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Archive for the ‘Main Dishes’ Category

Misfits, I am blown away at the response I’ve received to this vegetarian, mayo-free pasta salad.

I mean, I invented it on a whim.  In the kitchen.  Just, on the fly.  Without any magic sauce (mayo).  And oh.  Wow.  My inbox/voicemail/motherfucking carrier falcons have been flooded with requests for the recipe.

And it’s a pretty risky thing to overwhelm a carrier falcon.  They have those badass talons and shit.  So that tells you how good this stuff must be.

It’s guaranteed to please, impress, and save lives.  Pretty much a sure thing in an uncertain world.  So basically, I’m like the Red Cross.

Exactly!

So I recommend that you use this pasta salad to mitigate the risk in life’s various tenuous moments.  That barbecue your lover’s boss is throwing?  Bring this.  Your friend’s casual patio potluck wedding shower but oh my god no one I mean no one likes the guy she’s marrying he’s such a mama’s boy you know it’s going to be an uphill battle against her witch MIL for their whole marriag–

Where the fuck was I?

Oh, right, bring the pasta salad.  Your first date picnic?  Stow this in your basket, snuggled safely between the sparkling wine and the contraceptives.

What?  WE WERE ALL THINKING IT.

So to let tomato and basil (and pesto) season pass us by and keep this recipe all to Bad Mama Genny’s self?  Would be unthinkable.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I’m too much of a cupcake.

And you’re just too adorable when you flash me those big, sad, misfit eyes.  Yes, you are!  Ooooh, YESH YOU ARE WHO’S ADORABULZ PEEKABOO YOU ARE YESH YOU ARE!

Let’s never again speak of this moment we’ve shared.

So here you go: BMG’s Caprese Pasta Salad.  Make it and be just like the Red Cross!

Apparently.

My Most Requested Recipe of the Year: BMG’s Caprese Pasta Salad


Go Get:
1 lb. pasta (Campanelle is a great, dramatic shape for this, I used farfalle this time)
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved (or several large tomatoes, diced, with extra tomato juice squeezed out for another use)
1 lb. small, fresh mozzarella balls, halved (or if you’re using one large mozzarella ball, cut into 1/2 inch chunks)
1/2 red onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper (a little coarse is best)
2 lemons, juiced
olive oil (about 6-8 Tablespoons, give or take)
a generous handful of fresh basil, chiffonaded finely; if it’s out of season, use 2 pesto buttons
3/4 to 1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, depending on your tastes (parmesan works, too, but the flavor will be different)

Go Do:
Boil the pasta, keeping it pretty al dente. Rinse under cold water, toss with a bit of olive oil, and leave out about 2-3 cups for another use (otherwise it’s too many noodles).

Toss the tomatoes, red onion, basil strips, and mozzarella balls with the pasta.

In a large bowl, use a fork to smash 3 cloves of garlic into the salt and some freshly ground pepper.

When it’s a chunky paste, whisk in the lemon juice.  Now, while still whisking, drizzle in the olive oil.  Taste it.  Is it too sour?  Add a little more olive oil.  If you’re using pesto sauce instead of basil, whisk it in until evenly distributed.

Now use that fork to incorporate the pecorino romano cheese.  This dressing will be thicker than your average vinaigrette–kind of like a runny paste.  Add until you like the taste and texture.

Now toss the pasta stuff with the dressing stuff.

Taste it.  Adjust the salt, pepper, or cheese if necessary.  Refrigerate until serving.

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So, misfits, one of my cool and interesting friends recently ordered a quarter of a grass-fed cow and had it custom-butchered for her.  There’ll be a post coming up on how you can do this yourself, but what’s important for you to know now is that we’ve been talking a lot about beef.

I mean, like, a lot.  When you’re emailing at 2 AM about the kidney that fell out of your friend’s lump of beef fat, you know shit just got real.

So a slab of chuck steak from a frolicsome grass-fed cow is a thing of wonder and magic and unicorn tails and glitter rainbows a la My Little Fucking Pony and stuff, right?  I mean, seriously, a Care Bear would probably shiv another Care Bear to get his hands on one.

