TBR List Declutter, Issue 35

Tangent:

We’ve been living in temporary housing for nearly eight weeks, courtesy of my spouse’s relocation package. When we moved to Massachusetts in 2011, that meant living in an extended-stay hotel for two months. Here it’s a little nicer. We’ve got digs—a furnished two-bedroom apartment—in a luxury apartment complex in a neighborhood in which we wouldn’t be able to afford to live if we had to pay the rent ourselves.

The kitchen is stocked with the basics: dishes, utensils, skillet, a couple of pans, coffee maker, toaster, a set of dull knives. It’s enough to get by, but not enough to do any involved cooking, so we’ve been eating the same five meals since we moved in:

  • Turkey burgers with sautéed green beans
  • Roast chicken drumsticks with roast potato slices, baked sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli
  • Tostadas, which are actually burritos because for some unknown reason the corn tortillas I get here fry up into tooth-breaking disks rather than light, crispy tostada shells, so we wrap the filling in flour tortillas instead. But we still call them tostadas.
  • Breakfast for dinner (pancakes from a mix for the children, steel cut oatmeal with thawed frozen berries for me, sandwiches and leftover pancakes for my spouse)
  • “Chicken casserole” and sautéed shaved Brussels sprouts

Then we start all over again.

We supplement these with lots of fresh bell peppers, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, and ice cream, all of which my children will eat by the heaping bowlful, thank goodness (at least for the veggies), because after eating sautéed shaved Brussels sprouts every week for more than seven weeks, only my spouse can stomach them.

To stock items for this limited menu, we only shop at Trader Joe’s because they have so many ready-prepped options. “Chicken casserole” is one meal that is made entirely with TJ’s-specific ingredients, and I’ll probably tell you about that one in a later post, but for this tangent, I want to tell you about a Daily Special success story: Veggie Rice Salad.

For those poor souls unfamiliar with Trader Joe’s, the stores all have samples available that they call the Daily Special. My children love the Daily Special. Sometimes it’s a hit, and sometimes it’s a miss, but, like playing the slots, it’s the possibility of winning that keeps my children coming back. I never have the Daily Special. I just let the person serving know that my children have carte blanche to eat whatever is on offer while I browse the bagged greens and scrutinize the citrus fruits. So a couple of weeks ago when my children came to me raving about the Daily Special, I was surprised to learn that it was essentially a raw broccoli and cauliflower salad. They had the recipe on little pieces of paper, so I took one and we’ve been making it ever since.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice
  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s broccoli rice
  • 1 jar Trader Joe’s roasted red and yellow peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped (we’re starting to leave this out because it’s a pain to prep and because I read an article that said recent samples of fresh herbs have been shown to contain Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, and/or Salmonella. It’s just a small percentage so the chance of illness is very, very low unless you get one of the bad bunches, and I’m not a gambler)
  • Trader Joe’s Green Goddess dressing (the one from the produce cooler), to taste (the original recipe says to use Trader Joe’s Cilantro Salad Dressing, but that has dairy in it, and my kids like the Green Goddess just as well)

Just toss everything together in a big salad bowl, if you have one, or if, like us, you don’t have a big salad bowl, just put it in whatever container you can find that’s approximately the size of a big salad bowl. We use the largest cooking pot we have (but don’t cook the salad). Then make it every week until you are completely tired of it and move on to some other vegetable dish.

Visual Interest:

IMG_20171126_135637 (1)

El Parque Nacional de Picos de Europa, Spain

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Books:

Titles 411-430:

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Emerald City Salad

I’ve been thinking about making this salad since I got my copy of Feeding the Whole Family. But frankly, I was scared. I was afraid of the raw dark leafy greens. But, looking for a quick-ish side dish and a variation on a green salad, I finally tried it.

Oh, man, is this a salad. My husband’s review:

“This salad is so good! I could eat this all day!”

My son tried it, my daughter refused to. You can’t take their word, though; their combined age is less than eight. I loved it, and I will be making it again. It seems like something that would be very easy to pack for a lunch at the park. And the kids won’t ask to share it, so more for me!

Speaking of kids, I did, in fact, keep my resolutions today. I played on the floor with them (I read the same Curious George story three times, which I think gets me extra credit), I took photos of them, I got goofy with them (a little. It’s only March 1st. I need to pace myself).

And I even kept track of the cute things they did. My son tried to give a block to a little one-year-old. He put his hand gently on her head and then put the block in front of her face. When she didn’t take it, he tried to hit her in the head with it, but I got there in time. He also managed to make me understand that he was asking for ketchup by repeating, “Det-dut!” over and over again, getting increasingly frustrated at my ignorance. My daughter built a dwelling for her stuffed toys out of materials she found in the yard to replicate the homes of early farmers. And she carried around her Andean Condor feather to show to everyone we met, but she was too shy to tell anyone what kind of feather it was. That was my job.

And I made a kick-A salad. There’s a great video of this on cookusinterruptus. Check it out, then go make yourself a salad. Oh, and I used red bell pepper and green kale, and I used olive oil instead of butter. And I used no cheese (and my husband didn’t add any to his serving! That’s how good this salad is!).

Emerald City Salad


Recipe reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family (third edition) by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008)

This colorful salad is inspired by the beautiful deli salad at Puget Consumer’s Co-op, Seattle’s beloved chain of natural foods grocery stores. It is so popular that I have filled many classes with the mere mention that I would be demonstrating how to make this salad.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups water or stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 cup wild rice (black; ½” long)

¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup chopped fennel bulb, core removed
½ of a red or yellow pepper, diced
½ cup chopped red cabbage
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cups very finely chopped dark leafy greens (6-7 leaves of chard, kale, or collards)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino or gorgonzola cheese (optional)

Bring water or stock to a boil.  Add butter, ½ teaspoon of the salt and rice.  Bring to boil again, cover, lower heat and simmer 60-65 minutes.  Check to see that until all water is absorbed by tipping the pan to one side.  How to cook wild rice is described in a separate video.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt in a large serving bowl.  Add fennel, red pepper, cabbage, parsley and then the greens.

Once rice is fully cooked, cool until it quits steaming but is still warm, and then spread like a banket on top of the greens.  When the rice cools to room temperature, toss rice, vegetables and dressing together. Taste the salad and adjust seasonings, some extra salt and/or lemon may be required.  Garnish with cheese if desired.

Preparation time: 1 hour for wild rice, 20 minutes for salad
Serves 6-8

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