Concious Recoupling

Now that I don’t have a second job I am inspired to reinvest in the only hobby other than TV that has ever held my attention: cooking. Cooking also makes our household healthier, richer, and prettier. I turned to my number one lifestyle guru Gwynnie for guidance. I opened It’s All Good and made a plan for the week. Of course I don’t really believe in eliminating booze, wheat, dairy or sugar, but the great thing about this cookbook is that if you simply add ice cream and wine to every meal it is a solid lifestyle plan. This cookbook, even if you hate Gwynnie, is amazing. Because it is structured around a detox plan it is really simple and provides everyday recipes rather than dinner party recipes. I find that too many cookbooks focus on impressive meals rather than everyday meals.

So on Sunday I decided to do a little prep for the week and make a dinner that would also be great for weekday lunches.

This posole is stupid easy, cheap and good:

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Then I whipped up her Mexican Green Goddess Dressing for the week, because one of the genius core principles of It’s All Good is that your salads require innovation and forethought in order to succeed. Many of the stunt internet reporters that have tried to only eat from the It’s All Good cookbook have whined about how expensive and time consuming it all was. I call phewy on this. I think these people simply do not cook usually and are not used to cutting vegetables and don’t already have a reasonable pantry.

The dressing was delicious and actually inspired me to have a salad for lunch the next day.

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Then I went renegade, because I ended up at the grocery store without the cookbook and didn’t have a shopping list. So I asked myself, “what would Gwynnie do?” She would obviously stuff roasted poblano peppers with fresh corn, black beans, red onions and a little goat cheese.

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Now, she probably wouldn’t add the cheese, but I think that goat cheese is basically a health food.

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And you know what is really good on anything Mexicanish? Mexican Green Goddess Dressing!

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Then W. was out of the house and I felt ready to go full Gwynnie and only have fish and vegetables.

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Once again, I riffed on classic Gwynnie themes by sauteeing the shrimp in a bit of butter and oil and finishing it with some tarragon and lime.

Recipes from the cookbook that were also total successes:

Mr. Chow’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Thai Turkey Burgers

Siracha Salmon

And yes, you could cook almost all the book’s recipes from the generous plagiarism of the internet, but then you would miss the copious photos of Gwynnie swanning around the Cotswolds with “no-makeup.”

-D

Favorites

I failed summer this year. No barbeques, no picnics, no lakeside retreats. I think I ate tomatoes twice. There are still two weeks left, and maybe I’ll get it together and go to a farmers market. But really my summer favorites have been pretty un-Instgrammable.

First, things I do in dark rooms when it is nice out:

Summer continues to punish me with the lack of television but thank god for Married and Masters of Sex. If you are a fan of Judy Greer and Nat Faxon, the show is basically just a showcase for their charm. There are some cringe comedy elements but people fundamentally love each other on the show. Masters of Sex only gets better and better, and if you were bored by the first few episodes just push through. They are doing things on this show that rival Mad Men’s deft approach to history.

All I did this summer was go to movies. Guardians of the galaxy, Obvious Child, and Boyhood boyhood blew my mind while also delivering pure pleasure.

To be totally honest, the single greatest conveyor of pleasure has been Vivianna Does Makeup’s weekly vlogs on Youtube. The scenes of London, her perfect boyfriend, her delicious meals–so good.

For some reason August has been cool and lovely in New York, so I also have garnered some pleasure from leaving my house:

God answered my prayers and opened up a Kimchi Taco restaurant outside our closest subway stop.

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Pork, fish and fried chicken tacos.

 

Red Hook, our neighborhood, is just generally charming and calm.

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And, the nicest Pakastani family has opened up a Dunkin Donuts on the way to kickboxing. This place sparkles.

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Finally, I have found the ideal way to deal with the excess, heat, and general grossness of Manhattan. I go into the Soho Equinox gym and order an “Acai Bowl,” which is basically this genius thick smoothie in a bowl with toppings. And as I enjoy my cool treat I watch celebrities leave the gym looking sweaty and beautiful.

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So far Dom from “Looking” was the prettiest.

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-D

 

 

 

 

 

Not gross ratatouille

Summer peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and zucchini are upon us. I know that these can all be layered in a quick ratatouille that is both beautiful and efficient, but you know what? That has NEVER worked for me.

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These are finicky vegetables that tend towards soggy grossness. I prefer to create a firm roasted barrier on each vegetable. And thus I must cook them all separately. I actually think this is not that laborious, it just means that you need to take them out when each vegetable is properly roasted (so you need to keep checking every ten minutes).

