Apparently, 'Just Right' is going to be everything I make. Not just 'Simple, vegetable and protein-based meals' as I bullshitted a few months back, but everything. Everything I make that I document with my iPhone instead of my camera, because my iPhone is my camera.
These cookies are dark and full of magic and soothing properties, totally Witch-y, or dark and mysterious and dangerous like every single male character on 'Pretty Little Liars', which I don't watch regularly but sometimes things HAPPEN and you find yourself really wondering about Aria. They are the cookies I turn to when I want a hit of proper, indulgent, 'I am soothing myself with something delicious' intensity. They're as big as my outstretched hand, salty, sweet, and Canadian.
Everything is Awkward right now, in flux - I am starting at the bottom, I learning to walk, I am the embodiment of every metaphor we have ever known and trotted out. I don't mind, though, because it means everything in my life is organized and clean because that is what I do when I am procrastinating. I decide to get everything else around, so that then I can stew in my own nerves and "What Ifs?" in a clean home, with some new sweatshirts because I've decided that the 'Lounge and Errand wear' category in my wardrobe needs an upgrade.
You heard every word I just said.
This is a great salad for those days when you have a lot to get done and you want to fuel up in a delicate, asthetically pleasing way. I ate it for breakfast, and I felt solidly secure in that and other choices for the rest of the morning. It is an interesting way to eat roasted vegetables, still felt firmly Spring-like, and if I'd had pepitas or the time to roast some pecans to scatter atop, I would have - do that! Seeds n' Nuts are great, unless they are trying to murder you.
I made this with a small yam, and some Brussels sprouts, but you could swap in Butternut squash. You could add bacon to it, that would be delicious. You could roast some zucchini instead of the sprouts. The avocado isn't hurting anyone, so I suggest you let it make the party one to remember. Some dried cranberries, if you like Candy Salads. Adapt. Adapt and be well. And do whatever it is you're convincing yourself can wait until tomorrow. Because it can't.
I ate this sitting at a table, staring out a glass door, and thinking about that feeling that comes over you when someone is shaking your tree after you'd specifically planted yourself in a different orchard, and so you extend a bough, but he runs away and you're left wondering why you did that. At least the bough didn't break, you think, and then you wonder why you're thinking of yourself as a tree. Why not a dog?
That answer is hard. This meal is easy.
Real easy. The hardest thing, maybe for you, might be facing those slivers of salty fish. But you need it. And save the rest, and the rest of the tomatoes, and make a damn Puttenesca in a day or two.
Otherwise, you just open some cans. You slice and squirt some citrus. You let everything get some funk on it. And then you slide it all into bowls, or a plate, or you could probably combine the beans AND the greens, and have a delicious experience that you'd write cryptic Facebook notes about, or airily compare to your "First Truth", which, as everyone who knows you on a spiritual level knows, is how you refer to your first voyage to Black Rock City.
Look at that. Dinner is done. You're left with plenty of time. Plenty of it. All the time in the world is yours. So don't give it away to people who run away.
This is how I've been eating for the past year or so. Just simple, vegetable and protein-based meals. That is the most exciting sentence you've ever read. What News! you must be thinking. I've never felt such palpatations before.
The above is a bowl of roasted Brussel Sprouts, topped with an olive-oil fried egg and Aleppo Pepper. It was one of the best things I've had in months, a combination discovered by many others before me, but it was just right. And Just Right is the name of this category, which is devoted to the quick meals I'm eating right now that make me feel good (Inside AND out, Jan!), and aren't really recipes, but I'll tell you how I did it.
iPhone photos. Brief directions. We've got to do something - otherwise, this site is just hanging out on my dime each month. My Midwestern roots are withering, just thinking about such waste. So this is what I eat. How I eat. Hasty and Tasty.
Like Uncle Jim's Bachelor Meals, for Busy Females with Pinterest Accounts.
JUST RIGHT: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, with Fried Egg
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, give or take ten depending on how hot it runs.
