What I’m Cooking: October

My kitchen and I have fallen into a rut.

It’s partly that I’ve been busy, which makes it more tempting to buy takeout and premade food. But it’s also because I’m underwhelmed by my CSA this year: I had to switch to a new farm, and the bimonthly selection is both smaller and less satisfying than what I used to receive from the old farm, leaving gaps in my meal plan. Friends who had disappointing CSA experiences while I was raving about mine, I now know how you felt and I’m sorry.

All the same, I’d like to return to my previously rigorous cooking habits. I like the food I make, and I like the feeling of accomplishment and creativity it can bring. And some of the times I’ve been happiest cooking are the times I’ve written about it, as when I blogged about my CSA or wrote about my food practices while underemployed.  Writing about cooking transforms it into a more meaningful experience for me. It also holds me accountable: I have certainly typed up a meal plan into a blog post, then reluctantly dragged myself to the kitchen to execute it.  Rarely do I ever regret taking the trouble on either end.

So, here’s what I’ve been cooking lately:

  • Bok choy and green bean stir fry in peanut dressing. The dressing used to be based on this Martha Stewart recipe, but I’ve made it so many times I just eyeball it and use what I have. I like mine with a substantial amount of ginger and chili-garlic sauce.
  • A variation on these fruit bars, made by pouring fruit puree onto the crust before baking instead of cooking the fruit at the same time as the crust. I tend to have a jar or two of fruit puree around because I’ll buy an enormous amount of peaches or plums when I’m at the market, knowing it might be awhile before I can buy more. When the fruit starts to get soft I treat it like applesauce, cooking it down with very little water and no sugar unless one component is super tart, like rhubarb or cranberries. Then I eat it for breakfast with yogurt and granola, or bake it into these bars. This time the puree was made from peaches, plums, and concord grapes.

What I’d like to cook, now that it’s autumn and my schedule is changing:

  • I have a big bag of ginger root, and I need to peel and dice it. Some of it might spice up my cooking but most of it will go into ginger beer!
  • I get a bimonthly egg CSA too, but I haven’t been baking much and I’m way behind on my eggs. Maybe deviled eggs for a gathering of friends are in order.
  • Speaking of gatherings, I am excited about mulling wine now that the weather is cooler.

And because writing and cooking are so closely related for me, here are some things I’m writing:

  • A chapter for an upcoming edited volume about food and modernism. I’ll be adapting one of my dissertation chapters, which is about The Unpossessed by Tess Slesinger.
  • A tour of the food art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, for a local food magazine.

What are you cooking?

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4 responses to “What I’m Cooking: October

  1. Welcome to the lackadaisical CSA club! I remember the feeling like I was wasting my disappointing produce every week. Sort of makes me want to jump back into the experience again, just to see if I could be more creative with my produce this time around (and given my new appreciation for radishes.)

    My new favorite egg trick: letting an egg steam on top of a dish. I mean, when something’s finished cooking, try cracking an egg over the top, covering it for 3-4 minutes, and then immediately serving while still soft and runny. That’s gross, I know, but it does amazing things to fried rice and pasta and corned beef hash and Khachapuri and so on. If your eggs are getting old, you COULD devil them. Or imagine a … a party frittata. (I’m stretching here. Deviled eggs are my nemesis.)

    • Ahhh I’m having the opposite problem, I’m not really getting enough produce to waste. It’s hard to quantify vegetables–weight? quantity?–but it feels like about 3/5 of what I’m used to getting. And there’s always an onion and 1-3 herbs, which I don’t consider food so much as seasoning. So I can either make my preferred veggie-packed stir frys and stews and run out fast, or I can spread the veggies out but feel less excited about what I make. So sad.

      However, incorporating eggs into regular dishes is great and I should definitely do it more often. I always cook with the aim of making leftovers and eggs can sort of complicate that, but I should at least be hard-boiling them and eating them alongside my work lunches, right? There’s no excuse for my nEGGlect and I actually think the soft-cooked egg sounds great. But please tell me what Khachapuri is.

      • I hadn’t even heard of Khachapuri until my sister-in-law, who is a Russia-phile (okay, I admit I made that up) described it to me. It’s sort of like a calzone that isn’t sealed, topped with cheese, butter, and an egg. The ultimate heart clog nightmare comfort food.

        http://gothamist.com/2014/04/29/khachapuri.php

        I regularly make an Americanized version: one pizza crust topped with mozzarella, feta, and crumbled bacon – and then 2-3 raw eggs. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the egg is semi-done, and pierce before serving so that the yellow yolk oozes everywhere. Gently rub with a cold pat of butter. There is no day it won’t fix. I feel horrible describing it, like I just explained how to smoke a pack of cigarettes all at once, but just… just try it once.

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