[Insert trumpeting and fanfare.] My parade of guest bloggers continues and today I am very pleased to introduce you to one of my best friends. Erin and I have known each other since grade one, though it wasn't until high school that we had enough sense to become friends. We both moved to Victoria to go to university and have been sometimes roommates and always friends ever since.
Erin has a sharp wit, biting sense of humour and is the only person I know who excels at crossword puzzles. She loves cats, coffee (though she is on a sabbatical) and - wait, do I detect a pattern? She likes Joel Plaskett and Agatha Christie. She dislikes meat and, despite all the hypothetical scenarios I used to bombard her with, shows no sign of stopping. Erin currently writes for CVV magazine and I was lucky enough to watch her in action at a recent Michael Bernard Fitzgerald show.
Let's turn it over to Erin:
Dear Alyssa's sole blog reader (kidding)!
In terms of the culinary arts, I would be Alyssa's foil. Where she will spend three hours making dinner, I aim for three minutes. While her kitchen is full of tools and spices, I have neither a paring knife or salt. Whereas she seldom makes anything twice, I eat the same things nearly every day.
Strangely, though we are opposites in a thousand respects, we grew up in close proximity and have recently passed the ten-year anniversary of our friendship. I'm sure Alyssa's history in the kitchen is known by you, so I will share some of mine.
Thinking back, the first thing I learned to make was probably coffee. I was about 4 or 5 when I learned how to add Maxwell House grounds by the spoonful and the right amount of water, then press the button till the little red light came on. In terms of making actual food, I would say that I began cooking for myself probably around age 11 or 12. The most common childhood meals that I can recall are macaroni and cheese (from a box, but not KD), hot dogs and wieners 'n' beans. Also, my mom used to sometimes make me have hot chocolate and toast for dinner. It's delicious. Try it.
At age 12, I became a vegetarian. I would still make wieners 'n' beans for my brother (recipe: boil hot dogs, slice and add to beans in a pot on the stove) but I ate soup and sandwiches instead. My sister favoured white cheddar macaroni and cheese and I would make that sometimes for the two of us. My dad used to make me a tuna casserole but, when I gave up fish a few months later, he was pretty much out of ideas.
So, you lucky readers, here are my favourite, lasting recipes from fifteen years of cooking for one:
For breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can enjoy a quick meal with a few variations. The base ingredient is whole-wheat tortillas. From there, you can go either the burrito route or the egg route. My preferred brand of salsa is Old El Paso Medium. Also, I have made a wrap out of avocado, salsa and a tortilla before. I called it an avocado wrap and it is totally copyrighted.
Cheddar works with either mustard or salsa, but gouda is sort of wasted on salsa. The bell pepper can be diced and cooked with the egg or added with the greens.
one scrambled egg
mixed greens or baby spinach
cheddar or smoked gouda
mustard or salsa
bell pepper (optional)
black beans, rinsed and microwaved (50 seconds)
cheddar cheese (if not currently vegan)
Bonus Recipe: You can always freshen up salsa up adding shredded arugula, diced bell pepper and avocado and then eating with chips.
As you may or may not know, I have been periodically vegan. The last time I went vegan, I realized that I am mostly vegan already. One, my breakfast, which I have every weekday, is muesli and rice milk plus bananas/nectarines/strawberries/whatever. For the past two years or so, my lunch has consisted of Campbell's rustic lentil soup and crackers. Now that I am not vegan, I have been mixing it up by visiting the dining hall at work and eating the bagels and cream cheese that come with catering in the morning. My favourite catering food is the chocolate croissants that show up rarely. We also sometimes get cheese and crackers at work, which is either soft goat cheese, smoked cheddar or Irish porter cheese.
Rice and Things
About a year ago, David gave me a bag of wild rice. I went out and purchased a bag of long grain brown rice and have since successfully made rice several times (Alyssa, I feel your immense pride welling up as you read this). I have found that 1/3 cup wild rice and 2/3 brown rice makes for a good combination. You can cook a cup of rice and then microwave it whenever you need it again. It almost makes the 45 minutes it takes to make in the first place worth it. Almost. Below is a great recipe for rice:
Rice and Broccoli
broccoli (steamed in microwave)
I love broccoli. [Jesse, if you are reading this, you may remember that I used to steam broccoli using a bowl and a plastic bag when we lived together. I know I'm totally doomed to get cancer from that, but on the plus side, all those plastic particles will keep my corpse looking smoking gorgeous.]
If I am feeling fanciful, I will make a stir-fry to go with my rice. I will use the following ingredients:
orange bell peppers
olive oil (even though it's carcinogenic when heated - it's too late for me already)
I will also sometimes bake a yam and eat that with my rice. Butternut squash and yam are a good combination to mash together, because the squash is less sweet and firmer than yam.
But What About Fancy Occasions?
In the event I feel the need to change it up, I also enjoy takeout of the Thai variety (curry) and Japanese (sushi, sans fish).
I also have a favourite meal that I will consume on special occasions or when I am severely depressed or when I lack the patience to even cook a single egg:
Ten Tiny Open-Faced Sandwiches
cheese (Tipsy Jill is a favourite)
mixed greens (in a bowl)
I like to assemble them as I go, in the following order: bread, mustard, cheese, avocado and mixed greens. Baguettes work but you can also use larger bread, although I wouldn't make ten of them if I did that. This recipe pairs great with beer, wine or television.
What if People are Coming Over?
The only time I really want to cook anything that takes longer than five minutes is when people who are not me will eat it. Alyssa can testify that despite my culinary failings, I have made things that she enjoyed. I made a great Day of the Dead Bread for our Dia de los Muertos party; when she stayed with me I made her some Lemon and Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes and recently I made a Beet Risotto that was savoured by all. But my general hosting strategy is to buy wine and then lure Alyssa over, knowing that she will bring many delicious things and compliment me on my amazing wine selections.