acoustic performance by Sam Beam of Iron and Wine – who Shane, by the by, had run into at our newest coffee obsession, Comet Coffee, earlier in the day.  This was my third time seeing Iron and Wine, and I have to say that this was the performance I’ve been waiting for.  Bonnaroo 2008 was pretty amazing, and seeing them at Rams Head LIVE! was something special, but stripped down, acoustic, just Sam and a guitar in the spotlight – so much better.  He played a number of songs from Our Endless Numbered Days and the In the Reins EP – two of my favorites – as well as current and new music.  It was such a wonderful performance and a wonderful way to end the evening – if only we hadn’t had to bundle up and go out into the 5 degree weather to go home.

0101 Leftover Indian

We were both sick in the days leading up to New Years – also our anniversary – so instead of trying to be overly festive, we made a list of things we like to do together and tried to do as many of them as we could in 24-48 hours. For dinner, we got takeout from Madras Masala, a totally serviceable Indian restaurant near campus.  By the time we got home, we were both ravenous, and tucked in to fragrant plates of mattar paneer, savory garlic naan, and crunchier-than-expected paneer kulcha.  While we both enjoy preparing meals, there’s something decadent about takeout on a night when you aren’t rushed, when cooking at home is a realistic option but not the one you’ve chosen.

Tonight Shane is in Ohio and I am solo for dinner, so I warmed up the leftovers in a favorite bowl and ate them while working on a crossword.