I have to say, very few things hit the spot like polenta does. Last night I was not sure what we would make, but Seth had a recipe he wanted to make that his mom gave him, so we decided to make it! Upon close inspection, we realised we had no bread – the recipe called for the dish to be served on toasts spread with goats cheese. I thought there was some polenta left, and so we decided to use that instead.
The recipe was a simple braise of carrots, onion, and mushrooms in water and white wine, finished with basil chiffonnade. Seth worked on that, and I made the polenta. Along the way, I thought that it could be interesting to spice the polenta with curry! I have never tried that, and oh my god is it good. I was just blown away by the richness of the final product, even though I did not use any stock! DEFINITELY try it out with this topping, or something like a lamb curry or bolognese spiced with garam masala…. I love finding a new flavor profile within a base I love so much as polenta. Oh, he wide avenues of creativity warm my heart so much lately.
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- 8 carrots, thick hearty chunks of varied shapes & lengths
- 1 medium red onion, half moons
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, rough chop
- Water & white wine – about a cup of liquid total, adding more if things get too dry whilst cooking
- salt and pepper to taste
- bay leaf
- 1/4 basil, chiffonnade
Chop up all your veggies, then melt the butter in a pan – preferably one with a lid. Toss in the veggies with the butter over MH heat and brown them lightly for a minute or two. Then deglaze with the wine, add water, the bay leaf, cover and let it braise for about half an hour. Depending on the size you have cut up your carrots, it will vary the cooking time. By the end, you want them to be fork tender, but not overcooked. The liquid should reduce down at the end, so uncover it and let that clear off to glaze it all.
Curried Polenta with Goats Cheese
- 1 cup polenta
- 3+ cups water (add more during cooking if things get too dry)
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp curry powder
- bay leaf
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup milk
- 4 oz goats cheese (more or less if you like)
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- Bring water, wine, bay leaf, lemon, to a simmer and stir in polenta.
- Season with salt and pepper, curry powder. Cover, and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes. You can add more liquid if you think it’s too dry.
- Stir in dairy at the end (milk through butter)
Oh, and for good measure, you may want to consider poaching an egg and heating up some leftover polenta for your breakfast. To die for!
This week there was a bunch of kale in my fridge. At the grocery store I almost walked past it, but it jumped out at me, and my memory said “HEY! BUY THAT!” Remembering my promise to myself that I would eat more kale, I grabbed it up. In the check out, the cashier said he personally had rung up about 10 bunches of kale that day. This was super unusual, as he told us weeks will pass without seeing any of it pass through his hands. There is something in the water telling us to eat more kale? Whatever it is, seems like a good thing that people in my town are on the same page as I about boosting our nutrition.
I made two things with the kale a few days ago. For breakfast I just sauteed onion and garlic, then braised the leaves with those things, some olive oil, salt and pepper, and squeezed lemon over it. Served it with scrambled eggs and berries. It was tasty.
Then, for dinner I made a large batch of pizza/pasta sauce. It was “semi homemade” for sure – I got some vodka sauce, sun dried tomato sauce, and took a can of stewed tomatoes. Tossed those into a pan of sauteed onion, added some balsamic vinegar, basil, and tossed in a few handfulls of kale. It was really go0d. I made gnocchi with it for dinner, and then used it on the pizza I made Wednesday.
Oh, and I roasted some golden beets – so good!
Classic Sourdough Egg sandwich. Smoked mozzarella, frizzled onions. Side of pineapples.
Stuffed shells with Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic pasta sauce. Stuffing is yogurt, cottage cheese, lemon juice & zest, salt and pepper, basil chiffonnade, caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms.
The last time I cooked morel mushrooms was about a year ago in Chicago. It was a special meal, wrapped and tied prettily in my head as a gift to a weary traveler. I received a text message with flight info, an ETA upon grabbing a seat on the Blue Line, and nervous excitement inside my heart as I stirred the polenta. I made a morel cream sauce using yogurt instead of heavier dairy, and a salad, and perhaps asparagus? I listened to this song I was enamored with, which spoke of the inertia and unfolding of summer, which I knew was going to be amazing. I just knew. Just like I know now that it is hard to hear that song anymore, and that new songs have replaced it which are equally relevant. That’s life.
I have always been a curious monkey. My family will tell you how exhausting it was to answer all of my questions, in the days before wikipedia and smartphones, readily available information. I remember walking back up Dobbin toward home with my mom, and how tired she sounded when I inquired about where the neighbor may have purchased her shoes, because I liked them. I still ask a lot of questions, maybe too many (another question in and of itself). I often feel like my curiosity is something that must be tamed, bushwhacked. Other times, though, I feel like this is what people are supposed to be like, and that asking things is a catalyst for innovation, poetry, love, satisfaction, and problem solving. That I have the luxury of time to ask so many, compared to other people in the world who don’t have Macbooks to reach out to a large audience with their smallest blips of thought – instead they must sit with these questions, and maybe die with them, words never spoken; questions never asked with real hope for answers or directed towards anyone in particular. Sometimes it is OK to just ask, and stop looking so hard for all the answers. Being able to just ask can be good enough.
