Food is quickly becoming a theme here…

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[TRIGGER ALERT] This post is full of mouthwatering food pictures. If you’re hungry with nothing in the house, do not read any further! I’m getting more adventurous… and making more mistakes! You can’t help but love these new creations – or at least, I can’t. They’re like my latest litter of kittens. I see that food has half-taken over my blog, (and here, and here) but if you don’t mind, I don’t.

I’m getting pretty good at these Asian noodle bowls – using whatever I have on hand. This one uses flat rice noodles and hot chili oil I made a few weeks ago, plus a precious, precious avocado – we do not get many of them! They cost over $2 each and are generally hard as stones. (You can’t say the market sellers don’t know their expat audience!) We put a fried egg on the leftovers – also good:

And here’s another version, with vermicelli, a bit of peanut butter in the soy sauce mix, sesame seeds and sesame chile oil. Ramon’s not mad about any of these but he liked this one.

Superstar meatballs

A recent fave for me is this batch of meatballs with chickpeas – and a little yogurt sauce on top. The flavor of the meatballs is fantastic, for which the recipe writer (whoever that was) deserves all the credit.

The Incredible Edible Egg

I have trouble not breaking yolks. In Spain, sunny-side up is the norm, and somehow they cook the whites too – unlike in the U.S., where sunny-side-up should be called runny-side-up. If Ramon’s technique is any indication, they do it by splashing the hot oil up and over the eggs while cooking. I can’t quite get my head ’round all that, so I still go for the Over Medium Diner Special, which as often as not causes a Rupture. Ramon’s lovely version:

Egg dishes are in heavy rotation, like this sort-of-a-tortilla Pain Libanais with fried egg and my quick-pickled onions and radishes. We also do a fair bit of chicken – but we’re Jack and Keri Spratt, as Ramon will only eat white meat and me, only dark meat. Which is fine by me, actually.

Veggie surprises

But we’re eating most meals without meat at all these days. Most meat is available, and we like it, sure, but we also like the healthy, environment-friendly nature of veggie meals.

I’m calling this dal, even though the recipe said red lentil stew. It came out creamier than expected. When we cook together, we also often do chickpeas. Ramon is Sofrito Master. When I make a veggie tart, I’m on my own – this one came out totally weird because I forgot to lay down a layer of ricotta/goat cheese underneath the veggies and eggs, and instead had to just sort of smear it over the top before baking. It still tasted good, but it’s far from pretty.

This is spinach, peas, feta, scallions and chicken broth, with little pasta tubes that were orzo in the recipe but magically changed by the time I got through with it. Good food, man.

My kitchen antics regularly last about twice as long as they are supposed to, per the recipe. (Did you know that the recipe time assumes the stuff is already cut up??? That’s just deceptive practices, is what that is.) Anyway, I’m not fast, and this recipe was really long because I put three things on top of it. First of all there’s a semi-pureed beet soup under there, with a bulb of fennel because I had no carrots. Then the toppings: the little brown bits are turmeric-and-chile-roasted pistachios with herbs; I made some yogurt sauce with lemon and garlic; and then I fried up the pain libanais that was fixin’ to turn green (and which I will use for fattoush salad later!)

Not only super delicious but represents one of the other things I have felt REALLY INORDINATELY PROUD OF as I’ve been learning to cook – using up stuff. We are no longer throwing away food like we once did – especially me. There are two things I constantly google while cooking – English-to-metric conversions, and how long something is good for. It is a great step, but it’s hardly something to be proud of that all those years I was tossing stuff because I didn’t remember to cook it in time.

Ramon is no tomato

Another one with Ramon’s imprimatur is big pasta tubes with bolognese. He knows what he’s doing with tomatoes.

Sweet food

When it was still hot as the dickens, I made this little doozy from a red, red watermelon, cream, sugar and vanilla. It’s watermelon ice cream – no churn! It was a bit weird, mostly because I tripled-up on the watermelon (because it was there) but neglected to add more sugar. So eventually I started adding some sugared frozen raspberries to it to make it better. Either way, it’s gone now.

I also made a beautiful cake in a bundt pan and decorated it with soccer-ball candles for Ramon’s birthday. Somehow the only picture I came away with was this one, from an online party with his siblings (one of whom also aged up that week):

Nothin’ but the candles. Well, it’s not like it’s the last time I’ll ever make a cake!

The right ingredients

I find the whole herb thing a bit intimidating but I’m dipping my hand in there now. When an electrical surge hit our apartment in August, it burned out my little indoor garden, called Veritable, where I had happily grown some nice little patches of herbs and even some cherry tomatoes the size of chickpeas. About fifteen, I think, spread out over a couple of months. Anyway, when the garden lamp fried from inside, I took the spindly little plants and planted them in a planter outside. They looked a little peak-ed but they have lately taken off – probably because of all the rain. Pesto on the horizon!

Let me specify that that is one chive, singular. Brave little fellow. Wow, that makes me sound like my Mom!
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