Food Diary, Vol. 2: Day Three.

10.08 am: Warm milk with honey.

12.21 – 12.29 pm: Split half an apple with Keith while watching the Battle at the Berrics semifinals.  I spread mine with peanut butter, which I then get all over my fingers.  I’m messy.

1.30 – 3.30 pm: This is technically supposed to be brunch at Craigie on Main with Keith, Kelly, Nancy and Jonah, but since it’s after noon I say it counts as lunch.  I have something like three cups of coffee, all with cream and whatever sugar cubes Jonah doesn’t eat, as well as a yogurt-drenched fruit cup with some amazing figs, grass-fed and house-brined corned beef and tongue hash with a slow-poached egg and crispy onion rings and chocolate-smothered profiteroles with what is supposed to be mint-chocolate ice cream but really is just overwhelmingly minty.

6.35 pm: Coke Zero and half an order of large fries from McDonald’s while  we drive to New York. Keith eats the other half while I lick the salt from my fingers.  I know fries aren’t the healthiest choice in the world, but I love them so.

8.11 pm: A bite of Keith’s banana-walnut bread from Starbucks.  I’m the one driving at this point, so I pretty much cram the bread into my mouth in a very unladylike fashion.  My mother would be so ashamed.

10.06 – 10.46 pm: At my parents’ house, where I drink one of my dad’s Beck’s and share two and a half lamejun with the dog. He doesn’t mind that I’ve sprinkled my food liberally with fresh lemon juice.

11.15 pm: Two glasses Torii Mor Late Harvest Gewurztraminer with Keith and my parents while we discuss dogs, nightmares and Thursday’s Thanksgiving menu.

Food Diary, Vol. 2: Day Two.

11.43 am: Way too much batter while making meringues.  I saved my unused egg whites from last night’s soup recipe, and at lunch yesterday Stephanie mentioned she wanted to make meringues, thus planting the seed of meringue-making in my head.  I love watching egg whites froth up and turn into peaks.  And I apparently also like using the words “making” and “meringues” as much as possible in a single sentence.

1.031.28 pm: Leftover soup plus the first of my beloved Coke Zeros for the day.  These things are seriously addictive.  I know this because I’m hooked.

2.22 pm: Warm milk and honey.

4.13 pm: Meringues!  I think I may have put in too much sugar, but this doesn’t stop me from eating three.

6.13 – 6.43 pm: Two slices pepperoni pizza at Keith’s Aunt Mary’s house, plus a Diet Pepsi.  It’s good, but it fails to hold a candle anywhere near my Coke Zeros.

7.34 pm: Coffee with cream and sugar, mostly because I am freezing.  That’s the thing about getting over being sick — adjusting to feeling normal again.  I’m wearing a T-shirt over a camisole, a cardigan and a scarf, and still I’m cold…

8.02 pm: …but not too cold to enjoy a piece of apple pie.

Chocolate Chip Meringues, from Martha Stewart
Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies

6 large egg whites
1 ¼ cups superfine sugar (see note)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Cocoa powder, for dusting

  1. Heat oven to 175°. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of superfine sugar over beaten egg whites, and whisk in on low speed.  Increase speed of mixer; whisking constantly, continue adding superfine sugar, a spoonful at a time, until all has been incorporated and mixture is firm enough to hold stiff and glossy peaks. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Pipe or spoon small mounds of mixture onto baking sheets, spacing mounds about 1 inch apart. Bake meringues until completely dry to the touch, about 3 hours.
  4. Transfer sheets to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days. Before serving, dust meringues with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.

Note: No need to buy special sugar for this.  Just measure out the amount you need into the bowl of a food processor and blitz.

Food Diary, Vol. 2: Day One.