Lately, though, questions are floating in my head all the time, and I wonder about when is Appropriate to Ask. When should I just Bite My Tongue? It’s hard, because I think asking good questions is often as good a mark of intelligence as knowledge and creativity . It may even be of higher order than those, because it seems to encompass the latter two things entirely. Smart questioning is a big deal to me, and so the internet poses challenges regarding what I consider to be smart questions, and how to ask them. In order to ask smart questions, or even have a conversation at all, one should know who they are asking, talking to, talking at, ranting about, and so on. The classic dilemma of audience and specificity, assumption, and prerogative. Here, I usually feel like the internet often reinforces a sort of desperation laden with my current line of questioning, because actually getting answers seems to matter a lot, yet the internet cannot help me. It is a quick fix way to potentially feel less alone with certain short quips and statements of sentiment or emotion. It is like eating doughnuts for breakfast; the quick fix that wears off and leaves you empty very quickly.
Today I made morels for my mom and I. To cook the morels without wanting, to cook the morels knowing this IS their time, and to focus on accepting that which is simply true is not difficult for me. This is the first question I will ask: why do I miss other things so much the and not these? Anyway, I listened to that song, and I tried to embrace some questions to the point of nurturing them, incubating them until I know when and who to ask. Or what and why I would like to say to them, and then decide about it eventually. I took the morels and sauteed them with a little onion, butter, salt and pepper. Basil chiffonnade tossed in over the top and mixed in over low heat at the end, just to wilt it. Timing is a large part of cooking, just like it is when you ask questions. Sometimes the most important, and most intelligent question of all is, Do I want to know the answer, and why? Or, do I ask because the answer is obvious and I do not like it, or choose not to see, or simply cannot?
I have begun the book The Help and that book is a tale full of people asking questions, inside and out. Questions that cannot be asked out loud for social reasons, questions that take time to formulate, and then mustering the courage to know how and when to ask. This, so far, is my favorite question. One of the women is assuring her two year old charge that she is a smart, kind girl, when her mother constantly barks at her and is not very smart. The nanny says,
“And that’s when I get to wondering, ‘What would happen if I told her she’s somethin’ good, everyday?'”
my friends and I had a fantastic brunch. Oh, and family, too 🙂
Awesome Curried Vegan Waffles
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup corn meal
2 cups soy milk
Curry spices you like – curry, tumeric, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, etc. etc.
1 sweet potato mashed in, for good measure
- heat up waffle iron(s)
- crank out waffles for a crowd!
Top with such fun things as:
- Vegan gravy
- Black beans
- Maple Syrup & Nuts
- Whatever sounds about right
- Green Salad
- Fruit salad
- Vegan Gravy
- Yogurt/Lemon Zest dressing
Fantastic day, complete with fishing, beach, Shawarma King, ice cream, family, friends.
I arrived back into Kalamazoo yesterday evening. My lovely Aunt Ginny and Uncle Ron came to pick me up, and helped me bring all my things back here. They are now in a garage waiting for an apartment to put them in. The drive through Ohio was slightly more exciting than it usually is, only because it was raining cats and dogs the entire time. Pennsylvania was sporting a fantastic 77 on the mercury, but once you entered the deluge, it dropped 25+ degrees. Michigan is 40ish today, mercury rising (thank goodness). Crocuses are up in the yard, and I am ready for Spring #2 to happen.
After unpacking last night, I decided to get some food from my old work spot, Shawarma King. When I walked in, Nidal greeted me, and then did a double take as he immediately recognized me. He looks good, and was telling me about all the changes that have happened since we last saw one another. He now owns all the Shawarma King businesses, and even the building for the one located on Drake. I remember when I first started working there he was sous chef, there super late, and trying to deal with an understaffed restaurant and kitchen. He kept a tight ship, and we did the best we could. I am so happy to see how nice it looks in there, and the creativity he has brought to the food. Everything was SO delicious, and I know I will be going there often. Maybe I can even cook for HIM someday! Anyway, hats off to Nidal and Shawarma King. It made me so happy to eat there, and to be recognized by an old friend on my first day back. It is not so easy to blend in here, and I think that is exactly what I need right now. I worked with Nidal for 2 years, and the crew there was like family. Late nights, so much food, so many inside jokes that the stressful moments seem to pale in comparison.
The first photo is something hilarious I saw on the road – an oil tanker advertising coffee on the back. I think if I ever open a diner for real, I will have to try this stuff! It sounds like a real deal, and it’s always smart to buy in bulk, after all 🙂
The ones lit by a lamp is my dinner last night, and then the bright shots with the coffee next to it was leftovers for breakfast.
Josh and I met back in middle school at Hillside in Kalamazoo, MI. We were awkward together, shy, figuring out life. Turns out, we both love to cook! We used to grill a lot and certainly did some damage back in the day – we were neighbors for a few years on Walnut St. in Kalamazoo, and then I actually moved into his old apartment (a funny story for another time). He is one of those people with whom I have gone through times of speaking very little with, but we have always stayed in touch, and it makes me so happy to see him doing so well!
He got his CA degree in Grand Rapids and has now moved out to Portland. I mentioned the place he works a few posts ago (the Arleta Library Bakery Cafe). He sent me some pictures of his breakfast special from a couple of weeks ago to post on here. If you are out on the west coast, definitely check out his skills.
I totally stole some of these pictures of him off his social networking site of choice, as I do not have any shots of him on my computer (yet..)