Totally Adequate

Despite the title, this post is not, for once, going to be about my sporting prowess (or lack thereof). It's going to be about something I'm actually quite good at - namely, cooking. This is not my photo. As if I would take a photo of a disappointing meal. And as if I could take a photo as good as this one. Image: Flickr/Michael Verhoef.

Two things have happened in the last few weeks that have made me think even more about food (who knew such a thing was possible?). I've been away for work a couple of times, and while I was away, the weather did a total 180° and started sliding down the other side of the steep parabolic curve that is the New York City weather graph. Salads are no longer cutting it*. You know what type of salads are especially not cutting it? Grilled chicken salads eaten alone in a hotel room at 10pm at night, when I'm exhausted but know I won't sleep if I don't get something in my stomach before crashing. Those are the worst kind of salads**.

I'm quite relieved, because I was utterly sick of summer food. This always happens - in the last month (three for winter) I just completely tire of a season, and all that it represents and all that marks it, including food. Especially food. I give it approximately a month until I'm bored of autumn, but for now, I'm into it.

Soups and root vegetables and roasts and hearty pasta dishes that make the most of the final summer glut of tomatoes and zucchinis. Apples! In everything. Pumpkins, if I was being faithful to the romantic notions of fall, but I find it tricky to find good pumpkin here (mostly, they are sold for the purpose of carving, and aren't something you'd eat - although I look forward to seeing what my new favorite farmer's market brings me). Roast kale and wilted spinach. Goat cheese and bacon***.

So with all these delicious autumnal options available to me, what do you think I chose to make for dinner tonight? Apple and gouda risotto with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar? Maple-glazed salmon with roast broccoli? Sweet potato bisque?

No. Not at all. Guilt over one too many meals away from home - meals that I didn't even choose to be away from home for - overtook me, and I indulged the screaming voice inside me that demanded vegetables. This is why guilt is crap. Because if you let it, it'll affect your eating decisions. Also, you know what else is crap? Laziness and busy-ness - otherwise known as the two demons that kept me from going out and buying some cheese this afternoon.

We have cheese in the fridge (what am I, a heathen?) but the cheese selection is looking pretty poor right now. There's some sliced Jarlsberg and some goat cheese, but no gouda (like I wanted for the risotto) and no sharp cheddar (like I wanted for a vegetable bake). I dug around a bit, and pulled out some ricotta, and realized that that ricotta, combined with roast onion, broccoli, capsicum, garlic, spinach, tinned tomatoes, and just a tiny bit of whole wheat penne, would create a not-too-heavy, vegetable-loaded dinner, that was bound to taste good. Delicious even... The word you want is 'adequate'. It tasted fine, but really, considering the amount of garlic and other seasonings I used, I was hoping for something a bit more interesting than what H1 and I ended up with. As H1 said, being his usual optimistic lovely self, at least it was a good nutrition conduit, and I can't expect everything I make to be a winner****, but man, what a disappointment. Food should taste good (and I firmly believe that if you start with the right ingredients and even just a soupçon of skill, it can taste good and be good). Next time (not that there will be a next time, actually) I'll add some bacon, and see how that goes.

*Not entirely true - I make something I call a salad all year round, but it contains bacon and goat cheese and roasted vegetables, and pretty much defies all preconceptions of what a salad actually is. Like low-cal diet food, for example.

**But don't feel too sorry for me - traveling for work, while hardly glamorous, does mean I'm doing something right.

***See also: spring eating, summer eating, winter eating. Goat cheese and bacon is always right.

****I can't? But I don't want to do it if it's not a winner, every.single.time!