Ahoy! I’m well aware of my failure to update this week — oh, man: you have no idea how much I wanted to update this week, but I barely had time for sleeping*, let alone for blogging. BUT, things are (finally, mercifully) settling down. Today, I moved to The Mission. After weeks of enduring landlord harassment, I’m finally in the place I most want to be. Already, my life is peachier; think of how grand it will be once I get my clothes unpacked(!)
One of the most difficult parts of moving is restricted kitchen access coupled with the need to buy prepared food. I like buying lunch occasionally, but when buying lunch becomes a necessity? Oh, no no no no no. I can handle a Trader Joe’s salad once every few weeks, but having to eat several TJs lunches in a single week amounts to low-grade torture. As Nathan so astutely put it, “Their [the salads’] flavor profiles are all just kind of…the same. Like, dried cranberries, balsamic, cheese, and chicken.” He’s right: this week, I twice had the Field Fresh Chopped Salad and once had the Southwest Salad. I couldn’t differentiate between them. It’s all like, chemically residued Romaine and hair-thin “pecornio” wisps and those damnable craisins, LOL!
But I digress (and into acronym usage, of all things). Before I bid farewell to the Sunset, I prepared a killer last meal: in-a-hurry tamale pie, inspired by the recipe at Eat, Live, Run. (Note: The ELR recipe was adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook. #Modificationsrule.)
The gist of the recipe is this: you grease a 9-inch pie plate (or cake pan, or whatever you have) and line your pan with polenta rounds (i.e., a sliced roll of pre-cooked polenta). Set aside your pan. In a medium bowl, mix one 15-ounce can of pinto beans (rinsed and drained), the kernels of one ear of corn, about half a cup of salsa, some salt & pepper, some cumin, red pepper flakes, minced onion, and whatever other seasonings you like. Pour this mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly over the polenta. Top the mess with cheese, cover, and bake (covered) for 15 minutes at 350. After 15 minutes, remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream. DONE.
In the past, I maintained a skeptical view of casseroles, which were too gooey, too tater-tot-laden for my highfalutin palate. Recently, I’ve come around to the casserole — or, rather, the reenvisioned version thereof. Casseroles needn’t be unhealthy, and they’re a badass way to use up ingredients in your pantry, which was one of my last week’s goals.
In-a-hurry tamale pie took me aback. In my household, polenta is underused as a crust element; this polenta, though bland, held up well, making ideal leftovers. My proprietary spice blend (lots of black pepper, lots of cumin, a little bit of red pepper flakes, a little bit of salt, and a little bit of cayenne) added heat and depth. Also: cheese lattice. Anything with a cheese lattice warrants a repeat performance.
Even if you’re wary of casseroles, give this one a try — it won’t bite. I’m telling you, that weirdo polenta roll I had kicking around my pantry saved my life. If I’d had to eat take-out dinners in addition to all those Trader Joe’s salads, who knows what might have happened. I might have developed a rapid-onset vitamin deficiency and just withered away! Or I might just have subsisted on Cheetos. It’s anyone’s guess.
On that note, it’s bedtime! A full week of landlord dodging, half-assed packing, and reordering my bookshelves has left me wiped. Until later, friends!
*And, just to “keep it real,” I’ll have you know that I didn’t have time to shave my legs. Ha, ha, ha!