April 30, 2012

Re-integrating Part 2 (or How to Chop an Onion)

Tonight, lasagna.

I realized this weekend that the key ingredient to me feeling reintegrated into my routine is chopping an onion.  It is comforting.  It is comfortable.  It means I am making a meal from scratch.  It means that garlic is soon to follow, and then who knows?  It doesn't really matter what comes next.  Onions start most of our dishes.

Last year we grew all of our own onions for the Fall 2011-Summer 2012 year.  We planned out how many onions we eat a week (4, on average) and then simply multiplied it by 52.  Then - BAM - we planted 208 onion seeds.  No big deal.

Actually it was.

It was my greatest gardening achievement to date.  They were big, beautiful, robust, flavorful, tear-inducing and plentiful.  I braided a few onions together, too.  For eight months now, we have reached into the crate in the closet day after day, and grabbed our own onion babies and returned to the kitchen to chop chop chop.  From seed to bulb to cast iron.

I was taught to chop an onion when I was working at Great Harvest Bread Co.  At Thanksgiving time (the busiest season for GHBC), we made "stuffing bread" with onions, celery, sage and other stuffing flavors.  So we had to chop hundreds of onions.  I went from rookie to well, a shade past a rookie real quick.  But now I get it.  And it's one of the skills I am so thankful I have.

It's quite simple and fast.  Jacques Pepin has a great video.  But I like Julia Child's description in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  If you learn one kitchen skills, make this be it.  You won't regret it.

Onion seedlings.

Despite the dark closet, they know it's spring time.

April 27, 2012


My recent absence from the blog world is due to a work trip that took me to Portland OR for the Specialty Coffee Association of America's annual conference and tradeshow.  It was HUGE - over 10,000 people in attendance, and over 5 days of chock-a-block workshops, booth time, receptions, parties, dinners and schmoozing.

It was exhausting and fun and a great experience.

Now I am struggling to get back to life.  It is so hard, and I don't know why!  It could be part jet-lag, part recovering from a varying sleep schedule (or lack of sleep entirely, given that I slept for about 6% of the red-eye).  Either way, this week has been torture.

The torture is mostly about my sleep (I just can NOT get out of bed!).  But it's also about eating.  I am usually so good about having a plan, and having food, and having back up food.  But I am so tired, that I just can't think about planning or grocery shopping or food preparation.  Ugh.

This happened back in March when I went to NYC for another coffee tradeshow.  That wasn't even a different timezone; it was just a long weekend.  And it took me TWO WEEKS to get back into the rhythm of eating.

My recovery ends up being a week of eating out - both lunch and dinner.  And Ry is right along with me, because he is just as thrown off after being solely responsible for his food for a week or so, and then I come back and pass my discombobulation off to him, too.  We're just one hot (hungry) mess.

I am confident however, that because the weekend is tomorrow, we'll get back on track.  We even made a shopping list for after work tonight, and have an idea of what we're going to have for dinner.  Thank goodness.

April 4, 2012

Weekly Menu 4/1 - 4/7

It's been a grilled cheese kind of week so far.  It's OK to have the same thing two days in a row, right?

Sunday - beef fajitas with sauteed onions and peppers.

Monday - Kate's Nuggs (made by Ry with extra love and extra marinating time - delish) and grilled cheese and avocado on homemade oatmeal molasses bread. I made it from the Tassajara Bread Book, and have finally dare-I-say mastered? the yeasted bread recipe enough to add fun ingredients.

Tuesday - Spring Harvest Parsnip Soup (that I invented!  Recipe coming soon, although, spoiler alert, it's pretty much just like the Squash Bisque recipe, just with parsnips instead of butternut squash...) and grilled cheese and avocado on homemade oatmeal molasses bread. Threw some broccoli into the soup for added BOOM.  And nutrients.

Wednesday - Sweet Potato and Black Bean enchiladas.  I am SO excited.

Thursday - Uh-oh.  Forgot about Thursday.  Looks like we won't be eating after all.

Friday - heading to Massachusetts for an Easter/Birthday weekend with the fam, so who knows what we'll eat tonight.

Saturday - Dad's Birthday Dinner - 2 Roast Chickens, fancy bread from VT, braised parsnips, spinach salad, and I get to make a cake - oh, what to make!?!  When the world is my oyster like this, I am sometimes wrought with indecision.  It's not everyday I get to make a birthday cake of my choice!

 Here is a picture for today that will indicate the theme of my next blog post...