I am a few weeks ahead of the Buffy rewatch, which is important for sanity reasons and nice for the Tor.com folks too. Anyway, it worked out that this week I wrote the column for “Surprise” and “Innocence,” which I called “A Very Unhappy Birthday.”
Anyway, by some peculiarity of timing, it’s now my birthday… whee! And it started at 12:30 a.m. when our downstairs neighbor started pounding nails right under our sleeping heads. They’re replacing the windows in our building, and just got to her suite, and I’m sure there are things needing remounting. She was very apologetic. She hadn’t realized it was so late. But Still!
My plans today are modest: running out to play a quick round of 1-800-I Gave You Life, you Give Me Tech Support! with Barb, a little teaching, a big late lunch at the home of cheesy goodness on Hastings, Au Petit Chavignol.
And, if I get lucky, maybe a nap. Meanwhile, here’s your gift: a visit to Youtube for my favorite birthday earworm.
More than five years ago, I read an article in McLeans (I must’ve been waiting on a doctor and desperate for entertainment) that said the average Canadian family has five meals that it prepares regularly. I took this to mean supper standbys–the things you can whip up quickly, without looking at a recipe. Things everyone in the household will eat. Either you almost always have the ingredients stocked or you can buy them handily in a nearby grocery, on autopilot, forgetting nothing even if you’ve just had brain surgery. You know what I’m saying.
It seemed like a shockingly low number. I went home and my own pile of standbys exceeded it by a factor of three, I’d say–there were about fifteen things in the three-ring binder of Alyx recipes that were the real deal, as opposed to things I’d printed out, cooked once or twice, and then left to accumulate little food smudges as their pages drifted to the back of the recipe binder.
The magazine article inspired me to make an ongoing effort to expand the standby roster by at least a few recipes each year, and also to periodically back-burner recipes so Kelly and I don’t get too tired of them.
It works pretty well, but even though I’m paying more-than-average attention to this little element of our quality of life (average as determined by McLeans, you understand) little ruts still develop. I gravitate to certain kinds of recipes–soups and stews, a lot of the time, high on the veggie content and nutritional virtue, things that make extra freezable portions for those nights when all I want to do is make a salad and boil something. They’re hearty and warming and especially good in the winter, recipes that aren’t fussy, whose components aren’t too pricey.
My recemt campaign to cook new stuff has mostly been facilitated by the Epicurious app for the iPhone–specifically, the low-calorie mains section. But I did a tofu search last week, because I had a motley collection of leftover ingredients in the fridge: half a brick of bean curd, broccoli, light coconut milk. This recipe, which features lemon grass, also gave me an opportunity to try out something I’ve seen in one of the local groceries–toothpaste-y tubes of herbs, preserved in citrus juice and a bit of oil.
(One can buy lemongrass on the Drive, of course, and we do. But every so often there’s a phase where all of what’s available is shockingly moldy and I don’t want the spores in the house.)
This was subtle and delicious and–if you’re pepper-averse–not too spicy. I used less oil and rice than was called for, and didn’t miss either. There’s a snapshot here, if you are curious.
I made the above curry last night; I found it using the Epicurious app. I used light coconut milk rather than the full-bore stuff, and it came off really well. It also made about eight one-cup servings, which means for one hour’s work I got four nights of dinner.