"I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice." – Albert from Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell C. Hoban
Glossing over my 4 month posting absence, I’m living in an apartment in Lenox, Massachusetts until the end of January, while attending a program at Shakespeare & Company.
From my arrival in the second week of November until the end of December, I’m responsible for my own food. Not by any means a unique situation or a hard thing to do, but a new experience for me. I’ve done my best to cook my meals, and use little prepared ingredients. The kitchen has decent supplies and the electric burners work well enough.
What I find difficult is planning the shopping. I tend to run out of supplies at an uneven rate, the better supermarkets are driving distance (as opposed to walking distance), and I find it difficult to judge amounts for one person.
That said, I’m having a lot of fun, and I wanted to share a the menu for this past weekend.
Mostly from this recipe, with a few adaptations (no bacon fryings) and edited slightly for clarity. Comes out very nicely, and very easy to make. I burned this the first time making it, but I liked the texture when cooked at a higher heat for less time. So you can play around, as long as you keep an eye on it.
1 cup flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup corn meal
3 tbsp. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk – I substituted 1 cup milk with 1 tsp. lemon, let sit for 5 minutes to curdle
1/4 cup melted butter
(optional) A decent amount of grated cheese – I used cheddar and I chopped in finely (no grater)
Combine flour and baking powder, sifting if necessary. Add corn meal and salt. Mix thoroughly.
Combine egg, milk and melted butter. Pour into flour mixture and stir to moisten.
Heat a ~10 inch pan (a skillet or any pan with a thick bottom is great, but a regular one will do) over a medium heat. If you have an Electric skillet, set it at 150 degrees. Grease with butter or oil.
Cornbread is done when dry to the touch and golden brown around the edges. An easy way to check, is hold the lid with one hand (with a pot holder), and hold the pan with your other hand. Turn the cornbread over into the lid and check the bottom to see how done it is. You can refrigerate on a large plate covered in foil.
Simple Black Beans and Rice
Taken from this recipe, but really loosely.
Rice – made according to the package
1 cup of regular white rice
2 cups of water
Healthy pinch dried oregano or cilantro
In a medium-small pot, boil the water. Add rice and stir in the salt and herbs.
Cover, lower heat to a simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is all gone.
It will probably bubble up at the beginning, uncovering it for a moment and lifting the pot if needed should save it from bubbling over. (Start making the beans while the rice is cooking.)
After the rice is finished, fluff with a fork or a wooden spoon. Take care not to scrape up the rice on the very bottom of the pot, that’s usually slightly burnt.
A splash of olive oil
Half a giant onion, chopped – or 1 medium onion, or two small onions, or however much you want
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
One 16 oz can of “frijoles negros”, or black beans, undrained
2 tbsp. vinegar – I used apple cider
A few dashes of tabasco – I used “Texas Pete Hotter Hot Sauce”
A pinch of chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
(optional but highly recommended) Chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges to garnish
Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic and red pepper with salt and black pepper for 3-4 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Add carrots and saute for another 3 minutes or so, or until carrot begin to soften.
Add beans with their liquid, vinegar, tabasco and chili powder. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add rice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garnish.
Peanut Butter Cookies
I literally chose this recipe because I had just the right ingredients for it. Turned out very well, too, and it was a breeze to make. Don’t bake it on wax paper though, that’s a bad idea (it starts to smoke in the oven). Use parchment paper or foil.
Made this one exactly as is, with one change. I made small cookies, because it’s always better to
make more small cookies then less big ones. That way,
you have more cookies. They don’t spread at all, so you can make them fairly close to each other. So I adjusted the baking time to 8-10 minutes and flipped the racks top to bottom and front to back in the middle, but I think they still took around 12 minutes.
Wait until the cookies are a nice deep golden brown before taking them out of the oven.