Sunday, August 7, 2011

spice and rice and everything nice

I'm already thinking [dreaming] of autumn, my favorite time of year, and even the dead cold of winter.  No, it's not actually all that hot right now, no 100+ temperature heatwaves to complain of (although Mister and Angst are wilting and weeping like there is).  I seem to have a penchant for cooking spicier-than-I-thought-they-would-be meals in the middle of summer, when the last thing I want to do is overheat my body from the inside out.  So I'm thinking of how handy Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo is going to be come the snowy, bitter winter months, when all we want is something that will heat us from the inside out.  Or maybe just keep the inside warm.

Isn't that a fabulously trippy package?  I love all the colors that really ought not be combined - quite amazing, but I'll tell you, it's not difficult to locate on the shelf!

By the way, if the meat association I made last time wasn't gross enough for you, I'm just going to let you use your own colorful imagination on this next one.  Once I had freed the chorizo from its non-intestinal casing, I thought it looked super gross.  Good thing I already knew how it tasted...


Regardless, I chugged along, combining the various components of Granada Paella from The Urban Vegan and testing the true capacity of my 2.5 quart pot (because I was too lazy to clean up the pot I meant to use last night - Fridays are not good for my energy level).

I'm pretty sure if it could have overflowed, it would have.  I was kind of envisioning the funny moment in almost every sitcom or comedy movie in the late 80s, early 90s where the pot of popcorn pops too much and pushes the lid off of the pot and spills onto the stove and floor.  You do know what I'm talking about, right?

Okay, so stupid memories and poor analogies aside, it made for a very tasty and very innard-warming dinner.  Not the best thing in August, but at least I have another hot meal in my arsenal for that first bitter chill this fall.

When I told Mister it was the same chorizo I used to burn my face off with the tacos, he laughed incredulously and asked me why I used it again.  I explained my expectation that the basmati rice would calm the flavor a bit.  It did, actually - it was still quite spicy and hot (if I haven't made that clear yet), but the rice dispersed the heat and made it tolerable enough that although my face still turned red and my nose still got sniffly, I only needed my Apothic Red and a little TJs Belgian chocolate to sooth the burn this time around.  Which is fortunate, since I didn't want to test my luck trying to get ice cream home from TJs today.

So, in the interest of saving money (and showing Whole Foods they aren't the only game in town - I'll let you know when the post is up), I'm making a habit of doing my menu and grocery list on Friday night or Saturday morning, then stopping at Trader Joe's on my way home from teaching.  Since I was doing my best to get everything I would ordinarily get at WF, my bill was a bit higher than it's been...but it was still well under $40, so I consider it a total victory.  I filled my basket with many tasty things to make:

1. Panang Cucumber Curry from the new Vegetarian Times magazine that made my mailbox happy a few days ago.  I don't know if I've ever actually cooked cucumber, so this should be interesting, to say the very least!

2. Braised Cabbage with Seitan from Appetite for Reduction, which has been feeling a little left out lately, so the rest of the menu is also sourced from that amazing cookbook...since I know I can count on Isa to never let me down!  This is actually in a section of the book some people might consider appetizers or side dishes, but it looks substantial enough to me - protein, veggies, served on Basmati for a starch...we're good to go!

3. Forty-Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli, which I intend to serve over mashed potatoes, because that's awesome.  It's also awesome that at Trader Joe's, they call russet potatoes "The" Potato and only charge 29 cents apiece.  Compared to other produce prices at Whole Foods, I'll admit that $1.79/lb sounds like a great deal for potatoes...until you realize that most russet potatoes are nearly a pound each!

No, I'm probably never going to stop being awed by how much I'm saving by shopping across town.

4. Pasta Con Broccoli to make up for the blandest meal I've ever made.

5. Ginger Bok Choy and Soba.  Maybe.  If I can find soba and bok choy.

6. Moroccan Chickpeas and Zucchini which I realized, as I was flipping through the pages, I've never made before.  I scanned the ingredients and discovered that this may be the first recipe I'll make that has the word "Moroccan" in the title and does not include fake ground meat.  So, of course, I needed to try it.  Let's see if Moroccan food can be tasty when it's only vegetables!  (I'll bet it can.)


  1. Have you tried the new-ish frozen peach things from Trader Joe's? They're like Otter Pops, but made solely from frozen blended peaches. 45 calories/per. I'm currently addicted.

    Your TJ's doesn't have soba noodles or baby bok choy?

    I'm curious about cooked cucumber--not gonna lie, it sounds a little nasty. I'm looking forward to that post!

  2. I haven't tried the frozen peach things for two reasons - 1, I'm a little worried about trying to transport frozen things all the way across town - it took me a little under a half hour to get home from TJs today. 2, I don't like peach unless it's in a Bellini ;) do they have other flavors?

    No, apparently my TJs does not have them. It is possible that I didn't know where to look, as I'm still adjusting to the layout, but it's a REALLY small store and I didn't see bok choy w/the other produce, nor did I see soba near the pasta. I can get them (or at least the soba) at a local place.