The trade-off between summer and fall vegetables is an interesting one. By sheer numbers, I’m getting fewer veggies in the CSA shipment, but I’m routinely getting the more substantive ones that you have to build an entire meal around: squash, beets, and I’m guessing a pumpkin is coming our way soon. Plus, for gardeners, this is a transition period where certain summer plants have to be uprooted. More time is spent prepping, but I find that this actually creates a time-saving benefits, I’ve learned. If you roast veggies like beets and squash while you’re doing other things around the house, then you have them to quickly scoop into dishes later when there’s a time crunch, for instance.
In fall, responsibilities of all sorts kick into high gear, and my life is no exception. I find cooking to be a respite from the constant stream of information that I read, process, filter, and comment on. Sometimes I read blogs or do work while I’m cooking, but doing something that engages my mind on a different level and involves physical work with my hands is a nice change of pace. Crafting and gardening have, at other times, performed the same task for me. What’s nice about cooking is that it takes those processes and condenses them, time-wise. At the end of the day, you have a product that you needed anyway—food—and whose purpose is to be destroyed. Gardening and crafting have space requirements, and crafting requires that you either get good enough to start selling off your crafts or you run out of stuff that you can make for yourself that you want or need. So, while I’m not giving up those other avenues of making-shit-with-your-hands, cooking is the easiest everyday alternative, especially in smaller spaces.
1) We were out of sandwich bread, and Marc and I both like to have sandwiches for lunch on the weekends. So I thought I’d made some of the quick molasses bread from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
2) In my effort to turn the oven on as little as possible, I decided to go ahead and bake the acorn squash for future use while the oven was already on.
Heirloom tomatoes are looking a little smaller at the farmer’s market, so I figured I should eat them while they’re still around, in the form they’re meant to be eaten. So, I took the bread and made an heirloom tomato, mozzarella and basil sandwich with it. Marc used the bread to make peanut butter sandwiches. Both were awesome.
I’m a huge fan of this chick pea and cauliflower curry wrap at the vegetarian sandwich shop ‘Snice, and so I thought I’d make something similar. The wrap uses rice, but I thought I’d use the potatoes I had instead. I cooked the potatoes and onion first, with some veggie broth, to soften them up. Then I added ginger, turmeric, chili powder, garlic, a touch of cinnamon and cumin. Added the cauliflower and a red bell pepper, cooked those a bit, and then when the liquid was basically cooked off, added a can of chick peas.
Warmed up some tortillas and made wraps with the filling, some peach mango salsa from the market, and a little sour cream.
Time: 30 minutes
Soundtrack: What else? Janelle Monae.
Leftovers: The mix went well with toast made from the molasses bread for breakfast.
1) It was rainy and ugly out, so I thought it would be a good time to make a meal that always makes me happy: enchiladas. Or at least enchilada casserole, since I’m too lazy to roll individual enchiladas myself much of the time. It’s not as pretty as rolled enchiladas, but it tastes as good. I made a green sauce that’s similar to this one. I just tossed all the roasted items in the food processor with some veggie broth, buzzed it into a puree, and then cooked it on the stove. Then I put refried black beans in with the already-roasted acorn squash, with a little cumin and salt and pepper, and pureed that. I stacked corn tortillas, the bean/squash mix, grated cheese, and sauce in a baking dish, creating two layers of bean/squash and three of corn tortillas. Baked it for 25 minutes at 350. Cut out and served like any other casserole.
2) So that there was something else on the plate, I made a spinach and tomato salad super quick.
Time: An hour and change if you make your own sauce. A little over 30 minutes if you buy the canned stuff or make the sauce ahead of time. A lot of this is not active cooking time, so this is a good way to practice “wash as you go” time-saving in the kitchen, and mix it up with something like blog reading.
Soundtrack: REM, Big Star, She
Leftovers: Enough for at least one more lunch.
I cut down the basil, and plucked all the leaves off. Put it in a food processor with olive oil, walnuts, and some parmesan. When it was done, I put it in ice cube trays and froze it. What was left over, I put in the fridge.
1) I had pressed the tofu the day before, and then we ended up going out to eat, so I had this already-pressed tofu on hand. I thought it would be cool to marinate it. I made a quick marinade with soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and ginger, and let it sit in this for a couple hours in the fridge, flipping it once.
2) Cooked rice, using veggie broth instead of water.
3) Stir fried the marinated tofu with onion, bell pepper, green beans, and the marinade. Added some basic spices like ginger and cumin, and cut up some cilantro I had as I turned the heat off.
Time: 30 minutes with cooking. The marinating can take 30 minutes, an hour, etc. I put it in during the afternoon, but it’s something you can do in the morning and pull out when you come home from work.
Soundtrack: Caught up on podcasts.
1) I was going to a picnic, so I thought it best to bring spreads. So I made one out of the beet that I got from the CSA: a big motherfucker. I roasted it, and then put it in the food processor with some of the pesto, some lemon juice, and a bit of red wine vinegar. (Called the making shit up as you go along method.) It came out kind of crumbly, but it was pretty tasty. I bought some goat cheese to go with it.
2) I decided to make some pita to go with it. Apparently, this sounds really hard, but it’s really not. It’s just really time-consuming, in the sense that you have to be home to do it. But since most of the time you’re not actually cooking, it’s a good thing to do while you do other things (like mock American Spectator rants). The recipe came from Bittman’s book. I usually do all my baking stuff by hand instead of with the food processor, since my food processor is old and creaky and I like doing stuff by hand. But since I had smashed my finger in the door the day before and it was still somewhat swollen and definitely bruised, I thought I’d go light on stuff that takes a lot of heavy hand use. So I just put the ingredients in the food processor and buzzed it until it was a dough ball. Then I kneaded it a bit more with my hand that works, and let it rise for two hours. Then I made 6 flour-covered balls, let them rise for 20 minutes, preheated the oven to 350, rolled each ball out, and then baked them, 5 minutes on each side. They got a little brown, but I thought they could be better, so when I took them to the picnic, we put them on the grill.
Time: 3 hours, but most of that isn’t cooking time, but fucking around while dough rises time.
Soundtrack: Genius mix of “Nothing But A Heartache” by the Flirtations, which created a nice mix of 60s garage and 60s girl groups.
Sorry I don’t have pictures. I rushed out the door because I thought I might be running a bit late and forgot. But the whole thing was a smash hit, because it’s kind of hard to fuck up carbs + pesto + root vegetable + goat cheese.