And not just Grumpy, either, ‘kay?  Even one of the nauseatingly happy-go-lucky always-on-ecstasy Care Bears would shiv another Care Bear for one.  And speaking of Grumpy, I feel that he was largely misunderstood, don’t you?

But I digress.

Okay, but sometimes you want a hamburger, right?  And you’re all, oh, the sad packages of grass-fed ground beef are always so leeeeeeaaaaann.  Why are they always so leeeeeaaaaannnn?  Can’t they make it less leeaaaaannnn?  And when will they find a way to fix the speech impediment that causes me to say “leeeeaaaaaannnn” like that?

Well, I can’t help you with the second problem, misfits.  Some problems are just too big for your Bad Mama Genny to solve on her own.

List A: Problems That Are Too Big for Your Bad Mama Genny to Solve on Her Own:
1-World hunger
2-Unequal distribution of wealth
3-Automatic flush toilets
4-Speech impediments that make you say “leeeeaaaaaannnn”

List B: Problems That Are NOT Too Big for Your Bad Mama Genny to Solve on Her Own:
1-Dry, flavorless grass-fed hamburgers
2-All problems not mentioned in List A

Well, it’s true, grass-fed beef IS lean.  Leaner than most of us are accustomed to.  The burger seems dry.  Not fall-apart tender enough.  Not flavorful enough.  But you know what?

The man wants you to eat flavorless hamburgers.

That’s right.  While you thought you were sticking it to the man when you purchased grass-fed hamburger meat, you didn’t realize that the man is a crafty bugger who dipped his dirty paws into the organic movement and figured out that he could still exercise power over you by grinding the same old cuts of beef into hamburger and selling it to you AT A CONSIDERABLE MARKUP WHAT WHAT.

My point being, of course, that you have to stay one step ahead of the man at all times.  You have to find new and better ways to stick it to him.

Finding new and better ways to stick it to people.  Pretty much the meaning of life.

Screw that flavorless beef!  Go grind your own!

What we’re going to do is macerate chunks of lean beef and animal fat together to create well-marbled hamburger mix that will be so good it will make you and everyone you love die.

Roll out the motherfucking mass graves, misfits!  It’s time for us all to eat hamburgers and die!

Gather:
1 lb. of lean grass-fed beef (round roast is an incredibly flavorful but very lean cut–it’s perfect for this)
1/4 cup solid at room-temp animal fat (lard and beef tallow are both great for this, but even bacon fat and butter would work–this time I’m using butter)

Do:
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Cut the meat into 2-inch chunks.  Cut the fat into half-inch chunks.  Line up your chunks (heh heh…your chunks) on the cookie sheet and pop it all into the freezer.  Chill it until the outsides of the meat chunks are very firm, but not frozen through–45 minutes should be good.

Now you’ll want a food processor, ‘kay?  Pile in alternating chunks of meat and fat, only filling the food processor one-third to one-half of the way to capacity.  If your processor is small, you’ll wanna do this in batches to give the meat plenty of room to move around and macerate evenly.  Overpacking the processor will result in a bottom level of beefy goo and a top level of unground beef.

Eww…bottom levels of beefy goo.

Put the top on and pulse the food processor several times.  Don’t let it go too far–you don’t need a ground mixture that’s as fine as what they sell in the store and you certainly don’t want it any finer.  Go too far and it loses its steak-yness.

And I am a serious proponent of steaky-ness.

At this point, take it out of the food processor, transfer it to a bowl, and add any seasonings.

I keep things simple.  A little salt and pepper, some finely minced garlic, a dash or three of Worcestershire sauce.  But the important thing to remember is this: mix it gently, with your hands.  Don’t pack the meat together.  Just kinda…toss it together.  Then form patties–again, handle her gently.  Your meat mass needs to be treated like a lady.

Your meat mass needs to be treated like a lady.  Yes, I just said that.

