Wednesday, February 24, 2010

you learn something new every day (if you pay attention)

Today I learned what an incredible difference organic dried basil makes. It smells noticeably better than "regular" dried basil. The flakes are larger and greener, making it look not quite as dried as the grey-leaf variety (I don't think they do that on purpose, though). The difference in taste, though, was absolutely astonishing. You really wouldn't think that a dried herb being organic would make that big of a difference. You would be wrong.

Yesterday, I learned that Angst Loves Salads as much as he loves plain old spinach. As I have probably made clear in several posts in the past 7 weeks, I am in full-on NeedFreshThings mode. As a result of that and my recent Salad Fails (thanks, Wawa), I have reverted to what I know: If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. That would be less insulting and more accurate, though, if it was:

If you want something done your way, go to Burger King or do it yourself.

Since we're not a big BK family, you can see where this is going. When I set the salads down on the table tonight and returned to the stove to get the soup, I turned around to find Angst sitting in my chair (with impeccable posture), getting dangerously close to my salad. When we eat, he just begs pitifully. We've shared a variety of the mixed greens with him and he seems to enjoy them all, though he is apparently of the opinion that some greens must age, so he'll leave them on the kitchen floor and walk away, but come back in a few minutes acting like it's Christmas and eat them all up.

Anyway, on Sunday night, I made the simply titled Lo Mein from The Accidental Vegan.
I must admit, when I looked at my bowl-o-noodles, I thought it was going to be really bland. I almost brought the tamari to the table in case we needed a little more flavor. I completely underestimated the funny little chinese noodles' ability to soak up the tasty pan sauce after I sauteed the veggies - it was extremely flavorful! I haven't included zucchini in a stir-fry in quite a while, but I was happy with how it came out. Since I have gotten into the habit of assembling our salads while dinner is simmering or doing something else that does not require the constant attention that a stir-fry demands, I just skipped the salads on Sunday.

On Monday, I made Red Lentil Artichoke Stew from The Vegan Table. I also made rice to serve it on top of, but the rice didn't finish cooking until we had finished eating, so it turns out I'm just ahead of the game for the Kedgeree I will make for our final dinner on this menu.
I kind of lost my enthusiasm for this dish in the week it took me to cook it, but once I had the first forkful in my mouth, I gave myself a figurative pat on the back for being able to see from the recipe that this would be a tasty chance to take. It was a delightful main course to follow my beautiful salad:
I dare you to make a prettier one.

Tonight, I made the Potato Corn Chowder from The Accidental Vegan. I've made this a few times before and it never fails to make me warm and happy inside. I am also currently infatuated with the combination of the chilled salad with a soul-warming bowl of steamy soup. I didn't bother with the clementines in our salads tonight, but I liberally sprinkled them with dried cranberries, chopped red pepper, and sliced olives. I think I could probably eat an entire bowl of greens and kalamata olives - the bitterness of some of the darker greens, as well as the sparkle of some of the peppery greens are really enhanced by the salty, yet wine-like flavor of these purple treasures.

The dried cranberries were also tasty, but to make the same claim as above would be like saying, "Wow, this gummy bear sure makes my coffee taste better!"

Speaking of coffee, I had a realization last night: the best part of waking up each day is my oatmeal. My happiness is amplified by the drinking of coffee, but after the coffee, it's more or less downhill from there. Take a shower, beautify, drive an hour to work, spend 8.5ish hours trying to be subtle about pulling my hair out, drive an hour home from work and then loop around my neighborhood several times (up to 45 minutes on top of my commute home, depending on the day) looking for parking, then cook dinner, etc. I guess it starts to pick up a bit there, since I enjoy cooking and the subsequent eating of dinner with my dear hubby.

Anyway, as a result of my revelation, I am consciously trying to enjoy more of my day. My astounding ability to be grumpy must be fought off before it takes over - that was one of the reasons I did Operation Gratitude Attitude in the fall: I wanted to make a habit of finding the silver lining. I may have to revive it in some fashion, perhaps in a new-and-improved form for Lent. In the mean time, if you'd like to read through OGA Part 1, feel free to click on the tag below.

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