See that? That’s my one cup of coffee that I committed to yesterday. I nursed that cup for four hours, microwaved it three times, and resisted brewing a second one. For the rest of the day I drank hot water steeped with a nob of ginger. I keep a root on my counter which I snap off piece by piece into tea. I always try to find the ones at the market that have the most little nobs for this purpose – it’s like popping bubble wrap, but you get a whiff of spicy goodness at every snap! Sometimes I stir a spoonful of honey into my ginger water, but usually I just drink it straight-up.
On Wednesdays I work from home, it’s the day I have set for several morning calls, and I plan to tackle projects that require critical thinking with limited distraction. It’s wonderful for so many reasons – I find myself more productive than normal, it breaks up the week, and I find the quiet to be restorative. And I don’t have to wear pants.
I’ve been feeling a little bit under the weather this week, so I decided to feed myself comforting foods, take it easy, and hopefully ward off anything germy that could be brewing. Normally I head to the gym on Wednesday, but by mid afternoon I was exhausted, so I took a well-needed rest day.
Lunch was a pair of eggs fried in coconut oil, and topped with Trader Joe’s frozen vegetable curry. (This is one of my favorite items at Trader Joe’s – and generally, they do quite a good job on these frozen south asian meals. The ingredients are minimal, and the flavors well developed. I could rotate between this one, the Lamb Vindaloo, and the Butter Chicken for days.)
For dinner, I was craving something warm and filling. Last week, while trying out a few recipes from my newly acquired cookbook – Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese (by the lovely Stephanie and Garrett!), I loved the tomato soup in the book so much that I had to make a second batch. So tonight I decided to make meatballs – with ground beef from the butcher, salt, pepper, cinnamon and garlic powder, and simmer them for an hour in the tomato soup. I tossed in a large handful of orzo pasta, and let it bubble gently until cooked through.
Devon walked in the door right when dinner was ready, and we both loved this meal.
A friend in the gym today mentioned that her mayonnaise was breaking, and I felt for her. Truly, there’s nothing like a sauce that refuses to do what you want it to – which is almost always emulsify. I suspected that the Vitamix was the culprit here, so I mentioned my tried and true mayonnaise tool: the whir-whir! (That’s how I refer to my immersion blender. I’m fun like that.)
Here’s my usual recipe. It’s based on a dozen or more ideas for mayo that I’ve read here and there: Alice Waters, Tamar Adler, even J.Kenji Lopez-Alt, Patience Grey… everyone has a basic recipe. It’s a little un-traditional with that whole egg (read: lazy.)
Mayonnaise: It’s Easier Than You Think
When you go to your fridge and you are out of Mayonnaise, fret not. Take the little cup that comes with the immersion blender. Into it, crack a whole egg, preferably very fresh and from a reputable source, and at room temperature (having the oil and the egg at the same temperature helps promote emulsion). You aren’t cooking the egg, and a farm egg tastes so much better. Add a large spoonful of Dijon, a teaspoonful of vinegar, and lemon juice – about a half lemon’s worth. I always like Sherry vinegar, but you could use cider vinegar here, or rice wine vinegar, or maybe red wine vinegar. You could be minimal here – just the mustard and lemon juice, but I like the mix of acidity. And then you pour in your oil – between 3/4 and a cup. I try to use a fairly neutral oil. You could use half olive oil if you’d like, but full olive oil tastes incredibly olive-y and limits what you can actually do with this stuff. Here is the fun part. Stick the immersion blender in and whirr. Within about 20 seconds your mayo will come together. Usually I have to stir a little bit to get it going, but I’ll just blitz until I get to a good consistency, which for me, is slightly less firm than the store-bought stuff.
Optional twists: you could add a few cloves of finely minced or crushed garlic in here and it becomes an “aioli” of sorts. Or, you could add a handful of fresh herbs, or any variety of spice to taste.
Now that you have this stuff on your hands, here are some ideas of what to do with it:
1. Slather it on sandwiches.
2. Put a little dollop on top of eggs.
3. Serve with boiled or braised meats.
4. Place a generous spoonful on a bowl of cooked vegetables.
5. Make a raw vegetable salad with it. I like this recipe for “Coronation Cauliflower“, a raw cauliflower salad.
6. Make some home made coleslaw.
7. Slather it on grilled chicken.
8. Make seafood salad with crab, avocado, and a squeeze of lemon.
Or eat with a spoon, by itself, every time you open the fridge. Don’t be ashamed.
I woke up under the weather. It was grey and raining, and I had a headache and that thing where your body says “Hey there, you better rest and take care of yourself or I’m going to make you miserable. Oh yes, you think I’m teasing you, just you wait.” I’m really, really hoping that I can shrug this before it turns into something. I’ve been resting and taking hippy remedies (spoonful of cider vinegar here and there, and crossing my fingers). In lieu of a photo of myself unwell, here is my friend Oso. This is what the morning looked like.