4 patties per pound is pretty customary–3 patties per pound if you’re feeling like a fucking benefactress.  I’ll be honest here:

I usually feel like a fucking benefactress.  We don’t eat meat often enough or in large enough quantities for me to be a miser when we’re making hamburgers.

Now toss ’em onto an oh-shit-that’s-hot grill or griddle, and sear away.  I think 3 to 4 minutes per side is plenty, but I still like ’em to be a little bloody in the middle.  DON’T press your burgers down with the spatula–this takes the fatty juices out of the burger, where you want them, and redistributes them to a sad, sad land outside of your burger.

For the sake of today’s post, let’s assume that any place that isn’t inside your burger is a sad, sad land.

If you’re planning to cheese, cheese early, like a minute and a half before the second side is done cooking.  Then choose a righteous burger bun.  Preferably something crusty on the outside with plenty of character.  Even a sea salt ciabatta would be nice.  Now do it up the way your Bad Mama Genny Does It Up.  Take the burger out and let it rest for three minutes.  Warm the bun, spread the bottom half with mayo (sorry, mayo haters…actually, I’m sorry I’m NOT sorry), and apply burger.  The better the burger, the less dressing up you’ll need, perhaps even just a slice of onion, a disc of tomato, and a bit more mayo on the top bun.

Top buns and bottom buns, misfits.  A delicate distinction.

So go wild if you like.  I’ve been known to toss some mushrooms, onions, and a bit of red wine into the burger pan and go to town making a WAY DELICIOSO topping.  Then again, I’ve been known to do a lot of things.

Bug I digress.

What dresses your burgers, misfits?  Build me your ideal hamburger from bottom bun to top bun, and don’t leave out a single detail!

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"Sommer," by Leopold Karl Walter Graf von Kalckreuth

Let’s call it what it is, shall we?  Foodlust.

Nah, I’m not about to get all porny on you (though I sometimes, maybe sorta, okay fine pretty often like to do that with you.  It’s just who I am these days.)

What I would like to do is show you how I shop and eat, in the spirit of the food voyeurism about which I’m so public and, let’s face it, totally unashamed.  I’d also like to show you how you, YES YOU, can use all the produce in your CSA or farmshare box without going crazy or throwing anything out.

Really.  We don’t like to throw food out.  You probably don’t, either.  If I can’t find a use for something, I like to pickle or ferment it to extend its life and nutritional value.  And when something does go bad (like when our refrigerator stopped working and spoiled so much food I cried and told The Boy I couldn’t go on), we try to compost it.  It’s part of being a sparkly earth hippie person.

For a sparkly earth hippie person, I sure do run through a lot of do-me-red lipstick.

In any case, I’m going to show you what comes in our deliveries and how we use it.  This is something I typically know about a week ahead of time, as our wonderful CSA tells us what’s coming in advance.  Then I sit down and plan a menu around it.  The whole process, from clicking open my CSA’s site to closing my recipe windows and shutting down the text document that holds my menu, takes me half an hour.  It helps that I keep all the recipes that I want to try in the immediate future in a queue and ready to go.

This level of organization is pretty much the key, sugar babies.  Get there and you will be a produce samurai/money-saving, organic food eating, weight-losing, new recipe-trying, local and seasonal-eating, only once-weekly shopping, pogo-sticking (wait.  Not sure how that got in there.  I can’t pogo stick…can you?  ‘Cause that could totally make this list, it’s just not a requirement or anything) ass-kicking force to be reckoned with.

So onto the show:

Some stuff we’re getting: Blueberries, Honeydew Melon and Navel Oranges, plus LOCAL Eggs, bunched Green Garlic and Asparagus, and from outside the region, Broccoli, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes and Red Beets.

Some stuff we’re harvesting: Red and Green Leaf Lettuce from the garden, and some slammin’ Bok Choy.  And when I say slammin’, I mean slammin’.  Step off, bok choy haters!

