As the weather gets….crappier…you may begin to see more discussions about food popping up. When one can’t get outside they cook! When I first started this blog I really intended it to be a recipe blog. But, that’s not the direction it’s gone. I think for a couple of reasons: I don’t necessarily create recipes. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do make stuff up, but I’m too lazy to keep track of measurements and cooking instructions. But, I do use a lot of recipes, though I usually modify them. Second, it’s difficult to take pictures of a cooking process (and the finished product) when it’s a weeknight and we’re hungry. Turns out food photography is a lot more difficult that I thought. And time-consuming.
But, the rains have started, which means that our outdoor activities have been somewhat curbed (I’m a Pacific Northwesterner, born and raised, but hiking in the rain doesn’t really float my boat, if you know what I mean). So, you may see more food.
Yesterday was a mix of outdoor and food. It rained steadily for most of the weekend. A girlfriend and I annually participate in a local 5k called Turn Back the Clock. It falls, as you may have guessed, on the first day of the time change. Despite it hitting at the first part of November we have been remarkably lucky with the weather. Saturday night, however, I had my doubts. After a brief flurry of texts we concluded that if it was pouring we would get our shirts and leave. If I had the shirt it means I did it, right? Even if it’s only in spirit.
Yesterday morning I awoke to the sound of steady rain. Groan. My girlfriend sent me a FB message asking if we were calling it off, as she intended to catch a 7:30 class at the gym if we were throwing in the towel.
Now, I must admit that I wasn’t really looking forward to this run to start with. And, when I say “run” I’m not really meaning “run” in the traditional sense of the word. More like a joggy thing, accompanied by panting (and sometimes cursing). But, these 5k “fun runs” have become a bit of a tradition in my life, so I keep signing up for them. Notice that, though I’ve been doing a few 5k’s a year for 7+ years, I have yet to “upgrade” to a 10k. Sometimes you just shouldn’t mess with what works. Or doesn’t work. Depending upon how you look at it.
Anyways, I don’t really feel in that good of shape right now. Gym time has been sketchy the last few months. Which contributed to my…sense of dread seems (and is) too strong of phrase…but let’s just say there was a lack of enthusiasm on my part.
However, the weather cooperated and we were able to do the 5k sans rain. I guess that was a good thing. Our time was not great (I’m not even going to share) and we did walk a bit, but we finished. Why is it that I can hike 7 or 8 or 10 miles and not think much of it, but ask me to “run” 3.1 and all hell breaks loose in my head?
You’re wondering when I’m going to get to the food part, because that’s what I led with. Getting there!
In between putting coats of brushed nickel spray paint on three more light fixtures (I’ve decided to go with it) I fired up the Traeger, whacked a whole chicken in half and marveled over the fact that 2 pm felt so very much like 3 pm. Chicken on the Traeger has to be about the easiest thing in the world. I smoked it for about 2 hours before cranking the heat up and cooking it for a little more than an hour. Smokey. Juicy. Enough for Sunday, repeat dinner tonight, and chicken noodle soup on Tuesday night.
I decided to go a little traditional and made smashed red potatoes to go with the chicken. I was going to do russets, but the ‘tater bin at the store was empty and I didn’t want to ask them to get more out of the back. Plus, by doing reds I was able to avoid peeling. I smash my potatoes using sour cream, salt and pepper. That’s it. Sometimes I’ll add a little garlic, and I’ll occasionally go completely wild and add some cheese.
The star of yesterday evening’s meal (in my opinion) was this Fall Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Roasted butternut squash is tossed with kale and dried cherries and apple and other goodies. A note about the recipe, I omitted the wild rice since we were having smashed potatoes and used sunflower seeds instead of pepitas. It was really good! Totally autumn in a bowl. I’m taking leftovers to work for lunch.
Oh, wait, I neglected to tell you about the afternoon warmer. I love hot cider. Actually, there is a local cider mill that sells amazing (but expensive) cider. A couple of weekends ago I was going to buy a half gallon from the grocery store, but they were out. I didn’t want to pay almost $9 for a gallon, so I skipped it. Later that weekend I was at Trader Joe’s and picked up a jug of their spiced cider. It’s definitely a few steps above most grocery ciders, most of which taste like simple apple juice. The Trader Joe’s version has sediment on the bottom and already has some spice flavor.
What did I do with this cider? Take a look:
Take it all in. Cider, TJ’s fleur de sel topping, cinnamon stick, whole clove and…Malibu Black, of all things. To me, it’s got a smooth flavor with a hint of vanilla. When added to spiced caramel cider the booze is difficult to detect. A dangerous thing. But, the perfect drink for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Here’s to you!