Today I…

…decided I would get ahead of myself for the weekend.  Last week sort of went by in a blur with G’s sister’s visit. We had fun, and I got back to my chiro who put my shoulder back in order, but still dealing with lots of muscle inflammation and pain.  It hurts enough to make me gasp when I try to do something simple like take a glass out of the cupboard.  Gym is out for now, and I’ve been staying away from the computer except for work, but I have been getting up every morning and hand-watering the garden with our collected rain water.  We have several hundred gallons, and it’s a treat to use.  I’m also trying to become as ambitextrous as possible.  If anyone knows if they make a left-handed keyboard with the number pad on the left, I would really appreciate hearing about it.

After eating out way too much last week, we decided to hit the store today.  It’s getting warmer now, and that means I’m not going to want to cook much, so I decided to get a lot done today.

First, I had a little bit of our home-canned marinara sauce left that I had cooked down for dipping a few days ago. I decided to make a caponata-type sauce without the eggplant. I had some large green olives, so I sliced up a few of those, added a couple Tbls of pesto and about 1/4 C of cottage cheese and a little half and half to tone down the strong tomato flavor, again, thinking about the acid factor.  I bought some radiatore pasta at the store, thinking it would hold the sauce really well, and decided to follow Scott Conant’s instructions about cooking pasta only part way in the water and finishing it in the sauce.  Just before I drained the pasta, I added a couple of ladles of pasta water, then the al dente pasta and let it simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes.  Yes, it does make a big difference.  I’ll be doing that from now on.  Sorry, no photos, but I was just getting started and hadn’t thought to grab the camera. 

I also had the last of a bag of onions, starting to look a bit scraggly, so I decided to make a batch of caramelized onions to add to sandwiches, use as bruschetta topping, etc.  So easy and a great way to make something simple look really elegant. Slice the onions and put ’em in a skillet with some butter:

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Add a little salt and let them cook down for about 10 minutes.  Then add about 2 Tbl of sugar and about a cup of water or chicken stock and keep cooking and stirring.  I also added a little bit of basil that I dried from last year’s garden.  Once the stock is mostly absorbed, drizzle over about 1 Tbl of good balsamic vinegar and keep cooking until everything is absorbed yet again.  Put in a fridge container and use at will:

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You can warm them or just take out what you want to use and let come to room temp.  They make a wonderful addition to lots of dishes.  I bought some French bread and I’m looking forward to bruschetta as a light supper.

I also had a couple of zucchini in the fridge, and I bought two small calabacita squash to make calabacitas–or my version of it.  Usually it contains some form of chile pepper but since we’re trying to keep away from that for the acid, I just used half of one of the above onions, the squash and my next-to-last bag of corn we froze last year from the local farms.  This is a really simple dish to make.  I diced up the half of the onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, and put them in some olive oil to sautee.  Then I diced all the squash to about the same size pieces, and added them along with some chicken stock, garlic powder, onion powder, a little bit of ground chile pequin that I buy locally and some ground coriander.  Then I added the corn, since it was blanched and wouldn’t take long to cook. Cover and let cook maybe 10-15 minutes.  After that, I grated on some manchego cheese and this makes a great side dish.

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I also bought a bunch of beets to roast, but in the mean time, I noticed their greens looked pretty good, and since I had a large container of spinach in the fridge that needed to be used, I forged ahead. I chopped up a couple slices of bacon:

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I let that brown on medium heat to render all the fat, then scooped out the crispy pieces.  Then I added a couple of chopped scallions, the chiffonaded beet greens and let them cook for a few minutes, then aded most of the spinach (saved a little for a couple of omelets).  Of course, the huge pot of greens cooked down in nearly no time:

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I guess it’s coming out of winter, but I’ve just been craving green things lately and this dish certainly fit the bill.  After everything was nicely wilted, I drizzed them with some pear balsamic vinegar that I found at this most wonderful store in town, and added back the bacon bits.  This only made enough for dinner tonight, but boy was it good–and so simple to make.

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But I wasn’t done yet, oh no!  Remember the beets:

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I trimmed them, washed them, then coated them in olive oil, wrapped them in foil and popped them in the oven to roast along with 2 large chicken breasts I got at the store (in separate dishes).  I’ll take the chicken off the bone to use for sandwiches or salad, and cut the beets in chunks for a salad with red onion, raw-milk bleu cheese and dressed with some lemon white balsamic vinegar.  Perfect for hot summer days.

Tomorrow, I’m going to make an orzo pasta salad with asparagus and peas, egg salad with our wonderful local eggs (the chickens live less than 5 miles from us), and maybe some salmon spread.  So, if G can’t find something to eat while I’m working this weekend, there’s just no hope for her. 😉

Happy cooking!

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3 thoughts on “Today I…

  1. I love how you cook. I’m going to do that with a big batch of onions – I always end up with more than I can use before they get all moldy in our extremely humid climate. This will be a great way to have them on hand for a quick addition to a weeknight dinner. I wonder if you could do a version of that onion saute in the crock pot? Hmm…

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