Cooking Diary: January 16 – January 31

For all of January, someone in the house has been sick. It was a fact I ignored as I cooked ambitiously during the first half of the year but having since faced a bout of strep throat and another head cold, I am ready for February. I’d like to optimistically think that colds and common bacterial ailments cannot cross monthly boundaries.

Despite all of that, we have continued to keep up our streak of meals at home except for intentional meals (or treats) outside. My husband and I have also been more collaborative in the kitchen which has been fun since we both enjoy cooking. The other food related thing we’ve been doing together has been watching The Bear. We haven’t finished Season 2 yet but it is such a good show! I highly recommend watching it if you’re interested in the inner workings of a restaurant.

Apart from all that, I started taking a class on Sustainable Food Supply Chains from Harvard Extension School. I’ll write some more thoughts about that later but needless to say, it is already provoking thought on my eating decisions and everything it takes to get a meal in my stomach!

What we made at home

Note: Dishes that we made for the first time are italicized

  • Mujadara (adapted from a recipe in Mathur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian which was originally attributed to Victor Matiya, owner of the Jerusalem Restaurant in Toronto)
  • Sautéed Baby Artichokes (based on a few Google searches)
  • Mutabal (based on a few Google searches)
  • Sarson ki saag, whole masoor and rotli
  • Pancakes
  • Quesadillas
  • Pasta with store-bought pesto
  • Store-bought butternut squash ravioli with sage and brown butter
  • Store-bought curry potato dumplings
  • Khichadi (so much!)
  • Miso Soup
  • Fried egg on toast
  • Vegetable Lasagna
  • Gujarati Daal, Carrot Shaak and Rotli
  • Carrot Paratha (made with leftover dough and carrot shaak)
  • Individual Lemon Pudding (from Budget Bytes)
  • Spinach, almond butter and lemon soup

Notes

Highlights

  • Humble khichadi saves the day – I don’t give plain boring khichadi enough credit but we ate so much this week, especially when our throats were sore with strep. It’s also a common “oh crap what do we make the toddler for dinner”. Our favorite way of making it is half daal (either mug or occassionally chana or masoor), half rice and serving it loose, and seasoning it with a tadka of onions and jeera in ghee along with the requisite haldi.
  • Spinach, lemon and almond soup – This is such an easy soup to make but between the vegetal quality of the spinach, almond butter to give it body and lemon to brighten the flavor, it’s a keeper even for days when I’m not sick.
  • Stash away shortcut dishes – During the past couple weeks, we also a lot of “short cut” foods like store-bought pesto, frozen ravioli and dumplings more than our original schedule. I’m frequently tempted by random tasty bits and bobs when I grocery shop but being sick was a good reminder of why it’s a good idea sometimes.

Works in progress

  • Brothy vegetarian soups – I’ve been craving flavorful but still brothy soups that I can sip from a mug. Miso soup is the one I’ve been going back to but I think I’m craving a sharper tangier flavor profile. A good friend suggested jeera rasam which might become a project for the coming days.
  • Tall and luscious lasagnas – The husband and I partnered on a lasagna which my son gave the highest compliment (he called it “pizza-pasta” which is essentially two of his favorite meals). My slightly harsher critique was that it felt a little dry and didn’t have enough filling between the pasta layers. I’m not the biggest fan of béchamel sauces so the next time, I’d like to add either milk or pasta water to make the cheese layer runnier which hopefully will keep it from drying up as much and be more generous on the vegetable filling.

Less Successful

  • Lemon Pudding – I tried making individual ramekins of British or Australian lemon style puddings. They tasted like lightly sweet scrambled eggs versus the luscious self saucing lemon cake I was promised. I’ve never been a huge fan of low-flour molten cakes and like my lemon desserts sharper and sweeter so I don’t think I’ll come back to this recipe.
  • Sauteed Baby Artichokes – They were fine. My son enjoyed trying them. I just don’t have more to say besides that.