Friday, October 15, 2010

On the Off-Chance That You're Hungry. Or Have a Cold.

For the most part, I'm pretty even keeled. I'm not given to fits of melodrama, (barring the occasional woe-is-me couch sleep). I imagine the people in my life know what to expect of me - and it's usually nothing extra exciting. I guess what I'm trying to say is - I err on the side of boring.

But when it comes to cooking? I'm a study in extremes. I'm Giadda and a college student and Martha and an overworked Congressional aide, all rolled into one. I'm homemade marinara and Spaghettios, roasted pork loin and cold cereal at ten p.m.

One week I'm burning up the kitchen, walking around with flour streaks on my t-shirt, a brown-sugar mustache, garlic-scented fingertips. The next week I can't be bothered to chop an onion.

Rinse and repeat.

Tonight I rebelled altogether and we ate out. $30 dollars later, I regretted the whole darn thing. The food was fine, but not great. And in true fashion, I kept thinking, "We could have ordered pizza twice for that amount."

Earlier this week we had spaghetti with Prego from the jar - no add-ins. Frozen bread.

You get the point.

The kitchen and I are mostly ebbing right now.

But last week?

Last week I was on my game. I tried four brand new recipes and all were slam dunks.

Sadly, most of the meals were entirely unfit for photos. They were a sloppy mess! Bags under their eyes, untucked shirts, ratty hair.

Oh wait, that was me...

But trust me, they weren't Homecoming Queen material, that's for sure.

Except for this girl.

She's not exactly an exotic beauty, but she's a definite front-runner for Miss Congeniality.

She had us all feeling cozy and happy to be alive.

(Incidentally, have I ever mentioned my queasiness over the word "stoup"? I hear it and my gag reflex engages. Plus, it sounds like it's short for "stupid" and that's just plain rude.)

We enjoyed our chicken and rice soup along with Pioneer Woman's rosemary rolls. These take 5 minutes of active work and with just one bite, you will never go back.

I'm not sure what exactly you'll never go back to, but I'm telling you - you will not go.

Finally, and much too late in the season, I happened upon this lusty tomato tart.

It may or may not have been discovered in Glamour Magazine - a highbrow tome of culinary domesticity if ever there was one.

But it was delish! And easy.

Divine Tomato Tart from Questionable Origins:

Thaw one sheet of frozen puff pastry
Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and prick with a fork
Arrange thinly sliced tomatoes evenly - do not overlap
Scatter fresh thyme leaves over tomates
Drizzle tart with olive oil
Season with salt and pepper
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown

I served the tart with this sausage and tortellini stew* and it proved to be a winning combo.

As for me, I'm sipping a cup of tea and getting ready to climb between flannel sheet with a new book. I'm plum tuckered out. And, well, boring.

*My stew was started in the slow cooker and finished on the stove-top, since it seemed like the sausage wasn't cooked through.