Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Look who finally cooked again!

I know it's been a while, but new demands on my time (mainly the new job I started a couple of weeks ago) plus school have made it hard for me to spend time on the computer for recreation - or cook as per usual.  So, updates will probably be scant through the end of April, but I appreciate your patience and look forward to being able to both cook and blog again more often!

Truth be told, the next time I cooked after the last post was a massive fail.  I had this idea that a soybean cassoulet might be a really good idea, and it really wasn't.  The first mistake was putting the soybeans in the slow cooker: that alone, on the low setting, took three days, with onions, carrots and rosemary added on the last day, and it really didn't taste good at all.  Luckily it was vegan, because some of it ended up in the compost bin.  That cured me of my momentary fascination with the dried soybean.  For most of the next week or two, I just ate frozen dinners or made simple spinach salads followed by wine and cheese for dinner. 

When it started warming up again and I realized I had some week-old lemons and an untouched package of celery of indeterminate age in the fridge, it seemed like a good time to try out a new pasta salad recipe.  Twisty egg noodles from Wal-Mart, two chopped tomatoes, a tablespoon of capers, chopped celery and onion sauteed in olive oil (just enough to soften them, but not enough to get rid of all their crunch), a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, dried Italian herbs and pepper.  Mix it all together, chill for two hours and add shredded or shaved Parmesan to taste (try 1/2 cup to start).

More recently, I reprised the easy vegetarian cassoulet recipe, only I made it vegan by substituting nutritional yeast (2 tablespoons) for the cheese and used veggie base to make the broth.  This recipe took care of some chopped onion left over from another recipe as well as the remaining celery.  Sometimes I'm afraid to do vegan too often, lest my flirtation with veganism cause me to have a B-12 deficiency, but the yeast takes care of that.  Read here for more on that.

And most recently, an untouched bag of baby spinach from Publix inspired a pasta dish based on my favorite spinach salad: whole wheat linguine cooked al dente, 6 ounces (about 2/3 of a bag) chopped fresh spinach cooked in olive oil, juice from half a lemon, a pinch of nutmeg, and crumbled feta and fresh ground pepper added at the end.  Mix it all together, and voila!  This tasted great, but I was chagrined to see the spinach turn brown when I added the lemon juice to the hot pan before it was done cooking.  It also brought back memories of the childhood invisible ink trick - write something in lemon juice, let it dry, then run a hot iron over the piece of paper and watch it turn brown.  Oh, well - next time I'll just drizzle it on at the end like I would with the salad. 

Another reason I haven't knocked myself out to cook as often is that - aside from Steve easing up on the produce purchases and the fact that I never shop if I can help it - they actually have decent food where I work now, and it's easy to think to myself, Self, a bowl of veggie soup is just two bucks downstairs.  But as long as I have raw materials, I'll be doing my best to use them rather than make lunch from cash. 

Until next time...

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