Some stuff I’m making:

Fruit: eaten for breakfast each morning, plopped into The Boy’s lunches (yes, he packs lunches…and they’re almost always leftovers from the night before)
Eggs: some hard-boiled for breakfasts and snacks

Lake Superior Whitefish with Roasted Green Garlic
Buttered, Sauteed Asparagus and Peas
Orange Segments and Blueberries
Whites, Light Greens, Dark Greens, Vivid Oranges, Deep Blues

Spicy Sesame Bok Choy and Celery Stir Fry with Poached Eggs (ferment remaining celery with the carrots sitting in the fridge)
Brown Jasmine Rice
Strawberries I’ll have on hand
Beige-y Browns, Light Greens, Whites, Orangey-Yellows, Bright Reds…

Homemade Italian Sausage Lasagna (locally made, nitrate-free sausage from happy pigs)
Red and Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Blueberries and Orange Segments
Reds, Greens, Beige-y Browns, Vivid Oranges, and Purply-Blues…

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Salad with Cooked Beets (save cooking water for making beet wine)
Homemade Crusty Bread
Oranges, Light and Dark Greens, Bright Reds, Beige-y Browns…

Use Cherry Tomatoes in a Caprese Pasta Salad I’m bringing to my book club’s potluck, then GET REALLY DRUNK WITH A LOT OF BOOK NERDS

Leftover night

Date night

This dessert for us and to share with people at The Boy’s workplace

You’ll notice that I build leftover nights, eating out, and socialization into the calendar. This keeps us from wasting anything or having to run to the store last minute.  You’ll also notice that after each night, I’ve listed the color families present. This makes sure everything looks interesting and, let’s face it, is the easiest way to know we’re getting balanced nutrition.  ‘Cause imbalanced nutrition is, like, not sexy.  Plus, what girl doesn’t wanna play with rainbows?

And, uh, yes, I do plan a homemade dessert every single week (and sometimes more than one), whydoyouaskareyoujudgingme?

Do we deviate from the menu?  OF COURSE.  Occasionally what we get in the box is a little different, or I harvest something unexpected.  Sometimes I just have no desire to eat what I’d planned on making.  In that case, fine–I’ll reconfigure some things.  But if I don’t feel like thinking it through, the plan is there for me rely on and makes it easy to know what to defrost, bake, pre-prep, etc.

So what are you making for dinner this week?  What do you think of the meals I’ve planned, and what would you do with these ingredients if it were you?

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Confession time for Bad Mama Genny: I’ve been using my Crockpot a lot lately.  Also, my text software just tried to edit “Crockpot” to read “crack pot”.

Please let it be known that I have not been using my crack pot a lot lately.

It’s addictive, that thing.

The Crockpot, not the crack pot.

Okay, you know what?  We’re gonna call it a slow cooker from this point forward.

So I’ve been using the slow cooker a lot lately, and once you get started and master a few basics, it’s actually pretty amazing and easy to end up with very nice food that doesn’t always taste like beef stew.

Unless it’s beef stew, and then it tastes like beef stew.  Or, at least, it should.  And if you have a problem with that, well, why were you making beef stew in the first place?

So last night I felt that it wasn’t enough to make salmon croquettes with lemon aioli and a side of steamed spinach and artichokes for dinner.  Hmm, surely there’s SOME ridiculous project I could start too late in the day?…I know!  I know!

GRANOLA!

Except I’m not a glutton for punishment (lie, totally am, but still) and I’ve burned more than my fair share of granola by leaving it in the oven for 0.29 seconds too long.  This here granola is a delicate business, folks.  And I just wasn’t up for a delicate project.

I’d heard that you could make substantially less finicky granola in a slow cooker, but only recently did I look into it for really reals.   And you know where you should go for the basics?

Right here, to Stephanie O’Dea’s site.  She’s the genius behind the cookbook, “Make it Fast, Cook it Slow,” a bible for those of you who heart your slow cooker big time.  Or your Crockpot.  Or heck, even your crack pot.

I didn’t use Stephanie’s granola recipe, and decided instead to go off in my own direction.  See, while O’Dea’s recipe calls for two liquid components–butter and honey–mine adds a third: fruit puree.  what worked for me was 1/2 cup fat, 1/2 cup sweet stuff, 1/2 cup fruit puree.  This cuts down on the amount of fat and sugar you need, adds flavor, and–oh, fluffernutter!–gives you even more scope for the imagination when it comes to cool taste combos.

