I haven't been blogging or cooking much lately, the summertime is drawing to a close for me (I work for the schools) and there hasn't been much to inspire me.
I had hoped that I'd find something to write about while we were taking vacation at home - the much ballyhooed "staycation" that is so popular this year. We did cook out a lot, and ate out a lot, but nothing worth remarking on particularly. Then there were the 4 days in Ocean City. Maybe I'd find a gem... well, no. Downtown DC could use some funky, fun places for people with offspring to eat. Sure, they are there, but they never seem to be close-by when you need them.
Maybe I'm missing something, but once you've had Thrashers fries I think you have reached the apex of Ocean City dining. There is nothing. We tried Yelp.com, which I'm enjoying using right now and found a few places but left underwhelmed. Does this place have the worst vacation food of all time or is it just me? And don't talk to me about crab, I live in Maryland so I don't need to be at the beach to get that.
Now I'm doing more cooking at home after my fair share of restaurant disappointments.
One fun and flexible summer side dish I've enjoyed dressing up, down and all around is coconut rice. Cook 1 cup rice in 1 and quarter cups coconut milk, 1/4 cup water and a dash of salt. It will be sticky and delicious and you can, of course, adjust the ratio to get it to the level of stickiness you most enjoy. I got it from Rachel Ray's Everyday magazine which I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I do.
Usually my complaint at Rachel's recipes are that they involve a long list of (sometimes expensive) ingredients. If you live over a gourmet grocery store this will take you 30 minutes. Otherwise expect to spend all day tracking down Panzu and candied ginger for a dish that will probably be just ok. The magazine has been useful, though, as I said. And I like the Take 5 idea - a meal created from just 5 ingredients. That's where the coconut rice idea came from.
Cooking at home or eating out are both a bit challenging right now because I can't eat dairy. I'm nursing and my daughter becomes a howling mess when I eat anything that is primarily from milk. So the coconut rice has a nice smooth texture I can't often get without the sweet, sweet creaminess of milk.
In avoiding dairy I find it helpful to avoid dairy-rich regions of the world and focus on areas that don't use as much cheese and yogurt in their cooking. Spain is a good region example. While Spain has a lot of wonderful cheeses, they don't often appear in food so much as on their own. I have also found that the flavorful, but not-at-all spicy character of Spanish food is a huge hit with Sage.
My MIL's gave me The New Spanish Table which has been very well reviewed and I'm looking for a good starter entree that isn't too complicated. Spanish food is so much more than tapas,
I must confess that I love Spain, have lived there, and still have close friends there. So I'm not impartial. I want everyone's next ridiculous kitchen expenditure to be a tortilla pan. Not the flat wheat and corn kind, the Tortilla Espanola kind - egg, potato, olive oil and salt at its most basic. If I can find some recipes that mimic the tastes I love there, I will share them here.
I will post more, I will post more...