11.49 am: Medium latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup and skim milk at South End Buttery.  The world’s most adorable shaggy-ish black dog with a red leash and matching collar is trying so hard to get inside, but not only is he tied up, but there’s a brick on his leash, further impeding him.  Still, he stands in the middle of the doorway, trying his damndest.  When I bend over to say hello on my way in, he wipes the entire right side of my face with his tongue, from my jawline right up to my eyeglasses’ frame.

12.04 – 1.08 pm: Multi-seed bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese, plus the extra cheese Stephanie scrapes off of her bagel, as I love schmear upon schmear of cream cheese and Stephanie does not.  It takes us ages to eat because we won’t shut up about dogs, having/not having babies, 30 Rock and Thanksgiving.

3.19 pm: Mug of hot milk with honey.

7.04 pm: Coke Zero while cooking.  It is sick how much I love this stuff.  I blame my parents — I was only allowed to have soda when we had pizza, was at someone else’s house or at a restaurant.  Now I can’t get enough of it.

7.56 pm: Two slices Kraft American cheese while cooking dinner.  What I said about Coke Zero up there?  Ditto for American cheese.

8.24 pm: Coke Zero number two.

8.50 – 9.15 pm: Garlic soup with spinach and pasta shells, along with toasted baguette slices and Gruyère cheese. It’s not quite cold enough outside for soup, even though it’s November, but it’s still pretty darn good.  And just barely over two hundred calories, in case you were curious…

Garlic Soup with Spinach + Pasta Shells, by Martha Rose Shulman for the New York Times
Makes six portions

2 heads of garlic
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon olive oil
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley, and a fresh sage leaf
Salt to taste
½ cup small macaroni shells
6 ½-inch thick slices country bread, toasted and rubbed with a cut clove of garlic
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated and tightly packed
4 egg yolks
6 ounce bag baby spinach

  1. Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice and water. Separate the head of garlic into cloves and drop them into the boiling water. Blanch for 30 seconds, then transfer to the ice water. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then drain and remove the skins from the garlic cloves. They’ll be loose and easy to remove. Crush the cloves lightly by leaning on them with the side of a chef’s knife.
  2. Place the garlic cloves in a large saucepan with 2 quarts of water, the olive oil, bouquet garni, and salt to taste, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Strain and return the broth to the saucepan. Taste and adjust salt, and bring back to a simmer.
  3. Add the macaroni shells to the broth and simmer until cooked al dente.
  4. Distribute the garlic croutons among 6 soup bowls and top each one with a heaped tablespoon of cheese. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Making sure that it is not boiling, whisk in a ladleful of the hot garlic broth.
  5. Add the spinach to the simmering broth and stir for 30 seconds to a minute, until all of the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat and stir in the tempered egg yolks. Stir for a minute, taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle the soup over the cheese-topped croutons, and serve.

Advance preparation: You can make the garlic broth a day ahead and refrigerate.

Coming Up…

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I can (admittedly) get a little distracted and procrastinate-y.

In April of last year, Danny Meyer — via New York Magazine — inspired me to I keep a week-long food diary up on this site as a way to try and kick-start (kick-restart?) healthy eating habits.  It took, but since then I’m sad to say I’ve faltered.  I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, and perhaps the eve of the 2009 holiday season isn’t the most intelligent time to embark upon a calorie-counting trek, but a girl’s gotta start somewhere, right?  So tomorrow’s it for me: one week of food diaries, up until Thanksgiving.

Three Seasonal Recipes.

Okay, I’ll ‘fess up.  I kind of slacked off on the CSA-writing around here, and for that I’m sorry.  In an act of contrition and apology, I offer you these three much-loved autumnal recipes, at least one of which I hope will rewarm your heart to me.

Are we friends again?

Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash + Shallots, from Cooking Light
Makes four portions

3 cups peeled butternut squash, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
8 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
4 ounces uncooked pappardelle (I prefer something like campanelle, as it’s similar in size to the cubed squash)
¼ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 475°.  Combine the squash, sugar, 2 ½ teaspoons oil, salt, pepper, and shallots in a jelly roll pan; toss well. Bake at 475° for twenty minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sage.
  2. While the squash mixture bakes, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place cooked pasta in a bowl. Add two teaspoons oil; toss well. Serve the squash mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese.

