Posted by: Hil | September 20, 2009


What I’ve Been Up To

I’ve been away from the blog for a bit attending to real life stuff, some of which has been stressful, some mundane, and some lots of fun.  Among the fun parts was a labor day visit from The Roommate.  She has requested that she be referred to henceforth as the Decadent Roommate, and I think she’s earned it.  She arrived in Los Angeles with a fudgey mocha cookie from a bakery that we used to frequent in college.  Things only got more exciting and decadent from there.



One of the best nights was an evening of raclette and silly movies.  All three of us are singers, and having just gone to see Legally Blonde: the Musical in Hollywood, we had musical theater on the brain.  Before very long, we were singing a rousing improvised ode which we entitled “Alcohol, Potatoes, Bacon and Cheese (The Four Basic Food Groups)”.


The Lemonator taught everyone how to fry bits of cheese into crisps on the top part of the grill.


The Decadent Roommate also baked a completely amazing cappuccino cheesecake with rich dark chocolate swirls over the top.  It was to die for.  I have her recipe and I will post it  later.


For my part, I discovered that that weekend that chicken tastes amazing in a red wine reduction with bacon and root vegetables.


Tip: the leftover red wine sauce was perfect to flavor a batch of spinach soup which I was craving after a weekend of sweets and bacon.


Figuring Out What to Cook

I’ve found lately that I’ve been having lots of fun cooking for special occasions, but have been stuck in “I don’t know what to cook” mode on weeknights.  It’s amazing how something can be so routine as to be second nature, but after a shift in schedule and circumstances, you can totally lose your momentum.  All I have to say is that I am so incredibly glad that I kept a food log for so long.  I’ve been logging my meals over the last month again, and it’s really helpful to compare what I’ve been doing recently with how I was eating a year ago.  It’s funny, because last fall I had my meals more or less down to a formula, but I think they were nonetheless more varied than what I’ve been eating lately.  So I’m making an effort over the next week to plan out my meals roughly ahead of time (which I always used to do) and stick to my “formula,” which pretty much centers around genres of protein and produce.

Breakfast:  Half an Ezekiel English muffin, toasted, with natural peanut butter; yogurt; seasonal fruit; coffee with cream.


Lunch:  A fish or bean based meal with at least one vegetable component and a piece of fruit.  On most school days, this means bean salad and fruit.  Since it was a weekend, I made a salmon salad sandwich on toasted whole grain sourdough with grapes and a marinated vegetable salad.


The salad was created as a way to use up part of the gigantic white radish I brought home from the farmers market.  The thing is longer and bigger around than my forearm, and it was only two dollars, so I bought it on a whim.  (I am all ears if anyone has radish recipes.)  This was bell peppers, radish and sugar snap peas marinated overnight in seasoned rice wine vinegar.  It was crunchy and refreshing, and the sweetness of the vinegar and the other vegetables were a good counterpart to the spicy bite of the radish.


 Dinner:  My prototypical dinner is based around either a protein or a whole grain (usually the former) with the addition of a green vegetable and a red vegetable.  Tonight, I had roasted red pepper soup, herbed barley risotto, and wilted spinach, with a glass of white wine and a piece of extra dark chocolate for dessert.


The barley risotto was chewier than a rice risotto, and it was a bit labor intensive to make, but it was cheap, filling, and tasted amazing.  To make the risotto, saute half a diced onion in olive oil, then add half a cup of pearled barley and some minced fresh garlic and herbs (I used thyme and rosemary).  In a small saucepan, heat up 1 1/2 cups of low sodium broth and 1/2 cup of white wine.  Add half a cup of liquid and stir until it is almost all absorbed, then add more liquid.  Keep a kettle of hot water nearby and start using that once you are out of the wine and broth mixture, which provide plenty of flavor.  The adding of hot liquid takes a long time time (probably 40 minutes or more).  The risotto is done when the barley is al dente and suspended in a thick sauce of starchy water.  Season with salt and pepper.  I highly recommend adding one or two pats of butter at the end…the buttery flavor really permeates the dish, making the risotto taste incredibly rich and delicious, and it improves the texture of the sauce.  Serve immediately, garnished with more herbs and parmesan cheese, if desired.   This batch feeds three people, or two hungry ones.




  1. Crispy cheese AND delicious desserts?!?! Yes please 🙂

  2. That cheesecake looks insanely delicious!!

  3. WELCOME BACK!!!! 🙂

  4. Glad you’ve been having fun! 🙂 I find the same thing about meal planning – I’m much better about eating a variety of things when I’m actively thinking about my food. Otherwise I fall back on 2 or 3 easy dishes.

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