Sunday, April 11

Whimzy Lunch

Today's HTBH accomplishment: Cook something new and exotic and delicious.  

It's taken me a while, but I'm finally been remembering what I love about fresh food.

Dan and I have been eating out A LOT lately, and I always feel so guilty about it because it's such a waste of money (yesterday, however, was the exception, with amazing Ethiopian food in Chapel Hill). Once upon a time I'd rather cook than go out to eat, but that doesn't apply so much anymore, and leaves me feeling dingy and lazy and wasteful.

Today I made that feeling go away.
I don't typically like chronicling days because it pressumes that anyone gives a shit about what I did today, but I think this morning has qualified as a bit of a Weetzie-en day.

I woke up a bit late (10:30) and immediately got dressed and finished mowing the lawn, because I promised Dan I would. After watering the garden-- which is doing much better-- I realized how hungry I was.

I felt like I had absolutely nothing to make, and had considered ordering Chinese, but forced myself to put it on the stove.

Yesterday's trip to Chapel Hill for Ethiopian also involved a trip to Trader Joes (always HAVE to go there when we're in town), where I let myself splurge on a whole bagful of high quality yet affordable numminess, from garlic stuffed olives to balsamic vinegar, two different kinds of brie to dried mediterranian fruit to a boxed Soba Noodle kit, as well as some Newton's Folly hard cider, mixed spring greens ($1.99!) and baby bella mushrooms, to smoked oysters and kumquats (never had them, have NO idea what to do with them) and more!
I love how affordable everything is despite it being primarily "organic"/otherwise high quality foods. You don't get that kind of thing here in Greensboro. When I go to Earthfare (which I never do) I have to expect to pay a LOT of money for very few things.

So...what did I have to cook? No idea, really, because the stuff I bought was just extra little things I wanted but hadn't thought of cooking. But after a bit of consideration, I made up the following meal:

Cremini mushroom and rice soup with 1/2 Smoked Salmon sandwich with Spring Greens and Brie

To me, it sounds like something you'd order at a bistro, but as I was making it up, it came out incredibly simple. Makes about one serving (just add more stuff to make more!)
Here's what I used (measurements aren't exact AT ALL because I never pay attention to how much of something I'm using):

1/2 cup rice
~4 Cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms  -- you can really use any kind of mushroom you want
~3 cups chicken broth   -- i used awesome and affordable "free-range", "low-cal" broth from TJs. Vegetable broth would be a great way to make it fully vegetarian.

1 Garlic clove, chopped
salt & pepper
Baby arugula    -- optional-- this i snatched out of my seedling bed at the last minute because I was desperate for something green. Only had like 6 or 7 teeny tiny leaves, but it added a bit of spice. Don't worry if you don't have any.

--Cook rice first in water or chicken broth (i really don't know how to make rice, i just put in about twice as much liquid [water and broth], let it boil, then brought it down to medium low heat and left it.) Don't worry about it being fully cooked because it'll finish up while you're making the soup.
--Add more chicken broth and the chopped garlic, then raise heat to medium.
--Slice up about 2 of your mushrooms, and chop up the rest, add to soup, leaving a few slices to garnish if you want. Let simmer.
--Once you know the rice is fully cooked, add arugula, lightly chopped, and lower temperature to about medium-low. Ready to Serve.


Smoked Salmon  -- I used the "Lox Bits" that they sell at Harris Teeter in little plastic boxes, it might sound scary, but its as good as the actual brand but it's a smaller amount, is cut into small pieces (I assume it's what's left after the package it?) and costs less than $2.
~1 tbl Brie   -- could really use any smooth, soft cheese. Traditionally lox is eaten with cream cheese, but a light goat cheese, or anything like muenster or havarti would probably work too.
~1/2 cup Spring Greens
Bread of Choice -- I used a corner of Ciabatta that I bought for Dan yesterday.

-Spread cheese on bottom slice of bread (or both slices if you really like it)
-Layer salmon and mixed greens on top.
-Close sandwich and squish down slightly so the toppings stick to the cheese.

Simple and delicious, made with mostly fresh ingredients and super healthy!!

One thing I've learned from today is how important it is to have ingredients you love around whenever possible. It's inspiring and it allows you to make simple things amazing.

Now, I feel like some champagne...

Go on, make something.

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