Wash and dry and pick over and remove the leaves from as many sprouts as your body, your particular body, can handle. Cut them in half - I leave the eensy ones whole, tumble them onto a large baking sheet. Drizzle with Olive Oil (a couple Tablespoons), Salt (as much as you and your Doctor feel comfortable with), Black Pepper (enough so it hangs out in your teeth), Garlic Powder (you have it in your home), and Aleppo Pepper (this is delicious and perfect and I use a generous amount). Toss together with your hands, and because you have the time, turn each sprout so that it is cut side down.
Bake in that roaring hot oven for 10 minutes. Check in. Separate the couples. Give things a shock or two, ruffle some feathers. Or just tousle the sprouts around with a spatula. Roast for 3 to 5 more minutes - they should be tender and charred, crisped and gorgeous.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat a good drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, crack A Single Egg into it. Cook until you're not grossed out by the whites. Season, I think you should at least, with Salt and Aleppo Pepper.
Lump those sprouts into a bowl. Slide the egg on top. Dot with Sriracha, or don't.
"And then I told Pam to calm down, that her Bundt stood a chance next year because I'd be on vacation. I did. I told her that, right before I threw her purse in the street."
I like cake best, except when I like pie better. But pie, as so many have said ("SO MANY!") is something that I don't want to eat unless I can later bow down before it, chanting words of praise, haltingly, as I shudder with sobs. I like great pie - and sometimes I can't find it. But I will happily eat almost any cake, as long as it has frosting on it - thick swaths of frosting, crusted and sugary or silken and voluminous. A dark slick of ganache or crackled, membrane-thin glazes. I just like cake. I'll call cake first, every day of the week. I don't care about our weird mating rituals and rules when it comes to a layered tower, coddled in cream cheese icing.
So, for most of my life I've looked at Bundts as strange, unfortunate impostors. How can they be considered cake? Couldn't you bake Bundt recipes in regular pans, frost them and improve them MIGHTILY? SWIFTLY, even. I grew up in the eighties, when small children were introduced to Grocery Store bakery cakes and the pull between them, with their plastic pick-anchored decorations, palm trees and Hot Wheels and tiny ballerinas, and the homemade cake (often a Bundt) was fiery. I don't know if my ignorant prejudices come from watching a friend's mother slice up a bundt and offer it to us, unadorned, or if I'm just uncovering the depths of my own Cakecism, here but these long-held beliefs were SHATTERED this week when I made one of the best cakes I've ever tasted.
This isn't a recipe post (the loaf was made following this recipe, with a little less water - I've found that I get a texture and hole structure that I enjoy most, when using Carl instead of dry yeast, when I err on the respectable modest side of hydration) but a note - I am enjoying the hell out of semolina-dusted loaves. The finer texture, crunchy grit and sweet flavor make it such a lovely experience. Semolina. Try it next time, instead of bench flour or cornmeal. Or wood shavings. And that for those who don't live in Co-Op group housing situations, a full recipe can easily be divided and shaped into two or three smaller loaves, left to rise and cooked one after another in the same dutch oven and style you've been using for the larger loaves*. You can have a loaf during dinner for two, another for breakfast the next morning, and one for the neighbors.
Or the feral night animals, who prowl your land and make the children huddle together underneath Nana's quilts, wishing for the Old Country.
"Look at you. Look at that bun. No wonder no one is asking you to dance."
Hey, guys. What have you been up to? I've been busy buying new sweatpants and realizing that I should have undertaken that luxury years ago. Enjoying rush hour, bright days, confusing nights. Identifying with Top 40 Radio hits, to the point where my neighboring drivers might look to their right and see a creature bumping her chest with one hand, chin jutted out, nodding fiercely. Playing chicken with a giant shank of pork left alone in the oven overnight, at a low, humming temperature, like some weird culinary version of "Mommy just needs to run into the post office!" for the new generation.