Sausage + Lentils with Fennel, from Gourmet*
Makes four portions

1 cup dried lentils
4 ½ cups cold water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 medium (¾-pound) fennel bulb, stalks discarded, reserving fronds
3 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch dice
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 ¼ pounds sweet Italian sausage links
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar, or to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

  1. Bring lentils, water, and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender but not falling apart, 12 to 25 minutes.
  2. While lentils simmer, cut fennel bulb into ¼-inch dice and chop enough fennel fronds to measure 2 tablespoons. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then stir in onion, carrot, fennel bulb, fennel seeds, and remaining teaspoon salt. Cover pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly prick sausages in a couple of places with tip of a sharp knife, then cook sausages in remaining ½ tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.
  4. Drain cooked lentils in a sieve set over a bowl and reserve cooking water. Stir lentils into vegetables with enough cooking water to moisten (¼ to ½ cup) and cook over moderate heat until heated through. Stir in parsley, pepper, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon fennel fronds. Season with vinegar and salt.
  5. Cut sausages diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve lentils topped with sausage and sprinkled with remaining tablespoon fennel fronds. Drizzle all over with extra-virgin olive oil.

Cream-Braised Green Cabbage, from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Makes four to six portions

1 small green cabbage (about 1 ½ pounds)
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  1. First, prepare the cabbage. Pull away any bruised leaves, and trim its root end to remove any dirt. Cut the cabbage into quarters, and then cut each quarter in half lengthwise, taking care to keep a little bit of the core in each wedge. (The core will help to hold the wedge intact, so that it doesn’t fall apart in the pan.) You should wind up with 8 wedges of equal size.
  2. In a large (12-inch) skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the cabbage wedges, arranging them in a single crowded layer with one of the cut sides down. Allow them to cook, undisturbed, until the downward facing side is nicely browned and caramelized, 5 to 8 minutes. Then, using a pair of tongs, gently turn the wedges onto their other cut side. When the second side has browned, sprinkle the salt over the wedges, and add the cream. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and reduce the heat so that the liquid stays at a slow, gentle simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and gently, using tongs, flip the wedges, Cook for another 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is very tender and yields easily when pierced with a thin, sharp knife. Add the lemon juice, and shake the pan to distribute it evenly.
  3. Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes more to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the cabbage. Serve immediately, with additional salt at the table.
* RIP.

Five Things About Me: 41 42 43 44 45.

This is the “I’m feeling better” post.

41. When I have a cold and then, appropriately, get stuffy and nasal-y, I apparently sound like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.*

42. I’m normally a nitpicky movie-watcher, but when the haze of sickness and Tylenol Cold clouds my  judgment, I’m a film studio’s focus group’s dream.  I’ll buy into whatever lame-o plot devices the filmmakers throw at me without question, which is probably why I laughed coughed so much during Land of the Lost, didn’t mind the irritating twin robots in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and made it all the way through G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra without scoffing.

43. If I’ve got a sore throat, I’ll intentionally choose things to eat and drink that will either soothe or scratch it on the way down.  Examples include pizza/anything with melted cheese, toast with butter and strawberry jam, Coke Zero, shrimp-and-tofu stew from FuLoon and warm milk with honey.

44. Generally speaking, I’m happy to be a homebody — this goes out the window when I’m laid up on the sofa.  I go absolutely nuts and crave getting out of the apartment, even if I’m too tired to do much more than flail helplessly under layers of blankets.

45. The whole time I was sick, the only thing I wanted was a puppy to warm my nauseous belly.  I settled for a water bottle that leaked if I squeezed it.

* This is according to Keith and confirmed by Stephanie.  I’ve never seen the TV specials.