Saturday, August 31, 2019

Oodles of Noodles, Bowl Dinners, and a Crafty Tee

August was the month of blistering heat and furious thunderstorms around here. Summer is typically the time for afternoon showers, no question, but it feels like we never have normal rain any more. It is either no rain or else rain that hammers down in sheets, flooding basements and uprooting trees. 

Half a world away, people in my hometown in India had to endure weather events on a much bigger, badder scale- Southern Maharashtra experienced historic monsoon rains and unprecedented flooding- with the resulting evacuations, water-borne diseases and colossal damage. 

Climate change is here, folks. I wonder how long we will live our carefree lives with abundant food. On a day to day basis, there are a few things I try to do- eat a mostly plant based diet, be a thrifty and vigilant cook so as to minimize food waste, and enjoy food but don't consume more than you need. Incidentally, that last point- that overeating is food waste- has led to a big mindset change for me in the last few months and I am healthier for it. 

Meanwhile in mid-August, our family saw the start of a new school year. Our meals were mostly simple affairs, centered on vegetables. You know how some people don't like their food "to touch"? They want each component of the meal to be separate. I am not that person. I like my food all mixed in together, nice and happy. Bowl meals are certainly trending in my kitchen and they lend themselves to piling on ingredients resourcefully, with a sauce, dressing or condiment to tie everything together. 

Here's a look at some recent bowl dinners:

An ingredient that's new to my kitchen this month is soybean spaghetti. I found it at Aldi's, a dried pasta made entirely of soybeans, making it a high-protein and high-fiber food. I tried it two ways- first as a quick noodle stir fry with vegetables, and the other as a cold noodle salad with a peanut sauce. It was wonderful both ways. 

While I make "regular" noodles often, once in a while my daughter begs and pleads for Maggi noodles and I give in. When we made it on a particularly rainy day this month, I put some cooked Maggi noodles on a bed of baked bok choy and tofu to make a complete meal. 

This bowl was a result of a fridge-cleaning exercise. I used up half of a can of coconut milk, some eggplants and the last of a bottle of Vietnamese curry powder to make a quick eggplant curry in the Instant pot. Then added to it some cooked rice, roasted mixed vegetables and a dollop of our favorite chilly crisp sauce.

Here's a bowl of salad converted to a meal by topping it with a slice of pizza and omelet strips

My favorite salad of the month was a rajma salad, made by tossing cooked kidney beans with chopped onions and tomatoes, cilantro, shredded carrots and a lemon-olive oil dressing.

I love these bean salads but really struggle with cooking beans perfectly so they are just tender and not falling apart. Mushy beans are fine in a curry but not as good in a salad. Clearly I need to tinker with reducing cooking times. 

* * *
I made this T-shirt for V for Fathers' Day- two embroidered hand prints from our son and daughter and one paw print from the dogly son, each with a little heart. This is a quick and satisfying project and needs very minimal embroidery skills.

Trace hands onto a water-soluble stabilizer (I used sulky-solvy). While not absolutely necessary, it makes the fabric easier to embroider. For Duncan, I tried to get a paw print but he would have none of it, so I measured his paw and drew it freehand on the stabilizer. Adhere the stabilizer onto a T-shirt following package directions.

Using chain stitch (or other preferred stitch), embroider around all traced patterns.

Soak the shirt in cold water to wash off the stabilizer. Ta da!

Finally, a pic of our urban wildlife:
A pair of fawns (nicknamed Holly and Rocky by the resident critter-namer)
visit our front yard nearly every day

Tell me your August highlights!