I began this week painfully uninspired. I’ve been working on the same 3 briefings at work for 4 days and feel like I’m stuck in mental mud. Worst of all, I’ve been phoning it in with Perpetual Motion Machine. I felt like I’ve been putting one proverbial foot in front of the other, through jello, in all aspects of life.
Once I recognized the funk I was in, though, I chose to fix it.
I couldn’t revise our meals for the week because we had the groceries, but I could take us to the zoo on Friday. PMM rode piggy-back to see the giraffes, rhinos, and red river hogs. We took photos in the booth where she delights in pushing the buttons and seeing us on the screen. We scampered over the animal print foot massage chairs. Few things are more inspiring than a giddy toddler.
We went to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday with license to buy on impulse- within reason and with a framework of a meal plan (chicken, salad) – to solve the pre-made components and uninteresting food rut. First thing Monday, I’ll finalize three solid presentations, too, because I’ve found my focus, drive, and interest again. Bad week, but great weekend.
Fortunately, I have some decent staple meals in my stable (falafel, chickpea & tomato vindaloo) on which to fall back. And in retrospect, it wasn’t a bad as it seemed from the trenches. There were some decidedly bright dishes in this week’s line-up: the pork enchiladas were even better than the pork the first time around (though the sauce did come from a bottle) and the honey cardamom chicken was a new recipe that will definitely happen again.
Week of January 22:
Sunday: Tarragon lemon salmon, multi-grain pilaf, steamed broccoli
Monday: Pork enchiladas, salad, and green drink
Tuesday: Honey cardamom chicken
Wednesday: Ham mac & cheese, with kale and roasted butternut squash
Thursday: Chickpea and tomato vindaloo, with greens
Saturday: (Guests) Roasted chicken, chive carrots, rosemary biscuits, goat cheese & kumquat salad, banana caramel tart
Sunday we just threw salmon on tinfoil with lemon and tarragon and put it on the grill, microwaved Trader Joe’s multi-grain pilaf, and steamed broccoli.
For the enchilada, wrap a spoonful of made-last-week pork in a tortilla or wrap. Place in oven-safe dish. Repeat until dish is full so that the rolls stay together. Top with a bottle of Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce (which I highly recommend- it was well seasoned and a little spicy, but PMM loved it so not too spicy). Bake until hot, about 1/2 hr at 350deg. Sprinkle top with cheese and keep baking for a couple minutes at high heat until the cheese melts.
We ate it with canned refried beans topped with pickled cabbage (also leftover), chopped onions, and yogurt. We balanced it out with green drink, which is PMM’s favorite, and has tons of nutrients. Just blend greens, fruit, and a little water (to help blend). The less fruit and the more greens the better it is for you. Baby spinach is the mildest (read: least noticeable) of greens I’ve tried using.
For the chicken on Tuesday I ground 1 tsp of cardamom and 1 tsp of pink peppercorns in my spice grinder (old coffee grinder). I mixed it in a small tupperware with 1/4 cup melted honey and 1 tblsp sherry. I did this the night before. Day of, I put chicken tenders in oven-safe dish and poured the marinade over them. I let the chicken marinate for about 1/2 hr at room temp, then baked at 350 for about 1/2 an hour. I microwaved a sweet potato for about 4 minutes (until it was completely soft) and mushed it up for PMM and me; we had steamed green beans, too, for some green.
Mac and cheese was a last ditch effort. We had ham leftover and I needed to use it. This was my best idea. Neither PMM nor the Ninja complained, but I feel a little bad about it. We used Annie’s, so at least it was whole grain pasta and real cheese, and I added a ton of chopped spinach along with the ham. I have to admit it was good.
Chickpea and tomato vindaloo gets made a lot around here. 1 can tomato, 2 cans chickpea, and a scoop of vindaloo paste (small scoop for PMM, additional for us). Let simmer as long as possible (at least 1/2 hr makes the chickpeas soft). Top with plain greek yogurt, especially if it’s on the spicy end of the spectrum.
Friday we had falafel because PMM asked for it. Only it sounds like ‘buffalo’ or ‘waffle’ when she says it, so maybe she wanted buffalo waffles.
The roast chicken Saturday was sadly only so-so, so it’s not worth repeating the recipe here. The carrots didn’t turn out the way Jacques Pepin said they would, so I wouldn’t recommend that one either. The salad was beautiful, utilizing kumquats I found at the market (from a stand that sells Kaffir limes, and Kaffir lime leaves!!! more on that next week). A variety of mixed greens and sprouts, also market bought, were topped with crumbled peppered goat cheese, sliced kumquats, and sunflower seeds. The dressing was about 2 tblsp of fresh orange juice (2 slices, squeezed), 1 tblsp of hemp seed oil, and dashes of smoked salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. The rosemary biscuits and the dessert were so good they deserve separate posts with real recipes.
All in all, the week wasn’t as bad as it felt from the inside. That’s probably usually true- a funk is merely a matter of perspective, and inspiration is as close as you choose to find it. Fortunately for me, the zoo is only a mile away, and the Farmer’s Market is even closer, because I’m not always great at finding the good.