Monday, October 31, 2011

Internet Intervention

As most people close to me know, I haven’t owned a TV in years. This is not because I’m a snob. It’s because I’m an addict.

Until recently I didn’t even have internet in my apartment, but once I got it the natural follow-up was a Netflix account. The combination of chilly weather and unfettered internet access has turned me into a Netflix junky. So far I’ve seen tons of movies, most of Pawn Stars, most of The League (I'm an unlikely fantasy football fiend), and all three seasons of Arrested Development (for the second time).

Most recently and embarrassingly I engaged in a marathon of the TBS show My Boys. To my credit, this show has sentimental meaning since when I lived in Philadelphia the only worthwhile channel I got was TBS, and when I was in Argentina for the first time I spent several depressed weeks with e-coli and general malaise watching American television. When I see the title I still pronounce it with a bad Spanish accent: “Siguente… Mey Boiz.” But I was watching upwards of 7 episodes in a row, each time swearing it would be the LAST ONE before I’d make dinner/clean my house/write a blog/do yoga/go to bed. Thank heavens it was only 4 seasons long.

I decided it was time for an intervention and have imposed a Netflix (and all other sources of TV on the internet) moratorium for the month of November, excluding 2 hours on weekends. Think I can do it?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cozy Cooking

Now that nine months of grey are upon us, I’ve been spending most of my free time in the kitchen making comfort food. My winter cooking goes in trends - I’ll make the same dish over and over until I'm sick of it. Past season obsessions have been salmon lasagna (this spanned multiple years), arroz con pollo (in Argentina), and pear molasses bread (last year).

So far this season there are two frontrunners: Shepherd’s pie and roast chicken. I did both this weekend.

Tastes Like Chicken

I roasted the third chicken of the season on Friday night, when I had Casey and Jacob over for a mini-Thanksgiving (no turkeys on the shelves just yet) with stuffing, green beans, a lot of gravy, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream (thanks to which Jacob discovered that using a hand mixer is really fun). I didn't take any pictures because we were too consumed by the spread to stop to take a photo.

What I love about roasting a chicken is that it’s super easy, insanely delicious, and leads directly to one of my timeless cozy meals: soup. With the three chickens I’ve made chicken with wild rice, chicken with barley, and today, chicken noodle. I go to my parents’ house most Sunday evenings and this time dinner’s on me! I also love that I can get a organic, free-range chicken for $10-$15; a package of organic chicken breasts runs more than that and I’m a sucker for a good value. I also prefer cooking with whole foods as often as possible and it doesn’t get more whole than an entire chicken.

Now All I Need is a Flock

Shepherd’s pie started one day with an abundance of garden cabbage...

...and some other random veggies and potatoes I didn’t know what to do with. I’d never made it before but I winged it and it turned out so well I've made it at least four times since then. Shepherd’s pie is great because you can put absolutely anything into it. Today’s has leftover chicken (there was so much that it served for both soup and casserole), caramelized onions, broccoli, carrots, beet stems, cabbage, and is topped with mashed potatoes of course (the only real requisite). I season it with Dijon mustard, oregano, garlic, bay leaves, and salt and pepper. Luckily I have a willing food audience among K, M, and Toddler J where I will be spending Halloween evening tomorrow, because this pie is massive. I can also count on them to have cheese in the fridge which really brings the deliciousness and top-crispiness to a new level. Here's today's in the assembly stage:

Isn't this the most beautiful carrot you've ever seen?

I'm also strongly on the soup wagon, but that supersedes all trends. In addition to the chicken soup, I've also made spinach soup a few times and I think five pumpkin/squash soups. What can I say? I'm a sucker for roasting things.

Happy cozy eating to all of you in a wintry climate!