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But it also means that if you chop the eggplant first, you can pop it in the 425 oven when it is ready to go (coated in olive oil) and then work on your next veggie.

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Then when they are all roasted, I toss them together and their flavors meld just fine.

 

-D

Banana Pancakes

The zucchini lasagna (no noodles) of 2012 and the spaghetti-squash pasta (no pasta) of 2013 were harbingers of the no-carbohydrate comfort trend that now dominate Pinterest. Despite the failures of very watery vegetable pasta, I am glad that I did not dismiss the bananas-in-the-place-of-everything trend that it spawned. Banana ice cream (literally a frozen banana in a cuisinart) is pretty great in the summer, but banana pancakes are my new favorite. These are so virtuous you might need to breakout the chocolate sauce just to bring some balance to your life.

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The “Recipe”:

Mash a banana with two eggs.

If you are feeling fancy, add cinnamon, vanilla, and a tablespoon of some kind of flour (I used coconut).

Drop spoonfuls into a little hot oil (I used coconut) and flip according to basic pancake principles.

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I topped mine with a little peanut butter.

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Done.

-D.

2014 Resolutions

I normally begin each year with a long list of resolutions that I never keep. It’s so much fun to make a list of things that will make me a better me, even if I know I’m very unlikely to change my habits. This year will be different, though.* Instead of a really long list, I’m going to concentrate on just two bigger projects. We’ll see what happens.**

1) Streamline my kitchen duties.

-When I cook even the simplest of meals, it seems to take FOREVER to clean up. Normally, this isn’t a bad thing, as it enables me to listen to my many beloved podcasts. However, I’d like to streamline the process a bit since my life will soon descend into the chaos that is caring for two babies and I won’t have the luxury*** of spending 45 minutes every night restoring my kitchen to gleaming perfection.

-I’d also like to learn to cook on the fly, without depending on recipes so much. I feel like this will help me rely less on fast food and will also help me make better meals from leftovers. If that doesn’t work, I’d like to memorize more recipes.

2) Create a new look for myself.

-I really need to get myself a less schizophrenic and less cheap-ass wardrobe. This might be a goal to put off for several months because I a) just had a baby and will not be at a consistent weight for a bit and b) am poor. However, I could probably start by editing my current closet down to pieces that I actually look good in and wear all the time. I could also window shop for a coherent look that is more age-appropriate than the style I currently have.****

-Be better at makeup and skincare. I’ve got the rosacea under control, and now it’s time to start in on the wrinkles.

C

*Probably not.

**Probably nothing.

***Did I mention I am an insane person who enjoys cleaning when it comes to the kitchen? Don’t I seem like someone you’d love to hang out with?

****Aged late-1990s hardcore fan with a penchant for quirky vintage pieces that never quite fit correctly and make me look slightly crazy.

Balancing the Apollonian and the Dionysian

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As we enter the season of self-castigation and shame spirals, I have two goals: finish all these really fancy chocolate gift boxes and consume a lot of raw kale. In the hopes of raising my smoothie game to the amazing standards set by my chocolate producer, La Maison Du Chocolat, I have several principles that need to be reiterated:

1. the motor of your pulverizing device is huge and can actually heat up what it is blending, so having something frozen in there (whether it is ice or fruit) really helps keep it cool. And the frozen stuff helps the texture.

2. Start with greens like spinach and work your way up to kale. Spinach is mild and soft.

3. Limit the amount of fruit you put in and forget juice altogether or you are going to consume too much sugar.

4. Almond milk (unsweetened) is the perfect smoothie liquid because it has little taste or calories and yet is creamy. Coconut water is also good.

RECIPES

the orange creamsicle:

3 clementines (or one seedless orange), 1 c. almond milk, 1/2 c. water (really good with some vanilla protein powder)

the orange chocolate shake:
1/2 c. spinach, 3 clementines, half a banana, 1 tbs. almond butter, 2 tbs. cocoa powder, almond milk

the green smoothie:
1 cup kale (with stem removed), 1 apple (peeled, apple skin is bizarrely the toughest thing to pulverize), coconut water, an inch of peeled fresh ginger, half a squeezed lemon and ice

The color of sadness smoothie:
1 cup kale, 1/2 c. frozen blueberries, 1 Tbs. almond butter, 1 cup. almond milk

And remember, a bowl of popcorn with some truffle oil and grated pecorino is a legitimate meal, a smoothie is not! Smoothies are like the leggings of food, they are not the pants of food.

