Perhaps you’ve heard of a dining trend that has sprung up over the past few years: restaurants where the entire experience takes place in total darkness. You can see absolutely nothing. The idea is that we are overly dependent on visual cues in eating, and if we take that away it will heighten the other senses. (It is probably also a good way to develop greater hand-mouth coordination…perhaps something to try out on small children? Just a thought.) And for this, you pay what I can only consider a ridiculous amount of money.
Of course, we are the people who refuse to go to the Chinese Buffet unless we have coupons, so perhaps I am not the most qualified judge of high dining.
Luckily for me, I got to experience not only Blind Dining but also Blind Cooking last night, when Hungry Husband and I returned from spending an afternoon with friends to discover that the electricity was out. And when you live, as we do, in a neighborhood of tightly-packed multi-story buildings, there is very little nascent light that filters in from outside. And when you live as we do, in a temporary home, you are likely to overlook purchasing emergency items like candles…
The good news is I had dinner all prepared, it just needed to be heated, easily done over the blue (sometimes orange) glow of the gas flame. And then I settled down in front of the gentle glow of my laptop screen, warm soup in hand to watch an old favorite movie. So, technically, I did not eat in the total darkness; I could see the outline of my bowl, my hand as it moved towards my mouth, though I could not really see my food…but it was probably as close to a real blind dining experience as I’ll ever get. And it was free!
Toast slathered with butter. Couscous porridge with butter and whole fat milk. Potatoes mashed with butter, whole fat milk, and an entire head of garlic.
See a theme here? For me, winter is all about fat and carbohydrates. I have no qualms confessing that my diet is highly influenced by the season; I know I’m not alone here. Most of humanity begins thinking this way as evening falls earlier and earlier and we all huddle about wondering how to survive another long, cold winter. We may not be able to hibernate for the entire three or four months, but we can sure eat like we’re preparing to!
Tonight I made a cheesy potato-corn-white bean chowder. It started out with onion cooked in a large chunk of butter until translucent, then a few minced cloves of garlic, two smallish diced potatoes, and about 2 1/2 cups each chicken broth and fully fat and wonderful milk, brought to a boil and simmered gently. Oh, it smelled heavenly! Once the potatoes were tender I added one (drained) can each of corn and white beans, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and some cubed cheese, maybe 1/3 cup, which led to the only slightly disappointing part of the whole shebang. In my extreme cheapness, I had forsaken the real cheese and bought processed cheese. I was thinking Velveeta; what I got instead was a sticky white brick that refused to melt even when cut into very small pieces, meaning that instead of a consistently gooey cheesy broth, I ended up with a milky broth with bursts of cheesy(ish) goodness.
(That’s all the recipe you’re getting for this. It’s so very simple. And soup is really something that was made for adaptation and improvisation, so you can take this idea and recreate it yourself in whatever manner works for you. I would suggest better cheese, though!)
And I ate it out of a mug, because it is a well known fact that soup (umm, or chowder, whatever the difference may be) always tastes best when eaten out of either a mug or a bread bowl. Bread bowls being in short supply round these parts, I happily grasped my mug in both hands (giving the additional benefit of warm to my chilly little fingers) and soaked up my leftover broth with a warm wheat roll. (And no, I did not butter the roll. But I did consider it…)
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged American, Butter, Cheese, Chowder, Cooking, Corn, Eating, Legumes, One-pot, Onions, Potato, Recipe, Soup, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Winter
I got some very distressing news today, courtesy of Agrigirl‘s latest post on her family’s revolt against eating eggplant. Apparently, eggplant is very low in nutritional value. I have loved eggplant for a long, long time and always felt proud of having it in my regular vegetable routine, especially now that I’ve found so many wonderful Middle Eastern ways to prepare it, so it was very sad to me that it may just be the purple equivalent of iceberg lettuce. I’m still going to eat it, though…
Coupled with this recent article from The New York Times, which has got me in a tizzy about whether or not I eat enough vegetables, today was one of those throw-my-hands-in-the-air-and-say-WHO-CARES sorts of moments. Trying to stay on top of all the pronouncements regarding healthy eating is enough to make me think about giving up food entirely. Fortunately I had a chocolate bar in the refrigerator, which brought me back to my senses.
EGGPLANT WITH SWEET-AND-SOUR TOMATO SAUCE
- 1 large eggplant or 2 medium (about 1 kilo/2lbs. total), sliced about 1/2″ thick
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
- 1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I used pre-peeled and chopped, because my skin has developed a sensitivity to tomato juice recently)
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. vinegar (the original recipe called for red wine or white wine vinegar, but I used plain white and it seemed fine to me)
- 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
- Chili pepper to taste (I used one fresh green chili pepper, very finely diced)
- 1/3 c. parsley (I didn’t use this because I was not in a parsley mood)
- Salt and pepper
- Broil your eggplant in a 400F oven, turning once so that it browns on both sides. When done, remove from the oven and let cool.
- In a large pan, fry the garlic (and if you’re using fresh diced pepper, put it in now as well) until aromatic. Add the remaining ingredients (except parsley) and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to a thick sauce. Turn off heat, adjust seasonings, and let cool.
- To serve, pour the sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with parsley.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Arab, Chocolate, Cooking, Eating, Eggplant, Middle Eastern Food, New York Times, Nutrition, Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian