Tuesday, October 4, 2011

a [sur]prize in every box!

I had a revelation this morning as I was getting out of the shower.

Angst always sits in the bathroom to keep me company while I shower in the morning (or afternoon, on days off sometimes).  As I was stepping out of the shower, I asked him if it was bad that I was already actively anticipating the end of the work day I had not yet begun, purely because I have tomorrow off?  See, I just started my job a month ago and I am very happy there.  However, here is the discovery Angst and I made this morning:

No matter how much you enjoy your job, you still prefer your days off.

I could be wrong.  Some people find their jobs positively completing and I know there are folks the uninitiated refer to as "workaholics" who find their job so fulfilling (or inescapable) that they would be perfectly happy to just take a dinner break and keep working into the night.  I enjoy my job enough to work on things far into the night, but I prefer to do so in the comfort of my own home, until Mister tears me away from my computer and reminds me we have a bed, too.  Nevertheless, I was very happy to finish up this evening a little after 6 and once again, magically get home before the sun fully set.

I love how much time my new schedule/shorter commute allows Mister and I to spend lingering over dinner or hanging out before I even start heating a pot.  I love that even though we had a nice little conversation and then I talked to my sister for about 20 minutes while emptying the dishwasher and putting various other things where they belong, I could still take my time and make dinner at my pace - no need to rush.  After dinner, Mister made decaf coffee and we sat and talked about my sister's new boyfriend and people getting pregnant and trapping themselves in a situation that looks like "mandatory marriage" - and by the way, those two things are unrelated - Breathe, Mom!  Anyway, we just kind of babbled at each other about the obscure things we find interesting and when we excused ourselves, it wasn't even 10!

We had the last meal on the last menu, Warm Chickpea Ragout with Swiss Chard, Carrots and Harissa from Vegetarian Times Fast & Easy.

We've had this several times before, but Mister had absolutely no recollection of it.  It did taste a little different - a little more savory, which added the benefit of controlling Harissa's heat.  The only thing I could think of that I did differently was that I used a half cup of the leftover garlic broth, which is pretty pungent.  I also added a generous amount of salt and I can't remember if I've done that in the past, since I usually only mess with things that have a specified quantity, rather than the disgruntling "to taste."

It was very tasty and I love how harissa allows me to eat spicy things without my entire face burning off in the process.

Anyway, completely by coincidence, my menu ran out the night before my day off (I wasn't originally supposed to be off tomorrow), so let me share a short menu with you - a mini-menu, if you will.  Full-sized version will be introduced over the weekend.  A recent comment reminded me just how well loved my Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook has been over the years - in fact, I'm pretty sure that was a primary guide for me as I learned how to cook.  Pages are dog-eared and stained, some stick together a little at the yellowing edges, and favorites have been marked along with "someday I have to try this" recipes.  I've been neglecting the book for years, so I decided to pull it out for this week's menu. I had thought that I'd been neglecting it because a lot of the recipes take a while to cook, but I discovered two other things that have probably been deterring me unconsciously.

First, the recipes are built for a restaurant, and are therefore, huge.  I don't need that much food and I don't feel like figuring out how to divide everything to only make enough for me and Mister and Leftover Lunch.  Second, and probably more importantly, there are very few vegan recipes and the tweaks required would probably strip away the charm of the original recipe.

"Hey! I veganized a recipe that someone converted from a meal full of meat into a vegetarian recipe."  Wow.  That's great.  That sounds like cousins who can legally marry, barely, to me.  So, with all that in mind, I chose the following three irresistible recipes, all from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.

1. Vegetable Biryani - I have not had many moments in my culinary "career" as proud as the moment I made this the first time.  After years of spaghetti and veggie burgers, this was a gourmet achievement of the highest order.  It's actually really easy, but I haven't made it in a while because I have an even easier recipe with fewer steps (and fewer pots).

2. Pasta e Fagioli because hey, what's one more Pasta e Fagioli recipe when you're keeping a secret tally of how many Pasta e Fagioli recipes you have to how many Beans 'n' Rice recipes you have?

3. Harira, which is a huge pot of African soup which Muslims traditionally eat to break the fast of Ramadan.  We are neither African nor Muslim and if we were fasting, Mister would need a lot more than soup to break the fast, but this was one of the first soups I ever made that did not involve a can-opener, so you can consider this a little prideful trip down Memory Lane.

My fingers are cold.  I think it's time for a Cosmo.  See you tomorrow!

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