Life Gave Me Lemons

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There’s a lemon tree in front of my house. After months of looking at sad green bulbs, beautiful yellow lemons appeared all at once. Which means….immediate stress! A desperate need to binge on lemons! Over-saturation of garden delight! So I came up with a plan: a massive lemon day, where I would pick all the lemons and then cook and bake lemon-related things with them. It was going to be grand. There would be lemon bars and meringue pies! There would be potions and teas and lemonades! There were some hurdles.

Lemon trees have thorns. I didn’t know that until one stabbed me. So the momentous lemon harvest turned into picking six lemons and then going inside to wash my wounds. It’s okay though! Cooking with six lemons is totally respectable. I “cook,” but “baking” isn’t really a doable thing, so my friend Jen came over to assist with the “following directions” part of baking.
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My first recipe attempt was a (misguided) Lemon Spaghetti. Does that sound weird? It was. But I don’t cook meat, and vegetarian lemon recipe options were sort of limited. And then….the substitutions! (I can’t follow a recipe.) I thought heavy cream sounded too unhealthy and subbed in “fat free half and half” aka chalk water. Also, I already had mozzarella cheese so I used that instead of parmigiano reggiano (whatever that is). So something about the flavors wasn’t quite right, and instead of a sauce, it was more of a cheesy lemon stew. It needed vegetables, and I had none. And I might have left out another thing? Parsley, maybe? It was totally fine, though. Very edible.

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Jen’s contribution was this recipe for a Lemon Yogurt Cake. This one got off to a strong start because we had all the ingredients (thanks, Jen). It hit a rocky middle because I don’t own a mixing bowl. We made it work, though:

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This is a pitcher.

There’s actually not that much to report about the baking experience. I stayed out of the way, and it went off without a hitch.

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No hitches here.

The cake was a total success. And I ate leftover lemon spaghetti for the rest of the week, so that wasn’t technically a failure either. 🙂

What else should I “make” with a bunch of lemons? Tell me in the comments!

4 Things I Love (Even Though I Don’t Feel Like It)

I’m having a terrible week! But that doesn’t absolve me from loving stuff. Because I am a lifestyle blogger, and thus, I am obligated to influence the masses.

  1. Cold Brew Coffee. I usually like my coffee like I don’t like my weather: hot. But my friend Will started a cold brew coffee company, and I’m pretty into this whole Cold Bruja Coffee thing. I normally think of iced coffee as a thing to drink in the sunshine on a patio, but I drank this one in bed on Saturday morning while trying to physically meld with my comforter. Is getting out of bed even worth it oops I mean necessary anymore? Also there’s a fun blurb about a witch on the bottle!
  2. Working Behind a Big Desk. My job requires so much sitting that most of my coworkers don’t even know I have legs. Usually this is frustrating and I know it dooms me to die an early death. But yesterday, I was eating the remains of a cold breakfast sandwich and I spilled some chipotle mayo on my sweater. The horror! But with a big desk hiding my whole body and personage, nobody could tell.
  3. Using a Machete. There’s a drought in California, which absolves us of all responsibility for taking care of our lawn we’ve decided. Eventually though, the grass gets too tall to walk through, and my roommate thought a machete was the best way to handle that. I took a turn at lawn macheteing this weekend, and it was a great way to exorcise some demons before I got too tired and collapsed into a crying puddle on the couch. Cathartic!
  4. Night French Toast. On Sunday night I felt so dissatisfied with everything around me and within me, that the only thing that could possibly fix it was to make French toast at 10pm. I don’t know why. I don’t make the rules, I just crack eggs for them. But something about watching maple syrup congeal on a spongey piece of bread really calmed me, and as the one piece of toast cooled too fast while the other one was still cooking, making it impossible to eat both pieces in a neat stack, the chaotic nature of life made sense in a new way. Yum 🙂

Diner-Grade, Neurotoxic Potatoes

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If you’re anything like me, seven years ago your mom sent you an article about how the eyes on potatoes can contain dangerous neurotoxins, and you’ve subconsciously avoided dealing with them ever since.

Well, finally it occurred to me that I frequently entrust food prep to complete strangers (a fun, cool way of looking at restaurants), and they definitely aren’t getting neurotic about neurotoxins. And, I’m still alive. The truth has set me free.

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with hash browns and other breakfast potatoes. I came up with one that’s of almost a diner-like quality, and is only kind of extremely unhealthy.

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Olive oil is not butter.

I like using baby yukon gold potatoes, but you can probably sub in any kind. I don’t know if that’s true. I’m not a potato expert. Anyway, the baby yukon golds are easy to slice. They also have a thin skin – relatable! – so you can skip peeling them. Slice the potatoes thinly and arrange on a skillet with some garlic. I sprayed on some aerosol olive oil in an attempt to be healthy, but there wasn’t enough sizzling so I gave up and added some butter. Once they were satisfyingly crispy, I topped with a little cheese, salt, and pepper.

I don’t want to brag and say that I think these could hold up as a forgettable side dish at a 2am diner…but I don’t think that they couldn’t. That might be the neurotoxins talking.

