I will admit at times I can be a series of contradictions, which can infuriate someone trying to get to know me. I’ll say one thing and then turn around and say the exact opposite, with barely a breath of separation. It isn’t that I don’t know myself or that I am being intentionally misleading, I just tend to be drawn to different things, many of which typically stand diametrically opposed. For example, on one hand I adore new environments and experiences. Here I am, only 3 months into my life in Chicago and my mind is wandering to how fantastic it would be to live in California or coastal Italy. I love it here, I honestly do, but sometimes it’s hard to control my wanderlust. It’s not strong enough that I would move anytime soon, but the fantasy is still there. I greatly envy my peers who have spent their twenties bouncing around the globes, working various jobs just long enough to support their adventures and little more. And yet, at the same time, I am a girl that adores habits and routines. I love becoming comfortable enough in a place to give coherent directions (still working on that) or being able to throw out a restaurant recommendation to meet almost anyone’s needs (working on that too).
I especially enjoy my little rituals. Saturdays are an example of this. Oliver and I rise early and depart on a morning walk, usually with a pitstop at Starbucks or Caribou Coffee for a caffenated beverage for me, with a final stop at Green City Market. There I have a strategy; I do a full lap of the market, surveying every stall to look for the most unique items or the best prices before committing to my purchases. While I browse, Oliver tries to make friends with every passerby, sitting patiently in the hopes he might be rewarded with a treat or a scratch behind the ears. I love that for right now, the farmers’ market is a perfect mix of the novel and the comforting. It’s still new enough to me that every farmer and producer is curiousity-inspiring, and yet the repetition makes it increasingly feel like home, perfect for someone like me who is driven by contradictory desires. This weekend my finds were baby kale, which I found to be a pleasantly milder version of standard kale, and delicious shelled peas. I transformed them into two simple and comforting dishes – Creamed Baby Kale and Oven Fried Green Tomatoes. Both were simple and straightforward, yet really highlighted the high quality produce. I especially loved the Oven Fried Green Tomatoes. I made Cooking Light’s Fried Green Tomato BLT a couple of years ago and always wanted to attempt fried green tomatoes again. This recipe gave me my chance. They were crispy, buttery, and a tad juicey, like an incredibly flavorful tomato chip. I dipped mine in a little Heinz Ketchup on the side. Classy? Probably not, but incredibly delicious.
Adapted roughly from Cooking Light and Bobby Flay
-1 pound baby kale, washed and roughly chopped
-1/2 cup lowfat milk
-2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
-2 tablespoons minced onion
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
-1/4 cup parmesan cheese
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the baby kale and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the maturity of the kale. Remove from the pot and drain in a colander.
Combine milk and flour, stirring well with a whisk; set aside.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in milk mixture; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheeses, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stirring until smooth; cook 1 minute. Add the kale and toss well to coat with the cream sauce. Serve immediately.
Oven Fried Green Tomatoes
Yields 4 servings
Adapted from a recipe from Majestic Nursery & Farms
-3 tablespoons butter
-1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
-1 cup self rising flour
-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
-1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
-2 cups thinly sliced (about 1/4-inch thick) green tomatoes, or as many as you can fit comfortably in your iron skillet
Preheat oven, with iron skillet in it, to 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes (skillet needs to be hot all the way through).
Take the skillet out of the oven and melt the butter in the skillet. Mix in half the salt and pepper.
Combine remaining ingredients except tomatoes, stirring so all ingredients are evenly distributed. Dip the tomatoes in the flour mixture until coated well on both sides.
Lay the tomatoes in the skillet and sprinkle the rest of the salt and pepper over the top.
Bake until tops are lightly browned, about 8 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately while still warm.
What about you, do you have any rituals or routines?