I keep having this feeling that there is nothing in the house to eat. I’ll poke around and end up with bread and cheese stuffed in my mouth repeatedly. Not so great, on a number of levels. So for the past two days, I’ve been challenging myself to just pull random things out of the refrigerator and cupboard, heavy on the vegetables, and make spontaneous dishes with whatever is around.
Yesterday I made this totally delicious stir fry with a motley crew of veggies and baked tofu. It had something like carrots, sweet potato, fresh mint, celery, ginger, garlic, and whatever other freshness was lying around. All I added were some spices — garlic powder, rosemary, black pepper and paprika, methinks – and it rocked my taste buds.
Tonight I made two amazing dishes. I pulled out a package of tabouli mix, added the requisite hot water, then threw in a bunch of fresh vegetables — tomatoes, purple cabbage, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, fresh mint, carrots, and parsley. Then I ground one and half cups of walnuts and half a cup of almonds and threw them into the mix.
I put the concoction in the fridge, let it sit for about half an hour, then made a tehina sauce from tahini paste, lots of pre-squeezed lemon juice (in a glass bottle at Whole Foods — tastes fresh-squeezed), and salt, and poured the sauce over a bowl-full of the tabouli/vegetable dish. Yum!
I also made a fresh vegetable soup by boiling water, adding three bullion cubes, chopping up all the remaining vegetables (including carrot tops) and throwing them into the pot, then adding a bunch of spices — cardamom, curry, paprika, cumin, rosemary, and salt.
When I opened the refrigerator to put back the leftover ingredients from my tabouli dish, I saw a jar of cashew butter that had been sitting around for months. So I took a few hunks of it and stirred into the soup, with absolutely no idea how that would turn out. OMG it was one of the best soups I ever had in my life!
I found that this process was similar to that of accomplishing seemingly insurmountable feats with exercise. When I try to conceptualize, in my pain state, going on a bike ride for X miles or hiking up Y incline, it seems impossible. But when I just set out and give myself permission to do just a teeny-weeny bit, even if it’s just showing up, I end up surprising myself. So I guess you can call my little kitchen experiment the chronic pain approach to cooking: Just pull out the ingredients, start the process, and allow the magic to happen.