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Archive for the ‘Good stuff’ Category

TJ’s meal + a weekend trip

Well. I inadvertently made a meal from all Trader Joe’s ingredients:

That’s a Harvest Grain mix (israeli couscous, some orzo, baby garbanzo beans, quinoa), mahi mahi marinated in garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes, and a bag of baby spinach.

Doesn’t that look promising? Just wait, in the finished photo it looks even better. Sadly, this product was a total bust–the couscous and orzo, as you’d imagine, cooked just fine in the 10 minutes instructed by the bag. Any longer and they’d have been mush. The dried baby garbanzo beans? Not so much. As a result the texture was upsetting.

The fish Ben grilled according to the package instructions–7 minutes/side–and it was perfect. Juicy and very flavorful, though the marinade was too salty. Still, Ben liked it, so that adds another fish to our list! And I love mahi mahi, so I was happy despite the high sodium content. As for the spinach, I just sautéed it quickly with garlic and olive oil. Yum.

That extremely healthy dinner (if only the pilaf-ish thing had been better!) came together in about 15 minutes. Long Live Trader Joe’s!

Over the weekend we were down in Rockland County for a family event, so we decided to make a weekend of it and visit my cousin at Bard College, see a concert, and spend the night. I was stunned by how cool the Bard Campus is–it’s got about 90 buildings, many of them darling quirky houses scattered around as dorms or faculty housing. I took tons of photos of the Blithewood Mansion and its gardens. We went to a good concert at the Gehry-designed performing arts center, then had dinner at the bistro at Terrapin, in Rhinecliff. Fun place in an old church.

We stayed up in Hudson, in a really cool house/B&B run by a very fun couple, The Inn at Hudson. (Read all about the house and the owners in this New York Times story; the guest room they show is the one we stayed in.) On Sunday morning one of the owners, Dini, showed us his video (as his Drag alter-ego, Musty Chiffon), “(I wanna be) Jackie Onassis.” It was a cover of the song, which his New Wave band first recorded in the early 80s. The whole thing was amazing and I still have the song stuck in my head. You can watch the video, too, if you want…

Photos from the weekend…
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I made a variation on this back in October (complete with stunningly ugly photo), but I thought I’d post this anyway, especially since it’s the first time I’ve used the new mini-photo studio I got for Christmas.

This is a quick weeknight meal. I started with Trader Joe’s lemon pepper pappardelle, which I’d read about on Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchen last fall. It has a bright lemon flavor and good pepper kick, which makes it worth buying, to me, despite my dislike of long, flat pasta. (Hard to eat! Sticks to itself!)

I cut up two small pieces of broccoli, lopping the florets off and slicing each one lengthwise into two or three sheets. I peeled the stems and then shaved them into ribbons with a vegetable peeler.

I sautéed those in a bit of olive oil, starting with the florets, leaving them undisturbed for long enough to caramelize a bit, then tossing in the ribbons towards the end. The broccoli got nice and crispy in some parts and wasn’t overcooked; I had to be careful not to eat it all plain. Next time I think I’ll make it as a side dish and just squirt a little lemon juice over the bowl.


(Photo taken in the regular lighting of the kitchen, not the interesting light box where the rest of these were taken.)

Meanwhile Ben grilled some sausages and sliced them up. When the pasta was cooked I tossed it with a bit of olive oil, then with the broccoli florets and ribbons, and topped it with feta and the sausage.

I can tell I’m really ready for spring because whenever I think about what to cook right now, I think of bright and light colors. I don’t want anything heavy or stewed, even though I didn’t do any braising this whole winter. I’ll have to get over that, especially since after two days of temperatures in the 50s and 60s, and a lovely sunny afternoon, I noticed as I walked back to my office to write this a little while ago that it was suddenly snowing hard. And blowing sideways. Hmm.

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I haven’t really done this before, but I thought I’d start mentioning products that I really love once in a while. I’m inspired to begin the product plugging because a few weeks ago I want wandering helplessly through Trader Joe’s (I don’t know why, by grocery shopping turns me into a confused, helpless little thing; it’s pathetic), trying to remember why I was there, and I found myself standing in front of the refrigerated part of the produce section, eyes slightly glazed. I quickly unglazed when I spotted this (only not opened):

Mâche!!! And for half the price of one of those “mesclun plus mâche” mixed plastic boxes at Whole Foods! I love mâche, it’s my very favorite salad green. It’s also called “Lamb’s Ear,” because the delicate little leaves are shaped like, um, lamb’s ears. Somewhere deep in my psyche resides a Best Salad Ever, made with mâche, but sadly at the moment I can’t remember what else was involved, because I was so excited about the tender little greens. The leaves are bound together at their bases in little clusters–they are darling, as well as delicious:

We ate pizza one night, and then lovely salads of just the mâche and my plain mustard/sherry vinegar vinaigrette.

Salads in winter taste so good.

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