During the summer, we’re constrained by the heat, my general sloth, and the things that arrive in our CSA basket. It’s often too hot to cook anything elaborate in the house or turn on the oven, I’m too lazy to go buy things or prepare anything elaborate because I associate summertime with vacation even if it’s not, and we like to prioritize CSA items because they are delicious and, well, we paid for them. Which is all to say, dinners in the summer tend to be simple.
Monday night, it was whole trout from Harris Teeter ($4.99 a pound!) sprinkled with salt and pepper, drizzled with olive oil, and tied up with lemon slices inside. Grilled for a few minutes on each side on the Weber. Green and yellow CSA beans sauteed in oil with salt and dill. I think we also grilled a few slices of bread drizzled with olive oil. Enough for dinner for the both of us, and the baby had some for lunch the next day.
Had a fantastic dinner at http://www.nojosf.com/ tonight. Delicious, delicious, delicious.
Somen with Uni Sauce
A few weeks back, while walking the dog, I saw this truck drive by.
I thought I was dreaming. Or that I’d read wrong. It just seemed too good to be true. Yummy Japanese food on the go? YES PLEASE! Of course I googled “happy eating” and “happy eating food truck” and “happy eating nashville” as soon as I got home, but came up with nothing. I thought it had to be related to Happy Japan (especially since I was walking near their old location), but their website was mum about it. Well, good news! They finally (ok, at the end of April) officially made an announcement! It exists!! It really, really exists!! I can’t wait to see what they’re offering. I don’t care, I’ll eat it no matter what it is, I’m pretty sure. PLEASE OPEN SOON!
I am excited about this. Ever since the baby came and school started getting crazy, we’ve been looking for more delicious, fast, close/on-the-way-home dinner-pick-up options. Pickin’s are slim for us, kids (if only the 12th South ‘hood fit those geo-requirements). The hot bar at the new gulch Turnip Truck has been a fantastic go-to. Otherwise we’re limited to some take-out options, which take way more time and the foresight of ordering (and god forbid you want to order from Watanabe, because there’s a good chance the person who answers the phone will put it down and forget about you before taking your order, so not only are you listening to her bullshit with a coworker instead of doing her job but you also can’t get her attention because if you hang up and call back the phone is off the hook and will be busy. hypothetically speaking.)
Anyway, this is exciting. Nashville Farmers’ Market isn’t exactly on our way home from work, but isn’t exactly completely out of the way either. And if it’s good, a 5 minute detour is nothing to poo poo.
WHEN WILL YOU OPEN?!?
Now that we’re poor (due to spending all our money on cute baby things) and we can’t manage to make it to the grocery store (due to spending all our time playing with a cute baby), I’m trying to be better about using up leftovers and the like (i.e. stuff we find in the pantry). I’m also trying to develop a bigger repertoire of simple/quick yet tasty meals, since I’m about to get crazy busy with my dissertation study.
The other night I discovered that we’re short on veggies and I hadn’t taken any meat out of the freezer that morning. However we did have some sour cream leftover from something or other, and picante that I wanted to get rid of. So I took the nice grilled strip steak that I couldn’t finish the night before, sauteed with peppers and onions, added some seasoning, and made quesadillas.
We try to always have pre-shredded “Mexican cheese blend” and flour tortillas in the fridge. Wouldn’t you know, we didn’t even have the cheese. Luckily there was a block of Monterey Jack in there which I shredded (am I the only one who takes FOREVER to shred cheese?), and some leftover canned whole chiles.
Not bad, for a quick meal. Not that we got to enjoy it, since the baby randomly freaked out that night and couldn’t get to sleep until 9:30. And, obviously, I don’t have a picture of the finished quesadillas. Because that would’ve made sense.
Relevant pantry/fridge staples:
Salsa or something similar
Last week I decided to take my first shot at making Indian food. Well, it’s possible I’ve bought a jar of something at TJ’s before and poured it over some meat and/or vegetables. This time, I went from scratch. I was encouraged by an article in Food and Wine about Sanjeev Kapoor and his new book, How to Cook Indian to give it a shot. Because of what we had in the refrigerator and pantry, I didn’t end up going with any of those recipes, but instead I used Aarti Sequeira’s cauliflower and potatoes (aloo gobi) and this spinach with chickpeas (chana saag) recipe. Something I learned: other than whole cumin seeds, I generally have all the makings for some Indian food in my house. Isn’t that weird? If you mix ginger and garlic and turmeric and ground corriander in different proportions, suddenly it’s Indian food.
