Folks, we are approaching survival mode. What does this mean? This means I have 2 weeks to complete my lab work and start writing my thesis. This means panic. This means I start eating McDs at every available opportunity…WAIT. That last one does not sound like me at all. Yes, I may be a typical grad student (perpetually concerned about money, except when I’m spending it on too much booze, always complaining about my thesis, etc etc), but I have discovered, to my joy and delight, that my panic-cooking has evolved from the panic-cooking of my undergrad days (when panic-cooking actually involved eating only delivery sushi and/or Subway). I am so delighted, in fact, that I am going to share with you some of my recent panic-cooking favorites: I am going to shorten this to PC favorites, since seeing the word ‘panic’ that many times makes me think I should actually be panicking about something…
First of all, for all you students, non-students, workaholics and stressballs out there, it is important to make sure you keep yourself nourished whilst panicking. That means eating enough vegetables, having a good source of protein, and making (relatively) healthy snacking choices. Now, let’s not lose sight of what’s going on here; hopefully your panic moment is short-lived, so it’s probably okay that you’re hitting the chocolate a bit harder than usual (scroll down if you are only interested in peanut butter caramel fudge brownies, and leave a comment if you want the recipe). As I most certainly am. But it’s not going to make you feel less panicky if your ass ends up the size of Kansa post-panic. Have an apple.
I can hear you asking: if you’re stressed, why are bothering to grocery shop and cook? Go to the Indian down the road, for God’s sake! Well, I say to you: takeaway is all good and quick, but let’s be serious, they’re probably putting enough MSG to float a truck. Even if you’re short on time and long on stress, taking an hour (or two) to cook a week’s worth of meals will give you enough energy to pull those all-nighters at the lab! Plus, cooking is such great downtime (I think); I’m being productive, making healthy choices (blah blah, after-school special), and acting like an adult! Win.
So, step 1: protein. Exhibit A: miso glazed salmon.
I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what kind of miso this is. I don’t think it’s white (because it’s clearly not white…), which is the only kind of miso I ever see in recipes, but I’ve never seen white miso, so I really have no clue. And to be honest, couldn’t care less. I liked the taste of it and basically, I put a few spoonfuls on some salmon and voila, dinner. Who cares what color it is? Actually, salmon is the perfect meal choice for PC-ing: it cooks quickly, it’s pretty healthy, and you really just need to add a little flavour. Glaze it with some miso paste, teriyaki sauce (amazing), or squeeze on some lemon. I will freely admit that I made duck fat potatoes to go with this. Hey, duck fat is amazing! Try it. And no, I did not buy a duck to render the fat – please. I am not Ina or Giada or Paula. I bought jarred duck fat. (Actually, my mom sent me jarred duck fat, with garlic and rosemary…from Harvey Nichols. That’s right.)
Step 2: Kale. Kale is your best friend; well actually, kale is my best friend, but it should also be your best friend. Leafy greens? Check. Loaded with nutrients? Check. Quick cooking? Check. Minimal fat? Check. DELICIOUS?! Double check. I actually have a minor kale obsession going on; I make it almost every week, and I alternate between the kale caesar salad of a few weeks ago, and the sautéed version my mom makes:
Onlyforthefood’s Mom’s Kale:
1 bunch kale
1 garlic clove, minced
Chili flakes, to taste
1 tsp fat: duck, bacon, olive oil
Pour a little bit of fat in a large saute pan, and turn the heat on medium high; this can be any kind of fat (duck, bacon, olive oil, although I wouldn’t use butter as it may burn). Get it quite hot before adding all of the kale; there will probably be a lot more kale than it looks like the pan can hold, but it’s okay. Kale is like spinach, it will wilt down quite a lot. Leave the kale to sit for a few minutes to let the bottom pieces get a little toasty. After about 3-5 minutes, toss the kale if you can; add a little bit of water, anywhere from 1/4-1/2 cup. This should sizzle. Continue cooking the kale for about 8-12 minutes: toss the kale every few minutes, adding more water if it looks like it needs it. The kale should look wilted and still be firm to the bite; it should absolutely not be soggy, and not terribly crunchy either; there will be a few crispy brown bits, which are the best: caramelized, YUM!. About 4 minutes before you’re finished cooking the kale, add the chopped garlic and the chili flakes to taste, as well as salt and pepper. Stir, adding a bit more water if need be, until the garlic is not so raw-looking. It’s best eaten right away but I usually eat it all week, or at least as long as it lasts…
Step 3. Healthy snacking: have an apple (see above). Have some blueberries. Have some grapes! If you are lucky and have a blender or a stick blender thing, make a smoothie. Eat oatmeal! Eat hummus. Especially piri-piri hummus.
Step 4. The most exciting step of all…INDULGENCE. Yes, I made peanut butter-caramel-fudge brownies. NBD. Yes, they were amazing. They are originally Bobby Flay’s recipe, but I made a lot of changes so I don’t know if he would appreciate me calling them his. To avoid extreme lengthiness I will not post the recipe now, but leave a comment if you are desperate to try them (as well you should be, they are even better than they sound) and I will post it. Basically, the peanut butter and caramel come together to form a Reese’s Pieces-like gooey middle, and the fudge brownie bit is a vehicle for all of that delicious peanut buttery goodness. Just sayin’.
Be forgiving if I’m not on top of the posting for the next few months; I am trying to become an MSc, after all. Don’t worry though, even if I’m not posting, I’m just thinking of fabulous food and restaurants to share with you all :) In the meantime, stay delicious!