welcome, fall.

back when we lived in new york, by the time fall came, i craved it. the nights were sultry and the pavement was hot. under ground, where soil is supposed to be cool and damp, instead was multiplied in temperature. i took more showers than is reasonable. and when fall came–late, usually, later than in minnesota–the cold air was more than welcome.

in minnesota, our summers are less forthright. as indirect as Minnesota Nice, sunshine enters slowly in the north, and we don’t tire of it easily. thunderstorms are dramatic and unyielding. humidity is blessedly thick. and the nights are cool, filled with cricket song.

so you’ll forgive me when i say that i haven’t been greeting summer’s end with the eagerness i used to. it used to signify a return to my studies; brand new classes and the promise of a better, more informed me by the end of december. this year, fall signifies B’s return to med school, and the subsequent loss of his time and his energy. my work provides some cyclical excitement, but politics in this election season offers more tearing down of community than thoughtfully considering the future of our nation and our people.

i had imagined summer to be a time of recharging. time with friends and family, time to check things off my “bucket list”, time to enjoy B and his last-summer-off hurrah. i did some of those things. but as i’m learning must often happen in life, some of those things didn’t happen. more than anything, i found myself lacking in time to care for myself: to write, to read, to play my guitar (which i don’t play well, but i do enjoy pulling out now and again), to sleep, to walk, to talk, to cook, to eat. i did invest time in those i care about (but not as much as i wanted), and i took up a new, valuable hobby that is good for my body (aerial arts).

still, today was the first day in a long time that i was able to actively relax. i slept in, spent time with B, went to the farmer’s market, worked on my potted garden, watched a little tv, and made dinner. a GOOD dinner, one that consisted mostly of vegetables and took me longer than 30 minutes to cook. heck–one that i cooked MYSELF.

stuffed baby eggplants, bought at the farmer’s market. based off this recipe, i stuffed them with wild rice, brussel sprouts, onion, chicken, feta cheese, mushrooms, apples, and a dollop of butter for good measure.

they were good. they were REALLY good.

i bought one fuzzy pink flower at the market, and picked some wild prairie flowers down by the mississippi, near our apartment. we set them on the table as we ate.

and capped the meal off with a glass of whiskey.

okay. NOW i’m ready for fall.

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i recognize low blood sugar when i see it

B walked through the door today just as I was about to start dinner. Nearly halfway through midterms, he was (is still) a picture of exhaustion and stress.

I had planned to make a fancy dinner (apple and onion cheddar gratin) that would take at least an hour and a half to make.

Now, I recognize symptoms of low blood sugar when I see them. So I changed course to a much quicker, but equally fun meal: breakfast for dinner! brussel sprouts, pancetta, and feta omelettes with sweet corn pancakes. I didn’t miss the gratin at all.

Pancetta ranks right up there with butter as a food of which I could consume very high quantities.

And I’m totally confounded by people who think brussel sprouts are gross. Have they TRIED brussel sprouts?! they’re only like the chocolate of vegetables!

You can’t see it, but there is feta cheese in that omelette.

And then, these sweetcorn pancakes. I took a cue from Maria’s Cafe in Minneapolis, which serves these amazing corn pancakes with some kind of delicious colombian cheese, very crumbly and salty. the feta was much more sour than the cheese that Maria’s uses, and my pancakes weren’t nearly sweet enough or moist enough… but I’m glad I tried. I will try again! And next time, I will try to find that cheese before I make them!

As I write this post, I am continuing on in the midterm tradition (which I intend to maintain for the next three years of B’s med school) of making as many tasty treats as I want, all in the name of spoiling a very frantically-studying boyfriend. So, I’m making rice pudding. It is taking a very long time. And I’m getting impatient. But it smells damn good.


Elephantine tusks, tinny olives, and memories of good friends

Well, despite all the formality of yesterday’s post — in which I professed to keep to the many goals I laid out for myself — today I am sick.

So. I was going to run, and brag effusively about how wonderful I am to have already begun my exceedingly difficult regimen of thrice-weekly exercise.

But. Twas not to be.

So, instead I took pictures of my simple little pasta dinner. Which, by the way, I cooked the entire time with toilet paper stuffed up my nose. I have one of those ridiculous colds where you don’t actually FEEL sick–that, except for the sore throat and runny nose, I feel quite normal.

Anyway. Tonight’s dinner was really fun to make (despite the elephantine-like tusks protruding from my nostrils) because it reminded me of friends. You know those meals that just have a little love packed in them? This was like that, except it was a surprise because I’ve never made it before.

It was a Fried Tofu, Olive, and Red Pepper Pasta. The tofu reminded me of Tallu, the first person to ever serve me tofu AND have me successfully finish my meal. This is mostly because I wanted her to like me and we were just becoming friends. She steamed the tofu and made this delicious gingery, vinegar-y sauce to drizzle atop it. Tallu is one of the most accomplished cooks I know, and only her skills could have convinced me that — whoa, there — I actually like tofu.

This recipe itself is from a cookbook that Kate gave me, and has been dogeared in our household now for a few years. It still has the note she tucked in the front cover, with the pages of her favorite recipes indicated (whole wheat pancakes, portobello mushroom sandwiches…). This is one of the few recipes left to try, and I’m sorry I waited this long!

The few things I would change? To save a few bucks, I bought cheap parmesan cheese and canned olives. The cheese was mildly passable (though I much prefer fresh), but the olives were awful, tinny, tasteless creatures. Never again.

Also, the basil at Cub last weekend was moldy and I didn’t buy any. So, I didn’t have any, which the recipe called for. Still, in spite all these failings, it was mighty tasty.

Now: more tea and bedtime for me. Tomorrow if I’m not sick, I will report back on my awesome run!