Category Archives: cooking

Cooking with the RHoWM

I just made an abbreviation for myself!

Last night, my husband and I were back-to-back in the kitchen, making things to eat (as one does).  I was convinced that I had to prolong the life of the avocados we bought the other day, and I did this by mashing them up with pulled chicken into an avocado chicken salad.  Hooray.  T-storm decided to put bunches of vegetables in the rice cooker and curry some stuff up.

Meanwhile, I double fisted a Vitamin Water and a PBR at once.  My beloved husband alluded to filling the (small) kitchen with farts.  Then he began singing each and every song that popped into his head, all from a wide variety of vocal genres.

We bumped into each other and laughed as our cat crawled directly underneath our feet, burrowing in some bizarre manner (or just waiting for some chicken to drop).

A typical night cooking with our little family.

Lately, T-storm is all about cooking with quinoa: in chili, in whatever really, and what follows is a few outstanding examples.

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The summer of only two pots

So now that I’m still technically a newlywed, I am also a grad student living and studying remotely.  And of course I should be in the process of writing two papers right now, but alas.  That will come.  Finish laundry and then off to the library.  In the meantime!

I love my program, and I’m here with some truly outstanding people, but there’s a certain sense of disconnect in some ways.  I miss my husband terribly.  I miss our cats.  I realize how grateful I am for my typical life, although I don’t always realize how terribly awesome it really is.  I will be sad to leave this terrific summer, and there are people I’ll pretty much never see again, which sucks, but I will return home with a new sense of gratitude.  As I had predicted when I made the decision to do this program.

I also miss cooking.  Surely, our kitchen is the opposite of anything to write home about (the building was built in 1972 and the kitchen has not been remodeled since;  home decorating TV shows have made us all crazy about remodeling, but seriously many aspects of our kitchen are not entirely functional), but I miss that it’s stocked with every kind of rice cooker and pot or pan and mandolin slicer and everything else that we could even imagine to be able to cook with (thanks to our lovely friends & family) — not to mention spices, stocks, sesame oils, etc.

So I’ve been trying to cook while on a tough schedule and with limited supplies.  But I’ve done alright.

Firstly, while I didn’t bring/pack/whatever any of our old junky kitchen supplies of which we have a few, I instead bought what I could from Publix: some flimsy little “cutting boards” with pictures on them and some uber-cheap yet astonishingly useful knives.

the beef one I will forever use for tomatoes

And went back to being a mostly vegetarian cook; I ate poultry and occasionally bacon while out (as is standard now), but only cooked vegetables, rice, and beans while here.  And a terrific vegetable dish for a 4th of July cookout — secret ingredient: thyme.  And dipped into some tasty pasta salads (mixed with homemade salad dressing, not mayo) but I didn’t get any photos of those.

morningstar farms “ground beef”, green beans, brown rice. homework. 

Sauteeing onions, kale & tomatoes to add over brown rice. Nom nom nom.

My good friend cameraphonevegan would be very proud of the above dishes.

I am very pleased with myself, however, that I have almost completely cut soda out of my life.  For reals, though.

The coconut water cocktail!

Of course, most of us who are here in this program are in the same circumstances.  We are all away from our friends and loved ones, so we tend to eat out a lot.  And sometimes I eat out by myself.  I got used to that when I was interning – I actually had not had my own car to drive for much longer before that, and come on, there was Tijuana Flats right down the street and Stardust coffee to consume nearby.  I surely gained 10 pounds as a teaching intern.  Oh well.

Here, we’ve got a couple of distractions:

Yes – that is a PBR tallboy, not an 8oz, for comparison.

DISCLAIMER: I did not order these myself. I admittedly ate a few, but dude. Seriously. Don’t order pizza fries unless you are willing to deal with the consequences.

But I’ve eaten enough at those particular establishments to feel a certain amount of regret.  Much of it has been fried.  Some of it after midnight.  Some of it while studying intently, some of it while my friend in from out of town developed an affinity for the ginger bartender.

Falafel and pita fries. At least what’s in the cup is an unsweetened iced tea.

These are gifts from Jesus, no joke.  Greek Jesus.  The falafel is not the greatest I’ve ever had, but the pita fries.  Yes.  Someone took a pita, sliced it up, seasoned it exquisitely, and put it together with some seriously delicious sauce I cannot spell.  I brought some of these fries down to a party in Orlando last weekend and even after being reheated in the oven and making the four hour drive, people raved over them.  Oh man.

yes!

Directly nextdoor to the blessed establishment that sells pita fries (and is the only one I’ve ever seen as such) is one of my now favorite coffee shops ever.  Their custom creations are divine, their iced coffee delicious (especially a mint mojito iced coffee with a cold banana), and their pourovers represent truly delicious coffee.  It doesn’t help that they’re around the corner from the building in which I spend most of my time.  And I’ve been depriving myself of sleep in a lot of bad ways, and therefore dependent on coffee.  And my coffee-maker supreme husband is not around.  Thus, I am the VIP card champ at this place.

And don’t let that delicious looking red velvet cupcake fool you – I hate to say it but it wasn’t that great.  Really spongy, not very flavorful, yeah.  Their sandwiches are tasty but really super greasy (aiming for the college crowd, I guess) but their once-the-kitchen-is-closed curry chicken wraps are really good.

