Let’s cut straight to food, because January is so last month, and whatever eating resolutions you did or didn’t make for the first month of the new year have either become habit or been dismissed. And Lent doesn’t start until March. And, Valentine’s. So let’s love food together for a minute or two.
The best thing I cooked last week was a delicious surprise enjoyed only by me at first and then also by my neighbors when I re-heated the leftovers for our annual Super Bowl gathering (at which we never watch the game). My people, the ones who live in this house with me, wouldn’t touch it. Why? It was green.
The slightly misleading title of the recipe, from bon appétit, is “farro with roasted mushrooms.” A better, though less appealing, title might have read: weirdly green but tasty vegetarian-ish comfort food. The general idea of the dish is a spinach sauce (puréed until very smooth) that coats chewy farro grains that are then topped with oven-roasted mushrooms. The spinach sauce is both the key to the taste and the cause of the potentially off-putting color. It’s seriously green. Not “ooh, I love pesto” green; Elphaba green. But I promise it tastes good.
You could probably follow the directions in the recipe, but I did not (because recipes are suggestions). Here are the basics:
- Cook some farro (about a cup, dry). I did not soak the farro ahead of time, as the recipe suggested; I did not look for the fancy-pants farro specified in the recipe, either. If you’ve never had farro, it’s chewy like barley and tastes nutty and delicious. Also: fiber, good nutrition, et cetera. Also, also: made from wheat and not an option for gluten-free people.
- While the farro is cooking, toss coarsely chopped mushrooms in a good bit of oil and pop them in the oven to roast. I did not follow the instructions to roast on a rack, because I didn’t feel like washing all those pans. I used a parchment paper on a baking sheet. Next time, for the record, I’ll probably just cook the mushrooms on the stove top in butter and wine.
- Make spinach sauce. I sautéed white onion (didn’t have shallots) and spinach in olive oil, with a good bit of garlic and some salt. (I did not use fresh spinach (even though it would taste better) because I didn’t feel like washing it. Also, I didn’t have any on hand.) I spooned the cooked spinach mix into a bullet blender, added a little cream (because cream makes everything taste better) and some chicken stock (because we are not vegetarian). Blend until it’s a smooth as soup. The recipe calls for running it through a sieve after blending, but I didn’t do that (again: too many dishes to wash).
- Drain the farro, if there’s any water left (or just turn up the heat and cook it off); stir in the spinach sauce (I used all of it); spoon into bowls, and top with mushrooms, squeeze a little lemon juice on it, and then finish with a bit of grated Parmesan (no, that’s not in the recipe, either).
Here’s how mine turned out (before I tasted and decided that it needed Parmesan):
Other things we cooked last week, that were not part of the original plan:
- Indian fry bread stuffed with shredded pork (cooked in the Instant Pot, as an experiment) and cilantro: this was Bernard’s creation, and it was great. And I have no idea how he made it, except that I’m sure that’s the fry bread recipe he had open on my iPad.
- Pan-fried polenta squares, over a bed of arugula, topped with garlic marinara: made polenta (yes, it’s just grits), spread it in a Pyrex and let it cool. (I used mostly chicken broth, with a bit of wine and cream for the cooking liquid). Turned the cooled slab onto a cutting board, made 4-inch squares, and fried them in butter/olive oil mix until crisp and brown around the edges. Forgot that this process is a grease-spattering mess (and hazard), but it was very tasty. it was my second try cooking polenta in the Instant Pot – won’t do it again because it needs stirring while cooking).
It was cold and gray most of the week, so cooking was enjoyable. By the weekend it was sunny and in the 60s (because that’s how Memphis is), and cooking was still enjoyable.
Also enjoyable: making Valentine’s cards, getting ready for the Ghost River Brewing Shop Small Valentine’s event on Saturday, February 9. If you’re in Memphis, come by – 12 to 4. Because what is more fun that drinking good beer and coloring Valentine’s cards to send to your friends???
Reading & Listening
The good and bad thing about being ahead of a trend, or movement, is that the groundswell feels both affirming and irritating. When this USA Today article ran, it was affirming to read that “people are starting to understand” something the therapists I work with have known for years. A good next step would be to update state statutes to reflect this “new” understanding. Only 14 states currently consider witnessing domestic violence to be a form a child abuse. Time for that to change.
On a lighter note, though also something I read because of my work: “Got Anger? Try Naming It to Tame It.”
For pure delight: Calvin Trillin on true love and being a good man
Trying to KonMari your electronic correspondence? Ha! “Don’t Reply to Your Emails: The Case for Inbox Infinity”
On changing business dynamics: How new start-ups are telling venture capitalists to get lost
And again, in case you missed it in a recent post, “Passing Mary Oliver at Dawn”
Also, some humor: “The status of the shits women have left to give”
Reading the riveting “A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deception” does make me curious to read The Woman in the Window. Maybe. But first I’m going to dive in to A Three Dog Life, by Abigail Thomas.
Our book group read An American Marriage (didn’t like) and will soon read The Red-Haired Woman (Orhan Pamuk). But now the rest of the group is reading The Overstory (and probably cursing me for recommending it, because it is long… but good).
Trying to get back in the habit of walking, I’ve been listening to podcast (like the rest of the world), and blew through Dirty John and Dr. Death in a few short days. On a more regular basis, I love the Proof to Product podcast by Katie Hunt (woman chasing her dream) who showcases women-owned, product-based businesses (other women chasing their dreams). If you’re interested in small business or marketing or just good stories about women in business, give a listen.
I retract my endorsement of the Scrub Daddy. Shark Tank RUINED it. It’s now a cheap product that does not deliver on any of its promises. Bummer.
But I have a new discovery that I rather love: dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse. Joy!