I don’t know about you, but when life throws me curveballs, my lo-co lifestyle gets flattened.
From blog technical issues to family-member health crises to having a college kid home for the summer (and the requisite, very stressful conversations that include: “why do I need to tell you what time I’ll be home,” and “I can’t get home by 2am” among other gems) let’s just say I’ve not been cooking.
OK, let’s tell the truth: several times a week this summer, my routine was a 3 mile fast-paced walk for exercise followed immediately by dinner at Shake Shack. Because, um, they serve beer. And you can sit outside. For me, nothing is better than sitting outside in workout clothes enjoying delicious, cold beer from a tap along with dinner? Oh, and the dinner – Shake Shack fixed their fries and those burgers continue to be outrageously good. This from someone who does not care for most burgers – and who eats almost no other red meat – except for Shake Shack.
Yes, I could order Shake Shack’s bird dog. Yes, my virtuous husband does. Yes, that’s incredibly annoying because NO, I do not make smart dining choices when I’m stressing. What I do is not eat very much at all – or eat very badly. Or, more to the point, first I stop eating/eat very little. Then when I realize I’m not eating, I eat very very badly.
That was pretty much my summer in a nutshell. On the plus side, my weight is largely unchanged (the only good part of the not-eating-due-to-stress segment of this summer). But I’d be scared to get a cholesterol reading right now.
With my son finally — finally — back at college, I actually cooked a meal this week. (Word of advice – do not consider schools on a trimester/quarter system as they start in LATE September. LATE. Like WEEKS after all other college kids have gone back to school.)
Not only did I cook – I cooked a meal I have never made before – and I didn’t even follow a recipe. I usually rely on recipes – don’t always follow them all the way through, but I do usually require them as a starting point (aka crutch). So this was unusual behavior for me.
What happened was, my friend Chris and I had a meeting for a consulting project we’re working on and she had a veritable raft of gorgeous cherry tomatoes from her garden, which she insisted I take, telling me to roast them in the oven and they’d be prefect for bruschetta.
So I planned to do that, but forgot to buy bread.
But then I remembered she’d also said that roasted cherry tomatoes burst open when poked with a fork so they kind of make their own sauce.
Perfect. No forgotten ingredients necessary.
I just cranked the oven to 425 degrees, drizzled the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and salt (and since there was room in the Pyrex pan AND we had one red pepper in the fridge, I sliced it and oiled/salted that too). Then last second, I decided to throw in a handful of garlic I’d slivered. Once it was all slicked up, I just roasted it all for 20 minutes.
I had forgotten how amazing it smells in your house when you, um, cook. Especially garlic.
Meanwhile, I cooked up some high fiber penne (!) and warmed a can of LeSeur baby peas (hey, it was the only green thing I had on hand other than lettuce).
Voila. A healthy, lo-co dinner in 30 minutes. All I had to do was dish out the pasta, spoon in the peas, roasted tomatoes and roasted pepper slices, then pour the fabulous olive oil with roasted garlic left in the Pyrex over it. And it was fun to then burst the tomatoes and create a kind of tomato sauce. My husband tossed some fresh pepper flakes in for a kick but I left my garlicky olive oil with burst tomato ‘gravy’ unsullied.
It’d have been nice if I had a little bread (ha ha) – and some fresh mozarella (also funny as my fridge was quite barren) for some protein, but even without, it was quite tasty.
I popped the top off a Corona and toasted buh-bye to my so-not-lo-co Shake Shack summer.