Santa Maria took over the menu planning duties this week, and I was thankful. Lord knows that by her putting pen to paper and figuring out what we might eat next Wednesday, I would have a few extra brain cells to devote to more pressing matters, such as where to park the car.
All last week, the car sat just about in front of my apartment on my side of the street, which has spots valid all the time except Mondays, from 11:30 to 1. What I've learned, the hard way, about keeping a car in my neighborhood is that you have to move it the night before the sign says it needs to be moved. So a spot that's good through Monday, needs to be vacated on a Sunday.
When we got back Sunday night, we found a place across the street from my apartment that's good through Thursday. What good fortune.
Alas, I complicated things this morning, when I tried to simplify my life by moving the car.
On my way back from dropping off Nina at school, I caught sight of a woman loading groceries into her car on the Monday side of the street. Thinking that I would be able to leave the car in her spot for another week, I asked her to wait until I could cross the street and quickly moved the car. Alas, only after squeezing it in between a stopped Postal truck and an idling milk delivery, did I realize that it was only nine in the morning, and I had just put the car into a spot that would have to be vacated two hours later. I was toast.
As it turned out, I was able to find a new spot rather quickly and it wasn't a big deal.
A similar thing happened in the kitchen last night: I made an anxious mistake and it turned out okay. In fact, for me, it turned out to be a revelation.
Santa Maria put meatloaf on the menu for this week. Meatloaf requires breadcrumbs, of which we had none (I hate store bought ones). I flipped through Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" to review the making of breadcrumbs. I have tons of old bread in the freezer. It is very easy to make them. Drop a few pieces of old bread into a blender, and give it a whir. Soon you'll have bread crumbs. Toast them in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes if you'd like.
While the breadcrumbs were toasting, I experimented with making a mint pesto. I'm sick of the amount of fresh herbs that I throw out and I realized with my pesto chicken sandwich of the other day, that a tasty pesto would come in handy at lunch time. I had a little bit of Pineapple Mint (whatever that is) left over and I tried making it into pesto. I didn't have enough leaves though, for the blender to function properly, and I just made a mess.
During the pesto-making experiment, I took the breadcrumbs out of the oven and left them on the baking tray to cool. The bottle of olive oil was on the counter next to them. At one point, I reached for it and it slipped out of my hand, tipped over, and emptied its contents onto the cooling breadcrumbs. Nightmare! I was annoyed with my clumsiness and frustrated by having ruined my breadcrumbs.
Thing is, when I scooped up the breadcrumbs to store them, I tasted the olive coated ones. They were delicious. The crispiness of the crumbs and the fruitiness and slipperiness of the oil were amazing. I had never tasted anything like this.
I've seen recipes for pasta with fresh breadcrumbs and always thought, "how stupid, to put breadcrumbs on pasta." Now that I've tasted fresh breadcrumbs with olive oil, I'm thinking I might be the stupid one not to try such a dish. The nice thing about those recipes, is how simple they all seem.