Well, on Monday I woke up with the same Ick that The Little Red Haired Girl had last week. I don’t think I’ve ever had a stomach virus before. I had all the soreness of flu (achy muscles, sensitive skin) but the only other symptom was that my stomach was all a mess. All kinds of perceptual stimulation made me feel sick, so I didn’t want to read, watch tv, or even listen to music. So I just lay in bed and dozed and stared. Basically I think I experienced the kind of the day the dog must have. I have much more sympathy for him now when he wants to go on that walk SO BADLY every day.
Tuesday I was still feeling not quite right, so I tried to work from home, and made myself comfort food lunch:
Egg noodles, beef balls, yu choy, napa cabbage, onions, mushrooms, Chinese pickles, scallions, cilantro, and a squirt each of sriracha and hoisin.
Dinner was a little more normal, except we haven’t gone grocery shopping for weeks, so it was a “what’s left in the kitchen” kind of dinner.
Pea shoots, beets, Mexican zucchini, mushrooms, with a balsamic dressing. Rice and broiled flat iron steak on top, with blue cheese and fried shallots. I know now that the blue cheese was a terrible idea. Other than that though, not a bad go.
I’ve been totally uninspired lately with making dinner, partly because we’re so poor now, partly because our new local grocery store is shit, partly because winter veggies are so limited, and partly because I’ve been in crummy moods. I’m ready to step out of all of that now, and find ways to make interesting and delicious things again with our tiny budget and my limited time.
Tonight I spotted the leftover chicken breasts from the garlic chicken I made last weekend (it was ok, probably more my fault than the recipe’s). I bought a ton of fresh herbs at the K&S yesterday, for some reason we have a profusion of mini pastas in the pantry, and there’s a bunch of broccoli stalks waiting to become someone’s vegetable filler. So, I decided to go with pasta salad, tahini instead of mayo:
Carrots and broccoli stalks, cut into matchsticks and blanched
Celery, thinly sliced
Onions, diced small
Salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika
All topped off with some roasted sesame seeds and fried shallots.
Yesterday I took a quick day trip down to Atlanta to see 6 day old Baby Superhero. Not a moment too soon, either. I had a decent day on Thursday, keeping busy with meetings and teaching and even a happy hour, but an empty calendar for Friday was going to be a challenge. Instead of trying to have a productive day on my own, I hit the road.
There’s something about long drives that is absolutely soothing for me. It’s somehow not the same as being alone and trapped with my thoughts at home. There’s the contextual element of being in motion, having just left something behind, with something ahead to look forward to. And in the meanwhile, there’s nothing you can do but keep driving, so you can forgive yourself for whatever’s being neglected. It doesn’t make much sense, but that’s how it happens for me. When I’m in the car on a long road trip, I somehow find a kind of peace. Yesterday I thought I’d enjoy catching up on podcasts and maybe even start an audiobook, but instead I just blasted music, let my thoughts wander, and looked around.
When I got to Atlanta I met Baby Superhero, held him for hours while he slept and grunted and twitched and waved his arms around. I put random things in his cargo pants pockets (yes, he has cargo pants), danced with him, and chatted with him about his future. We also hit Flip Burger as a nice treat for us all.
It was hard to say goodbye, but in the end I even made it home in time to watch (most of) a really shitty movie with The Little Red Haired Girl.
The thing that I have been dreaming of has finally happened. Au Bon Pain is coming to Nashville! For years, there has been a McDonald’s in the Medical Center/Hospital here at VU, and while I no doubt benefitted from its presence on plenty of Friday mornings, it has always struck me as an odd choice for that location. Someone with power seems to agree, because now that the Mickey D’s lease has run out, they are replacing it with ABP! Of course all kinds of people here are pissed and saying that the decision-makers don’t care about the staff and patients and ABP will be too slow and too expensive and it’s not that much healthier than McDonald’s. But poo on them, WE’RE GETTING ABP!!!
Seriously, I’ve been searching high and low for a spinach croissant, or even a savory stuffed croissant, for SIX YEARS and not been able to find one. The Little Red Haired Girl was even going to try and order some frozen from ABP for my birthday one year, but it was stupid expensive.
The new store doesn’t open until June (sad face), but there will be a “grab and go” temporary location starting the end of February. *Fingers crossed for spinach croissant and/or southwest tuna wraps*