Yesterday I made pumpkin granola.  I used pureed sugar pie pumpkin and added cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Three words: OM NOM NOM.

I wish I could explain just how good this smelled while it cooked.  But I can’t.  They just haven’t invented Smell-o-Vision yet.  Or the Smell-ternet.

So now that we’ve added that fruit component, let’s review just a few of the taste combinations that come to mind:

Pumpkin puree with pecans, raisins, pie spices, and butter.

Apple butter with walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, pie spices, and butter.

Any fruit puree you desire, or none, with maple syrup instead of honey, and walnuts

Coconut oil instead of butter, banana puree, banana chips (or dehydrated banana, added after cooling), macadamia nuts, chunks of dried pineapple, and shaved, unsweetened coconut

Cherries and almonds.  Mmmm….

Apple butter with blueberries, almonds, and butter…just like a muffin!

Banana puree with walnuts and butter, and dehydrated bananas added after cooling…like banana nut bread!

Pumpkin puree with dried cranberries and pecans…perfect for Thanksgiving breakfast!

Basically, what I’m saying here is: this is the easiest granola you will ever make.  You will not go back to burning tray after tray of granola in the oven and sobbing all over your own The Boy while he tries to console you about all those wasted ingredients.  And the sky’s the limit with this recipe–if you can imagine it, you can do it!

Who’s that on the phone?  It’s Legal?  And they’re telling me I can’t guarantee that if you can imagine it, you can do it?

Okay, revision.  More like, if you can imagine it, you can try it, be my guest, but I won’t be held responsible for the results.

There, that’s better.  Legal should be happy with that.

Hey, what are you still doing here?  Shouldn’t you be playing with your crack pot?  I mean, Crockpot.  I mean, slow cooker.

Damn. Legal again.

Crockpot Granola, a Jillion Different Ways

Go Get:

5 cups oats
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup, etc.)
1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil, or Earth Balance, or half butter/half peanut butter, etc.)
1/2 cup fruit puree of your choice
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
1/2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup dried fruit and/or dehydrated fruit (Trader Joe’s, among other places, sells fruit that’s been dehydrated–the second it comes into contact with moisture, it rehydrates and becomes soft again.  While dried fruit can be added during cooking, I’d hold off on adding dehydrated fruit until you’re bagging the cooled mixture.)

Directions:
Toss all ingredients except for dried fruit (and any dehydrated fruit you may be using) into the stoneware and set it to high.  Don’t bother melting the fat and honey together first, as O’Dea recommends.  While this is a nice touch, I can’t bear the thought of washing an extra pot when I’m already using the slow cooker.  Call me crazy.  Vent the slow cooker by sticking a wooden spoon in between the lid and the stoneware.  This will help your granola to lose excess moisture.

During the first hour, your butter will melt and you’ll want to make sure it gets evenly distributed, along with the honey or whatever other sweetener you’re using, throughout the dry ingredients.  Watch this stuff–you won’t have to stir much at the beginning, but as your granola gets further along, you’ll wanna give it a stir every few minutes or, as O’Dea says, whenever you can smell it cooking.

When you’re 2/3 of the way through, put in your dried fruit (NOT yet on the dehydrated fruit).  O’Dea has you adding everything at the beginning.  This does work, but my fruit got a bit dark where it touched the stoneware.  I’d hold off next time.

And that’s it!  Keep stirring every so often, and after 3 to 4 hours, everything will look nice and toasty.  It will NOT be dried out.  I’d say, when everything’s golden brown and there’s no excess moisture, you’re probably there.  Toss the mixture onto some parchment-lined cookie sheets and let it cool.  Once the mixture is cool, you can add any dehydrated fruits you’ve been holding onto and put it all into an airtight container or gallon-size ziploc bag.

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I’m not gonna lie–it is hard to serve most men salad for dinner.

