Desperately Seeking Dinner

You don't have to be laid up with a seven-week-old baby to be exhausted with little time or motivation for the grocery store, much less culinary innovation.  So I will share with you a number from my pantry-ready arsenal that is sure to fill you up and can as easily be made for one belly or four.

Things have been complicated for me lately as my pediatrician asked me to nix both wheat and dairy from my diet.  Jack has responded wonderfully.  No more late night crying.  No more grunting like an animal.  But as a girl who eats a worrysome amount of cheese and whose version of a 'quick meal' is a slice of whole grain bread spread with unpasteurized goat, this has been a problem.  I've been sticking to a lot of meat-and-potato type meals (boil baby yukons for 15 minutes, crush, mix with european butter, high-quality salt and chopped parsley for a side dish that comforts and nourishes) and relying heavily on brown rice.  Not to mention that the whole matter of 'feeding myself' is complicated by the fact that I live in a third-floor walk up.  So each time I return from the grocery store I have to get a baby car seat, a stroller base, my purse and my grocery bags through a gate, a narrow stoop, an industrial weight front door and up three flights of stairs.  Needless to say I've been keeping my trips to a minimum and my groceries light.

Luckily this recipe serves me well in many variations and the circumstances being what they are, Pete hardly complains about eating the same thing three days in a row (frankly I think we're just thrilled to eat anything at all for a few minutes together without the baby needing our full attention).

Perfect brown rice:

Boil 4 cups of water.
Rinse 1 cup of brown rice under the faucet through a sieve.
When the water is boiling, add 1 cup rinsed brown rice to pot.
Reduce heat to medium and allow to boil, uncovered, 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, strain rice through sieve to remove any excess water (it's likely that this step won't be necessary).
Return rice in pot to stove.  Turn off heat.  Cover rice and allow to sit for an additional 15 minutes (rice will finish cooking in its own steam).

Pantry-ready sauce:
Add whatever vegetables you have on hand to a skillet.  In this case I used garlic, a touch of oil, half a white onion (chopped), 2 carrots (chopped) and 1 yellow squash (chopped).  Garlic and oil will cook on med low heat until fragrant, onions will follow,  then carrots and squash.  Make sure to season each addition with salt and (white) pepper.  When veggies are nearly cooked through, add store bought pasta sauce.  When the sauce is heated through, crack two eggs into the sautee pan (or one egg per serving).  Cover pan for 2-3 minutes until the whites of the egg are firmly set.  

You can vary this formula with whatever you can dream up, and more importantly, with whatever is left at the bottom of your pantry.  Frozen vegetables can easily be used instead of fresh.  Canned soup can be used instead of jarred pasta sauce.

Good luck and eat well!

x.

PS Today is a fun little milestone over here on Bond Street.  Two years ago today a certain gent picked up Parm sandwiches and led me up to the Conservatory Gardens got down on one knee and popped THE question.  The answer was of course a happy yes and all of the sudden my mother-in-law to be appeared with an arm full of yellow roses and our camera to memorialize the special moment.  After we'd taken nearly two hundred, we raced back downtown to begin an evening of celebrating at the Gramercy Park Hotel.  We checked into a suite (we'd graciously been upgraded to the best in the hotel), had a glass of champagne and got ready for dinner at Maialino only to discover that we'd left our camera in the cab!  The camera was never found and so there are no pictures of that day, save for a few iphone snapshots of my new jewels and perfect manicure (I'd had an inkling and so I had not one but two different manicures the day before).  And so the whole experience is extra sacred, in a way.  

 

Pictured: new bling and jeans that, two years later, would no longer fit.

PPS A milestone of a different sort happened over the weekend.  I celebrated another birthday on Saturday, the 21st of September which means I am now twenty eight.  Officially ineligible for the '27 Club', which is a relief.