WIAW 102 – February Doldrums
Hey – it’s winter!
It snowed some more, and it’s supposed to snow again today (maybe – it keeps changing) and it will be really cold this weekend, just when we’re all starting to look forward to Spring.
But there we are. It’s the Lunar New Year – the Year of the Monkey – so I have friends on social media putting up pictures of dumplings and soup and muttering things about Ten Treasures and offering cognac to the ancestors. Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival, whatever your tradition calls it (if anything…) so other friends talked about pancakes and King cakes. Today is Ash Wednesday, so a smaller number of friends are avoiding meat or sweets, or eating lightly (and some are considering other – offerings? Disciplines? Practices of one kind or another…)
But this post is not about what I ate today, but last Sunday. Nothing special about the day… I went out to Greenmarket and bought a butternut squash. I’m playing around a bit with my schedule – I want to get out and walk in the morning, as I really haven’t been just outdoors enough lately. So often I’ll just walk around the neighborhood, or down to the river (it is so lovely to have that as an option!) Other times, though, I’ll go to Greenmarket, or some of the specialty stores in the area – a longer walk, but there have been too many times I thought I would go in the afternoon and was unable to. Hopefully, this way I’ll actually get out for fresh air and sunshine! (Though the snow – or threatened snow – this week has not been encouraging!)
First, though, I will eat my breakfast, as I did on Sunday. I believe in exercising with fuel in my system – and I am not a morning person, and need to wake up a bit before I wander out! I already wrote about the Chipotle Pulled pork. I did not write that, when I took the meat out of the slow cooker, I put soaked Roman beans in, with more water, to cook in the last of the pork liquid, and soak up that flavor. When they were cooked, I took my handy immersion blender and used it to create “refried” beans… not fried at all, of course, but rich and flavorful anyway. (And I added the chipotle puree I’d put in a dish for the photo shoot…) So my breakfast tacos were the beans and a bit of the meat – delicious!
I still had lentils for soup, so added some broth, carrot and onion, some frozen vegetables, and had lunch. The meal needed a bit more oomph, so I put peanut butter on my rice cakes…I’ve made more interesting soup, but it was all right on a day when I was busy with other things.
I am in search of the elusive Natural Light for Photography. See – we have a Southern exposure, so we actually get plenty of light – but this half of the year the low sun pours directly through the window and, even with a curtain it can be harsh. (Once I block the glare sufficiently, it’s dark…) I’m doing better all the time with rigged artificial lighting, but I do still see the difference, when I get good natural light… so I keep trying.
This is all to explain that I cooked dinner in midafternoon, to get pictures for the post… (And still didn’t get the light I wanted – storm clouds rolled in just as I started to set up!) So all the pictures of my Italian Sausage and Ceci are of a nice big serving bowl of stew, with sometimes the edge of another bowl, placed coyly to suggest that it might have some other component of dinner in it.
When it came closer to dinner time, I returned it all to the pan to finish simmering, and made polenta and microwaved frozen broccoli. And totally and completely forgot to take another picture… so you just get another one of the stew in the bowl. It is what we ate.
Somehow it always feels as if I’m “cheating” to show you a day when we ate the food I cooked to write about – which is, when you get down to it, silly, since I usually write two recipes a week and most of them are dinner… I do try to give myself more lead time than this – cooking Sunday for Monday’s post – but it does happen.
The stew was excellent with polenta. We’ll eat the rest of it tomorrow (probably with rice) because I needed something we could carry to reheat, and this will be lovely. Braised dishes are useful for that – hold it a few days and the flavor melds. Reheat it and it is just more succulent. And the sausage and chickpeas are firm enough that it does not affect the texture adversely – this one still has bite to it. I may double this recipe and make a big stewpot of it, and keep it, instead of my usual chili, in the freezer to use in a pinch. It’s always good to have a few dishes you can do that with.
Because it is February, and cold, and we’re in the doldrums. But we have holidays (and Holy Days) that remind us that we can start fresh – and I’ve seen the first tweet on my feed from Florida about the first strawberries coming in… Spring is on the horizon.