I promise this blog will not turn into only a food blog. But with a name like How to Eat an Artichoke and a focus on the heart of life, I’m convinced that food is an important part of it all. Most of our family traditions include special foods that make them so memorable. Different cultures have cuisine that makes them unique.
In the course of changing eating habits, it’s exciting and motivating to whip something up that is easy, delicious, and nutritious. Tonight I made such a meal, and it was glorious as it caressed my tongue and slid down my throat. It is something so simple that it’s silly — experienced cooks will likely scoff at my discovery — but tonight it was the perfect thing.
As a single woman, one of the greatest cooking challenges I experience is that when I buy groceries, I don’t eat them fast enough, and they spoil. It’s discouraging for me, not to mention annoying for my roommates if I forget to or don’t have time to clean out the fridge right away. So, I’ve been trying to find staples for my meals that I can put in the freezer (I still have some tilapia filets from last month just waiting for a delectable recipe to encrust them), or vegetables that will last a while, like sweet potatoes.
Tonight’s meal was a major win in 3 categories: Ease, Taste, and Life Expectancy of Ingredients.
Last night at Trader Joe’s, I found some cajun seasoned salmon filets. At first glance they were expensive — $10.00 for two filets, but then I figured that I could cut them up into smaller pieces and get 4-6 servings, especially if I used small pieces to compliment salads. My former roommate and dear friend Katrina makes a killer caesar salad using these seasoned filets.
Those delicious, blazing spices make my mouth water — and my nose run.
I also picked up three sweet potatoes — enough to get me through the week without rotten vegetables at the back of my cupboard. I love chopping up sweet potatoes, drizzling them with a bit of olive oil, sprinkling on some salt and pepper, and broiling them in the oven until the edges are just a bit brown and crispy.
A few days ago I ran across the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for perfectly cooking salmon, and I realized that the time and degrees for cooking it were similar to what I usually cook my potatoes at. So, I decided to try putting them together in the oven. I also don’t like recipes that require me to dirty a lot of dishes. I have two roommates who frown upon dishes left in the sink for too long (as they should), so sometimes I’m discouraged from cooking because of the time invested in cooking AND in cleaning up.
BUT… I was smart this time. I cut off a 4 oz. piece of the seasoned salmon and wrapped it in a small piece of parchment paper. I’m not sure if this was necessary — I’d just read previously that the juices permeate it better and keep it moist if it’s wrapped up.
I took a cookie sheet and covered it with tin foil, because then I wouldn’t have to wash it afterward. I put the wrapped salmon on the cookie sheet, then grabbed a cutting board and our most magnificent knife and chopped up one sweet potato. I should note here that I had previously scraped off its skin. Is there another term for that process? Scraping off the skin sounds so violent and painful.
In retrospect, I should have made the sweet potato slices smaller to bake correctly. (Cook and learn!) I started off by making them in about 1/2″ squares, but they should have been a little thinner to allow the big pieces to cook all the way through by the time the salmon was done baking.
I put it directly on the cookie sheet, drizzled the sweet potatoes with olive oil, sprinkled on salt and pepper, and then placed them in the oven. The Pioneer Woman says that salmon will turn out perfectly if you start by putting it in a cold oven and setting the temp to 400 after the food is already in there. Then you leave it in for 25 minutes.
And you go in your room and watch Lord of the Rings.
Or you text your boyfriend 57 times.
Or you clean up the dishes you just dirtied. And then text your boyfriend 23 times.
I could hear the food sizzling at me, begging to be eaten, as I approached the oven door, and the salmon did, indeed, turn out perfectly. The smaller pieces of the potatoes were divine, but I had to put the larger ones in for an additional 10 minutes. This whole meal was under 500 calories, which is an awesome dinner for the health-conscious and food-lovers alike. The hue for the whole meal was very orange, but that’s okay.
I ate all of it with my mouth. And it was good.