Damn. Trying to get back in the swing of cooking/blogging after the craziness of this summer has been harder than I expected. There have been multiple weekends recently where planning meals and getting to the grocery store has been so. hard. And the weather in DC has been less aggressive than usual and I really just want to read books on my porch and order takeout from the Thai place down the street.
This weekend, however, my friend Sarah took me to Costco as her plus one and I acquired such things as several pounds of chia seeds and tofu in bulk and then today I had jury duty so I had time to go to the Safeway on 5th (boo) and cook in the evening before my bookclub meeting and things sort of came together.
This isn’t a recipe. It’s the Ikea version of a recipe maybe. The components are basic; some assembly required. I picked up corn tortillas, a zucchini and a yellow squash today at Safeway. The squashes were stirfried in olive oil, seasoned with garlic, onion, salt and pepper. My mom made this a lot in the summer to go with whatever else we were eating that evening (usually chicken or pork chops seasoned with Lawrey’s garlic salt). I had leftover black beans (from baked potato “nachos” yesterday) and wild rice (Costco purchase) in the fridge, and everything sort of came together like it was fate. Reheated beans and rice with a Tbsp of nutritional yeast and a dash of water, fresh summer squashes, Tapatio and corn tortillas. So easy.
For the first two weeks of August I was on the road: to Chesapeake Beach, Maryland for a staff retreat and Essex, Massachusetts for a Queering RJ strategy session. The MD trip was…difficult. This is seafood country and vegetarian fare is hard to come by. I had brought along Udi’s gf bagels, a jar of peanut butter and oatmeal packets. We sent along my dietary restrictions to the hotel ahead of time, but I am always dubious about how such things will be interpreted. Most places seem to think gluten-free + vegan = salad, and IBS means that’s not a great proposition for me. One of my favorite meals of the three day trip was supposed to be a tofu scramble but turned out to be a bowl of uncooked tofu that was partially marinated in sesame oil.
Yeah. And some eggs. And a biscuit that was definitely not gf. The strawberries and cantaloupe were good, but I was really glad I’d thrown a bagel into my bag on the way down to the meeting. Also, our meeting facilitator gave me her breakfast potatoes, probably because she felt sorry for me. The hilarious thing was, if I’d had access to a stove and skillet, I could have made this one work. I mean…why not cook the tofu? Just curious. I didn’t eat a lot of it in the morning and brought it with me to lunch to accompany my french fries and broccoli entree, but room temperature uncooked tofu isn’t a lot more appealing than chilled uncooked tofu. I’m not trying to be an asshole, but there are so many super delicious foods that are naturally vegan and gluten-free, it totally mystifies me that someone who makes cooking their profession could be so stymied by this request.
My most successful meal of the trip came from the most unlikely source. This is Skipper’s Pier in Deale, MD. That space between the bar and restaurant is where our boat was docked and they mostly served things like whole crabs and shrimps with their heads and poop intact. (I didn’t know that was a thing, but apparently eating shrimp digestive tracts is a thing people do. The more you know!) Anyway, this place actually had gf dishes labeled on their menu and the steak nachos, minus steak, cheese and sour cream, were perfectly edible (chips, salsa and black beans) for a protein-starved vegan. Also, the restaurant was a half-hour boat ride from hour hotel and the return trip turned into a dance party, so…overall it was a success. I felt minimally terrible after this trip, but I was really glad to get back home for an entire day, before I headed out to Essex.
To be honest, I wish I lived at the Essex Conference Center. It’s about 45 minutes north of Boston, in the woods and a mile from the beach. They have a giant Jacuzzi and a pond with actual lily pads and it was basically like summer camp for grown ups. All of our meals were provided for the three days, and they did a decent job of accommodating dietary restrictions. I didn’t take photos because all of our meals were family style and I didn’t feel like explaining the IBS food blog reasons for documenting my food to all of my colleagues, but. They served things like wild-rice stuffed bell peppers, coconut curry and lots of bean- or rice-based salads. For this trip I had brought along oatmeal packets, Udi’s bagels (I might be addicted) and KIND bars, and one of the conference organizers had noticed my dietary note in my reg form and slipped me an extra half-dozen KIND bars on the first day. I ate pretty well in Essex. I also drank pretty well and got all of the mosquito bites and taught some friends how to play Chubby Bunny. Summer camp.
So now I’m back and trying to remember how meal feeding myself works when I’m not consumed by travel and conference planning. Also, I might be thinking about dating? But that’s a story for another time (or maybe another blog).