I have this basic belief that whether or not you cook, you have to eat. You simply must. Or at least you should, because food is good for you! All those generations of grandmothers can’t be wrong, right? All those women who have given life to so many children—I think they were onto something. Eating is good. Food is life.
A lot of my cooking is of the non-recipe variety, and I’ve been enjoying the chance to share with you my lunches and dinners that are assembled using the cookbook in my head. I have blatantly stolen that idea from Matt, who also has a cookbook in his head, which is handy when you find yourself in a kitchen in College Station, Texas, with the urge to make Spanish food. You flip through your mental cookbook, pull out recipes for gazpacho and a little melon appetizer, and you get to work. I love watching that man cook, even as I sigh and grumble to myself that I will never again be able to share with you a recipe of his because they are all in his head. Such is the price one pays for cooking and eating with a man who is so adaptable to his circumstances that he tells me I can move to Nova Scotia and he’ll still visit me there. And with the way that I am fantasizing about cold weather and cozy cooking these days, let me tell you that the urge to fly north is hard to ignore. This polar bear, the one talking to you right now, is melting in the triple-digit heat we’ve been blessed with as of late.
But I’m making do with what Texas has to offer right now. June is tomato season in Texas, and last weekend, Matt and I bought an estimated three pounds of tomatoes, just because I couldn’t get enough. I’ve been working on that bumper crop, and for lunch today I topped toasted whole-grainy bread with a mayonnaise-mustard spread and coarsely chopped tomatoes which had been sprinkled with salt and pepper. No olive oil today because of the mayonnaise. It was nice—the crunch, the creaminess, the drippy juiciness of it all. One could almost live on tomatoes and bread, with the right arsenal of condiments and seasonings to mix things up properly.
Alongside my toast, I ate some very crunchy celery sticks and a scoop of chickpea salad. That salad was assembled last night, a mélange of chickpeas, a homemade honey-mustard dressing, finely diced red onion, and shredded pepper jack cheese. It’s a riff on Molly’s famous chickpea salad, which for some strange reason I don’t like—I think the Parmesan doesn’t work for my palate. It’s odd, I know, but one must respect her own palate.
Finally, when coming in from the heat, I require something cold in a glass to sip while I contemplate lunch. Today I made a simple vanilla-banana malt. I love a good malt, and this one was very good indeed: a large frozen banana, a cup of milk, a tablespoon of malt powder, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Buzz to smoothness in the blender, and you’ve got a sweet, creamy, healthy milkshake. It’s amazing to me what a tablespoon of malt powder can do to make a blender drink seem really indulgent. I’m not a big ice cream person, but I love shakes and malts made with frozen bananas because they offer a thick creaminess and luscious sweetness just like ice cream does. My malt was enough like dessert that I passed on a brownie, even though I’ve eaten one after lunch for the past two days. A little chocolate is like putting a period at the end of your meal: this lunch is done.
And for today, so am I. Happy weekend, everyone!