Is there anything that can’t be made wonderful with poached eggs, or with polenta?
A few months ago, I made Dinner: A Love Story’s taco soup (from their first cookbook). The part that threw me the most was a suggested topping: fresh sliced avocado. Doesn’t avocado go in guacamole? It’s a best-served-cold vegetable (fruit!), isn’t it? My friends–be ready to be amazed: fresh sliced avocado is the best thing ever in chicken soup.
yikes–one month in already! Except for a slip of beer (I was so curious to know what J’s new brew tasted like, I forgot it had gluten in it…) and a decision to not be crazed about whether things like salad dressing or oatmeal have gluten in them, it hasn’t been very difficult at all. Here are a few of my favorite things, now that I’m practically a pro:
1. butternut squash soup, above.
2. french toast – using udi’s bread, and if you forget to put the best part (the spices!) in the egg batter, sprinkle them in the syrup before you warm it up (everyone warms up their maple syrup, right?) Warm up your non-stick skillet, combine 2 eggs & about 1/4-1/3 cup milk, 1/2 t cinnamon & 1/8 t nutmeg–if you remember to!, and whip them good. Soak the bread for a few minutes on each side (mine came straight from the freezer, so it could use a healthy dose batter). Then cook on medium heat for 2-4 minutes on each side. It tastes just the same, at least to me!
3. oatmeal (five-minute oatmeal from A Beautiful Mess)- as the mornings get cooler, I relish a warm breakfast; oatmeal is my favorite, especially because the toppings are endless! Of course, The Refectory’s Baked Oatmeal is a fave, too.
4. spaghetti squash carbonara – Jordan headed to North Dakota last week to see his family, and before he left I made a hot-dish to help him acclimate to the Upper Midwest. Unfortunately, I liked it about as much as my camera did (if anyone knows how to make hot-dish photos look hot, let me know):
7. Roast Veggies & Polenta: chop up whatever’s in your fridge–broccoli, peppers, tomatoes (please don’t store them in your fridge!), onions, carrots, combine with olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare some polenta–hint: it’s just grits, yellow cornmeal in boiling water, stir in some cream cheese or goat cheese at the end, if you’re feeling fancy.
About three years ago, I decided on a whim to become an expert soup-maker. It seemed like both an attainable and a noble goal–aside from being super useful! I would now call myself a soup-expert; blended soups, stewy-soups, broths, cold, hot, ramen-y, I’ve made ’em all, and can throw together some pretty great options with a reasonable amount of ease. Thank goodness it’s turning cooler and there are lots of squashes and hardy veggies available and appetizing again–though my mom makes a mean gazpacho, but it’s never been my jam.
Here’s a recipe I use all the time with lots of flexibility; it’s “naturally” gluten-free and freezes so beautifully:
Melt some butter and olive oil in a pot (I use my 4-qt dutch oven); add one chopped onion and some garlic, if you like it. If you’ve got some celery and/or carrots that need to be used up, throw them in with the onion (chopped, of course). Let those “aromatics” get soft, and maybe even a little bit brown (i love the flavor when onions get burnt around the edges, so sweet!).
Depending on when you’ve finished chopping the butternut squash (could be 1-2 pounds, or larger–whatever you’ve got; could also be a sweet potato or a few, instead!), throw it in and let it get a little color, too. If your other veggies are already pretty far gone, add 1/2 – 1 cup white wine and scrape up the delicious bits of veggie and juice stuck to the bottom of the pot, and then add the squash.
Once all the vegetables are in with the wine, add chicken broth (or vegetable broth–or whatever gluten-free broth you want–I make my own, so I know what’s in it) to cover the vegetables by about an inch. Add salt & pepper, and if you’re feeling wild, about 1 tablespoon curry powder. You could throw in thyme instead, or rosemary–especially if you’ve used sweet potatoes. Let the soup simmer till the squash is tender (when you poke it with a knife, it easily yields), and then let it cool a bit. Either use an immersion blender (highly recommended) or a usual blender (in batches, so that the top doesn’t fly off!) to make a smooth soup, and then serve with goat cheese & more S&P, or ladle into bags or tupperware (or ice cube trays!) to freeze (if you use ziploc bags, lay them on a cookie sheet–they’ll freeze flat and then you can stack them for efficient storage!).
1. Sam Smith.
This man’s music has been the soundtrack to an intense week. Having started listening to him (inspired by NPR) when I was traveling this summer, his music is an instant pick-me-up.
2. the lemon gingertini. Clearly, inspiration lurks everywhere: after sampling this cocktail at LAB last week, I came home and immediately bought an intense amount of ginger to recreate it. Here’s the recipe I’ve settled:
0.75 oz lemon juice (why not make it fresh? It’s about 1 lemon for 2 drinks)
0.75-1 oz ginger syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, about 10 inches chopped fresh ginger–in a saucepan on medium head. Let the sugar dissolve, then let the ginger steep for 45 minutes or so–low or no heat–and strain. Keep in the fridge)
2 oz gin
3. The intense week. This was my favorite. Truly. I had super meaningful breakfast, lunch, coffee, and dinner dates with dear people who challenge and inspire me; they remind me that I do this work because my deepest joy is listening to God with others. As I told one of them, “If I didn’t have a job, if I wasn’t paid, for fun–I’d just make lunch dates with friends and hear about what God is doing in their lives.”