"No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize." - Julia Child

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Trying something new: Tuesday Tricks and Treats

One of my favorite features on other blogs is when they regularly feature something--be it "Best of the Looks, Best of the Books" on my friend Jill's fashion and literature blog Looks and Books, or the amazingly cheery "Monday Montage" on my favorite wedding blog, Offbeat Bride. I thought to myself, hmm... perhaps I should start doing something similar on my blog? First off, it will add some consistency. Secondly, it builds in themes for me to regularly write about. Third, it's fun.

So today I think I'm going to start something called "Tuesday Tricks and Treats." Simple premise: I provide you with one trick--be it for cooking, domestic bliss, home ec mastery, etc.--and one treat--could be food or drink, could be a delightful book or website, could be something spa-tastic. We shall see how this goes--any comments on whether this idea flies or not would be much appreciated!


TRICK: Save money, save your veggies. Don't let that bag of wilting spinach and container of quickly wrinkling grape tomatoes go to waste. Last night I found one of each of these in my fridge. Neither was bad--they were still safely eatable and not yet ventured into the land of being rotten and inedible--but neither looked crisp and fresh and appetizing as components of a salad. So I got out my wok and got creative, salvaging them into a delicious and uber-quick hearty pasta sauce dinner.

Boil a pot of salted water for your pasta--we used a package of Trader Joe's yummy gorgonzola ravioli--and prepare it as directed. While the water boils, heat up your wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat. Once it's hot (hover your hand a few inches over it to gauge the heat), add about a tablespoon of olive oil and allow that to heat for a minute or two (it will look shimmery when hot). Mince a clove or two of garlic, and if you want, chop up a bit of onion. Add the garlic and stir, allowing to heat for about 30 seconds. (Be careful so it doesn't burn!) Then add some spinach and give it a good toss-about. Spinach wilts very quickly into a very tiny amount of food, so don't worry about overcrowding your pan. Once it wilts down to some small green scraggly bits, add your grape tomatoes--I chopped mine in half--and stir again. You can add other elderly-looking veggies salvaged from the fridge: mushrooms, carrots, etc. After all the veggies have a few minutes to hang out together and get nice and flavorful, spoon in a bit of pasta sauce (you can use less than you normally would, since the veggies and oil will stretch it out) and season as desired--I added garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Heat the sauce for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat, and add the drained pasta to the pan. Gently toss and serve, garnishing with some grated Parm if desired. We had ours with some big foccacia rolls from Trader Joe's and dipped them in olive oil with Italian seasoning sprinkled in. It was hearty and filling and tasty, and as a bonus, my house smelled like an amazing little Italian trattoria.

Moral of the story: a little creativity can help you salvage a wrinkly, droopy, saggy, or otherwise not-so-pretty veggie into a tasty kitchen-sink sauce.

TREAT: Taking a break in the afternoon for tea isn't just a snobby British tradition--it's good for you. Your body naturally sags a bit in mid-afternoon, and taking a break from your work to have a little something soothing in your body is a great pick-me-up. I love a hot cup of tea in the chilly afternoons.

I love caffeine-free herbal teas, but sometimes you just want some regular old tea. I adore Earl Grey (that bergamot!), but I can't handle caffeine past midday. Twinings has thankfully solved my woes by creating a delicious decaffeinated Earl Grey. I sweeten it with just a tiny spoonful of sugar. It's lovely and indulgent without being heavy and laden with calories, and after I finish it, I feel spoiled and happy and ready to go back to work.

Moral of the story: Take time to rest and indulge in some time for yourself. You deserve it, and quite frankly, you probably really need it.


Emily said...

yay! something to look forward to on Tuesdays! and, you've totally inspired me to get some tea this afternoon...

Looks and Books said...

LOVE the idea of this feature! You're so handy in the kitchen, so I'm sure I'll be employing your tricks all the time.

Also, YUM TEA. I also prefer Earl Grey!