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A Celebration of Cheese


| 5/26/2020 10:07:00 AM


 

All but three of my tomato plants died yesterday. I usually have ridiculously good luck when it comes to planting, but this year my transplants decided to give up the ghost. I feel like I did everything right: amended the soil with well-aged compost, gently fertilized, watered from the roots. And yet here I stand looking at a box of dead plants after a night of gusty winds and downpours. At least I still have three plants which will give us enough tomatoes to last us until the direct-seeded plants come in.

I feel like this is somehow a metaphor for life lately. Everything feels off and unusual.  I was going to bake some bread, but the weather has decided to go from mild winter to full summer in the course of a week. I’m not complaining - just an observation and a change in plans. So, with the weather deciding it’s had enough of cold, I’m switching to grilling as my primary method of cooking. We’re huge BBQ fans - enjoying everything from simple burgers all the way to smoked meats and every side dish we can dream up in the mix.

Tonight will be a somewhat middle-eastern recipe I made up that is loosely based on kebabs. I grill a flank steak medium-rare, toss a few grilled veggies (peppers, onions and mushrooms) with some olive oil, fresh minced garlic and a healthy dose of za’atar, and then dice everything up and combine with leftover rice. The result is a robust pilaf that tastes like it took hours. Bonus points if you used fajita leftovers from the night before like I did. I don’t have a recipe, just a list of ingredients I can toss together in a ratio - 3-parts rice, 2-parts veg, one part protein - and it turns out to be a quick and tasty meal nine times out of 10. It’s my version of lazy meal prep.

Speaking of meal prep, I wonder how many people are re-discovering the joys of fresh cooking during the lock-down. We just can’t do meal-prep here at the Lazy Dog. We tried it back when we were on the go constantly with work and activities. We diced and cooked and packaged for an entire Sunday and we still have a few meals hiding in the back of the freezer because we discovered we REALLY don’t like left-overs. To me, there is something “dead” in the flavor of frozen meals, no matter how fresh the ingredients you use are. I just like the flavor of fresh food too much to give it up for the convenience of pulling a finished dinner out of the freezer. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t take some things from the process and continue to use them - pre-shredding cheese, dicing onions and garlic, pre-chopping peppers and lettuce for the week - all things I still do. I buy our cheese in five-pound blocks from an online family-run cheese shop and shred them with my mixer attachment. We spend an hour shredding and bagging cheese to freeze. Our efforts last us a few months. Not bad for an hour’s work.



So, in honor of our impending weekend cheese-shred-a-thon, I prepared two cheese-heavy recipes to try. The first is a homemade mac and cheese that my great-grandmother made. The second is a gouda and apple grilled cheese that never fails to impress.



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