Very little work, movement, or life happened in the morning.
In the afternoon, I went to my kitchen to fix myself lunch. But first I set about on a little project – Nom Nom Paleo’s Magic Mushroom Powder. It’s a wonderful salt mix with porcini mushrooms and special spices, that makes things taste… magical!
I ground up a bag of dried porcini mushrooms in my spice grinder (a.k.a. coffee grinder, I swear I wash it in between uses). Then I added the special spices, and salt.
Mixed it all up, and voila! This stuff is going right next to my salt collection, and I’ll be putting it on almost everything. Chicken, pork, fish, in stews – it’s the perfect spice mix to add that umami flavor to your dishes.
I won’t post the recipe because it’s not my own to post, but you can find it on her awesome iPad app! Highly recommend it.
For lunch, I made a bowl of pork, pumpkin, and greens soup. It seemed very Southern. You may have noticed that I like soups, and I try to make them as often as possible because soup is one of the best ways to get in your nutrients, and hydrate yourself. Rather than making a big pot of soup, I can put together quick soups nearly any day of the week at lunch using a basic method that usually works.
Super basic soup for 1 or 2:
1. Season 3-6 ounces of meat with salt and pepper. Cook in a little bit of fat on the stove, until the meat is cooked through. (Or heat up some leftover meat.) Chicken, pork, cubed meat or ground all work fine. (Today I used some fresh ham with marrow bone.)
2. Add 1-2 cups of vegetables of your choice. I’ll usually use some greens (even mixed frozen greens), leftover roasted vegetables, and whatever is seasonal. (Today was a combination of greens and cooked mashed pumpkin.)
3. Top with just enough liquid to cover. You can use chicken or beef stock, or even just water! (I used water.) Season with a pinch of salt and taste. I usually like it just slightly less salty than I’d like the finished soup to be. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for 20-40 minutes, until your vegetables are tender, and a little longer if the flavors need to meld more.
4. Take off the heat, and gild the lily. Swirl with a little olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice if it needs a little acid, a spoonful of pesto or a grating of cheese.
In the late afternoon, I had a snack: some cooked butternut squash topped with walnuts, cinnamon and coconut butter.
Before dinner, I decided to take a very short walk to air myself out. Just for half an hour, and it felt good being outside. By dinner time, I was exhausted, so I made my best last minute comfort food “Faux-Shakshuka”. Shakshuka is a wonderful Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce, usually with peppers and onions. For this dinner I opened a can of Rao’s Marinara, dumped in three eggs, and that was it. No apologies, it’s pretty much the best quick meal on the planet.
After dinner I had about a cup of pineapple, and was asleep by 10pm. Because I’m an old lady. Crossing my fingers that this’ll go away soon!
Yesterday was a long day. I tried to avoid the television, but the tweets and messages and blogs of my friends remembering 11 years ago were sobering. I made the mistake of turning on NPR while in my car, and choking up while driving and listening to the short memorial stories.
And then I met my mom for a walk on the ocean. The air was the warm end of summer air, the sky was bright. The Atlantic was flat and deep blue, and seemingly endless. We talked about life, food, her first day of preschool. This walk – the same one we’ve gone on since I was a small child – always puts me in a better place.
Reluctantly, I came home again to an empty house, and although it’ll be the two of us again tonight, it was lonely. It was also late, and I was tired. My mom had given me several ripe tomatoes from her garden, and some fresh parsley, so I set to work putting together a riff on Turkish menemen – scrambled egg with peppers and tomato. Because I was pepper-less, I just added an extra tomato. I find that you can never eat too many tomatoes at the end of summer, because soon they’ll be gone, and you’ll regret your missed opportunities.
This is one of those dishes that I come back to again and again, the type of food that I eat alone. It’s dead simple, cooks up quickly, and works just as well for dinner as it would for breakfast. It also, for the record, tastes great when you come back at 2 am after a long night out.
Turkish Tomato Eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil (or 2!)
2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped or grated
pinch of chile flakes (Such as Urfa Biber or Piment D’espelette)
pinch of thyme
3 large eggs, whisked
small handful of chopped parsley
In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, pour a generous amount of olive oil (a tablespoon or more if you can rationalize it). Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, and season with a little bit of salt, a large pinch of chile flakes, and a small pinch of thyme. Stir, and let it bubble for three to five minutes.
In a bowl, whisk three eggs with a small pinch of salt. Pour the egg mixture over the tomatoes, and let it set for a bit, and then stir gently for a few minutes. This dish is fairly soupy, and not dry, but you are looking to cook the whites. When cooked, add a large handful of chopped parsley, and eat right away.