Lord only knows how or why I woke up last Saturday morning – without an alarm clock – at 8:00am and decided I needed to clean my apartment top to bottom. I question my ability / unconscious decision-making to do this for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s a Saturday morning and as of late I am finding the lazy Saturday mornings are becoming fewer and fewer with spring here and summer around the corner. There will be early trips to the farmers market to have first picks of ramps, garlic scapes, asparagus and many other local goodies. With any luck there will be trips to the beach or drives to favorite hiking spots, rooftop brunches and backyard barbecues and gigantic food and music festivals to jump out of bed and rush around for. Second, I cannot quite pinpoint the exact number of alcoholic beverages my companions and I consumed the night before, but there is always a turning point in the night that goes from, “Let’s just pop into the Post Office for a quick drink” to “Damn, we must have ordered a lot of rounds to get complimentary pickle backs”. So you see, my ability to jump out of bed on that Saturday morning to compete in the Ms. Swifter Goddess USA pageant was…unexpected to say the least. It was certainly a first for me I think and came as an unwelcome shock to this one. (Probably why she felt the need to hide…in my clean laundry.)
(Breakfast – sauteed lardons and baby kale with eggs and rye toast.)
(Lunch – open-faced turkey sandwiches with whole grain mustard, tomatoes, and homemade pickled onions and carrots.)
Saturday was also the first time in weeks that every meal consumed by yours truly I prepared or cooked myself from ingredients that, if not immediately on hand, were within a 15 minute walk from my new digs. I did not eat in a restaurant or at the counter at Whole Foods or sitting at my desk at work or staring at a television / computer screen / cell phone / insert fancy digital device here. I simply sat at my new, borrowed coffee table and ate my vittles, did my dishes, and then set about starting to prepare my next meal to be consumed hours later. Such a simple thing, yes. To have the time to cook every meal you consume in a day is certainly a rarity, but I think its also one of the most luxurious ways to spend a Saturday. As the months whizz by, to do lists pile up and distractions can come in so many forms, I relish any day that I can dedicate to feeding myself and my loved ones honest-to-goodness whole food with quality ingredients and thoughtful preparation. I relish having the good fortune to have fresh, mostly locally sourced ingredients on hand or close by and I relish the time I get to spend on taking those ingredients from grocery bags to plates to bellies.
(Dinner – Richie’s tuna speaks with tomato “salsa”, fresh asparagus sauteed with garlic and butter)
Later this week Katie* and I will both be contributing our experiences from our first-ever Chopped Battle Royale where we are “challenged” to make a meal entirely from mystery ingredients. From scratch. Including shopping. With a broken oven. IN TWO HOURS!! So yeah, spending an entire DAY dreaming of all the things I wanted to make with whatever I wanted PLUS clean apartment? Yup, that’s a good day.
*(author of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Fatter)
Tomato “Salsa” with Fennel and Pickled Onions
This is a great salsa that I served over a piece of yellowfin tuna that my fisherman brother so nicely gifted to me. It would also go really well with grilled tilapia or chicken, tossed in warm pasta, or just over great, crusty bread. Enjoy!
Active time: 10 minutes, Total time: 30 minutes; Serves 4.
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced small
fennel fronds and stalks from 1 medium fennel bulb (about a 1/4 cup chopped each – fronds and stalks)
1/4 cup pickled onions (recipe below)
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Mix tomatoes, fronds, stalks, and onions in a bowl. Toss with remaining ingredients and season to taste. Let stand for 20 minutes. Serve over fish.
Mix one large red or white onion, sliced, in a bowl with 1:1 water to vinegar (any kind, try red, champagne, sherry, etc) and a teaspoon of salt, making sure the onions are completely submerged. Let stand for 30 minutes or store and refrigerate up to 3 weeks.