Posts Tagged ‘food’

Ratatouille for Lazy Busy People

In Which I Make a Favorite Early Fall Dish Using A Slow Cooker

My mother gave me a slow cooker last year, and it’s slowly but surely found its way into my culinary repertoire. You just chop up a bunch of stuff, throw it in, leave it alone for a few hours and boom! Food! I find meals made in a slow cooker in the fall and winter feel really cozy and comforting, so this season I made a resolution to discover more slow-cooked meals to add to my “rotation.”

This ratatouille recipe is what I think of as a “harvest” meal. All the fruits and veggies are pouring in, right before the season of squashes and potatoes, and what you have are lots of tomatoes, bell peppers and zucchinis galore. It’s priced to sell at the grocery store because it’s so plentiful, so I love to buy this kind of produce up. Ratatouille is a really nice way to use up an over abundance. I’ve had all kinds of ratatouille, from country stew-type of ones to more casserole-consistency. And they’ve all been good.

This particular recipe is the simplest one I’ve found. Here, the slow cooking really works to its advantage — slow-cooking the tomatoes really brings out the flavor, and you don’t even need a lot of oil. (Promise!) I found this in, believe it or not, that book French Women Don’t Get Fat. I thumbed through it at the airport bookstore a few years ago and this recipe caught my eye — it looked so unbelievably simple that even I could make it! So I surreptitiously jotted the recipe down, and when I got back to NYC, I made the dish — and I’ve been making it for years now. (I gank a surprising number of recipes this way, it’s so bad — just go to the library or bookstore, find a cookbook, find the one thing that I can manage and then scribble all the ingredients and steps down!) The original recipe called for it to cook over very low heat on the stove in a large stockpot, but I adapted it to the slow cooker. I think it transfers nicely.

It’s a superbly versatile dish, too. You first eat it as a thick and hearty soup, but the leftovers can be a satisfying omelette filler, a side dish to grilled or broiled chicken or fish, then sauce to a pasta dish and finally as a pizza topping. (Just throw on top of a flatbread or naan, top with some cheese and perhaps some more veggies and then stick it in the oven.) Anyway, the recipe is below…happy slow-cooking!

Baked Kale Chips Are My Jam

After basically a month and a half of weird yet challenging physical ailments — and all the sometimes mind-altering medications that come with it — I’ve been trying to eat pretty cleanly in the past few days in an effort to clear all that stuff out of my system. Not quite a detox, though I’m trying to hit the steam room and sauna at the gym more often, as well as be super-good about getting green smoothies in the morning. (I have always loved my green smoothies, so it’s no hardship, really.) I don’t really like fasting much — I know people who’ve done it and swear they love it, but I like food and eating. I like chewing! I really think you don’t have to be all drastic to clean out your system — it just takes a little more time and patience, and a lot of water as well. You could call it a lazy lady way to detox, but I think it’s just sort of a nice, normal, human way of helping your body do what it would do naturally.

I don’t find it a terrible hardship to avoid processed foods and refined flour-y stuff for a few days — it’s easy enough to eat lots of fruits, veggies and lean protein, though I always do cheat a bit with a bit of cheese. And I always do crave a salty, savory snack, too. For ages I’ve been on the lookout for a healthy snack food that isn’t fried, something that isn’t a cracker or a chip. People had recommended nuts, and while they’re nice enough, they don’t quite do it for me — they’re just not snack-y enough! But then I found a recipe for baked kale chips, and they’re just about perfect for me: salty, crispy and yet healthy! And very simple to make. I found a few different recipes, but this is the one that works for me and my oven.


The Agony and Ecstasy of the Summer Music Festival

Gen X vs. Y confusion aside, I consider myself part of the Lollapalooza Generation, I suppose — I went to the original fest ages upon ages ago as a wee one, back when it toured arenas and outdoor amphitheaters. Isn’t that nuts, especially now that the big music festivals function more like pilgrimages now that you have to travel to and often camp at? So it’s always with a modicum of amusement that I go to Pitchfork Music Festival. I have been to Pitchfork pretty often because I grew up not incredibly far from Chicago, but it’s always a touch-and-go affair. Some years I go; some I don’t, and it often boils down to sheer whimsy.

This year I went. I wasn’t planning on it, but then my friend Tobey came to town to film it and had an extra pass and, well, I certainly couldn’t turn it down, especially for one afternoon, right? You can do anything for one afternoon. So I improvised with an old summer dress, some flat sandals and hoped for the best. I didn’t really have any goals but to spend time with my friend, and basically make like a social anthropologist, keeping my eyes and ears open for anything intriguing, fun or interesting.


My Life in Pictures: January 2013

I have a Flickr account and an one as well, but sometimes it’s nice to pull together stuff in one central place. For one thing, it’s like making a small treasure trove for myself. I hope in future years, I’ll tool around in my own blog and enjoy seeing these bits and pieces of the past. And even now, it helps me remember the small details and textures I want to soak in: little adventures, more epic ones, lyrical details that don’t seem so until much later. My little experiments in homemaking and adventures in DIY fashion styling seem so ordinary now, but who knows — I may look upon them with an odd tenderness in years forward.

A Home is A Home is a Home

I don’t live in a Design Sponge-worthy kind of apartment, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take great pleasure in it. After years of dark New York apartments, it has loads of light — I wake up in the morning and the sun is streaming through the windows and it makes me happy.

It’s slowly filling with artwork. Nothing special, but it’s all personal, made by my friends or it makes me feel serene and peaceful and calm. A home takes awhile to come together, but when it does, all the effort is worth it.