Bad Mama Genny’s inner Gloria Steinem is recoiling at the generalization, but there it is. I think it’s part connotation, part social expectations (a la “real men don’t eat quiche,” which is such bull because I swear I could get Chuck Norris to eat quiche if HE WOULD ONLY RETURN MY PHONE CALLS WHERE ARE YOU CHUCK I’VE BEEN SITTING OUTSIDE YOUR BEDROOM WINDOW FOR LIKE EVER) and part vivid memories of poor salad execution. So when you endeavor to serve your man, or any other skeptic for that matter, a dinner salad, you must remember…

THE ALMIGHTY RULES FOR SERVING SALAD TO MEN:

*Top it with meat. Lots.
*Top it with cheese. Lots.
*Include crunchy bits.  Nuts are good, crumbled tortilla chips and chow mein noodles are better.  I did not invent this logic, I just know it to be true.
*Include a delicious, warm hunk of bread. A low-carb salad just adds insult to injury, and we don’t want to hurt anyone’s big, strong man feelings here.
*Borrow the “sandwich method” from business management school. By that, I mean, flank a salad meal on either side with two extremely beef-a-riffic, man-friendly meals. Examples include: a steak sandwich, chicken wings, a whole side of buffalo, a double cheeseburger with steak fries, a T-bone served to him by you clad in a leopard-print loincloth, a beheaded buffalo passed briefly over an open flame.  Eaten off a stick.  Amidst ambient grunting.
*Act like he’s doing you a huuuuge favor for condescending to eat your salad, and my, isn’t he just the most wonderful, most handsome, most long-suffering The Boy ever? (What you really mean is, you should eat this salad, be grateful for this salad, think this salad is the best salad you have ever eaten in your life, and remember to tell me all of these things while looking at me the way you did the first time we ever met.)

And perhaps the most important rule of all:

*Don’t make it a habit. He will become immediately distrustful of your intentions, and will began to entertain nightmarish fears that you are secretly trying to go vegetarian. Even if your salads are doused in meat. Suffocated by meat. Shrouded by warm, still breathing piles of meaty meat.

You don’t have to take my word for it, either. When he starts breaking out into cold sweats at the grocery store when you pass the tofu, you’ll KNOW Bad Mama Genny was right.

Hey, don’t blame me. I don’t WANT to be right, here, I just am.  It’s my cross to bear.

In any case, this isn’t even the most man-friendly salad dinner I’ve ever made. I believe that one involved copious amounts of barbecued chicken, thick shreds of cheddar cheese, a creamy dressing, and a paper thin layer of lettuce. But really, now. We needed veggies.

The Boy will be just fine. Nobody feel bad for The Boy.

Especially because I split some lovely french rolls to accompany, stuffed them to the gills with double-cream brie, and baked them at 425 until they were oozy and delicious and melt in your mouth oh my god I need a cigarette.

This recipe is so simple and haphazard, which is what makes it great. It’s also what makes it painful to commit to words. Improvise, use what you’ve got on hand, and adjust proportions to your liking.

Then enjoy. Both the salad, and his lame attempts to convince you he’s excited by it.

I know I did.

Strawberry Salad with Baby Greens, Almonds, and Scallops
(I meant to include crumbled goat cheese in this salad, but then discovered that I didn’t have any. Sad, I know. That’s how I settled on the brie-stuffed French rolls…hardly a disappointing switch. Feel free to use whichever you like.)

Makes 2 Servings

Go Get:
2 Romaine hearts, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup mixed baby greens (mine were from my garden’s thinning. Not that I’m bragging or anything. Except I totally am.)
1/4 cup sliced, dry-roasted almonds
10 strawberries, sliced
20 smallish wild bay scallops, rinsed and patted dry (if I could have, though, I would have opted for just a few giant scallops. They weren’t available.)
garlic powder
pepper
salt
apple cider vinegar
olive oil
fresh basil, or high quality dry (Spice House!)
poppy seeds
mayonnaise

Go Do:
In a shaker bottle or dressing pitcher, mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts olive oil. Add poppy seeds, shredded fresh basil, salt, pepper, and enough mayo to make it slightly creamy (but not heavy). Whisk it or shake it, and set aside.

