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DON’T PACK IT, EAT IT.

June 23, 2010

My objectives for cooking are always shifting. I like to eat delicious food, always, but sometimes I want it to be complicated, and sometimes I want it to be lickety split, and sometimes I want to use up things I have so that I don’t have to move them, and that’s where I am now. I also found myself with a lot of avocados after the weekend.

On Monday I was thinking of making beef tacos with mushrooms, so I bought Portobello mushrooms.

As a rule I do not buy those. Why? Because I am still recovering from a backlash that I, as well as everyone else, developed against poor Portobellos when they became, like Britney would just a few years later, too famous to0 fast.

One day in 1995, I think it was, everyone on earth discovered how delicious these mushrooms are, and grilled them all of the time to eat alongside of steak and or and ate them as fake hamburgers. “They’re delicious! Have you tried them splashed with balsamic?” Et cetera.

And ah, balsamic. That is the other thing we all developed a backlash against, except now, with balsamic vinegar, I am in what I think of as the frontlash.

The frontlash is basically the backlash to the backlash. (This is not a phenomenon particular to food; it also happened with Dave Eggers.) Meanwhile, I have rediscovered balsamic vinegar (“Wow! It really is delicious!”) and balsamic vinegar is one of the things I am trying to use up before next week so that I don’t have to pack the little bottle. Except, the other day I started laboring under the notion that I’d already used it up, and I was upset that I didn’t have any for whatever little project I had going at the moment. (Apparently, there is really no keeping me happy. Good thing that most of these dialogues are internal. Despite what you think, you are only privy to a fraction of them.)

Anyhow, I did not make earthy beef tacos Monday night, I made summery shrimp tacos — I never really tire of tacos, it is true, and perhaps that will be the next series — and I used cabbage as an accent instead of mushrooms. So I found myself yesterday doing a search this morning on “portobello” and “coconut milk,” because I had a half a can (approx. 7 oz) in the freezer. And you know I’m not letting one drop of coconut milk go to waste.

The same recipe, for Portobello Curry with Green Rice, came up from several different sites, but it called for assembling something called Madras Curry, and grinding cloves seemed not like something I could do with a child chomping around my ankles in an impatient rage: I wanted to get a leg up on dinner during naptime, but I barely wanted to do any work at all. Then I remembered . . . my mother-in-law gave us 4 containers of Indian spice mixes for Christmas!

They look and smell exciting, but there are no directions or ingredient lists, so I have been paralyzed when it comes to using them. HOWEVER: through reading the ingredients for Madras Curry Powder on RecipeZaar, and through SNIFFING the powders, I realized that the sweet curry powder seemed like it had the key ingredients: mustard, fennel, cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon. So that was a plus, because I could put a dent in that, though it won’t likely change the estimated cost to move our household — though who knows: it might. And then I realized that a coriander chutney I had in the fridge (cilantro, citrus, ginger, garlic) could stand in as the base for the greenness of the green rice when swished with some limes and the coconut milk. And maybe I would use it up!

Sounded great and like I would have to buy NOTHING save cashews (if I subbed reg onion for green onion) except . . . it had no protein in it, and no green vegetables. But I could throw some frozen okra in there! I could get rid of the okra and not move it! And everyone knows that nuts count as protein, esp. if you are a squirrel or a vegetarian.

It was somewhat popular with the grownups, and scorned by the child. Aromatically at least it was an awful lot like a curry I make with shrimp, except that the spice mixture was more complex and also, premade, and the overall effect was not one operatically balanced, as the Elizabeth Rozin one is. Perhaps I should have followed the actual instructions.

Perhaps I should have added balsamic!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. frankly manny permalink
    June 24, 2010 1:28 pm

    What Kit taught me to do with balsamic is to mix it with powdered sugar and strawberries when you want to macerate strawberries instead of just plain, old white sugar. More sugar than vinegar, fyi. These make great strawberries when the strawberries are a bit too tart, or are whiter inside than you want, and make a great strawberry, sugar, vinegar sauce for, say, shortcakes or strawberry cream brioche.

    Also, speaking of strawberry cream brioche, if you have excess sour cream and want to make something sweet with it, add sugar and vanilla extract and you have a poor man’s Viennese cream.

    You’re welcome.

    • June 24, 2010 1:46 pm

      I do have excess sour cream! And I will make GRAPES ROMANOFF.

      Strawberries and balsamic are ace. As are strawberry with black pepper.

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