Saturday, January 30, 2010

get down with the sickness

Two good things came out of my Sickness Spree last week. Since I got to recycle the large part of my menu, I only had to add two meals and buy only two meals worth of groceries. Continuing with the happy thrifty vibe, I got to creatively use the last bit of rice left over from when we got Chinese food on Sunday to make last night's dinner much more quickly (and conveniently).

Last night, I made one of the "bonus" dinners added to the menu on Thursday: Vegetable and Sausage Skillet. I know I have made this before, but I can't remember if I had anything to say about it or anywhere to say it at that time.
I substituted Tofurky Kielbasa for the sausage called for in the recipe and left out the jalapeno peppers altogether. I think tonight may be the night for the Traumatic Jalapeno Tale, since neither of my dinner stories are that interesting. Before I do that, though, let me also say that instead of testing my rice-cooking abilities again, I just dumped what remained of the carton of rice in our fridge into the skillet and added about 1/4 cup more water than the recipe suggests. It's a good easy meal and it's tasty, though Mister and I both felt the need to add just a little salt at the table - I think that could be eliminated by adding broth or stock instead of water. It is substantial enough to satisfy without accompaniment, which was a good Friday night dinner, since I didn't feel like doing anything extra after looking for parking for 30 minutes. My next home will have a garage.

So then, let's put on our Flashback Hats and travel back in time to my friend's kitchen, circa 1994ish (give or take a year). She and I were total Spanish geeks - we had taken several years of Spanish, to the point of being in a completely Spanish-language class. By this point, we had more or less mastered the finer points of grammar and sentence structure, so the teacher of our small class was focusing on arts and culture - we watched movies in Spanish, read books in Spanish, listened to music in Spanish - you get the idea. We were preparing for a party in class and my friend and I were making some kind of authentic Mexican dish with the help of her older brother who had just returned from spending two years in the mission field with the Mexicans who taught him this recipe. We assembled everything under his watchful eye, then baked it, and once it was out of the oven, we wanted to taste it before presenting it to our class. With a sparkle in his eyes and a surprise in his loosely closed hand, he said we needed to be initiated first.

He opened his hand to reveal two relatively small slices of jalapeno and indicated that we had to eat them. We each selected one, shrugged at each other, mindless of his mischievous smile, and popped them in our mouths, chewed, and swallowed.

Then, our mouths simultaneously caught fire and we struggled against one another to get water from the sink. Recovering from his laughter in time to prevent us from making it worse, her brother explained that water would spread the heat around our mouths and make it worse. He told us to stick out our tongues, upon which he sprinkled salt before stuffing a wedge of tomato into each of our mouths. That eased the flaming pain for about 5 seconds before our eyes were watering and we were spitting out the tomatoes, shaking our heads. At this point, I think her brother was starting to panic a little, too, and he quickly poured us each a glass of milk. As long as we were sipping on the milk, we were okay, but the minute we finished the milk, our mouths caught fire all over again - it was truly amazing. We ended up splitting what was left (quite a bit, actually) of a half gallon of French Vanilla ice cream. That quelled it to a slight discomfort, but I tell you truly - three hours after I swallowed that little bitty slice of evil, my mouth was still burning.

So, now you know what I have against jalapenos.

Tonight, I was happily plotting our spring mini-vacation to Arizona when Mister turned from his computer and asked me if I was hungry. I feel like I'm always hungry, so that was a funny moment. I asked him if he wanted me to make dinner (probably about two hours 'early') and he said yes. I was pleased beyond words with this interaction: although I was actually doing something and had to interrupt it to start dinner early, the evidence of a lesson learned was infinitely more satisfying than planning a trip three months away. Normally, when Mister realizes he is hungry, he doesn't bother looking at the time to gauge how soon dinner might happen - he just goes to the fridge and makes himself a sandwich (if I'm lucky) or munches on some junkfood (Doritos, potato chips) that magically appears from some black hole near his computer. This drives me insane because most of the time, I was about a minute away from starting dinner. Regardless of whether he spoils his appetite, it just gets on my nerves. So I was very happy to interrupt my attempts to get the best possible prices on airfare and hotels to make dinner early.
I've made the Garlicky Spaghetti with Beans and Greens before, but I don't know if I bothered with/remembered the squeeze of lemon juice - it was very pronounced tonight. Not in a face-puckering, lemony kind of way, but rather in a complementing-all-the-other-tastes kind of way that really accentuated the tomatoes and garlic, as well as adding just a little more bite to the it needs any help. Mister was pleased with this offering and was too busy wolfing it down to speak for the first, well, the first bowl.

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