On 2 large plates, arrange the Romaine pieces. Then layer on the baby greens. Next lay on the strawberries and almonds. (Told you this was easy.) Lightly drizzle dressing over both plates.

Sprinkle both sides of the scallops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In a skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat until it’s hot. Gently lay the scallops in the pan and cook them (without moving them around too much–they’ll form a nicer crust that way) for 2 to 3 minutes per side. When they’re opaque, they’re done. Don’t make anybody cry by overcooking them. If you think they’re done, they’re probably done.

Lay the scallops on top of the salads, and serve.

If you were planning to include brie-stuffed rolls, as I did, put them in the oven at 425 before you do everything else. They should be ready to go when you are.

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“Ahmaga!  AHMAGAHH!”  The Boy was clearly trying to tell me something.

“What?” I asked, half-afraid he didn’t like the kitchari.  I knew I liked it, but he’d never tried it before.  Probably because I’d made him a steak out of misplaced guilt or something.  I do that.

Oh, God, I AM turning into my mother!

Anyway.  The Boy was making frantic fanning gestures at his mouth.

“HAAAHT!  Is haht! ::cough cough swallow::”

What’s that, The Boy?  You’re trying to tell me I’m hot?  Well, way to point out the obvious, but thanks, nonetheless, my good man!

“I was trying to say, the kitchari is really hot.  But oh, man, I could eat this every day!”

Oh.  Right.  Well, that’s still complimentary.  I guess.

But kitchari isn’t exactly pretty or elegant–in fact, it’s best described as, well, gruel.  But he’s right–kitchari kicks all kinds of ass.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with kitchari, it’s a dish that’s very popular among those who live according to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine.  Ayurveda is a philosophy and healing art designed to restore the harmony and balance of the body.  The main premise is that people can generally be classified as having one of four main body types, and that this type determines how you should eat, sleep, and exercise for the best health and longevity.

Whatever, man.  I just think it’s really good.

So what is it? Well, it’s a thick, stew-y dish of split yellow peas, rice, vegetables, and easily-digested spices, with a texture that I can best liken to a very thick, starchy oatmeal.  Because it’s low in fiber, non-challenging for compromised digestive systems, and extremely nutritious, it’s often used as the sole means of sustenance for ill people trying to get their bodies back into balance.

READ: I eat it when I’m hung over.

But that doesn’t mean kitchari is bland–the spice blend of fresh fennel and mustard seeds, along with crushed cumin, coriander, and turmeric makes this savory, warm, and not boring at all.  Try kitchari if you’re recovering from digestive upset and feel you may not be getting the nutrition you need.  Ulcer-sufferers, IBS patients, vegetarians, those poor, poor people making unkeepable promises to never, ever drink again, and even just healthy people who want a big, warm bowl of something primitively nourishing can all benefit from a big, warm bowl of this MAGICAL STUFF THAT TOTALLY BROUGHT ME BACK TO THE LAND OF THE LIVING OH GOD.

What’s that you say?  You’re horribly hung over, you say?  You feel sick as a dog, you say?

FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!  Let’s eat!

Kitchari Recipe
Makes, like, a whole bunch

Go Get:
1 cup Brown Jasmine Rice (traditional recipes recommend white/basmati rice…I love the scent and texture of brown jasmine so that’s what I use.  You use what you like.)
2 cups Mung Dal (split yellow peas); I’ve also used half yellow split and half green split with great results
7 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tbs. Ghee (I just use regular melted butter, unclarified; use oil to make this vegan)
1Tbsp Fennel Seeds
3 tsp. Mustard Seeds
2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
2 tsp. Turmeric Powder
2 tsp. Coriander Powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Generous pinch ginger
1 heaping cup frozen peas
2 medium yellow potatoes
Large handful baby carrots, sliced into wheels
Large handful chopped cilantro leaves

Go Do:
Rinse and sort mug dal thoroughly.  Heat the butter/ghee/oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot, like a Dutch Oven.  Sauté the seeds in the fat until they start to pop.   Then add the other spices.   Add the mung dal and salt, and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Add water, bring to boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the dal is about 2/3 cooked.

