Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Playing With Your Food

On Saturday my landlord Stephen plucked a giant sweet yellow tomato from a plant in the front yard and handed it to me. By Wednesday I realized I'd better find a use for it soon. This is what I did:

I lightly toasted two slices of hearty white sandwich bread that is on the downside of freshness. I coated this heavily with some really good olive oil. I have really good olive oil because Jim and Denise have gotten me some as a gift, which is great so I put it away for a special occasion. But that's absurd, because extra virgin olive oil does not have an infinite shelf life, and I should make a point of using it up immediately -- if only by buying some fancy baguettes at Rustica for the sole purpose of dipping them in the olive oil. Or maybe having salad more often when it's just me at home and making myself a nice simple dressing -- olive oil this good turns anything magic. I use olive oil all the time to saute vegetables, but you don't want to use the grassy rich stuff for that purpose.

Then I cut two slices off the giant tomato -- each slice covers most of the bread. On top of this I sprinkled some Herkimer Cheddar Cheese, which is creamy and crumbly and I had a tiny bit left over from a recent cheese day. I've gotten much, much better at not letting my refrigerator fill with tag ends from cheese day, but I still have small bits of random delicious cheeses now and then. I sprinkled some Italian spices on top of it all and broiled it.

Voila! A non-traditional bruschetta! The tomato was rich and sweet and yellow and the cheese was wrong, but this was really really good -- the quality olive oil enriched both the bread beneath and the tomato above. The key seemed to be not overdoing things -- not using too thick a slice of tomato, not using too much cheese. And in that bruschetta was my landlord's tomato from my own yard and Jim and Denise's gift and a piece of my work social life and I didn't have to purchase anything special at all. Each bite was the story of my life. I still have half the tomato, but no more Herkimer Cheddar and I doubt blue cheese will work. I tend to have more blue cheese left over from cheese day than anything else, which is yet another reason to eat more salads (sprinkled with blue cheese).

Last night I wanted to make something that would help me use up what I bought last Saturday at the Farmer's market, it being Thursday already. As it is I had to throw out some of the small yellow tomatoes. I also had leftover mixed mushrooms from the mushroom eggplant baba ganoosh I made as my Saturday project (and which I haven't finished up yet). So I made vegetable rice pilaf. I sauteed minced sweet onions (from the market) with minced fresh carrots (from the market). The carrots were closer to yellow than orange, and raw they didn't have as strong of a carrot flavor as I had anticipated, but cooked up in olive oil (with a tiny bit of butter) they were great. To this I added sliced mushrooms and some minced garlic (from the market), and then I sauteed the raw rice before adding the amazing special intense chicken broth I made a few months ago and froze. Even in the freezer this is not going to last forever. After this all cooked up (with red pepper and oregano and a bay leaf) I added chopped Roma tomatoes (yes, from the market) and basil (from the market) and salt and pepper and fluffed it up. The hot rice cooked the minced tomatoes just perfectly, leaving them intact but not raw. It's so pretty, a dark beige color with bright red tomato and bright yellow carrot and scatterings of green basil and mushroom.

It tastes pretty good, as well, but -- believe it or not -- it's too intensely flavored, which is something that shouldn't be possible. I should have cut the rich chicken broth with water. And I still have tomatoes left over that may not find a use. But I have already gotten two meals from the rice, and four or five from the baba ganoosh, and I anticipate several more. It was a fun week in the kitchen.

Oh, yeah, and part of last night's fun was that once a month I get a $10 off coupon from Surdyk's because of all the wine I buy there, so I use it as an excuse to get a $20 bottle of wine (which is not what I'd spend on just myself for a random evening). I got a nice Australian mixed-grape red (better with the pilaf than you'd think, because of the intensity) of good quality and that helped as well.

I've become a dull stay-at-home of late, but I have a good time and I certainly am eating well.
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