I am still sick with a respiratory illness but am hopeful that I am on the road to recovery. My sense of smell has been severely impacted and I’ve eaten meal after meal in which the only aspect of the food I could appreciate was its appearance and texture, because I could not taste anything. Today, some scents and flavors are getting through, so my lunch felt like an incredible luxury solely because I could enjoy more than how it looked!
I created a whole-wheat pasta dish with spinach, salmon and home-made pesto sauce. I started by cooking the pasta on one burner while I wilted the spinach on another in a cast-iron pan. After removing the spinach, I then pan-fried the center-cut salmon, skin-side down, in the cast iron. Finally, I toasted the pine nuts and then blended them with locally-grown basil, avocado oil and Parmesan cheese in my Vitamix (I am allergic to garlic but most people would add it in here). After sprinkling on a pinch of salt and a dash of oil, I served the dish in a large ceramic bowl I use for my more elaborate meals.
The creamy texture of the sauce, combined with my renewed ability to detect actual scents like basil and salmon, was so enjoyable. It makes me think of the tens of thousands of meals I’ve eaten in my lifetime and leads me to wonder how many of them I’ve scarfed down without any consideration or appreciation for being able to bring all of my senses to bear. A good meal is my quintessential simple pleasure. Have you cooked anything tasty in the last week? What’s your favorite or go-to lunch? Do you have any mealtime rituals that enhance your enjoyment of food?
My poor pup has been getting a little overlooked between my return to work and my illness, so I decided to make him some homemade treats today. I’ve never attempted to do so before, even though I let him have tiny “people-food” snacks far too often. I settled on a baked treat being the safest bet.
I first measured and then cooked 1 sweet potato by cutting it up and boiling it in water. It came in at 260 grams, so I measured out equal parts of that in rolled oats as well as in dry roasted, unsalted peanuts. I pulverized the peanut-oat mixture in my Vitamix until it formed a loose paste. Once the sweet potato was cooked through, I used the Vitamix to puree it. I mixed the wet and dry ingredients together along with two eggs. I then pressed the dough into a greased ceramic pie pan and baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for twenty-five minutes.
After the initial cook time, I cut the pie into one inch by one inch squares, and baked them at the same temperature on a sheet for 10 minutes so that they would be as dried as possible. I think they could have gone longer but I was too lazy to experiment. Weirdly enough, I unintentionally created the start of a gluten-free biscotti for humans, were I to add perhaps coconut butter and a source of sugar. All in all, not bad for a spur of the moment experiment!
Typically when I think about trying a new experience, I think about joining in a pre-planned social event in which I can meet new people while completing an activity. For today’s simple pleasure, I decided to go in a different direction, as I am not in a particularly social mood. I will be centering my planning on crafts and homemade items that I would like to learn how to make. Last year, I taught myself how to make candles and sourdough bread, and found the process to be enjoyable. Perhaps I will try my hand at making my own incense! What homemade craft projects do you recommend?
Taking a warm bath relaxes and satisfies many people’s need for a simple pleasure. I, however, become nauseous from the heat. Hot water only works for me in small doses, so my version of a bath involves involves soaking my feet in water infused with a homemade bath bomb containing essential oils and dried herbs.
As I did this today, I found myself able to reconnect with my body and temporarily less aware of my chronic pain as all my energy went into finding the right temperature that was soothing rather than scalding (I recommend using a thermometer for this if you have any conditions such as diabetes that could affect your ability to perceive temperature in your feet). My feet feel smooth and pampered after my treatment, which allows the rest of my body to come to a place of calmness and comfort. What is your favorite way to soak in water?
It took no effort to realize today’s goal! I try to cook all of my food from scratch, in part because I have some food sensitivities. I recently watched Mark Wien’s travel vlog in Lebanon and had to try my hand at making kibbeh. I adapted the ingredients to my taste and set to work. The smell of the meat, pine nut, bulgur and allspice/cinnamon mixture baking was incredible. A very satisfying and pleasant scent that will linger for hours is exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. What aromas have you encountered today that made you smile?
Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon fillet.
Pan-fry the salmon in a cast iron skillet to desired degree of doneness,
starting with skin side down.*
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the
flour. Stir until it bubbles and roux turns golden brown. Add remaining except
for broccolini. Cook for one minute.
Add broccolini into sauce and cook until it is
tender. Serve over salmon.
I started the salmon in one pan and then made the sauce while it cooked. Both were finished cooking around the same time. You may want to set the salmon out at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking so that you aren’t putting a freezing cold piece of fish into a hot pan.
The instructions are approximations; I cook based on intuition more than a strict recipe. For example, if you want a deeper flavor, you can cook the roux (butter and flour paste) until it is darker. I wanted my dish to be really light so I didn’t cook it for very long before adding the rest of the ingredients.
I’d never heard of adding a sparkling wine to a dish like
this, but it was the only small bottle I could find so I tried it. I loved the
flavor so much more than the “stronger” versions of white wine I’d used in
previous attempts. Experiment with your favorite vino!
I prepared this without a carb, but I think that a wild rice
medley or roasted fingerling potatoes would complement the dish well.