Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From Inside a Bowl-Shaped Rut

I’ve been simmering, stirring, and baking myself into a rut. Depending on the time of day, that rut is filled with either granola or soup, and it’s always bowl-shaped. Literally, my day looks like this: granola, soup, granola, soup. Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. Bowls alternating oatmeal or vegetables. It’s not too shabby as far as health goes, and I’m certainly getting my fiber. But I’m getting lonely inside my bowl-shaped rut. I long for meals that can be eaten on plates. I made Roasted Broccoli and Tofu four times last month because it’s delicious and because I couldn’t think of what else to make that wasn’t granola or soup. I think I need help.

To be fair, I do eat other things. They just don’t require much in the way of cooking. I love fruit, and I’ll often have raw carrots sticks with dinner (I like their snappy crunch). I drink plenty of coffee and tea brewed in my own kitchen, and I even made a batch of these cookies on Friday night. I’ve been playing around with flavors, and I came up with a new appetizer, Toasted Walnuts with Raw Milk Jack Cheese, which I plan to use today to enlist your help.

Dear readers, I’m calling on you and your bellies to help me climb out of this rut. I want to know what you’ve been eating lately that’s worthy of a gold star. I’m desperately in need of some new vegetarian entreés. It would be nice if the ingredients didn’t cost too much. It would also be nice if the cooking time didn’t run past my bedtime. I’ll give bonus points for recipes that include green vegetables, especially the powerhouse dark leafy greens like kale and spinach. If you’ve got a great dish that you gobbled up because it was so good, tell me about it. You can leave me a comment here, or you can e-mail me at lifeloveandfood [at] gmail [dot] com. If there is an exuberant flurry of recipe gossip, I’ll post a round-up next week for all to see.

While you are thinking about what you’ve eaten recently, let me offer you a recipe for something I’ve been savoring. “Recipe” is perhaps a strong word here; it’s more of an eating suggestion and it involves little more than toasting some walnuts and slicing some cheese. It’s a sophisticated combination that revealed itself to me when I was making this salad using a different cheese, Organic Valley’s Organic Wisconsin Raw Milk Cheese Jack Style. As I ate my salad, I thought to myself, This salad seems to get better every time I make it! Every bite of cheese and walnut was blissful: the cheese was smooth and rich, with just a hint of tanginess; the nuts were crunchy and still warm from the oven. The nuts made the cheese taste even richer and creamier, while the cheese made the nuts taste even toastier. Even chewing the cheese and nuts together was nice because the contrasting textures made each one lovelier: the gentle, chewy softness of the cheese would give way to the bold, confident crunch of warm nuts. I loved the combination so much that I started making it for myself as a pre-dinner appetizer, just a little something to nibble while I decompressed and got dinner started. It’s a little indulgent—that cheese!—but it’s made entirely of whole foods, which makes me feel pretty good about it. So good, in fact, that I’m passing the baton to you because you really need to try this for yourself. Then send me a new recipe and we’ll call it even.

Toasted Walnuts with Raw Milk Jack Cheese
Serves 1 (multiply to serve as many as you like)

Don’t mind my eyeball measurements here. As I said above, this is more of an eating suggestion than a recipe, but it’s definitely worth making. I like this little treat as a late-afternoon snack or an appetizer before dinner. In both cases, it takes the edge off my hunger in a most satisfying way.

A small handful of chopped walnuts (2 tbsp. perhaps?)
2-3 slices of Organic Valley’s Organic Wisconsin Raw Milk Cheese Jack Style, as thin or thick as you like

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the walnuts on a small baking sheet and toast them for 3-5 minutes until hot and fragrant and a little toasty.
2) Place the toasted nuts and the cheese slices on a small plate and eat together. You can either smoosh the nuts into the cheese and use your fingers to place a few nuts on each bite of cheese. Or you can use a fork—whatever gives you the most pleasure!


ammie said...

Oof, I've been cooking up a storm... Expect at least one recipe soon!

Nick said...

Cheese and nuts go real well together but I never though to mush them together into one. I suppose it's the first step to peanut butter cheese balls. Sick of eating out of a bowl? I forget, do you eat eggs? If so, why not some platecakes? By the very name of the recipe you HAVE to use a plate.

The Platecake

ttfn300 said...

hmmm, kale? i recently tried kale skins, those were fun and very tasty :) and with cheese!

does the peanut butter jar count as a bowl? if so i've been a rut too :-/

Rosiecat said...

Hello, everyone! I give each of you a gold star for kitchen brilliance.

Ammie, I think I'll just take up permanent residence in your kitchen. Would that be okay?

Nick, I printed out your platecake recipe and I'm going to make it this weekend for breakfast! I LOVE the name--it's perfect here!

ttfn, are kale skins the same as kale chips? I tried kale chips recently and they were so bitter! Then I read that cooking kale at higher temperatures brings out the bitterness, so now I think I should try a lower temperature, such as 250 degrees F. Any thoughts?

I think we should exempt nut butters from the bowl category. I actually brought my almost-empty jar of Barney Butter with me for lunch today to give me a little something sweet to eat after my soup and bread. And yes, I'll be eating it straight out of the jar!

ttfn300 said...

they were more like potato skins, stuffed with sauteed kale and topped with cheese! found the recipe at feelgood eats :)

Laurie said...

I've made this recipe a few times lately.

It fails the bowl challenge, but is cheap. I omit the chicken, and add smoked tofu when the veg are pretty much cooked. It makes a ton, so adjust the recipe, or plan on eating leftovers for a few days.

Another thing I've been wanting to try is kale pesto. Many recipes online. I've also chopped kale and added it to the water when I'm cooking pasta. I wait until the pasta is almost cooked, then toss in the kale. I can add whatever I like from there. Usually chickpeas and cheese. Tomatoes if I have them. Roasted peppers would go well. Olives. Now I'm hungry! Can't wait to hear what you make.

Rosiecat said...

ttfn and Laurie, I love the kale suggestions. ttfn, thanks for the link to the "kale skins." I'm a new fan of braised kale, thanks the recipe that appeared on Orangette several months ago. Braised kale + carbohydrate = wintry heaven! Add cheese and I just might float away with bliss.

Laurie, the hot pot recipe looks interesting! I do like to make off-the-cuff vegetable soups; I just don't do it enough using Asian-style flavorings. I'd add some noodles to that bowl for some happy slurping.

For the record, I want to announce that last night I made a scrambled tofu and no bowls were involved. Then this morning I made French toast and ate it off a plate. I just might be climbing out of my rut! And I'm looking forward to trying the new recipes you all sent--everything sounds wonderful. Is it time for lunch yet? :-)