Add rice and these vegetables. Stir to mix, adding extra water if the mixture is too thick.  Bring back to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is fully cooked.  Keep checking to see if you need to add more water.  You want to achieve as little remaining water as possible, so make sure you leave the lid on the pot when you’re not stirring or checking it.  You’re not making a soup, or even a stew–remember my thick oatmeal analogy.  When the rice is cooked through, taste the mixture to see if it needs additional salt.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro.

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Seriously, though, guys. The Boy told a large assemblage of people at a dinner out recently that he can’t order meatloaf out anymore. Because my meatloaf has ruined him for all other meatloaves. Yeah. I mean, your Bad Mama Genny blushed. ‘Cause how do you accept praise like that gracefully? I did my best. No promises, though. In the immortal (and somewhat paraphrased) words of Bart Simpson, “I can’t promise I tried. But I tried to try.”

Back to business: meatloaf, folks. Meatloaf. The stuff that used to make the guys cringe, ’cause, you know, they can’t understand why you would do anything to meat beyond beheading it and giving it a brief pass over an open flame.

So any meatloaf recipe that has men REQUESTING it by name? Well, that’s kind of a big deal. And when you make this, you’ll be kind of a big deal. You were already a big deal and all. But now you’ll be a BIGGER deal. No, I’m not saying you’re fat.

“Honey, does this meatloaf recipe make me look fat?”

This recipe is actually loosely based on the “Vitality Meat Loaf” recipe in the American Girl Molly Cookbook (do they still make those cookbooks?). When I was a kid, I wanted an American Girl doll SO BADLY. It was kind of strange, actually. I was pretty unimpressed with dolls in general, preferring stuffed animals and things. (Actually, when pressed about it, I would tell people that the reason I liked stuffed animals better than dolls was that animals were easier to forgive than people, but I can laugh about it now and all and THAT IS A WHOLE OTHER THERAPY SESSION).

Anyway. I always wanted this doll. Desperately. But my mother, being practical and hardworking and sane and NO FAIR AT ALL, went, “Sixty dollars?! For a doll?!?! Hahahahahhahahahhah hahahahahahahahha!”

And I went, “So, does that mean yes?”

And she was all, go play with your brother.

And I was all, he is NOT as cool as an American Girl doll!

But you know what, Johnny? You are as cool as an American Girl doll. In fact, you are way cooler. But I digress.

Make this meatloaf! Men will fall at your feet! Or at least be brought to your yard. Which, I suppose, could become problematic. Which is where a good hose comes in handy. Or you could call that milkshake girl and then all the boys will leave to go to her yard.

The Only Meatloaf Recipe You Will Ever Need

Go Get:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon dried parsley (you can be all fancy and use 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley instead, if you feel like showing me up. Don’t feel bad, I like to show myself up sometimes, too.)
1/2 lb. ground pork (or, pork sausage, casings removed)
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup wheat germ (Note: I often replace both the oatmeal and the wheat germ with 1 sleeve of crushed saltines. Don’t give me that look. My mom used to do it, and if it’s good enough for the BMG’S MOM, well you can just take that Miss THANG attitude and find some other meatloaf recipe! But you won’t. ‘Cause, oh, baby. This is THE meatloaf recipe. I told YOU, all right.)
1 egg
1 cup milk (I use almond milk or occasionally, whole milk yogurt)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground sage
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup ketchup

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Mix everything thoroughly with your hands until it’s a smooth, evenly mixed mass. Form it into a vaguely convincing loaf shape. Put it in the oven and bake for an hour (or until your meat thermometer registers 165). And that’s it! Who knew pleasing your men would be so easy? Let this thing rest for 5 minutes or so before cutting it into slices. Serve. Sit back and wait for people to show up in your yard.

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