Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Feeling good enough to cook!

After my awkward sickly bedrest for basically a week, at a certain point I started to run low on proper food. I wasn't eating much during my sick time anyway, but eventually I did want something more than the occasional piece of toast (that's basically all I got to during that week...really).

Standing was still a painful adventure, so cooking was pretty stinted, but I did have enough ingredients at home to do some small dishes. So what did I make? Not exactly what you'd expect, I think.

Black truffle polenta

I'd brought back some gorgeous truffle products from Croatia, where apparently truffles are grown natively. One of these products was black truffle polenta, which I'd never made before. I'd read the directions before buying the jar and it seemed easy enough: salt water, boil to the desired consistency. I think I could handle that.

And surprisingly I could. Well, more or less, since standing was difficult. I basically just hunched over near my stove constantly stirring it while watching to make sure it didn't turn into a clump or into a watery mess.


The smell of the truffles was rather overpowering though. I'd not really thought of that when I purchased it. I guess when you're sick smells become somewhat...overbearing. Especially since I'd had the fear after getting slightly better that my entire house smelled of ill person. I aired my apartment accordingly and hoped that no one would be over anytime soon. Also that my neighbors were posh enough to recognize the smell of truffles and not think that I was cooking something awkward, like human flesh (truffles do have the distinct smell of lack of a better word).

After this I decided to make something a little more...normal.

Summer tomato paste

Unfortunately one of the side effects of my being sick was that I was not preparing fresh food. Well, not real food anyway. This meant that the tomatoes I bought at the farmers market (as per my normal purchasing habits) sat in the fridge without being eaten. Under normal circumstances these would have been polished off, as I normally eat them whenever I walk into the kitchen and pop them in like grapes. They're amazing and I love them. I'd even bought a slightly different mix this time and gotten some weird ones:


Anyway, by this time, my consumptive neglect meant that they were getting a little wrinkly. I would still have eaten them like grapes no problem but I found that the larger ones and the weird colored ones (e.g. the green and yellow and the purple ones, which are somewhat visible in the picture) were actually not that sweet. Fantastic flavors, but more for cooking or wonderful summer salads rather than sweet grape-like eating glory. Sigh. Well, worth the experiment. I'll likely continue on my glorious tiny red tomato snacking next time I go.

So, time to make something with them instead.

One of the best things my sister has introduced me to is homemade tomato paste. It's more like a cooked tomato sauce I guess, but it's great on everything. Olive oil in the pan, low heat, and chopped tomatoes. Stew slowly over a long period of time with high quality tomatoes and you've got yourself the sweetest tomato concoction ever. You can put it on eggs or hashbrowns or anything...I put it on everything.

So that's what I decided to make. And it was just as wonderful as I remembered. I didn't even bother salting.

Now what I discovered a few days later is when you put black truffle polenta and this tomato paste together, is something wonderful:

Packed with flavor. I only wish I had some fresh rocket to go with it and I'd be in heaven. Culinary wonders.

The last thing I made that day was simply because I felt like baking.

Homemade pound cake

Admittedly this didn't go as well as I'd like and I'm still slowly eating through it because it's not that good. But I really wanted pound cake after my self-imposed diet of toast all week and I missed the traditional American Sara Lee pound cakes you can buy for cheap in the freezer section. Since going to the nearby Waitrose nearly killed me last time it wasn't like I could just pop over and buy one, so...I made one instead.

Unfortunately since I could only make it with things I had at home this once again meant using oil (vegetable oil this time) instead of butter.

I'll have to say that using oil instead of butter really isn't the same thing...especially in a pound cake. My mistake.

But it did do the trick for that night...and I'm slowly getting through it. I might blend it soon and make it into sweet bread crumbs to avoid wasting it. I've done this before with other quick breads I've made and not liked (a dill beer cheddar loaf I made years ago that should have been glory but wasn't, for example).

And that is what I made that day. It did exhaust me, since I hadn't been standing that long in awhile, and standing was still hard. I didn't eat almost any of it that day either, since my stomach had shrunk so much. But I've been happily munching on all of it throughout the next week and I've been rather happy with it. I want more veggies though; been missing that. Well, will have to wait; this weekend I'll be back in Finland with the girls (German K and Hong Kong P), so, farmers market goodness will be delayed.

Until then, I'll continue to cook on with what I have at home. Pantry cooking: never underestimate it. :)

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