This is probably the most blissful time of the week for me. Is it for you too?
Getting up to a day I try impossibly to keep for myself is a challenge. But as long as I tell myself “It’s a journalist’s life, so lump it,” and take the 24/7 news cycle in stride – things will go fine, just slower.
I gave up struggling to make it a “Myself Day” some time ago when I realized it was adding to my tension rather than reducing it.
I’m sure that’s what a lot of people, journalists and others alike, feel. How to mix work with pleasure is a system I’m still working out – so work with me here — on the “how to’s”.
A number of people contacted you over the week to meet-up on Saturday. Treasure those invitations or invite them to your place for dinner. What’s better than wonderful company on the day you want to take things slow. I say that, but maybe you don’t.
How not to get hyper about cooking for them you ask?
What’s in the freezer? in the pantry? and in the vegetable section? Today, in the freezer I found a bag of corn, chopped spinach packs, ground extra-lean turkey, blueberries, strawberries, some bread (all frozen).
In my pantry – some pasta, luckily gluten-free pasta, left unused from an earlier dinner; canned beans, including chick peas. A bottle pasta sauce that has no preservatives- the good kind.
Among veggies – some broccoli, one red pepper, onions (red and yellow), and lucky me – a bag of spinach that will die soon if I don’t use it up) garlic, ginger, ground turmeric (from awesome fresh turmeric root available in virtually all stores in Canada now, not to mention in Indian grocery stores), some parsley, and cilantro.
So, no panic; didn’t rush to the grocery store in freezing weather.
Take the ground turkey out – leave it to thaw. Same with the frozen chopped spinach if you want to use that.
Hope you have a great chopping knife? If you don’t get yourself one next time you are out – best thing my sister gifted me – and it was not even that extremely expensive kind.
Getting down to business now.
I’m going to make pasta with meatballs. Since extra-lean turkey can get too dry – I’m going to add stuff to it to lend it moisture.
- Chop very fine — top of a broccoli crown and small stem; quarter of the red pepper; some parsley or cilantro (depending on your judgment on what your guests would prefer); onion; garlic (if you don’t have paste); ginger (if you don’t have paste). Any other veggies you might want to add to your turkey before making the meatballs.
- Soak a slice or two of bread (gluten-free bread if your guests have a problem) — squeeze out the excess water and crush it to mix in the ground turkey.
- Add everything to the thawed ground turkey and use your hands or a fork (your preference) to mix everything up.
- Don’t forget to add salt to your liking. Add any other ground spices you want – to give it either an Indian flavor or an Italian flavor.
- Take a rounded tablespoon of the mixture of ground turkey and all those healthy ingredients in it, in your hand and start making the meatballs.
All this won’t take you much time believe me. I just did it and it was a breeze.
- Either put the meatballs in a baking tray and in the oven at 350- 425 degrees F, or take a large saucepan, line it with an extremely thin layer of either coconut oil (that does not turn toxic at high temperatures) or olive oil (but keep the flame/electric at medium and not high) – to cook the meatballs for about ten minutes, turning them over in the baking tray or in your saucepan. They need to be just half-cooked but even if they are fully cooked, it’s okay because you’ve made sure they won’t be dry when done.
- The pasta sauce of course is a no-brainer. You could use any depending on what you like, not necessarily my plain one.
- When your guests arrive or half an hour before serving – heat the pasta sauce or spice it up as you want — add the meatballs – let it simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile – get those vegies out and use your ingenuity.
- Chop them up. Yes, believe me, virtually all of them can be used (the frozen spinach has thawed by now – or you are going to use the spoiling bag of spinach before it goes into the garbage).
- Put a tablespoon of coconut or olive oil – remember if its olive oil then keep heat at medium. Coconut oil can take the heat.
- Put Indian spices – panch phoron (five-spice if you have it), a bit more jeera, throw in the garlic and soon as you hear or see the sizzle, add the chopped veggies. Stir until they all soften. Don’t forget to add salt to taste, drop the bag of spinach leaves, or add the unfrozen chopped spinach.
Now you may have noticed, I haven’t used the word ‘chillies’ – I leave that to your discretion. I put it in almost everything – either ground or fresh green, or red Thai chillies, or Habaneros. But that’s me.
I’m now thinking if I need to prepare any sides — the can of chick peas, or even the mixed beans can, will make for a great dip – don’t worry if you don’t have Tahini. After all, you’re an Indian! or love Indian food! You can still drum up a good dip by whipping that can of beans/chick peas in the blender. Add spices, some yogurt or cream, or if any of your guests are vegan – and believe me that is happening more and more – stay away from any animal products for the vegetarian dishes you make — and substitute the yogurt with extra-virgin olive oil. Add salt and any chillies you have for that extra zing, plus lime juice if any.
Hmmm – you may have to go out for those crackers that are not in your pantry.
Bye for now – don’t forget to tell me how you spent your Saturday!