Sunday, April 11, 2010

just one word is all it takes

Oftentimes, I find that the hardest part about writing here is figuring out how I want to start a post.  One of the most valuable lessons I've learned, both from Creative Writing class in high school and from my own affinities in the written word is this: you win or lose with the first paragraph.  As a result of that sage understanding, I strive to always start my posts with something that will make anyone who happened to stumble upon my humble blog actually want to read it.

I should also realize, though, that some people will read this anyway, just as I read blogs with uninteresting beginnings simply because I know it will get better.  I say all of this to excuse my silence over the past few days - I wouldn't say I've had writers' block, though I might have, I just didn't have anything interesting to say.  Blogging is self-indulgent enough without thinking people will read about my kitchen adventures and product opinions without writing them in a fun and captivating manner.

A few days ago, I made the Tunisian Soup - it must have been Friday because the weather certainly warranted soup - rainy, windy, and colder than Wednesday by 30 degrees (have I mentioned I hate Spring?).  I hurried it a little because I didn't really see any need for it to simmer for 40 minutes and because Mister was growing impatient.  We were both completely impressed with two elements of the soup:

1. how quickly cappellini noodles cook (the package says 4-5 minutes and it's absolutely true)
2. how steady the heat of harissa is - it builds a little bit, bite by bite, but there isn't that delayed reaction you get from cayenne or hot sauce made from habaneros. 

It was just as delicious as it looks and the tomato base, combined with the generous helping of harissa, will make this a very satisfying mid-winter's eve dinner.  Go buy The Urban Vegan so you can make it.  Hurry - Winter's just around the corner!

Last night I made our final dinner (this week) from TUV - Orecchiette con Broccoli accompanied by Tuscan Braised Beans.

It was fun using the "little ears" pasta for the first time in a long time - it's very sturdy pasta!  Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the frozen broccoli I used.  I don't know exactly if it's the broccoli or the length of time I cooked it (though I'd put my money on option B), but it tasted about as good as it looks...  I was a little disappointed in this dish - I expected something with 10 cloves of garlic sauteed in a good bit of high-quality olive oil to be a bit more flavorful, but this was downright bland.  The beans made a good accompaniment by adding some flavor, which is fortunate since I don't think you could really just eat them by themselves.  Dynise really talks these beans up in her cookbook, but I'm not following her on this one - maybe it's me (and Mister), but 2 tsp powdered sage seemed very overpowering in addition to the white wine vinegar and lemon juice.  Once again, I would have thought that the garlic would have been more pronounced, considering I baked the beans with 7 whole cloves, but it really didn't stand out.  The whole melange smelled amazing, but it just didn't deliver taste-wise.

Before I move on to this week's menu, I want to share a couple of links I found on other blogs that made me gawk a little and then shake my head at the sad state of the world:

 Because the other fare they peddle obviously isn't revolting enough, KFC is putting this baby out tomorrow: bacon and cheese with "special sauce" served between two slabs of fried or grilled chicken instead of a bun.  Besides how gross that is by itself, let's not forget how "ideal" this sandwich is for people still on that Carbs-Will-Kill-Me kick.  The justifications will never end.  I'm sure it packs a lot of high-quality protein along with its 32 grams of fat and more than half the RDA of sodium. [sarcasm, if you missed it]

This book about how to talk to your children about optional cosmetic surgery was brought to my attention by The Cutie Tip of the Day by Touch of Blush.  This vapid and useless helpful book provides tips from a real-life cosmetic surgeon on how to help your children/family cope with the fact that you won't look like the person they know presently after you go under the knife.  Hopefully, it also covers how to cope with the loss of Mommy if something should go wrong.  I hate this book for everything it represents.  I hate the website because it has a completely addicting online jigsaw puzzle.

So, I've planned my last menu before that tummy tuck.  Hey!  I need it after all the skin left over from my liposuction.  Anyway...

1. Southwest Corn, Chard, and Potato Soup- yes, I know I am completely pushing my luck, but we have a couple of cool-ish evenings coming up.

2. Pasta with Adzuki Beans, Tomatoes, Spinach, and Olives

3. Rice Noodles with Curried Tofu and Veggies

4. Bulghur and Red Lentil Pilaf with Kale and Olives - I love the combination of bulghur and red lentils because it creates a complete protein without me having to think about it.  I love the combination of kale and kalamata olives because the wine notes in the olives bring out the sweetness hiding in the kale.  Bizarre, but true.

This entire menu comes from my other new cookbook:
The Complete Vegan Cookbook.  I haven't had a chance to give it a thorough looking over, but I plan to review it as I go along - there appears to be a well-written introduction as well as helpful tidbits interspersed with the recipes.  Also, the cover art is awesome.  Bon appetit!

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