Monday, March 31, 2008

Corn to Be Wild

Because the social calendar has been full lately, I haven't done a whole lot of planned-ahead cooking (save for a certain birthday dinner). I try to remember to pull one or two things from the freezer and the pantry, and I'll occasionally pick up a couple of things at the grocery store, just to be able to throw something together at the last minute.

Surprisingly, that has worked out reasonably well. I haven't cooked anything fancy, but each meal has been good and satisfying and nutritious (to varying degrees). And, best of all, I've been able to clean out leftover food at a decent pace just by "shopping" meal by meal in my own refrigerator.

I know, I'm getting a little wild and crazy by improvising meals so often, with so few references to an actual cookbook or written recipe. But honestly, it's been nice to take the pressure off myself in the kitchen (not that I thought there was any pressure to begin with!) and just... go with the flow.

So when the Renaissance Man and I decided to dine together this evening, I could clean a few more things out of my kitchen to pair with what he had in his. I had half an eggplant left over from the other night, plus half a jar of homemade salsa, and combined with an onion from his pantry and some frozen corn, I was able to throw together an easy Southwestern-style saute.

I wanted something a little starchy to support it, though, so I decided to pull out a recipe and make a pan of cornbread.

I whisked together a bowl of batter for the "Three-Layer Corn Bread" from the Tassajara Bread Book, one of my favorites. (The dry ingredients came from my kitchen, the wet ingredients from his. We share.) I poured the speckled, bubbling batter into a greased baking pan and slid it into the oven while I prepared the vegetables.

Yes, somehow the cornbread developed a crack on top, possibly from my checking on it in the oven a few too many times or from some other factor. I was pretty sure it would still taste and look good, though.

The beauty of this particular cornbread recipe is that the wheat germ rises to the top for a grainy layer, the cornbread settles to the bottom, and the eggs and milk form a custardy layer in the middle. What a treat!

I split the cornbread squares and topped them with the sauteed vegetables and a couple dollops of salsa, and we enjoyed that hearty entree with a salad of mixed mesclun greens and a light dressing.

With tomorrow, the social calendar kicks back into high gear again, so I'll be throwing together even more random and crazy meals this week. But I'm glad I had time tonight to make something a little more substantial, both to use up some vegetables and to have leftover cornbread for the rest of the week.

Because things are going to get wild around here...


At 4/04/2008 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I've just discovered your blog from a post I saw of your at the Ehticurian. I went back and read your posts on tomatoes and am intrigued by the oven-dried tomatoes. I'll definitely be trying those out this summer. Just have a question for you though, how long do they keep in the refrigerator? Thanks!


At 4/04/2008 2:17 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Hello, Sara, and welcome! I still have a few small jars of oven-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil sitting in the refrigerator (made last August or September). I'll have them used up probably in the next couple of months. I know there's a concern about preserving dried foods in olive oil, but I haven't had any problem with the under-a-year rule with these.

I have also found that my oven-dried tomatoes, if dried well enough (they're a little crispy, but they rehydrate a little in cooking), can be packed in jars without added oil and stored in the pantry.

That's my personal experience, and I've done this for a few years now. So good luck!


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