I guess I’ve been busy, haven’t I?  You wouldn’t believe the amount of schoolwork I’ve gotten done in the midst of all this eating, either!

Enough to warrant a bottle of this, which is the only alcohol I’ve bought to keep at my living space this summer:

textbook, articles, wine cork, bad ideas all abound.

I texted my husband this photo and said, “bad idea or WORST IDEA?”  It turns out it was a little more toward the latter.  Between one, maybe two glasses (read: 1/3 filled plastic crystal cups) of that and putting on old Gilmore Girls while I drowse off to sleep, it helped to drown out the noise coming from the bar directly behind my sublease apartment.  I cannot imagine what the decibel level must have been inside the establishment.  Ugh.

Suffice to say, I’ve had some fun and learned a LOT (irrespective of anything I’ve eaten or not eaten), but I am ready to go home.  After I steal that pita fries recipe.

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the trouble with dinner

is that it is never simple.  Even on a weeknight.

T-storm and I were talking about making dinner.  During the course of one month, before we lived together and we traveled 45 minutes each way to see one another (and did it nearly every single day), we made a list of meals for the entire month.  We accounted for late work nights, out of town weekends, the likes.  We went shopping together, and bought food for our planned out month of meals.  And it worked splendidly.

Now, after a year of living together, that ain’t happenin’.  We’ve tried again, and we just haven’t gotten it right.

So we go to make dinner tonight.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, right?  Just sautee/lightly pan grill/whatever some chicken breasts that are defrosting, pop some rice in the rice cooker.

But then I go to do it.  And it doesn’t feel right.  I’ve got to add in vegetables, and we have all of these spices – we should really use them.  We should make something that tastes delicious, rather than simply sustaining our need for food, right?

Because if you have the capacity to cook something really good, you want to, yes?  Even if it will eventually translate to dishes & work and most of the productive part of the evening shot.

And somewhere else on the interspace, someone will talk about the Food Network show they’re watching, and someone else will post a photo of the dinner they’re eating, and someone else’s foursquare check-in at XYZ restaurant will pop up your phone and you’ll develop dinner envy.

It’s all become very complicated.

Maybe that’s going a little too far, but I know for my group of peers (actually in several different groups of peers of mine), they talk about food constantly.  Almost everyone I know can cook.  Male or female.  It doesn’t matter.  Whether they are self-described freaks or newlyweds who live as though they’re middle-aged, they all cook.  And so do we.  T-storm is very likely a better cook than I am.

Which makes me feel guilty, and motivates me to make really great food for him – not just that desire to get dinner on the table for my future husband.  It’s guilt not out of obligation, but out of a desire to contribute equally.

And so we always drive ourselves crazy having these elaborate weeknight dinners, or planning for such.  Or thinking about what other great food we can make.  Or we eat these elaborate dinners, rich in fats & cheese & potatoes and then we veg out, or worse yet, follow it up with some netflix’d Twilight Zone or Dexter, and then ice cream.  And it puts the fats on our hips.  This is also where it turns from First World Problem to First World Scourge – we both are genetically predisposed to diabetes and neither of us are as skinny as we once were.

Back to dinner tonight.  What starts out as “put some chicken on the stove, rice in the rice cooker,” becomes this (with whole wheat angel hair boiling in a pot on the side):

 

And because no wine goes wasted in this house, any wine left uncorked for too long (hey man, stuff happens) becomes cooking wine.  Which sometimes gets consumed by unknowing houseguests, anyway.

At least this experiment didn’t use up too many dishes.  And it was tasty, and somewhat healthy.  No cheese allowed.  And we paired it with unsweetened iced tea.

The problem is, that if we don’t have time to use spices & wine & what not, we get lazy and go out to eat, even though we have turkey & veggie burgers in the freezer.  But I ate enough Morningstar burgers & bowls of Easy Mac in college to last me a few lifetimes.  Socioeconomically, we’re damn near being yuppies, and if that’s the case, we can at least eat like them (if not eat them).

We operate under the idea that if you can’t do it exceptionally well, then don’t do it at all.  Which seems not uncommon in our generation, but is not always a very productive way to progress.

More thoughts on this later.

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A Modern Couple’s Saturday Morning

Begins in earnest with coffee.  Sipping while doing internet things (together, separately, in the same room).  Then breakfast.  The little soon-to-be-wifey cooks the first real meal she’s cooked in weeks, and delights in it because it makes the whole place smell like rosemary.  And then remembers halfway to put on an apron.  And cooks more!

While cooking there must always be a record played.  Today, we catch up on the purchases from Record Store Day (which was a month and a half ago), and spin the Kill Rock Stars compilation, featuring Olympia, WA’s finest from 1991.  We really loved the Courtney Love track, surprisingly, and my man made horrible faces all throughout the closing track by Jad Fair.  I respect my man for his reaction to such.  It was nice to be cooking to some loud, raucous music.

And we ate.  And he played some Halo.  And we made more coffee.  And I went back online.  And now he’s playing Angry Birds on his new phone.  And that is that.

(Image found on a blog entry where some lady talks about Weight Watchers cookies.  Huzzah!)

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