Light a fire

I wrote my first blog post here on November 14, 2010, so it’s almost been six (six!) years. Wild.

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I may have been neglecting this space a bit lately, but I’m happy it’s still here. And if you just read that last line, then I’m happy you’re still here, too.

It’s been a really beautiful, warm fall. We took Half-moon to his first pumpkin patch a couple of weeks ago (as of press time, the pumpkins remain uncarved. Maybe it’s better late than never?) We had a delicious picnic dinner  in Tenney Park from the Underground food truck and Sitka Salmon folks and discovered that Half-moon LOVES smoked salmon. I went catting with a notorious Madisonian (more on this in this coming week’s Isthmus) and we’ve been enjoying late afternoon happy hour fires. I have also been making lots and lots of rice bowls with veggies and tofu. The funny thing is, I was inspired to make these bowls by a meal that we had in Seattle about five years ago when we took the train to visit my sister. One night my old roommate from Wyoming, Brett (who had since moved to Seattle) and his wife, Kate, had us over for a super fun dinner where we created our own bowls with rice, salmon, and vegetables- I remember shredded beets- and a delicious, herbaceous sauce.

So I found myself thinking about this meal one morning about a month and a half ago, which turned out to be the same day Brett found me on Instagram, after having not communicated for at least over a year. Cosmic energy, my friends.

And from checking out Brett and Kate’s instagram pages, it turns out that they know the farmer behind one of my all-time favorite blogs, so I need to get to that bottom of that, too. All right, rice bowls. I had a realization sometime in the last couple of years that I am not very good at making stir-fry- it always ends up too greasy for my liking. Instead of sautéing veggies, I prefer them raw (or cooked separately ahead of time- like roasted brussel sprouts) served with a salty, umami-y sauce + fresh herbs (like cilantro) + sesame seeds or peanuts. Here is how I like to make rice bowls:

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Rice Bowls with Tofu and Seasonal Vegetables

Ingredients

Brown rice (cooked according to directions- about a cup uncooked rice for 2-3 people)

Vegetables: any combination of shredded napa cabbage (really good marinated in sesame oil- reminds me of the wok seared sesame noodles from when I worked at Noodles and Co.), green beans, shredded beets, sliced radishes, green onions, thinly sliced kale, brussels sprouts, etc.

Baked tofu (see this blog post for marinade and baking directions)

Sauce: Play around! Here are a couple of combinations to try-

soy sauce + (dark) miso + sesame oil + lime/lemon juice + chopped cilantro

gochujang (fermented chile paste) + soy sauce + water

Toppings: peanuts or sesame seeds, (more) fresh cilantro

Directions

Place cooked rice in bowl. Top with tofu, vegetables, sauce, peanuts or sesame seeds and fresh herbs.

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Tonight we’ll have to light a fire to embrace the early darkness. Happy fall.

 

 

 

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On cabin fever and heavy cream

My tabby cat, Danger Boy, is simultaneously running around the house at high speeds and using the bathtub as a make-shift stage for his yelling practice. At press time, he is entertaining himself by sitting on the kitchen table and sticking his paw in my breakfast- a ceramic white bowl full of steel cut oats, pumpkin seeds, raisins and- Danger’s favorite- a dash of heavy cream.

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I can’t blame him- on March 2nd the light is getting longer, but winter is holding heavy here in Wisconsin.

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I’ve relied on my regular winter activities to keep myself entertained: Cross-country skiing, hot yoga, hot whiskey, entering the cats in a Bachelor gambling pool , making soup, watching Almost Famous on repeat… but things here have reached an ice-covered fevered pitch. And I’ve turned to sugar. 

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My mom recently brought me her February back issue of Bon Appétit magazine and the first page I dog-eared had a recipe for meyer lemon cream. I keep telling myself how much I love winter (I love winter I love winter I love winter) and one of the reasons why I love winter is because of floral meyer lemons*, available from November to March. My friend Martha recently gave me a bunch that she hauled back in a suitcase from her husband’s parents’ house in California (California! Lemons grow there on trees! In the winter!) So last night- after hot yoga- I whipped up a batch of meyer lemon cream, while Danger Boy pranced and yelled at my feet. I don’t always have the most success with making desserts, but this one is so simple it would be nearly impossible to mess up.

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Meyer Lemon Cream with Graham Crackers and Sea Salt

This recipe appeared in the February 2014 issue of Bon Appétit magazine

Ingredients:

3 large eggs
⅔ cup sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated Meyer or regular lemon zest
½ cup fresh Meyer or regular lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1½ cups chilled heavy cream
6 graham crackers, crumbled
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) finely grated

Directions:

Cook eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened (mixture should coat a spoon), 8–10 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a blender and blend on low speed, gradually adding butter, until mixture is smooth (you’re not trying to aerate the mixture, so keep blender on low speed). Transfer lemon curd to a medium bowl, cover, and chill at least 2 hours.
Just before serving, whisk cream into lemon curd. Layer lemon cream and graham crackers in small glasses or bowls, finishing with graham crackers. Top with lemon zest and sea salt.

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Hang in there, my friends- spring is lurking out there somewhere. Until then, enjoy meyer lemons and a romp in the snow while they last.

*Freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice is also delicious in hot whiskey.

A good day

I hope you had as good a day as my feline roomates who broke into their stash of catnip and most likely took naps in my basket of clean laundry. They are now asleep on my bed where they will soon launch a pounce attack on my feet while I sleep. Welcome to the new Wisconsin Fun Next Exit where I now simply talk about life with cats. But check back tomorrow… I might, just might, have a recipe for peanut sauce.