Friday, July 17, 2009

Cajun Cod with Veggies and Grits

As noted in the last post, Mike and I cooked one meal from scratch in our temporary apartment with virtually no equipment: shrimp n' grits. I knew I'd want to use the grits for future meals, and last night I did the slightest variation on that yummy dish.

You'll be happy to hear that I only made two trips to Whole Foods this week! And the second was mostly to pick up wine, rather than my next meal. After spending $8 on a 4.5-oz. Sockeye salmon fillet at WF on Monday (at least it was tasty--and wild salmon ain't cheap!), I knew I had to stop being lazy and roast my own darn fish. As Cheryl suggested in her comment, I could easily pull off the salmon with chipotle-honey glaze posted right on this here blog.

However, in my quest to do as little as possible with the fewest number of ingredients, I came up with an even simpler solution thanks to my local Dominick's supermarket. Whenever you pick up fresh fish or meat, the lovely staff will either provide a single-use container of marinade or coat your purchase in the seasoning blend of your choice. I went with the Cajun dry rub, and all that remained to be done was pop my fish in the oven (the oven is outfitted with a two-part broiler pan--score!).

I didn't do cheesy grits this time. Although I think shrimp works fine with some cheeses, I tend to shy away from the seafood-dairy combo. I topped it all with sauteed cherry tomatoes, zucchini and garlic. I have to admit, it was better than WF takeout.

So for the next two weeks, I'll try to mix up my grab n' go tendency with some simple home cooking. And I'll try to think of other things to make so I don't have to keep showing you pictures of quick grits (remember, nothing looks all that fabulous photographed on glass plates).

I'm also determined to get to one Chicago's amazing farmer's markets this weekend, but I'm a little worried: seeing things I love that I won't be able to cook the way I'd want to is going to drive me nuts. Yes, I know you don't have to do a lot when you have wonderful fresh ingredients, but don't try to tell me that squash blossoms are just as delectable sauteed in olive oil (make that Pam; I don't have olive oil) as they are stuffed with ricotta and fried. I'm thinking the farmer's market will be a test of my mettle...thank god I can gorge myself on fresh fruit as consolation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cupboards Are Bare

I made it to Chicago without much hassle, but for all our stuff, it was a different story. Thanks to the worst seemingly reputable moving company in America, our belongings were delivered nearly two weeks later than the promised date. If you're looking for a company that offers decent customer service and won't lie to you, DO NOT call Neighbors Moving & Storage. On the other hand, if you enjoy getting the run around from the company you're paying to do a job, then I wholeheartedly recommend them.

The apartment we're staying in right now is temporary--July only. The condo in Bucktown that we fell in love with wasn't available till August 1. Since all our worldly possessions just arrived--including the whole batterie de cuisine--we're kind of trying to unpack as little as possible. So even though I have a tiny kitchen, I'm not doing much cooking. For the first two weeks, I felt like Survivorman (except with less crying). My only cooking tools were a skillet and saucepan we borrowed (along with an air mattress!) from friends.

The result is that we've spent a staggering amount of time and money at the prepared foods section of Whole Foods market. In a lot of cases, this may have gotten really depressing really quickly, but not here. Just weeks before we arrived, the huge, gorgeous Lincoln Park location of Whole Foods opened, and the place is better than Disneyworld. We really could eat every meal there for a week (probably longer) with no repeats. Tasty, tasty things. Quick tip: I got 1-pint cartons of fresh Mission and green figs there this week; it's a great price, so get over there fast!

Since we've more or less disposed with cooking for the month, my cupboards are indeed bare. I did open the box with the toaster and coffeemaker (It's not like we've suddenly gone feral), so I can make sunny side-up eggs with toast for breakfast. When I'm not relying on my stock of yogurt, eggs, sandwich fixings and candy in the refrigerator, I've been returning to the Whole Foods mothership with disturbing frequency. Anyway, here's the kitchen cupboard rundown:

Instant oatmeal: This is not a compromise; I love this stuff.
Peppermint tea: Favorite non-alcoholic nightcap.
Quick grits: We did one homecooked meal! This delicious shrimp n' grits recipe. Instead of Boursin, we crumbled Feta on top and seasoned the shrimp with Mexican hot sauce.
Raisins: I like them in my instant oatmeal.
Crystal Light individual lemonade drink mix: Plain water is no longer an option.
Canned food: Specifically, black beans and tuna. I have no idea where the can opener is. Fail.
Jif: Two kinds of peanut butter, smooth for Mike, extra crunchy for me.
Vitamins: Moving is no excuse for calcium deficiency.
Fruit: Mmmm, summer fruit.
Pam: For lovely runny eggs.
Assorted serving ware and paper goods

How would you deal with this bizarro apartment survival challenge? Have you ever stopped to think about the importance of condiments (we've got hot sauce, mustard, salt and pepper...wait, maybe those last two count as spices)? Do you love your Whole Foods market as much as I do (I really don't think this is possible)?

Ponder those questions and stay tuned...