simple stay home supper

When I ventured to the grocery store recently, there was one little fresh cabbage left in the bin. It was missing most of its outer leaves. I picked it up. Put it back down. It reminded me of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. I retrieved it and took it home.

I braised the little cabbage in a bath of chicken broth. It fed us well last night, along with a baked sweet potato and garlic-roasted pork tenderloin.

We are grateful to be in a place of comfort and relative safety here in the Longleaf woods, but our hearts are breaking for New York and the other hardest hit areas.

Toad in the Hole

I love a supper that makes me smile. Toad in the Hole is best in class on that score. It’s comfort food, too, especially after full days of meetings in offices, meetings in restaurants, meetings at our home. After all that talking, I want to put on my soft clothes, sit on the sofa with Buck and drink a nice scotch with a splash of water, enjoy a warm plate of Toad in the Hole, and go to bed.

Busting Out of the Culinary Doldrums

Oh man, did we ever make a Homeric mess in the kitchen two nights ago. It was glorious.

Do you ever go through a period when everything tastes like sawdust and you have no interest in food? Especially no interest in shopping for or preparing it. You want somebody to put a plate in front of you at your desk so you can keep on working and not have to bother with any of it.

Buck and I have been in danger of ossifying into culinary dullards.

We busted out Thursday night. It warn’t pretty, but it sure was a party. We decided to use the old electric griddle and try our hand at Teppanyaki-style shrimp, steak, veggies and rice. And sake. Quite a bit of sake, actually.

What can I say? We needed a break. Sure was fun, too.

Don’t you love how the Nike Swoosh glows bright gold on Buck’s shirt from my camera’s flash? Makes him look like a starship officer, all ready to beam up.

Our first course was these tender hibachi-style shrimp dipped in a mixture of Japanese soy sauce, grated ginger, rice wine, sesame seeds and scallions. We probably should have stopped right there.

This is for two people. Looks like there should have been leftovers, right? Nope. My favorite part was the zucchini, onions and Shitake mushrooms.

Pretty little chopsticks, all pristine before they went to work.

Yellowfin Tuna with Grilled Onions and Spinach

Sometimes a day just comes together and comes out even in a delightful way: a morning of writing on a new fiction short story that had my pen flying across the yellow legal pad with an excitement for writing I haven’t felt for a while, a veggie lunch with Buck, a self-indulgent hair appointment, a fly-by in the grocery store for tuna, spinach, potatoes and a mild onion, dinner, and fragrant clean sheets on our bed.

Night all. Sweet dreams.

Frog-Leg-Free Zone

I would have missed this little fellow, but Buck’s sharp eyes spotted him. No frog legs for dinner around here. I sent Buck for take-out lasagna from a little neighborhood bistro called Petrellas. The tomato sauce was a little raw, the filling heavy, with an unpleasant congealed texture, and the seasonings more north Florida than south Italy, but the folks are nice, and I didn’t have to lift a finger, only a fork. It’s just one supper, and I was glad to get it.

Hungry Writer Grilled Chicken

A new Southeast Review writing regimen starts October 1. Hard work, and the best 15 bucks you’ll ever spend.  I mean, it’s tough. Demanding. I have never fully taken advantage of all it has to offer, but I always sign up, I always do something worth keeping (at least as a seed tree), and I always save all the old regimens. They are sent to you every day via email for 30 days. Highly, highly recommended.

I figure I need to feed my brain some good lean protein to prep for the upcoming SER regimen. Tonight fit the bill: grilled boneless chicken breast (marinated in Italian dressing and ground herbs), plus roasted asparagus, yellow squash and the ubiquitous slow-roasted tomatoes.  Half a glass of dry red: as much as I needed and almost as much as I wanted.  Will top dinner off with a couple of bites of dark chocolate. Life is good.

Salsa Chicken Breast

I forget about black beans. And then I remember them. This easy comfort food supper is a keeper. First, I put a couple of boneless chicken breasts in a zip-lock style bag. Next, I pounded them,  (using a wonderful smooth rock I picked up on a Maine coast years ago), then added some mild Pace chunky salsa and let them marinate in the fridge for an hour or so. Meanwhile, I sauteed a big onion, a couple of garlic cloves and a huge green pepper in a smear of olive oil, seasoned with a teaspoon of cumin and another of thyme, then added a can of diced tomatoes and two cans of rinsed and drained black beans. This mixture needed a little liquid, so I added about 1/2 cup of old white wine that’s been sitting in the refrigerator for ages, plus a few shakes of white wine vinegar and Tabasco sauce.

We have a terrific orange Le Creuset grill pan inherited from an ex-law. It’s perfect for indoor grilling a couple of chicken breasts. I made some brown rice to go under the black beans. Only thing I forgot was some sour cream, which would have been great on the beans.

I’m going to eat a bowl of leftover beans and rice for lunch. Yum.

Squash Casserole and Greens

When Tropical Storm Lee blew out of here, it took a lot of hot air with it, and left us with the feel of an early, classic Gulf coast autumn. My appetite suddenly turned to Hopkins Boarding House squash casserole, collard greens, turnip roots and a wedge of stone ground cornbread.

I cooked the greens with a small piece of smoked turkey leg and a generous shake of dried cut red peppers. The shaker top was inexplicably missing on the red pepper jar, and so that “generous shake” was more like a free pour. No hot pepper sauce needed. They were great!

A Girl’s Gotta Eat

An earthquake in Washington, D.C. Not now, Lord, please, we have a son and two granddaughters living in a high-rise in Alexandria, Virginia. Richard and Krista work in tall buildings and Ariel, an architecture student at Virginia Tech just down the road. They are a long-distance commute family at the moment with mom, Sharon, working and living in Pensacola along with youngest daughter, soccer-playing/International Baccalaureate high school junior, April. Sharon is flying to her D.C. chicks and hubby this morning for a combination of work-related training and weekend play.

Various branches of the family connected via Facebook and determined everybody’s fine. I loved Krista’s status post: “we’re all ok! ariel’s back in class; dad’s biking home and i’m sitting here in the apartment stress-snacking!”

Thank God I was born with a cast iron stomach. Despite fretting over the old dog, keeping my seat belt on while riding the roller-coaster market, kids suddenly in an earthquake, with hurricanes revving up and the unpleasantness of stepping on a great big still-alive cockroach when I was sorting laundry this morning and hearing that awful “click” sound under my foot, a girl’s gotta eat.

Soy-and-Ginger-Marinated Pork Chops, Baby Bok Choy with Chile, Garlic, and Ginger, and Herb and Scallion Rice

This looks like a meal that will help me keep my strength up! in fact, I know it will, since I fixed it last week. Looks like a plan for tonight unless we get inspired and go down to Maria’s Seafood for a mess of shrimp.

I got all the recipes from a September, 2011 Martha Stewart Living magazine. They were printed on little index-type cards that you can rip right out, which I did. These are keepers.

Buck looked at the rice and said, “That rice is green.”

“Yep,” I said.

Then he ate it, every bite, and asked if I would make it again soon.


All for One and One for All

Photos are worth the effort. Even at the end of a relaxed Sunday evening when the clock chimes a reminder of the early Monday morning coming too soon.

Sitting around the old mahogany trestle table, supper has ended but stories are yet to be told. My friends (step-children according to the official record) and I share a wee dram of coffee liqueur.

All for One & One for All