I love colorful dishes, especially when the colors are as vibrant as these! I think I had the reddest pepper ever on sale at Whole Foods (maybe not, but that's how I felt) and despite the Pavlovian Christmas association of red and green, I just love the way the colors look together. Add into that the sunny yellow of pineapple chunks against snow white cubes of tofu and you have a very nice little stirfry to bid farewell to winter (yes, I know there's still a week left).
I am continually amazed by the way a simple sauce can make the difference between hippie-dippy steamed veggies and a take-out emulating stirfry, served over basmati rice to absorb any extra gloop. If only the reason I usually turn to take-out was purely because I love the way Chinese take-out tastes, rather than my lack of desire to cook, this would save me a ton of money.
Except for one small thing. Apparently, sometime in the last 8 days, Mister came down with schizophrenia or some kind of dissociative disorder. He ate his stirfry and rice, and he didn't push his food around too much with the chopsticks, but when I asked what he thought, this was his response:
You made it well. I would just never actually, on purpose, eat something sweet-n-sour.
What? When I reminded him of the encounter recounted above, he had no recollection of it, and asked if I had posed the question to him with another choice. I said no, I just asked if he wanted the stirfry, and that seemed to "explain" things in Mister's head. Apparently, if he had said "No," we simply would not have had dinner. He seems to have missed the part where I was sitting with a pile of cookbooks and a grocery list...
This reminds me of [edit: an Eddie Izzard routine]
That was as good of a segue as I'll ever have to the bonus round of our post today...
I have been wanting to bake since we moved in, for two reasons. First, nothing says "home" like the scent of freshly baked something. Second, and possibly more importantly, I have seriously shirked my responsibilities as a recipe tester for Dynise's upcoming cookbook, and I believe the deadline is looming. So, out of guilt as well as privilege (because I really am very lucky to be able to "test-drive" these awesome recipes), I baked Rue des Rosiers Pain d'Epice, a nice dark spice loaf.
If the goal was to make the entire apartment smell like where I want to go once I've left this world, then Mission Accomplished! The loaf bakes for nearly an hour and fills as much space as it can with the most amazing scent. I'm not sure there is a better smell for baked goods than the smell of something loaded with "winter" spices - cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, for example. Even chocolate cake or brownies cannot compete with the molasses-rich scent of this dark bread.
It has incredible texture and both Angst and Mister were enthusiastic taste-testers with me. It was nearly impossible to wait for the loaf to cool enough to cut it without man-handling it. I just kept walking over to sniff it and at one point I tried to convince Angst that if we both blew on it, it would cool down faster. The sliced almonds made it very pretty, but definitely made it a little more difficult to cut without marring the top.
Dynise introduced the pain d'epice by painting a lovely Euro-urban scene of a breakfast made up of tea and a slice of this spice loaf slathered with Earth Balance and marmalade. Although it is very possible there are flavors of marmalade besides orange, I am not aware of them and I'm not big fan of anything orange which is not the raw fruit itself. However, I can agree that a few pats of EB, spread across the still warm bread and allowed to melt a bit took this bread from quite tasty to absolutely heavenly.
I'll leave you with confirmation of my previously expressed "fears." Although it seems the entire month of March is an opportunity for people to drink (Mardi Gras and St. Patty's day), it seems today was the big celebration, since we had the parade earlier in the day. While I was out buying food for our cupboards, I had the incredible misfortune to miss a big band of bagpipers playing outside the Irish bar across the street. Since they woke Mister from his slumber, he decided I should at least get to see what I missed:
Nope, definitely not sorry I was several blocks away when this was happening. I am glad Mister got a picture, though. We have some great from-the-window pictures from our years living in this area. We'll add this one to the cyber-pile.