Cooking in Transit

What has every place we’ve ever lived in have in common? The kitchen is the heart of our home. However, I’ve been struggling to adjust to this apartment kitchen, and I’m not exactly sure why it’s been so difficult for me to adapt. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have my cast iron, which I normally cook with daily. Perhaps it’s because I no longer have a well-stocked pantry filled with an array of spices, dried chilies, a variety of grains, pasta, and legumes. Perhaps it’s the white countertops that are in constant threat of permanent stain from smoked paprika dustings, salsa splatters, wine rings, and coffee drips. Perhaps it’s the electric stovetop I haven’t cooked on for more than 10 years now. Take your pick, I suppose, because my first month at the apartment I wanted nothing to do with the kitchen. But, after a good solid week of take-out followed by two weeks of discouraged whining, I realized I had but one choice: get over it and get back in the kitchen. So, slowly but surely that’s what I’ve been working on.

There have been plenty of learning curve flops, but I’ve also experienced some yummy successes. The Insta has been my go-to lately for everything from boiling water for pasta to beef stew. I’m so grateful I kept it out of storage. If you have a smaller kitchen (which I will still have at the farm) then I could not recommend an Insta Pot more. With that, a med sized nonstick skillet, a small saucepan, a small soup pot, and one glass casserole dish I’ve turned out roast butternut pasta sauce, kale and bacon mac, curried squash and lentils, a scrumptious dinner of oven-seared chicken thighs nestled atop creamy green beans, and a not-so-delicious white bean and collard pot pie. I apparently added a tad too much chicken BTB to the filling, as it condensed way too much in the oven and oversalted the dish. At least the puff pastry topping was alright because that’s basically what we had for dinner! One evening I was working late, Amy even made her pizza dough, proofed it in the small soup pot, and then rolled it out with a reusable water bottle. It was fantastic!

Much of the meals we’ve prepared I haven’t taken any pictures of. The lighting in the kitchen here is dismal and full of shadows. So, most of the pics I try to snap are depressingly dark and unappetizing, but I’ve managed to catch an image or two that are okay. Despite that, I will do my best to capture something amazingly delicious and post the recipe soon, as spending Christmas with my foodie friends yesterday inspired me! Those ladies did not disappoint! They turned out the most delicious Yukka fries I’ve ever had, which we shamelessly dipped and dripped in creamy garlic sauce. The ham and bechamel croquetts? Slapped! Then there was the light and delightfully stuffed mushrooms, gooey, tangy mac and cheese, smoky, sweet ham, and juicy turkey breast! For dessert: the banana pudding I made was better than my Mommas (sorry, not sorry!). I left their house last night gorgeously stuffed, lightly buzzed, and excited to cook again!

Since we’re here, below are a few not-so-terrible pics I snapped of other meal successes:

Toasted Sourdough, Roast Eggplant, and Fresh Mozzarella Open Sandwich with Radish Sprouts

Cheesy Garlic Bread: my fabulous friends gifted me with bread they made at a King Arthur Flour baking course!

Blackened Baby Bells, Fresh Spinach, Smoked Goat Milk Cheddar Polenta, Poached Egg

Ajika Red Potato Hash, Avocado, Sunny Side Egg

Attitude is the first step for success. So, let’s get cooking!

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