Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Week Three Summary

(Something went wrong with the photo this time - apologies.)

I was better this week about sticking to the system, only breaking once* for dinner out with the two friends I have from work (one of whom has left us, damn her, and the other is leaving in a few weeks. Sigh.) Lunches remained some variant on salad and potatoes or eggs or cheese, and breakfasts were mostly yogurt and fruit. I haven't felt much like eating dinner in the heat, but one day I was very clever and used the crock pot to cook a fine dish overnight. The farmers' market finally had some peppers, so I bought jalapenos, Italian sweet and green bell, sautéed them with some onions, browned some stew beef, and let the whole thing cook on low for about nine hours. If I had use of my usual ingredients, I probably would have thrown a little beer in there or crushed tomatoes, but I think it turned out better with the only liquid being the juices from the meat and peppers. The flavor was richly meaty and the different peppers gave a complexity I wouldn't have expected. Score one for limitations.

The meal in the picture was Saturday night dinner. Scallops and haddock ("local catch" at Whole Foods), pan-fried in butter, with tomatoes and fennel and parsley, green beans and potatoes in Parmesanless pesto, and clam-mussel chowder. The chowder was another case of broken habits leading to something good. Usually, I start chowders with bacon. (Actually, I start a lot of things with bacon. It is, as my friend M. used to say, the food of joy.) But, although I can find local bacons, they are all made with decidedly non-local sugar, so that was out. This chowder was based on a broth made from simmering corn cobs, to which I added the liquid from the canned mussels. Yep, I used canned mussels from Maine, which I had picked up at the end of June to have around for a quick local meal. Surprisingly, they were really good - not quite the same as fresh, of course, but more delicate and tender than one would expect from a can. Not a bad thing to have on hand. Anyway, to this base I added potatoes, then corn and the mussels, cream and a little salt, paprika and pepper and that was that. And again, really good. The mingled sweetness of the corn and the mussels was more prominent than it would have been if it had to compete with the smokiness of bacon.

This is my last week. The ingredients I have been missing most? White flour, lemons, Parmesan and wine. And chocolate, coffee and sugar, of course, but those haven't put any sort of cramp in my cooking, just in my habits.

*At least as far as meals go. I've also indulged in one or two iced coffees while out and about, and had a little chocolate a co-worker had brought back from a trip, because it would have been rude to refuse. Shut up, it would have! Posted by Picasa

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