my moleskin is currently littered with half-recipes, disjointed thoughts & incomplete lists of ingredients for said half-recipes. try as i may to keep track of what i put in my face, the past few months have been too much of a whirlwind for any diligence or organization of that sort. there’s that whole graduating law school thing (assuming i survive finals – all five of them) i’m about to do. my friends & i also just completed training & racing in our second half marathon last weekend. i’ve been compulsively applying for jobs in wisconsin after turning down what would have been a wonderful gig in michigan. my heart is here – half of it in milwaukee, studying to be a doctor, the other half rooted firmly in the damp, springy earth of this lovable town.
although i haven’t stopped cooking, my impulse lately has not been to write. instead, when i get a free moment, i’d rather roll out the door with a yoga mat & land in a muggy room, strangely unbothered by the natural scents of other, unfamiliar humans, unfettered by chemical-ridden perfumes & deodorants. it’s not that people don’t wear them; more that they don’t stand a chance next to the fire you light inside yourself as you flow through asanas for an hour or longer, your muscles growing soft & malleable as dough, toxin-laden sweat seeping out of your skin like syrup through a pancake.
on other days, when turning inward seems daunting–my breaths short & irregular, my mind laced with chaotic, discomforting thoughts–i look outside. i lace up my running shoes & take to the great outdoors, feet settling into a comforting rhythm as they pound the pavement, lungs pulling & pushing fresh air in & out, eyes drinking in expansive views of the city from across lake mendota. i’m right there, in the city, looking across the small lake at the perfect dome of the capitol building, but also so far removed as i watch a row of pastel yellow ducklings trail along the shore in a line behind their mother. sometimes i break my stride to avoid crushing a baby turtle barely larger than the quarters you might feed to the parking meter i’m sure exists a mere five minute’s walk from here. yin & yang. balance. what i love about this city, this life i have here.
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instead of a single recipe, i’ll leave you with a list of things my stomach’s been breaking down. i’m sorry for the lack of focus, but there are so many great things i’d like to share with you & not enough time to write the post each one deserves.
-in february, i made an embarrassing number of batches of this chicken khao soi soup (a thai version of chicken noodle). nathan & i were smitten. the colors & smells of the paste you pulse through a food processor will be enough to get you inhaling & moaning “mmm’mmm” every five seconds until it’s done: bright green cilantro, golden turmeric, dried chilies, pungent shallots & fresh garlic. oh my. i might have to make it again soon, just thinking of it.
-also in february, i made some wonderful squash & black bean enchiladas. i didn’t write down what i did, but i remember cutting up an entire butternut squash & adding a can or two of black beans. i then sauteed onion, garlic, some kind of pepper & a mix of cumin, coriander, chili powder & cayenne before adding it to the slow cooker. cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 on low. spread half a double batch of homemade enchilada sauce (i added cocoa to mine for sweet undertones to contrast the smokey chipotle flavor i love in my sauce) in the bottom of two 9×13 glass casserole dish & spoon filling into corn tortillas. spread the remaining sauce on top of the enchiladas, being sure to spread it between enchiladas. top with cheese, fresh jalapeno, cilantro & green onion. bake on 350 for maybe 15-20 minutes or until warmed throughout & the cheese topping is melted. these guys freeze quite wonderfully. i ate batch 2 a month later.
-another february favorite was kimchi fried rice: take about a cup of brown rice (leftover works best, as it is more dry) & saute it in a bit of hot oil over medium high heat for a few minutes. add a handful of greens (my choice is usually kale), green onion or two, & half a cup of kimchi. douse with a generous splash of soy say & perhaps a touch or nine of sriracha. saute for a minute or so, until greens wilt. scrape everything to the side of the pan, turn the heat down low, add a bit more oil then scramble an egg. fold it into your mixture & devour that sh*t.
-last month, was my birthday. my friends & i celebrated by trying the pizza at greenbush bar in the greenbush neighborhood around regent street. all i can say is that i’m sad i didn’t experience it sooner. i’ll definitely be hitting them up again, even though i am the queen of making my own za. that’s how you know it’s good, when i’ll pay for something i can make at home.
-later in march, i went to san juan with my father & brother. we had fun eating our way through the city. our favorite restaurants were marmalade, trois cent onze, dragonfly & la piccola fontana. la piccola fontana, a wonderful italian restaurant, was my favorite. i had the seafood tasting menu with white wine pairings. mmm. take me back!
-lentils & chickpeas. after all the heavy eating i did in san juan, when i came back it was time for some healthful & detoxifying vegan meals. i enjoyed spicy lentil wraps with tahini dipping sauce, inspired by the kitchn. instead of bulgur, i used quinoa. instead of cabbage, i sliced cucumbers. i also added half an avocado to the dipping sauce.
i also made this lentil chickpea salad with tahini dressing from smitten kitchen. i used dried spices as i don’t have time or patience to buy whole spices & grind them & toast them. the result was still divine.
-pesto. another recent homemade staple at my place. a handful of green of your choice (spinach, kale or a combo of the two is my go-to), a large spoonful of nuts (i like walnut), a drizzle of olive oil, sometimes a sprinkle of parmesan, salt, pepper, a few whirs of a food processor & bam. you have a sauce for pizzas, pastas & sandwiches that you’ll be licking off your fingers more eagerly then a dog going at a nearly empty jar of peanut butter. it’s like christmas.
-pizza. this is my go-to recipe. it is easy as pie. no pun intended. i make four batches at once & divide the final mass of dough into 8 small balls. i wrap & freeze them, thawing whenever my heart desires that pizza stuff. my favorite kinds of za lately are (1) red sauce, mozz + goat cheese, sliced button mushrooms & red onion (2) pesto or olive oil spiked with garlic & salt, a sprinkle of mozz + goat cheese, avocados, asparagus & artichokes. i like to roll the dough out super thin so it’s crispy – i heat the oven to the max (i have a gas oven though, not electric) then bake for around 7-8 minutes.
-quinoa salads. i have oh she glows to thank for that. nothing says spring quite like a chilled quinoa salad with colorful fresh vegetables. i made this whole-foods inspired 7-layer salad the night before our half marathon (leaving out the wheat berries since i knew we’d be having a lot of other carby dishes at our carbo-loading potluck). it is hard to resist the bright colors of this salad, the satisfying crunch of carrots & peppers & the sweet orange juice dressing that packs a ginger kick.
-for nathan’s birthday i made warm spring salad with quinoa, peas (nathan’s fav), asparagus & leeks. i happily ate the leftovers cold all week. we made this lemon-lime pie with a salty cracker crust & homemade pretzels for appetizers, some salty & some garlicky. nathan insisted on eating all of them before he left that weekend. we weren’t freezing the leftover dough, he explained, because i would eat it without him. the guy knows me too well, what can i say?
-last sunday morning i rose early, still on a runner’s high from the morning before & made my own granola. i used this guide as a base, leaving out seeds & dried fruit. i sweetened with 1/4 cup of honey & a touch of brown sugar. i also added some vanilla extract (1 or 2 tsp, can’t remember) along with the sweetener. my spice of choice was cinnamon. i’ve been enjoying it on greek yogurt with fresh fruit all week. i may never go back to buying the stuff.
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have a wonderful weekend. hope to be back with a real post soon!