It’s been an interesting week for food…
Around last Friday or Saturday, we realized that Moon Unit, our injured guinea pig, hadn’t eaten in a few days. Michelle took her back to the vet, who reported that she had lost 9 ounces of weight, and was very dehydrated. Also, she had an ear infection. They gave her a subcutaneous injection of fluid for hydration, and some new antibiotics. An x-ray revealed that her upper and lower jaws aren’t aligned properly (possibly due to facial swelling), and that is probably the reason for her not eating. So, we’ve been feeding her the old-fashioned way– by syringe. Michelle blends up grass, mushy guinea pig food, applesauce, and water, and we slowly feed that to her every 2-3 hours. She seems to be doing better, but still is not eating as much as she should. We’re very worried that she might not make it, but the fact that she’s stuck with us this far is very encouraging, and shows that she hasn’t given up yet.
Late last week I had some spare time for food preparation, so I tried my hand at ceviche, using tilapia, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, and lime & lemon juice. Not bad, but it should have had some onions, and perhaps fresher, brighter lime juice. I’ll do better next time.
Since I had a bunch of cilantro, I went ahead and made one of my favorite things, jalapeno-cilantro hummus. Great stuff, easy to eat anywhere, anytime. In case you didn’t already know, well-done homemade hummus is better than anything you can buy at a store, or even a restaurant for that matter. Get a food processor and give it a shot, people.
My housemate Brian is writing an article about local foods, and so has been traveling around the city and area, stocking up on locally grown vegetables, as well as beef from cows raised near here. The result is that the house is overflowing with delicious food!
Saturday night I came home from work to a feast that he had made– cottage pie (liberally stuffed with veggies), collard greens, and a refreshing vinegared salad. A nice spread, indeed.
Sunday morning I made some omelettes for breakfast. It amuses me that I buy lunchmeat and sandwich bread regularly, but mostly use the meat in omelettes, and the bread for toast to go with them. Lemon-pepper chicken and cheddar cheese omelette with whole-grain toast– a good way to reward my stomach for the hours it had to lay dormant in bed.
Sunday night I made a small late dinner out of a huge zucchini that Brian had acquired. I set the toaster oven to broil, then sliced the zucchini thin, spreading the slices out on a metal pan covered with aluminum foil and brushed with olive oil. Brush more olive oil over the slices, salt and pepper them, then put ’em in to broil. What emerges is zucchini in a wonderful, simple state, full of its interesting flavor. After one or two batches, I started putting dabs of chevre goat cheese on the slices before broiling, and that was quite a treat. I’ll have to remember this snack for a party or something.
Monday, Michelle and I went to brunch at C’est la Vie, a fantastic little French place on Main St. They have the awesomest coffee, artful, rich pastries, and very scant service. To be fair, they’re often busy, and I have gotten used to fetching my own coffee and bill. I ate a croissant and a spinach & goat cheese quiche slice with crispy potatoes. Ah.
That evening, Michelle was feeling a bit ill, so we went for a simple veggie stir fry, with red pepper, zucchini, garlic, ginger, peanut sauce, and sriracha sauce. The veggies were all bright and fresh, very juicy. Sriracha (also called Rooster Sauce, for its packaging), is a nice addition to any pantry. Hot chilies and vinegar, mm-hmm.
The good/bad thing about vegetables (for me), is that I can eat a huge plate of them, and not feel full. This night, I got pretty hungry again not an hour after eating. Brian had alerted me to the fact that he had a bunch of local ground beef that needed to be eaten, so I sauteed a bit of that in a pan with garam masala, turmeric, and cumin (I would have included pine nuts, if I had them). I took pita bread, cut it open at the top, smeared some of the jalapeno-cilantro hummus inside, and then stuffed it with the spiced beef. Oh my god, that’s tasty! Wow. Why don’t I just have defrosted ground beef in the fridge all the time? I would make this a lot more often if I did.
Tuesday Michelle and I went out for brunch at Word of Mouth, a pretty awesome Sarasota institution. She had challah bread French toast with apples and strawberries, and I had a garlic-marinated chicken breast sandwich with thick bacon and tons of blue cheese. On a croissant! Damn, I’m good to my body.
I’d had a rabbit in the freezer for a month, so I decided to get down to it and make some Flemish rabbit stew. I didn’t realize the rabbit wasn’t deboned, however. Who knew rabbits had so many bones? I would have figured they had 15, 20 max. Needless to say, the deboning process took a sizable chunk out of my allotted homework time, but it was worth it. I coated the meat in regular and mustard flour, then browned it in a Dutch oven pot (liberally provided with bacon fat). Removed that, sauteed some onion and celery. All the while, I’m boiling the rabbit bones, making a bit of a stock. At some point in the process, I noticed a squirrel outside, having himself a little snack of grass:
(munch munch munch)
So, with the onions properly translucent, I added the bony stock to the pot, then put back in the rabbit meat, and poured in a bottle of Cru D’or, a Belgian-style dubbel beer made in California. I added chopped carrots, red pepper, and garlic; then prunes, goji berries, nutmeg, bay leaves, old-style dijon mustard, a bit of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I was careful to keep the stew at a simmer but not a boil, and did that for about an hour or so. Michelle came home, was hungry, so I served it up on top of multigrain bread, and it looked almost exactly like this:
This was perhaps my most accomplished stew to date… it was incredibly rich and flavorful, with a strong, rich mustard flavor. My only complaint might be that it was a bit too rich, so next time I may not use as much mustard. Somehow, Michelle’s serving got all the tiny bones that I didn’t extract. That, or I unknowingly swallowed whatever bones were in my portion.
Sometime soon, I want to make a beer-cheese fondue with some bagel bread and salami to dip into it. Also, perhaps some Welsh rarebit, an interesting dish that basically consists of melted cheddar poured over bread or crackers. But, with the richness of the past week’s food, perhaps I can wait a bit on that.
Well, it’s time to go feed Moon Unit now, let’s all hope she eats a lot!