30-Day Eat Local Challenge: June 9

StuffPlanning is a necessity, not an option.

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I used to believe that, if someone was just good enough at whatever, they could get by without planning. This wasn’t exactly an active belief—as in, something that I got from some scripture and could cite from memory. It’s more been my mode of operation for about ten years now. I acknowledge it’s a silly and incorrect belief, but sometimes we need these destructive behaviors illustrated for us.

After a day of running errands, I came back hungry and ready to make dinner, and found myself pacing between the laptop and the kitchen for a solid 30 minutes trying to figure out something to make. Eventually, I defaulted to a stir fry because we have some leftovers we wanted to get rid of (mostly the first batch of beans I soaked back on day 1), and the only tomato we have is still green.

There’s no real art to stir fry.

Made fresh, it’s delicious, hearty, and filling, but I made it because it was easy. That should be enough, right? But it’s kind of like…I feel a little lazy. Rice goes in the cooker, dice up a bunch of stuff, fry it up, mix together, add spices in there somewhere. There’s no point in even sharing a recipe because I don’t consider stir-fry a recipe. It’s a method. Furthermore, without any kind of sauce (which we can’t make down here for lack of things like corn starch), it’s really just sustenance at this point, not much more.

This isn’t to say that all of my projects have just been haphazardly thrown together. Over the weekend, while we mostly sustained ourselves on leftover Spanish rice and chowder, I did make a yogurt-based cucumber salad. Here’s the recipe I based it on, but when I say I based it on that recipe, I use the term loosely.

Please, for idiots like me, never put whole items like vegetables into measurements like cups. I have no idea how many cups a cucumber is when diced.

The nice thing is, with recipes like one-skillet/one-bowl meals (Spanish rice, stir fry, salad, etc), measurements are mostly a convenience. That’s why when I post recipes like for my sweet potato french fries and garlic aioli, even if I serve them together, I separate the two. So if you just want to know how to make the sauce, you can separate that easily without a bunch of extra brain work.

Anyways. I used grapefruit juice instead of lemon, and our yogurt was a “yogurt cheese” from Country Girls, a group of cheesemongers from about 50 miles away. They’ve been supplying us with all of our cheese this month, and it’s saved one or two dishes already (sorry, vegan friends!). And we also lacked parsley, but I don’t think it mattered much. The salad started out pretty disappointing, but when I came back to it several hours later, I was actually really pleased with how much the taste shifted as the salad had time to settle.

For the future, however, I’m going to be laying out my plans a bit better. My plans include an actual creole southern stewed tomato recipe, and figuring out how to paste red beans to serve them up, again, in a more southern-style. I suspect I’ll be breaking out a machine for pureeing here shortly.

Meanwhile, we finally got the equipment to make our first batch of homemade kombucha, and the mother is (I hope) nestled in her bath of tea and sugar, doing whatever it is bacterial colonies do. Blueberries are soaking in gin, which you can see in the picture, and the gin is starting to take on a purplish tint. I was beginning to wonder if there was something I was doing wrong, but apparently it just takes patience.

I’ve stopped noting a significant energy dip in the afternoon, which could be tied to better sleep, better food, or both.

Biking through the French Quarter is its own brand of beautiful torture. I rehearse in the evenings for a show opening this weekend, and inevitably, on both the way out and the way home, I’m all but assaulted by the smells of bakeries and cafes in the CBD and restaurants boasting all kinds of fare throughout the Quarter proper. Never have I craved a croissant or just bread in general quite like this. Just the sight of a cup of coffee on a cafe table with the little white hot beverage lid is enough to start not just a voice, but an entire chorus of “Wouldn’t coffee be nice?” to the tune of the “Ode to Joy” segment of Beethoven’s 9th.

But here’s the thing. That would be easy. And if I’m going to call out stir-fry as being lazy, there’s no word in the English language for what hopping out to buy a cuppa joe and a danish would be. So I’ll hold off for now.

What I would like to figure out is something that I can make for a little rehearsal snack and/or morning treat. I’m thinking something with rice and/or rice flour and honey. The catch is that most of those recipes are 1) bland, and 2) require cinnamon, which I currently lack. I’m taking a look at this recipe right now, which intrigues me, save for that I hate deep frying and the only oil we have is pecan oil, which I want to use very delicately (read: not for deep frying), but that’s the general idea of what I’m going for: bite sized, containing sugar and carbs, and ideally at least palatable, but we’re aiming for delicious here.

So, if you have ideas, I’m open to them!

Also, we’re getting peanuts soon, I believe. We tracked down a farmer’s market that has them, so those can be factored in as well.

I would have never gotten excited over the prospect of being able to use peanuts just a couple months ago. But now, it feels like every find on that scale—a new major food item—is like winning the lottery. It’s also a sense of discovery. It’s like a scavenger hunt where the reward is you get to eat better things. I don’t see any problem with that!

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