Granola-or as close as I get to baking

Scented candles suck, but the perfume of toasted coconut, cinnamon and vanilla wafting through your apartment is excellent. I have recently become obsessed with making my own granola, and it is so easy I make a new batch about once a week. Here is my position on granola: my number one concern is less sugar, not less fat (making most store bought granola unworkable). I want almost a 1/1 ratio of oats to nuts/coconut flakes.

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So here is what I do:

3 cups oats (or quinoa flakes if you live with an insufferable no-grain person)

3 tablespoons coconut oil

3 tablespoons agave/honey/or maple syrup

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix these together and put evenly in a pan, bake at 350 for 5 minutes. Then, add:

2 cups coconut flakes (unsweetened)

1 cup nuts

Bake for another 5 minutes, toss it all around, and bake for 5 more minutes. Add some dried fruit at the end if you want.

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-D

Planning a Week of Meals

I can’t cook dinner every night without a plan, which allows me to buy all the groceries for the week at once. I also don’t get home until 7 at night, which means I have to outsource some of this cooking. I spend a little time on Saturday morning flipping through my best cookbooks and food blogs in order to get inspired. Basic principles: I need to plan to use all meat and fish at the beginning of the week since they shouldn’t be sitting around in my fridge, anything I make needs to take less than 30 min., and every dinner needs at least one substantive vegetable component. Here’s what we are eating this week:

Sunday:

Siracha and lime salmon, with sauteed kale and mashed celeriac, cauliflower, and potatoes (from Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good”)

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Monday:

Spaghetti Squash with peanut sauce, brussels sprouts and sauteed shrimp (I’m off this day so I can make this 40 min recipe)

Tuesday:

Roast chicken and arugula salad (husband will make this). As simple as it gets: salt and pepper a dry chicken, pop it in 445 oven for 55 min.

Wednesday:

Roasted tofu with hoisin sauce, sauteed red peppers and quinoa (husband will make this)

Thursday:

Chard Frittata (from Alice Water’s “The Art of Simple Cooking”)

Friday:

Go out for pizza

 

-D

Best Food Blogs

Do I browse these blogs for the “food writing”? No. I am really only into two forms of “food writing”: restaurant reviews for restaurants I’ll probably never go to, and meditations on food trends like yogurt. But a couple of blogs have become excellent resources for dinner ideas and I browse them weekly for this purpose.

Of course, you probably already know about Smitten Kitchen. There are way too many cake recipes on this blog, but once in a while she really nails the simple dinner dish. Case in point, the tomatoes and farro dish we now make all the time. The only thing I add is a bit of truffle oil at the end (because a little smelly shoe taste never hurt any dish).

Photo by Smitten Kitchen

Photo by Smitten Kitchen

Dishing Up Dirt does not take the prettiest photos, or even make very sophisticated dishes. But if you are wondering how to eat about twice as many vegetables every day, her recipes will help you. She is an organic farmer in Oregon so her recipes also provide a kind of guide to eating in season. I like her chickpea stuffed eggplant.

From Dishing Up Dirt

From Dishing Up Dirt

Dinner a Love Story suffers from an overabundance of food writing (for instance endless narratives about the quirky things their children say), but if you just head over to their recipe index they have so many simple and good dinner ideas. They are all about teaching you a technique that you can use over and over. For instance, cooking fish in parchment paper.

Finally, if I am being really honest, no DIY food blog is as good as the corporate Epicurious, which is essentially back issues of Bon Appetit. The great thing about this website is that you can use it to get a new idea in their recipe of the day section, and you can use it to figure out a dish that you already know you want to make. I actually think you become a better cook by looking at three different recipes for the same dish, like roast pork loin, and then figuring out the principles of that dish. Then you tinker with the recipe to suit your needs. Or you can just make their pretty and perfect featured recipes, like this pumpkin salad.

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-D

Roasted Fall Veggies

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How gorgeous is my purple cauliflower? This is broccoli and purple cauliflower roasted with harissa.

Recipe:

Heat oven to 425, toss vegetables (all cut to the same size) with olive oil, salt and harissa from a tube or made from scratch.

Roast for about 15 min, although the thing with roasting vegetables is you have to just check. I check first when I smell them, then I usually turn them all over and put them in for another 5 min before checking them again.

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