Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beware the Galloping Gourmet

A funny thing happens to me when the weather starts getting cooler. I tend to get very domestic. And yeah, our weather isn't exactly brisk and fall-like yet. It's more like "summer" in much of the rest of the world. But to me, highs in the upper 80s and low 90s instead of around 105 is enough of a drastic change to make it feel like fall is on the way (and I will cry if we go back to 100-degree days). This is the time of year when I basically turn into Betty Crocker. After all those months of it being too hot to cook or even to eat, suddenly I get in a cooking mood (that could also be because of how much I've been working lately, which has meant I've been in some bad food ruts).

It doesn't help matters that they've recently opened a cool new grocery store that's convenient to me. I used to get their ads and think it sounded like something to look into, but their locations meant I'd be driving twenty miles for groceries. Now, though, there's one within ten minutes of my house. It's like an old fashioned farmers market, dairy, butcher shop, bakery and dry goods shop, all under one roof. Instead of the rows of packaged and processed foods you'd find at your average supermarket, they have a bulk foods section, where they have bins of things like different kinds of flour, grains, nuts, dried fruit, dried peas, etc., and you scoop the amount you want into a bag. They also sell spices in bulk. It's perfect for a single person who doesn't usually need a whole container of an odd ingredient.

Meanwhile, I've become utterly hooked on Rachel Ray on the Food Network. I even take notes as I watch. That's given me some ideas of new things to try cooking, and with this new store, I can get some of the slightly more exotic ingredients without buying a whole package of something I'll never use up. I've decided I want to be Rachel's new best friend. She would be fun to hang around with. At the very least, I'd love to be invited to some of her dinner parties. She says she doesn't bake, and baking is my specialty, so I could bring dessert and bread. I've also caught myself reading my cookbooks and looking for recipes I've never tried, just to shake things up. I am bad about food ruts, sometimes worse than a toddler, except I don't go through phases where I refuse to eat anything but one particular thing. It's just that I go through phases where I don't care what I eat, so I'll just keep grabbing the same one or two easy things.

Since I'll be turning in a book tomorrow (yay!!!), I'm taking the weekend off, and I already have menus planned. Friday night, I'll be doing fajitas and guacamole. Saturday I will probably do an afternoon tea with blueberry muffins (they had fresh blueberries dirt cheap at the store yesterday). There's an apple spinach salad I bought the ingredients for, so I may have that at some point. I also want to make a homemade pizza using the Italian sausage I bought (this store makes its own fresh sausage). I have some extra strawberries that will probably go bad on me if I don't use them, so I'm thinking of making a small amount of jam to use right away or freeze rather than can. And if I do that, I'll have to make scones to go with it.

Meanwhile, I guess I'll be doing a couple of those OnDemand boot camp workouts, huh? But first, I must finish the book. I think I have enough incentives to look forward to when I finish.

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