Posted on 25 June 2009.
Sorry about that long title, but serves its purpose of telling you exactly what you get. :-)
As I said earlier, I am participating in this summer week’s “Eating Down the Fridge” over at Kim O’Donnel’s A Mighty Appetite. I have to admit that this is indeed a “challenge” for me. When I am cooking for one or two, it’s very easy to slide into that It’s-Easier-To-Eat-Out Zone, especially when the weather is just plain seductive and it feels criminal to stay home.
If you only have a few weeks of semi-uninterrupted sunshine (as I type this, it is raining…welcome to our world), you enjoy every bit of it.
See what I mean?
We do our best to appreciate the glorious summer days of Vancouver. :-)
And then I find myself with a well-stocked fridge and pantry at the end of the week, except that 50% of the fresh food will probably go bad soon. Does that sound familiar?
I go back and forth this same old story. I’ve already confided on this blog that I still have this Waste-Not attitude with food because of the way I was raised. It’s really just common sense and practicality: simply eat what you buy.
I’m already seeing the benefits of Eating Down the Fridge:
1. I make an effort to eat breakfast these days. Usually, I’ll just skip it, which I know is bad, but I couldn’t help it. Now, I try harder. I want to finish the loaf of whole wheat bread instead of offering it up to the mold gods. And I pay more attention to the gala apples I bought that I meant to eat for breakfast or as snacks.
2. I am starting to remember stuff I froze that I still need to use. For example, the fresh-now-frozen thyme that went into this simple salad. I still have frozen peeled bananas that could easily go into banana bread or muffins.
3. The ‘limit’ of not going out to shop for more food, is stirring up my creative juices. What can I do with what I have? I still have a box of strawberries, a lonely floppy stalk of rhubarb and lots of gala apples. I can smell something in the oven already. :-) Have I told you I haven’t made any dessert out of rhubarb?! Never. So here’s my chance to prove to Amy that I am from this planet (she jokingly asked from which planet I was when she learned of this…haha), just that I’m discovering food that are common to most of you, but so new to me!
4. I resist the compulsion to buy more and more food. It’s like with clothes, you keep buying them because one day you think you have nothing to wear. You just have to look into your closet (in our case, pantry/fridge) to see that you have a lot!
5. I am more thoughtful of food. Sometimes life gets really too busy that the kitchen is acts like a pit stop where you grab something you can instantly eat and leave empty-handed and go to the store if there’s none. I think about food, what to prepare so I wouldn’t go hungry in the middle of the day (I work from home) and commune with food. Food is something to enjoy sitting down on the table, with friends and family.
6. That said, I feel like a child finding ingredients in the kitchen that I didn’t know I had. Two jars of baking powder anyone? I see things in doubles and not because of my eyesight. Time to do some inventory around here.
7. At the end of the week, I will have an almost-empty fridge that’s much easier to clean. A clean fridge to work with! I love it already.
During the day, I eat toasted bread with sunflower butter or butter. The other night I just cooked the flank steak with salt and pepper and a wine-soy gravy (still debating if I should post the bad photos…haha). I also had plain red-leaf lettuce salad with garlic dressing (that my brother calls my “Shawarma sauce” when he tasted it during our family dinner a few weekends ago). I’m proud to announce that I also saved that tub of organic vanilla yogurt before it expires in a week, and started eating it. I always get hungry and I didn’t realize I had all this food enough to satiate my every-3-hours hunger.
Last night, I made this simple salad of roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled beets and a homemade garlic-lemon-thyme dressing made with those ingredients glended with olive and coconut oil and just salt and pepper. I love food that is easy to prepare and yet captivates you with comforting flavors and textures — homey, not complex.
A little something about Yukon Gold Potatoes:
These are yellow-fleshed potatoes, compared to the whitish ones. Yukon Gold is a crossbreed between the North American white potato and a wild South American yellow-fleshed variety and was registered in Canada in 1980. They are good for boiling, baking, french-frying, but unsuitable for chipping. It has medium starch content and disintegrates when overcooked. Excellent for storage and holds well for long without sprouting (bonus for me).
I love their thin, smooth skin and buttery flavor. I overcooked some of the smaller pieces and the flesh separated from the prime real estate of a skin (read: roasted Yukon Gold potato skin is like flavor bling to my taste buds), into a soft, pillow-y mulch. It didn’t bother me at all because it was a nice kind of mush, and you’ll forget about it once you taste it. I should remember to buy more of these, seeing that it stores well and my sprouting russet family in a bag is testament to why I shouldn’t rely on them all the time.
Once I baked it, I tossed the thyme sprigs and the dressing while they were hot. Mmm. Once it cooled, I put some in a bowl with beet chunks and some greens and enjoyed it with a glass of chardonnay. What a great way to spend the rainy evening.
Oven-Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes and Beets with Garlic-Lemon-Thyme Dressing
Ingredients (serves 2 to 3)
• 8 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in quarters (or more if they are big). Try to cut them about the same size.
• 2 whole medium beets, boiled and cut into chunks the same size as the potatoes (you can boil it at the same time you are oven-roasting the potatoes)
• 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 3/4 tsp sea salt, divided
• 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, divided
• 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
• 4 large cloves (or 6 medium) of garlic
• 8-10 sprigs of thyme
• Optional: fresh greens
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. In an oven safe glass baking dish, mix together potatoes, olive oil, 1/4 tsp ground pepper and 1/4 tsp sea salt making sure all the surfaces of the potatoes are coated with oil. Add more oil if needed. Carefully position potatoes with the flesh down, not the skin. The skin is too precious to have to stick to the pan.
2. Place in the oven for 15 minutes then turn the potatoes and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the corners and skin of the potatoes. Total baking time depends on the sizes of your cut potatoes.
3. In your small food processor (or magic bullet), blend together extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground pepper, garlic cloves, and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice. Add more salt and pepper to suit your taste I personally just add more pepper, because I like the flavor of the garlic and lemon to take center stage). Pulse until the dressing is smooth and uniform. Set aside.
4. As soon as you take the dish out of the oven, toss in the thyme sprigs and dressing with the potatoes in the dish. Let it cool down before serving with the beets and greens.