Tag Archives: moving

Last Meals

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(!)

A summary of my week.

(source)

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!

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*And, just to “keep it real,” I’ll have you know that I didn’t have time to shave my legs. Ha, ha, ha!

A clean, well-lit place

There’s much to report on the Garkyfront: so much that I’ll dive in and tell y’all what’s on my mind: I’m moving! Again! (I know, right — this gal’s not gathering any moss.) Come September, I’ll be relocating to the Mission, where I’ll revel in the abundance of taco stores and enjoy my new home’s natural light, bay windows, and hardwood floors. I don’t dislike the Sunset (in theory, anyhow), but it’s so freaking remote: my daily commute totals two to three hours, depending on the state of MUNI, and I budget at least an hour to get anywhere else. Tally that travel time, and you’ll realize that I’ve been spending much of my recent life on a train. That, coupled with my landlords’ tendency to wander into my living quarters, made me take action.

Friday morning, I put down a deposit and picked up my keys. I am so stoked to move in to my new place, but slightly less stoked about the prospect of boxing my books, trinkets, pairs of socks, &c. Ah, well: it’s a process that can be made more pleasant with music and PBR, right? (Aside: if any of you wants to help me pack, I’ll make you so much pizza and pour you so much prosecco. Or something equivalent.)

Picking up my keys was just the start of this past weekend. Friday night, I met Aurora for dinner at Cha Ya, where we enjoyed a serene, multi-course meal. As you know, my median dinner time has crept farther and farther past 6:00, edging into an arguably European time slot. Friday, it was back to square one: A. and I were the first diners to arrive. Our early arrival garnered us a prime table, uninterrupted service, and funny looks from passersby (who must have wondered what two twentysomethings were thinking, eating dinner at 5:00).

We began our meal with cocktails, natch — barley spirits mixed with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. (Note: How did we know the juice was fresh? We squeezed it ourselves. At the table.) Similar to vodka, this spirit was mostly tasteless; I was pleased to have fresh-squeezed juice (one of my favorite small luxuries). Aurora and I shared miso and the daintiest cucumber salad, garnished with toasted soy nuts and golden raisins and dressed in a mild vinaigrette. Next, we split a tofu custard topped with veggies: sugar snap peas, squash (undercooked, sadly), carrot coins cut to resemble blossoms. I’m sad to say that, texturally relevant though this dish was, it was bland. Cream-of-wheat bland. The veggies tasted like their natural selves; I dumped a bunch of soy sauce on my portion to spruce up the flavor, but this only made me feel as though I were eating cream of wheat with soy sauce.

The highlight of the meal was the fried eggplant stuffed with tofu and veg; ever-so-faintly sweet, the eggplant had the consistency of French toast* — a meltier, more-fried French toast — and assumed the mild ginger flavor of the sauce it bathed in. I’m partial to stuffed things — the uncovery process makes any meal more novel — and the entrée fit nicely with my Learning to Love Tofu Initiative.

After dinner, we jaunted to the Art Murmur, which was nifty and vibrant but maybe a little too scene for my evening: I’d promised myself a quiet night, but one tallboy, one vegan cupcake, and 1.5 dive bar Mai Tais later, I realized I’d made bad on my promise.

Saturday, I kicked it with Sabina, ladystyle: we spent some quality time on the couch watching only the finest Bravo had to offer. We quite possibly also watched one of the sequels to “Bring it On,” which was quite possibly featured on ABC Family. No comment there.

By Saturday evening, I wanted to swaddle myself in my comforter and sleep the deepest, most dreamless sleep, but I had other plans — I was meeting Alex to cook dinner. We spent a goodly amount of time paging through cookbooks, admiring rare chops and crusty loaves and Nigella’s sultry poses, and we decided, in the end, to visit Bi-Rite and get whatever struck our fancy.**

Aside: Oh, my god: as much as I love general grocery shopping, I love shopping at Bi-Rite the best. I’m drawn in by the jewel-bright berries, the stone fruits whittled into sample slices, the orderly rows of cupcakes and tarts. Such order! Such prosperity. As I stood considering the bins of olives, a salesdude wandered over and gave me samples of a few varieties; little did he know that I’d already decided to get a tub of Cerignolas.Roughly an hour later, we began to cook, but not in any old way. No, no: the preparation of this dinner was just as leisurely as the preceding grocery trip. Alex put on music; I broke the bundled Romaine hearts into leaves and washed them in lukewarm water. We paused to snack on olives, take a sip of whiskey, flip the record. A few minutes passed, then an hour; the vinaigrette was ready, the bread warmed in the oven, and the steaks hissed in their pan. I set the table with one green plate and one yellow. We were hungry, yes, but not so hungry to overlook the luxury of a languorously prepared meal.

If I had to choose (which I don’t, seeing as I’m the one recounting this experience, but I’ll choose, anyway), my favorite part of the meal was bread topped with manchego and membrillo. I’d never had quince paste, and I smitten with its texture (jam-aspic hybrid?), sweetness, and bloody hue; paired with the crumbly cheese, it was divine. All night, I thought about this combination, the satisfaction I took in its simplicity. Sunday, after a glorious brunch and my tour, I bought a wedge of twelve-month-aged manchego and a tub of membrillo and set to work making my newest favorite comfort food.

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*Which I’ve been craving something fierce lately, god help me. I never used to like French toast, but look at me now! #seachange

**This isn’t entirely true: we did decide to make a variation of Jamie Oliver’s Insalata di Strata, but our protein/beverage/dessert choices were guided by impulse alone.

Slackin’

Confession time: I’ve been slacking on my blog. You know it as well as I do; the lapses between posts don’t lie! And yet, I have an excuse (a fairly solid one, at that) for my apparent blog-related laziness: I’m in the process of moving.

That’s right: for the past few weeks, I’ve been in the process of schlepping all my worldly goods to Aaron’s place. Though our apartments are a scant three blocks apart, you’d be surprised at how prolonged and difficult the relocation process is. Really, I’ve even surprised myself. Given that I moved out here in my car*, I thought that my possessions would be easy to pack/transport. Not so. It seems that, in the year+ that I’ve resided in SF, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of stuff — clothes, mostly, but books and papers, too — stuff that required extensive sorting, dusting, consideration, etc. before being tossed willy-nilly into boxes and carried across the Panhandle. Those who know me will attest to my packrat nature, but JESUS! New living arrangements make me want to become A Minimalist, for real.

The good news is this: I’m almost totally moved in. Yesterday, Courtney drove me (and a bunch of books!) over to Hook’s place. I’ve got one batch o’ things left in my former apartment’s living room and then I’m set. Words cannot describe the relief that will overtake me once all of my shit is in one place, finally, truly.

Is this a legit dinner? Don't answer that.

 

The not-so-good news: I don’t have many tales of kitchen intrigue to report. Indeed, I’ve also been slacking on the cooking front (with the exception of the dishes I prepared for Thanksgiving, whose antics I am still planning to recap). Case in point: last night’s dinner was an artisanal English muffin, wine, and chips/salsa. Not even organic chips, nor blue corn — just garden variety Tostitos.

World, what are you coming to?

Woes aside, I can assure you that once my move is complete, I’ll be back on the blogging track like never before — just you watch! My stock pot is perched on its shelf, ready for use, and I’ve got a slew of squash recipes begging to be tested. For now, I’ve got to pack my gym bag and hit the hay. Tomorrow will overturn a new blogging leaf.

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*A Corolla, no less! Impressed? I was. See also: neo-nomadic lifestyle.