Another Day

So continues my one-day-at-a-time project. Today was good.

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It turns out that the recipe categorizing ended early for the interns. I was a little torn, because I had kind of set aside yesterday and today to work almost exclusively on finishing up my last 600 recipes, but overall I was grateful to have one more thing lifted from my list.

I am working very hard on a study abroad page – turns out, summarizing 3 of the most life-changing months of my 21 years is a little time-consuming. Huh.

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We also went to the farmers market today, where I saw some of the most beautiful apples! Mmmm, I do love early fall. It’s such a nice break from summer but not frigid or unpleasant at all, and I am a big fan of the foods of the season. I also tasted Creole Red garlic, which is one of the smallest spiciest things I think my tastebuds have ever experienced. My mother gave me a minced piece the size  of half of my finger nail and my eyes watered. It’s usually only grown in the southwest but a local farm “tricked” them with fancy smart farming tricks. Check them out and if you can, head to one of the markets they go to – this garlic will blow your mind!

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Isn’t it funny how organizing one teeny tiny part of your life can change your whole outlook? It’s a little deceptive, I think – you do one thing & you’re on an I-can-do-things-good high for a day or two, and when you come down there are 2 new piles of crap to organize. But, it makes me happy and that is all I really care about. So, today I reorganized the drawer in  our kitchen that has been the go-to place for things that are mine that arrived at home while I was at college, and it has been growing increasingly full and generally black-hole-like over the past 4 years. No more! I even found 100 dollars. You think I’m kidding. I really did.

Which is a good thing, because unfortunately I am going to have to go clothes shopping for more age appropriate business casual wear for my shiny new internship downtown. I can only go so far in my yoga pants. If anyone knows of some good fashion blogs, let me know – I’m doing my research before hitting the stores.

We had fresh P.E.I. mussels in a white wine-garlic broth with a big salad and a crusty baguette for dinner.

What did you have for dinner this evening?

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Single and Hungry, or How To Be Lazy & Eat Well

I am not ashamed to say it.

I am SINGLE.

Now, I may not exactly be lovin’ it, but I can work with it. And that is what I’ve been doing since I’ve graduated.

I’ll admit, when it comes to cooking, I’m not exactly Julia. I do enjoy cooking – chopping vegetables can be a very zen activity – but when it’s just me, I tend to be lazy.

My favorite kind of meal is the one spent at the table for two hours, talking and eating with family and friends. The kind that I spend 2 hours making some new, crazy dessert I saw on Tastespotting that I know will make even the most persnickety dessert eater a happy diner. It’s the Italian in me, I suppose. In fact, I’m pretty Italian when it comes to most food-related things. Funny how that happens.

SanGimII - La Mandragola bruschette miste

Mmmmm, bruschetta.

Ahem. Back to my point. Dinner! Yum.

Because I have seriously upped my exercise lately, I’ve been doubling my efforts to get enough protein into my diet. Eggs and lentils and tofu, oh my!

Here’s my process. It’s been working really well for me so far, and it probably will for you to.

1. Heat up a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan.

2. Crush a clove of garlic and throw it in the hot oil.

3. Wait a few seconds – then inhale. Yes, I do believe that is what heaven smells like.

4. Add whatever veggies/protein you want to. Add your leafy greens at the end – they will cook down like WHOA pretty quickly, and you want to see some of that beautiful greenness on your plate!

5. Add spices and your S+P. I’ve been in either a curry/cumin/ginger/paprika (coriander would be good too, I’m just lazy) or oregano/sage/rosemary/any other Italian spices.

One of my favorites so far has been this curried lentils + tofu bowl:

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Add a chopped tomato to the pan with your cooked lentils (I used 1/4 cup – boil in 1 cup water for 20 minutes).  Add tofu and greens – here I used a little red swiss chard. Throw in your curry, cumin, paprika, ginger, & S+P. I just eyeball my spices. Start small – it’s easier to add more than to eat ridiculously overspiced food. Yes, I do know this from experience.

Other renditions have included sauteing lentils, tofu, spinach and some pasta sauce together. Tonight was lentils (hey, I’m on a kick, don’t judge) in a little dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, lemon pepper and dill with spinach and an egg scrambled in at the last minute. Yall – that was awesome. It looks crazy, but it was delicious. Especially with some sweet potato fries. (Slice, season w. rosemary/oregano/paprika/sea salt, bake for 20 min at 400F.)

No, none of my creations are necessarily restaurant-worthy. But damned if they are not delicious, super healthy and crazy easy. And that is what counts for this particular single girl. No apron required.

Follow it up with a little toast and a piece of dark chocolate and you’re good to go. Buon appetito!

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Over-the-Humpday Challenge: Venture into the Grain Unknown

Just call me the Indiana Jones of grain.

Or don’t. Personal choice.

When pondering what this Wednesday’s challenge would be, my eyes immediately flew to the brown bag from the bulk bins at Whole Foods that came home with me last Saturday.

What could it be???

The mystery continues…

Can you guess??

