Seriously, it warms my heart to discover that certain of you miss my posts enough to write in when I'm silent for a time. But one of you (Mae) has outdone herself, not only expressing her concern over my busy schedule, but also leaving a detailed comment (scroll down to her April 27 comment) about quick-and-easy cooking that practically qualifies her as a guest blogger AND giving me, as a not-so-subtle kick in the pants, a suggestion for my next post. So, out of gratitude for Mae's information and inspiration, I am going to take her suggestion and blog about quickies.
Not that kind of quickies. Boy, you people always seem to have sex on the mind. I am referring to quick MEALS that can be prepared in minutes when your schedule is as crazy as mine has been lately.
|For you crackpots who are here only for the titillation factor, this picture should get your juices flowing. The rest of us will focus on the juices bubbling in our crockpots.|
So what have I been up to, that — as Mae correctly surmised — has kept me out of not only the blogosphere, but also the kitchen? Happily, it's been mostly teaching. Even if Mariah has not yet called me for lessons, it seems everyone else has. My student load (what an awful word — I actually adore my students and do not consider them a burden at all) is pretty much maxed out right now. As a new teacher, I was told by mentors that a time would come when my practice would become self-sustaining, and, after 8 years, I seemed to have reached this phase. Between returning former students, referrals from current students, and new people who find me through my website/singing blog, I have been able to maintain a comfortable volume of teaching for a while now. (But there'll always be room for you, Mariah! Just get my contact info from your hubby Nick, who FORGOT TO READ IT ON THE AIR. But who's bitter?)
Besides the expanded teaching schedule, I have been occupied with working out under the guidance of my new most excellent trainer, Tom, walking the dogs more now that the weather has gone seemingly overnight from frigid to sweltering, and just indulging my mysterious affinity for sitting around with a cup of tea and perhaps a crossword puzzle.
- Leftovers! Of course, this option depends on your having had time to cook sometime in the (relatively recent) past and having had the wherewithal to freeze a portion or two. I've been in my non-cooking mode for long enough now to have denuded my freezer of quick meals to reheat. Having thawed the last container of leftover kitcheree, I am now down to the not-very-promising combination of coffee beans, fish stock, and ice cubes. Iced cod-fee, anyone?
- Eggs. What a perfect food. They are delicious, filling, versatile, and inexpensive. (We are addicted to Whole Foods organic eggs, finding them to have a buttery intensity of which we never tire.) If you have even a couple of tablespoons of leftover ANYTHING — from veggies to meat to jam to herbs to cheese — you can throw it in and declare that you've made an omelet or, even better, a frittata. Everyone will swoon, and think you a genius. Especially if you roll the r when you say "frittata."
- Beans. I have blogged about this topic so much that I will just refer you to just about every previous post.
- Tossed salads. This is not necessarily a quick option, but at least it doesn't require any cooking, unless you want to add a hard-cooked egg. With just a little diced or sliced cheese and/or meat, and an accompanying bread product, you can have a satisfying and healthy meal with little fuss. Salads taste particularly good when the weather is hot; we eat them several times a week in the summer.
- Prepared foods from the store. It's not like the old days, when shoppers were limited to terrible frozen pizzas and Hungry Man TV dinners. Within blocks of our apartment, we have access to Whole Foods and the Garden of Eden, both offering an endless variety of ready-to-eat foods of high quality and tastiness. We often pick up lunchable things like empanadas, sushi, soups, sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, Indian food from the buffet, and tres leches cake from the dessert bar (my achilles' heel). Downside: plastic waste.
- Gnocchi. I think I've gone on about my fondness for gnocchi before on this blog. One of its greatest appeals is its ease of preparation. It cooks up in 3 minutes, and can be simply and sufficiently dressed with just a drizzle of olive oil and some grated cheese. Just last night, I went relatively complex and topped some WF gnocchi ($3.99!) with some sauteed diced fresh tomatoes into which I'd stirred some store-bought pesto. A little grated cheese, a glass of wine, and — ecco! — a meal in 15 minutes.
- Irma. This option is available only to those of you who also live on our floor of Building 2B. Irma cooks elaborate meals for her husband and herself and frequently over-estimates the amount she will need to feed her small household. We benefit from serendipitous bags left hanging on our doorknob, which often seem to arrive at just the time I'm wondering how I'm going to feed myself between lessons. I'm not talking tuna casserole here; last week we got a big bowl of saffron-rich paella made with imported spanish rice and chorizo and containing lobster tails, sea scallops, scampi, mussels, chicken, and crab legs. Irma doesn't stint. (She also gave us our stove.)
- Cheese. This rich foodstuff can turn what would otherwise constitute prison fare into a glamorous and delectable pique-nique. I've "dined" happily upon a simple apple sliced and accompanied by pieces of cheese. Cheese is also wonderful with bread and butter or with eggs (see #2). Perhaps my favorite meal of all is an assortment of cheeses (at room temperature) served with a crusty baguette and some good quality butter, perhaps some charcutrie like pâté or salami, a bit of fruit, and a bottle of chilled sparkling wine. Always feels like a holiday to me when that's the menu.
- PB&J. I do not completely understand my passion for this humble American tradition. A peanut butter sandwich — a glass of milk is a mandatory complement — never palls. I could eat them every day, varying the type of J or even branching out to honey or maple syrup or (daring!) cheese. We try to always have one "red" jam (strawberry, raspberry, grape) and one "yellow" jam (peach, apricot) on hand to accommodate whatever PB&J mood we happen to be in. If I had to limit myself to one version of this classic, it would be peanut butter (always organic and containing only peanuts and salt) and strawberry preserves on a good white bread. With milk.
- Seamlessweb.com. This convenient web-based food delivery service has changed my life. With a few clicks of my mouse, I can summon food from a huge number of local restaurants to my door within minutes. You pay the bill — including delivery tip — with your credit card. All your payment and contact and delivery information is stored so you have to type it in only once. Perhaps it's too easy to use this system....I find myself resorting to it more and more frequently. But what're you gonna do when you get a hankering after babaganoush or butter dosas or bahn mi after your 7:00 student departs? Of course, it helps if your delivery region is New York City. Downside: plastic waste.
OK, readers, now it's your turn. Tell us how you put food on the table when you haven't got time to cook. And please be quick about it; otherwise, it's seamlessweb for dinner tonight......again.