Monday, August 29, 2011

Disaster aversion

The last three days were supposed to be disastrous. We were supposed to have a hurricane on Sunday, snarling the entire city, the power was supposed to be down, making it impossible for me to meet my publication's publish deadline this afternoon, and tonight, I was supposed to start my last year of grad school.

Oh, the anxiety!

But none of these things happened. I slept through the hurricane, and ended up needing none of the things my husband and I did to prepare, like fill the bathtub and buy lots of canned goods and bottled water.

The power was up, and even though I couldn't connect to the network at work, my co-editor and I phoned in edits, His-Girl-Friday style. Sweetheart, get me rewrite!

And, the first day of school was cancelled. I have mixed feelings about this last one -- I was feeling anxious about the whole thing, but deep down I did really want it to start. The upside, though, for this post's purposes, is that I had extra time to sit and enjoy dinner today instead of racing to class after deadline with a smashed sandwich in tinfoil. I made: radish salad with goat's butter and black salt, tomato basil bruschetta, soft boiled eggs and ate it with a big wedge of garrotxa cheese and a glass of wine. Mmm.

The other upside of all this averted disaster is that there is one more weekend to have a final, major cooking moment before the madness begins. Thinking it would be my last chance to cook anything very involved, I made spicy lamb stew with big, juicy yellow tomatoes several days ago. Luckily, it's not the last chance just yet!

Spicy lamb stew

2 eggplants, cubed and salted and set aside for about 20 minutes to half an hour.
7 fist-sized tomatoes. I used yellow plum, but you could use any you like.

Salt and pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons of powdered ginger, or grated if you prefer
Pinch of nutmeg

Big splash of olive oil
4 lamb shoulder chops, cut into stew-sized chunks of about two inches square.
1 onion sliced thinly
A few cloves of garlic
1-2 hot chilies 
A splash of apple cider vinegar

1. Rinse the eggplant under cold water and set aside.

2. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, dice and set aside.

3. Mix the next six ingredients together in a bowl, add the cubes of lamb, and toss until the lamb is coated. It smells so good! If you like you can stop here, wrap everything up and pop it in the fridge to make later.

4. Heat the olive oil on in a Dutch oven or a casserole with a lid on high heat. Add the lamb and sear until golden. Add the onions, then the garlic, letting nothing get too singed on the edges. Add the eggplant and the chilies. Let all the ingredients get to know each other for a short while.

5. Add the tomatoes, put on the lid, and turn down the heat. Let everything simmer for an hour.

6. Add a splash of vinegar, and if you like, a couple big handfuls of chopped cilantro.

7. Dinner's ready!

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