Logic Hacks to Make Guacamole an Acceptable Dinner Choice

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Guacamole is so delicious, it’s too bad I can’t eat it for every meal. But I can’t, because avocados are expensive and there’s no second reason. When I have avocados on hand, though, I try to make the most of it. Here are a couple ways that I shoehorn guacamole (or guacamole-like-substances) into a completely legitimate main course.

Chips for Dinner

No doctor or reasonable person would ever tell you to eat chips and guacamole for dinner. But I’m going to let you in on a secret so you can do it guilt-free. The secret: homemade chips!  That’s right, if you bake the chips yourself, it’s as if you were eating a tortilla. Tortillas are for sandwiches. Ergo, eating chips and guacamole for dinner is equivalent to eating a sandwich for dinner. And no reasonable person would complain about that.

To make chips: Slice a tortilla into wedges, lay on cookie sheet and spray with olive oil (and salt/chili powder/etc). Bake at 375 for 8-12 minutes.

To make guacamole: Oh come on, you know how to make guacamole. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you a guacamole recipe. I put cumin in mine, though, which feels like a worthwhile secret to share.

Avocado Toast

Avocado toast is very hip and expensive right now, but it’s also very a-normal-breakfast. And if something is breakfast, you can definitely repurpose it into a dinner. Avocado toast is basically a deconstructed guacamole, but it requires even fewer ingredients. So you’re at least 50% more likely to be able to make it at any given time.

Here’s how I made the one above: Mash an avocado with a little lime juice. Scoop onto toast. Top with salt, pepper, tomatoes.

There you have it: not one but two dinners made out of condiments. I ate both of these dinners last week, and I feel GREAT and kind of weak and tired.

If You Don’t Know Much About Curry, Then Yes I Made Curry

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I went to the store the other night because I wanted a pizza, but then I thought “I should buy groceries, too.” I am very responsible! So I bought a bag of sliced mushrooms and a bottle of wine.

Did you know it’s hard to cook with only a bag of mushrooms?

I planned poorly. But I still had part of an onion in the fridge – remember when I sliced my finger chopping it last week?? It’s the same onion, but it’s probably still fine. Those were the backbones for what I’m going to go ahead and call a curry.

You’ll need:

Mushrooms, Onion (sliced), Can of diced tomatoes, Can of corn, Curry powder, Cumin, Garlic (all measurements are imaginary)

Instructions:

Mix together in pan over heat. End of instructions.

It tasted pretty good! Calling it curry is really a stretch, and putting it over rice would probably improve it a lot. Maybe we’d call it a stew? But there’s one thing I know I’d call it: a success 🙂

Kitchen Hack: Garlic Salt

If you’re like me, you often look around two weeks after a grocery trip and see that you still have weird odds and ends left in the fridge. None of them are appetizing, but they do exist. I found myself in that situation tonight, and let me fill you in on a little secret. I want to stress that no company is paying me to tell you this. The secret is:

Throw everything in a skillet and douse it in garlic salt.

Easy, right? Beyond the existential hurdle of making it into the kitchen in the first place, despite knowing that no matter how much you eat, you’ll soon be hungry again…YES! It’s so easy. Tonight I used chopped onions, the tail end of a bag of spinach, and leftover quinoa. I threw them in a skillet, and doused it in garlic salt.

Was it good? No. Did it have flavor? Yes, a few of them in fact. Was it dinner? Technically, yes. I’m still hungry, but aren’t we all kind of hungry, really?IMG_0940

Recipe: Mediterranean-ish Wrap

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Last night, I wanted to eat something. I wanted to cook, but I didn’t have the energy to cook. Here’s a perfectly functional recipe for something in the vaguely Mediterranean family kind of.
You’ll need:
1 tortilla
some hummus
an amount of onion
brown rice/quinoa blend
mozzarella cheese?
spinach
3 or 4 grape tomatoes
To make this totally acceptable wrap, you’ll want to start by warming the tortilla- I used a regular tortilla even though I meant to get the extra soft ones because they’re spongey and they make me feel safe. This recipe works best if you forget you put the tortilla in the toaster oven, so it comes out far too hot and then brittles itself into a crunchy crisp.
Next, slather hummus onto the tortilla. Any amount will do. Slice an arbitrary amount of onions (best if it’s enough to overpower the whole dish), taking extra care to forego a cutting board and slice your thumb with a serrated knife in the process.
Pause to rinse the blood off yourself and the onion.
Then, add 1/4 cup (maybe? that sounds like a nice measurement?) of instant quinoa/brown rice blend. Throw on some mozzarella cheese because hey, it was in the fridge. Top it off with some fresh spinach. And don’t forget, grape tomatoes are another thing you can slice without a cutting board. So why not nick your thumb just one more time for good measure?
Verdict: This was okay. It tasted a little weird, and that was probably the mozzarella. But if I ordered it at a restaurant, I wouldn’t send it back. I also wouldn’t go back to that restaurant.