Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Night Kitchen is open

So it's difficult to cook with an infant, as I've observed before.

He plays happily in his excersaucer for a bit, but as soon as I start chopping an onion, or chicken, or some other noxious, poisonous thing (I'm convinced that various germs live on horribly despite my Silkwood shower hand washing and will contaminate my sweet babe), he needs me. So I've taken to cooking dinners (and baby food!) at night while my husband is putting the baby to bed.

It's actually a pleasure.

I clean up the kitchen from dinner (which is also a pleasure - having a clean, neat kitchen puts me at ease). Then I decide which baby foods I need to make and which dinners I want to start.

Tonight, I made an easy almost all-pantry meal that my friend Ashtanga taught me. I poured myself a glass of wine, and got out some organic chicken sausage and sauteed it. I took it out of the pan and sauteed a chopped onion in some olive oil. Then I returned the sausage to the pan and added two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes and some dried basil and let it simmer. Tomorrow, about an hour before my husband gets home from work, I'll split and roast a spaghetti squash and the reheat the sauce to have on top of it. Easy! This is the beauty of the Night Kitchen - the dishes I make are usually much better the second day and are a snap to reheat.

While I made the sauce, I roasted a sweet potato for my baby. I pick up organic garnet sweet potatoes at our local Whole Foods knock-off (oh, Ho-Fo - how I miss thee!). I roast them, peel and mash them, allow them to cool and then freeze portions in plastic baggies, which then defrost over night. He loves them, these days.

Other nights, I've steamed organic apples and then run them through the mini-chopper. Later this week, I'll figure out pears, which he has never had! I thought about steaming them, as well, but decided to just wait until they get really ripe and tender.

It's really fun to return to my independent cooking ways at night and I always seem to find some energy in reserve for it. My husband says it delights him to see me cooking and smell the the good things - he finds it comforting.

Notes on Roasting Spaghetti Squash

Get a squash that looks healthy and is heavy for it's size. Preheat the oven to 400. Split the squash down its length, rub the split surfaces with olive oil and place, cut side down, on a baking tray. Roast 30 minutes and then pierce with a fork to check for doneness. You want the fork to go in with little resistance. Keep adding 10 minute increments if it needs more time.

I like this better than steaming - the squash will put out a lot of water and roasting helps reduce this. It also gives a sweetness to the squash, which you will then rake with a fork into spaghetti-like strings. Oh - pick up the squash with a pot holder and squeeze it over the sink for a minute to get out some of the water. Or allow it to drain in a colander if you can wait - I never can.

You can serve most pasta sauces on this (lighter ones are indeed better - and it loves fresh herbs and parmesan!). If you want a lighter and unusual change from pasta, try this.

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