Hot Mess

EEF8339A-5927-42A5-977A-0B0DE59FABBCYes, it looks a hot mess, but it was a goooood hot mess.

A couple of days ago, I realized that Henrietta the Hen was still resting in the freezer (after her last egg was laid). Since we received a bouquet of fresh-cut rosemary from the CSA this week, I pulled it out to thaw with the intention of making whole-roasted rosemary chicken tonight.

Well, imagine my surprise when I pulled the thawed freezer bag from the fridge and found that it wasn’t a whole bird but, instead, a miscellaneous bag of unused legs and thighs. That changed the night’s plans quick. Luckily, our CSA box also included several good-sized, perfectly-ripe heirloom tomatoes and a small bunch of baby leeks.

So we pulled out the skillet, some green and black olives, that almost forgotten cup of Pinot Grigio in the back of the fridge, a cup of broth hiding in the freezer, a big scoop of both paprika and cumin, and—of course—garlic. Our chopped up tomatoes and leeks were happy to join the party, I do believe.

While our chicken tidbits braised in the oven amongst its sauce, we cooked up the last box of udon noodles. *angels singing*

Afterward, I shredded the chicken, stirred some parsley and lime juice into the mix, and tossed the waiting noodles into it all. No, it wasn’t pretty. But man oh man, was it ever good.

Jeff declares that we should add capers next time, but I stand firm in my opinion that it was nearly perfect as it was. Only time will tell.

I hope you also dined well tonight.

I been busy, man

 

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Three bean tacos

Remember when I used to write? Remember when I used to describe our delicious kitchen successes (and occasional failures, just to keep it real)? Yeah, me too. Good times. Good times.

Then, life happened.

A friend flew a ridiculous number of hours to come to visit us. We visited the Iowa State Fair with him for the first time since moving here nine years ago (overall verdict: meh) and introduced him to downtown Chicago (opinion: um, ok, wow). Both Des Moines and Chicago were bigger than he’d expected, Chicago by a large margin.

Three books arrived in late June, so hopeful and eager to be edited. And I fucked the first one up but good, so I got to do it all over again! I know, I am the luckiest girl in the room sometimes. Don’t be jealous. Well, you’ll be happy to know that book one (part deux) was received with open arms and kisses, and book two shipped today for the author’s nay/yea on each individual edit.

I have, not that I’m counting, 21 days to get book three out the door if I don’t want it following me to Chicago (and I don’t) when another friend arrives at Terminal Five to join me for a week of sightseeing, photography, eating, catching up, museum-going, walking-walking-walking, and general relaxing. So that means nose –> grindstone again, starting tomorrow.

But this afternoon and evening have been for attention-optional magazine browsing, bathroom cleaning, tub-time relaxing, carpet vacuuming, and all the other sexy tasks that haven’t gotten near enough attention lately. Sorry Mr. Dishwasher, you’re going to have to wait your turn for a good scrubbing. October good for you?

Blah, blah, blah bring on the food, right? Right.

So last night Jeff and I stood before the refrigerator and noticed something alarming: the immense bag of fresh from the farm green and yellow string beans (freakishly similar to its brother bag from the week before) had not gotten eaten by either us or the fridge elves this week. Lazy fuckers, those fridge elves, I tell ya. I’d been so busy cranking out one luxurious, decadent Caprese salad after another (it’s a hard life, but a delicious one) trying to use up the gargantuan box of vine-ripe heirloom tomatoes and bunches of fresh basil that arrived with them, that the beans had become an after-thought–a crunchy, vibrant, beckoning after-thought.

I’d managed to push through a crisper drawerful of neglected Pattypan squash earlier in the week*, so this bean betrayal felt particularly shameful. Looking in the fridge and cupboards wasn’t too encouraging, as there wasn’t a lot in there. Grocery shopping and cupboard restocking haven’t been a high priority for me the last two and a half months, I have to admit. BUT the base for some tacos was in there, I noticed. I twirled the available combo in my mind: tortillas (soft), refried beans (thick-slick), black beans (tender), a touch of cheese (binder) and grilled string beans (smoky-crunchy)? Yeah, it could work. It really could work. Maybe some chopped up plum tomatoes for garnish? A splash of Sriracha sauce or Frank’s Red Hot for kick? Sweet baby Jane, I thought, let’s throw caution to the wind and give her a go.

Warming up the grill took the longest. We chopped the ends off the string beans, coated them liberally in olive oil, shook in a bit of fancy French salt (Thanks, Eileen!), and dropped them into the grilling basket until just charred and warmed through (these are delicious as leftovers, so we grilled the entire bag’s worth at once). Back inside, we spread some warmed up refried beans, black beans, and cheese on a flour tortilla, added some of the string beans and whatever toppings we wanted and sat down to dinner. They were delicious. And they were delicious as leftovers tonight, too.

I think I’m going to do this more often with other vegetables we have kicking around in the crisper bin. It’ll be fun to play around with sauces to see if we find a few that go especially well with a variety of vegetables. Julienned carrots, if sauteed slightly, would work well, as would lightly steamed cauliflower florets. Leftover potatoes from breakfast, sauteed onions, pan-fried zucchini? Who knows, I want to try them all.

*Easy, on-the-fly, garlicy, non-mushy, oven-roasted, herb-heavy Pattypan squash
4 Pattypan squash cut into eighths
Toss with the following combination: two minced garlic cloves, some olive oil, oregano, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper
Bake at 425F for 15-20 minutes
(Leftovers are good the next day)

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Garlic and Herbed Pattypan Squash