…that’s okay, I probably couldn’t either. This is millet, and at $1.99 per pound, it may just be my new best carb-friend. I’ve seen it here and there in the blogosphere, and was very curious. I don’t like rice at all, but I adore cous cous, quinoa, and oats (of course), so I’m always in the market for a new grain.

That, and now that I have a whole kitchen, I can experiment to my heart’s content! So, Mission: Millet it was.

It almost looks like little tiny popcorn kernels!

I measured out a scant 1/4 of a cup. Generally, that is the single-portion serving size for grains, and I figured starting small would be best. Looks are deceiving – this cooked up a very nice serving!

 

Whole Foods said took cook 1/2 a cup in 1 1/4 cup of water, bring to boil, then simmer for about 20 min. I halved the water, and after it boiled I turned it down and just watched it, stirring every so often and tasting until it seemed ready – it was probably about 15 minutes, and I had to add probably about another half cup of water.

Bubble, bubble, not much toil and even less trouble!

When it seemed to be near sufficiently fluffy and yet still slightly al dente, I added about 1/2-1 tsp grainy mustard, several shakes of pepper, garlic salt, and some herbes de provence. The mustard actually made it really creamy and yet still with a subtle bite – I recommend it!

I served it over a bed of “fresh herb salad mix” – another [cheap!]  Whole Foods find. I think it’s just spring greens, radicchio and cilantro – it’s a really neat change from regular salad greens! Sprinkled with parm and doused in some White Balsamic vinegar.

Sorry for the pic quality – no natural light to be found when I need it!

This. was. AWESOME! The herby greens and the sweet vinegar complemented the creamy and peppery millet perfectly. I would definitely make this again. In fact, I probably will. I’m thinking tomato would be fantastic, and maybe some hummus mixed in. Or maybe with curry, ginger, and some carrot…

That’s part of what I love about grains – their versatility makes for excellent foodie adventures. I do love a good adventure.

Mission Millet: Accomplished.

Oh come on, admit it. Indy ain’t got nothin on me.

Studying in Candy Land

Did you ever play the board game Candy Land? You know, the one with the gum drop path, and your favorite character was Queen Frostine because she was the prettiest? Well, somewhere between Candy Cane Forest and Gum Drop Mountain, I think Hasbro forgot to add something…
Cinnilla-date VolcanOats!
Oats + almond milk + cinnamon + a chopped date. The date is soft enough that when you throw it in the pot it melts in with the oats. Make a hole in the middle of the bowl and pour in your vanilla lava, add some extra cinnamon “ash”, and BAM! Flavor eruption! 
…Wow, sometimes I cheese even myself out. But come on. I had to say it.
Even though dates have a much higher glycemic load – meaning the sugar in them releases into your blood faster and spike your blood sugar – the oats are full of slow-releasing carbs that balance out your blood sugar level and keep you happy. Just in case you were wondering if I’ve been studying for my nutrition mid-term…I have. And you lucky duck, are reaping the benefits of my studiousness!
I had another rough night sleep-wise and today was hard to get through – but I didn’t take a nap! Wednesday means a trip to the market – which still intimidates me. I just feel like my “Americanness” is even more blatantly obvious there. Kinda the “oh gee. another english-speaking student. here we go” sense from the vendors. And then others that are perfectly sweet. No matter, I have been reading aaaalll about why it’s important to buy local produce, and that’s more important than “bad vibes.”
Wednesday also means lunch at Sergio’s:
Minestra di farina gialla (soup made with maize flour).
This was super yummy, if not particularly aesthetically pleasing. I could really taste the maize and it was full of veggies which of course, I loved. Oh Italian soups, how will I face another winter without thee?
I also met a new man today. He’s an Earl!
You got all excited there for a minute, didntcha?
This was really great tea! The floral taste from the bergamot in the earl grey went really well with the earthiness of green tea. I’d highly recommend!
I talked my roomie into going to a cafe with me to study – it’s dangerous to be around computers sometimes. So much procrastination material at our fingertips. So we stopped by the cafe on our street that happens to be a chocolate store for cappuccinos. No chocolate…but I’ve got another 2 months here. Don’t you worry.
Mid-terms has definitely fried my brain a little. I definitely feel more scattered and I apologize if the blog is reflecting it! Spring break’s a comin…mmmm sleeeeepp.
I did some yoga when we got back – just some nice, gentle flows. It really is the best medicine. And I knew I would be happier doing that than taking a nap. I was right.
Dinner.
Whole wheat pasta + veggies.
I love how yellow bell peppers brighten up a plate! Pretty food tastes better.
More studying commenced…I am a walking encyclopedia of basic nutrition. But I will be completely honest – I love studying this stuff. It’s absolutely fascinating. I love that I can explain the breakdown of fats, and slow versus fast-release carbs and glycemic load…I’m a geek. And PROUD of it!
It didn’t take long for my brain to start yelling “bed time NOW.” There was more studying to be done and a blog post to be written…but health comes first. And sleep won. So until tomorrow…
~Namaste~