The sun has finally peeked out from behind the clouds today!
Say it with me: Hallelujah!
I have never felt so in tune with my surroundings, so interested in weather patterns, so thrilled by green leaves and budding flowers. The prospect of not only knowing where my food comes from, but taking part in planting, weeding, pruning and harvesting has caused me to really stop and think about what I feed myself and my family. I hope my garden adventure might inspire you as well.
While I pass the time today before we are able to go to the garden, I have been mentally planning different dishes that I intend to prepare from our future harvest. Fresh tomato sauce with basil and rosemary. Stir fry with kung pao peppers. Grilled eggplant with crumbled feta. The list goes on and on. I imagine the food will taste better knowing that I cultivated it all the way to my dinner table.
In the meantime, we still have to eat. If you ask my husband what dinner is like at our house, he would very likely (I'm sure of it actually) tell you that dinner is always an experiment. Very rarely do I make the same thing in a month. On the weekends when we make our weekly meal plan and grocery list, I always ask him what he wants to eat this week. Without fail, he answers:
Mac and cheese.
Poor Tim. He has such simple dinner desires. Don't pity him too much though, because we never go hungry. I even made him meat loaf this week. Just because I love him.
But one of my latest food obsessions is polenta. Tim cannot quite wrap his head around it, and pretends to enjoy it when I serve it for dinner. Finally he admitted that it was just weird to him to be eating something with such an odd texture. I will agree that it does have an odd texture. Sort of a mix between mashed potatoes and oatmeal, but very thick and sticky. So polenta has been removed from the side dish rotation, but that does not mean it has left my life. I just have to eat it for lunches, snacks, breakfast, or any other time when we aren't eating together. Stll it's never just boring old polenta for me, trust me, I find a way to keep it interesting.
Let's start with the basics first.
To make polenta, you need 3 things:
6 cups water
1.5 cups corn meal
In a dutch oven, bring the water to a boil. When it has reached a rolling boil, reduce heat as low as it will go. While continuously stirring with a whisk, pour the corn meal into the pot slowly. When it is well stirred, cover. Every 5 minutes for up to 30 minutes, check the corn meal and stir 5-10 stirs, and then recover. After 30 minutes, check consistency. The polenta should be smooth and creamy and will be slightly sticky to the touch.
So you made polenta. Now what? Well, I have a few suggestions. You could serve it just as is with a little butter on top. It's a great way to appreciate the simple flavors. You could do what I did for lunch--strip the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme and stir it into the hot polenta. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
This was really delicious because the cold goat cheese was like a little burst of creaminess in each bite. Yum.
Or, eat a little bit for a light lunch like I did and save the rest in a loaf pan. Just line a loaf pan (glass, aluminum, doesn't matter what type) with some cling wrap and spoon in the leftover polenta.
What will you do with this polenta loaf? Well, you will slice it! I don't have pics of a final product because this is for my breakfast this upcoming weekend, but if you try to purchase ready-made polenta at the grocery it often comes in a loaf or tube. It will really thicken and slices very easily. You can just warm it up and serve it under some delicious bolognese sauce in place of a pasta. I prefer to pan fry it and eat it for breakfast with a drizzle of syrup. I know, you may say, "That's the way old people eat it."
Maybe we should think of them as wise from now on.