July 30, 2016 Breakfast. Toast with cheese and jam. Lunch. Pho with beef and meatballs. Dinner. Grilled Rib Steak, Pasta with fresh Pesto, Sautéed Fresh Fava Beans, and Sautéed Mushrooms
Today was a slow return to normalcy for my body. I was still weak from loss of all the food I ate on Thursday and did not want to trigger another disastrous loss of food, so I tried to eat carefully.
I did not go with Suzette to the farmer’s market, but read the New Yorker and rested. When Suzette returned I helped her weed the garden. Then we made breakfast. She made a BLT with a beautiful tomato she bought at the Farmers’ Market.
I decided upon simpler fare. I toasted two pieces of bread, spread them with strawberry jam and laid slices of Comte cheese on the jam and ate them with a cup of Constant Comment tea. Tea and jam and cheese sandwiches is one of the most common snacks of college students I knew in Sweden in 1970 from breakfast to dinner during the day. At night we usually drank beer or wine and cooked real food.
When my body gets weak I usually gravitate to protein to recharge my energy, so this morning, after the successful lunch of Pho yesterday, I thawed out a steak. When Suzette returned from her shopping with Chef Kelly for the Bistro, we decided to grill the steak for dinner with pasta and fresh pesto and the fresh Fava beans Suzette shucked this morning. We decided to go to Ta Lin to buy some pho broth for my lunch and a fancy Italian pasta for dinner. Suzette is also harvesting fennel seeds and celery seeds and needed a coffee grinder.
We went to Big Lots, but it had sold out of coffee grinders, so on we went to Ta Lin.
At Ta Lin after we selected a 1 lb. bag of Orrechiette #91 made by Anna in Italy, I picked up a small bag of soba noodles in the Japanese aisle. Suzette the pen suggested we look at the fish. We considered several fish but Suzette was attracted to the tank of live Alaskan Dungeness crabs that were so fresh they were jumping up the sides of the tank trying to get out. We said, “we should buy one and compare it to the frozen one I bought yesterday at Costco.” So we did even though the price was $11.99/lb. Sunday brunch will be one of the best crab, avocado, and tomato salads of the year.
I then looked for the pho broth and when I could not find asked for assistance. The young lady Who helped me was know ledge able and recommended a bouillon cube of vegetarian pho for $.49. She said, I prefer the vegetarian pho because then you can add anything to it.” Brilliant. We stopped in the fresh produce section, where we bought flat shallots, a bag of sweet yam leaves, and fresh ginger.
We then drove to Walmart, where Suzette soon found a Hamilton Beach coffee grinder for $15.00.
When we got home Suzette cooked the crab in boiling water for 16 minutes; 8 minutes per pound.
We took a nap, but I awoke to a call from Greg at the bike shop telling me that my bike tire was ready. So at 4:40 I picked up my bike and then drove to Quarter’s on Yale to see what discounted wines they had. I did not find much, except for a bottle of Chianti for $3.99.
When I returned home and started cooking around 5:30, Suzette had already started making herb flavored salts.
Suzette wants to make seasoned salts to sell at the restaurant, similar to the lovely seasoned salts that Penny and Armand Remby gave us for my 70th birthday that probably inspired Suzette to want to make seasoned salts, so she harvested fennel seeds and celery seeds and ground them with some of the Yucatan sea salt we bought in San Miguel de Allende. I thought the strong sea flavor of the salt clashed with the delicate flavor of the fennel, so more research will be required.
I made more mint syrup by bringing almost to a boil 3 cups of sugar and 3 ½ cups of water and then adding a handful of mint from our garden. It seems our favorite drink during this hot weather is mint lifts, which are simply mint syrup with soda water and a squeeze of lime juice. I have been drinking them a lot in the last day to return to equilibrium.
I then went to the garden and picked a basket full of basil leaves. We have seven plants flourishing this year. We then found the pine nuts, I peeled fresh cloves of garlic from the garden, and Suzette made pesto in the food processor, while the pasta was cooking.
She also sautéed the Fava beans with some of the fennel flavored sea salt she had just made.
Belatedly, while the steak was grilling, we decided to sauté mushrooms, so I sliced four large white mushrooms, a shallot, and a clove of garlic. Suzette placed 2 T. of butter in a medium skillet and I added 1 T. of olive oil and the garlic and shallot. Then in a minute I added the mushrooms and tossed them with the oil to coat them. While they were cooking I ran to the garden and grabbed five or six sprigs of thyme.
When I returned I added about 1 T. of Amontillado Sherry and then approximately 1 tsp. of thyme leaves. Soon the mushrooms were thoroughly cooked.
Suzette had drained the pasta and tossed it with two scoops of fresh pesto. Suzette then pulled the steak off the grill and I sliced it. It was a rather thin steak and had cooked to mostly medium. I gave Suzette the medium medium rare middle part from near the bone and I took the more charred medium edge portion.
We plated our dishes and poured the wine and soon were enjoying our meal as we watched a “Death in Paradise” BBC series episode, set on a Caribbean island.
I did not particularly like the Chianti, because it had a strong syrupy flavor that I associated with wines that have been blended with lots of grapes from different vineyards and made with cheap fruit with a view of producing a cheap wine. The wine has a bitterness and heaviness and the flavor is muddied either by use of bad grapes or poor production. Suzette and I both thought the wine was fine with the strong flavors of this meal, which masked its bitterness.
I prefer the Chianti Reserva sold by Trader Joe’s for $5.99 for its clarity and clean taste.
We also ate a few chocolates and Suzette sipped cognac and I sipped Calvados.
We tried to stay up for Saturday Night Live, but then I saw it was a rerun from 2014, I fell asleep.