Old habits die hard

In graduate school, I prepared for the holidays by clearing out my side of the refrigerator and the pantry, which meant that I shopped exclusively for apples, eggs and yogurt for all of December. For the most part, I cooked decent meals for myself; they were usually balanced and sometimes even rather involved – shepherd’s pie, roast chicken, carrot and dill soup with homemade stock, pork chops served with homemade applesauce. I’ve sufficiently outlined the flops on this site, but let it be known that we did eat some delicious meals, too. Regardless, I met mid-December with what I fondly refer to as – I kid you not – “the hashbrown bowl”. It’s fairly self-explanatory, as you can well-imagine, but essentially you layer diced Yukon Gold potatoes with cheap grated cheddar cheese and Heinz ketchup and call it a day. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to eating like a college student.

I can’t say I’m that much better these days. I’ve traded the potatoes for cruciferous vegetables (just say with me: cruciferous, cruciferous, cruciferous!), but I’m still the girl standing barefoot in the kitchen, freezing her toes off and hoping all of the bits and pieces yield something palatable. This week: bowl after bowl of an oddly rich, hot vegetable soup slightly sweetened with parsnips; softened black beans stirred with bold chipotles in adobo and chili powder, eaten over a bed of just-cooked green peppers, onions and mushrooms and topped with slices of velvety avocado; toothsome chickpeas tossed simply with red wine vinegar and a top-quality extra-virgin olive oil; and tonight, a bowl of brown rice pasta with broccoli, chili flakes and Laughing Cow cheese. With a bit of grated cheddar on top (!) What can I say – old habits die hard.

And yes, Laughing Cow. What? My culinary vices include, but are not limited to, Ethical Bean medium-dark roast coffee and Laughing Cow cheese. I don't want to be right.

My head of organic broccoli was on its way out and pronto, and so I tossed it in with the pasta during the last few minutes of cook time and mixed in the cheese and a bit of milk to coat. This is not the dinner dreams are made of, but it was oddly comforting and nourishing and made a lovely companion to a few podcasts I listened to. It’s the kind of simple food that makes sense to eat on a night leading up to the holiday festivities.

What do you eat leading up to the holidays?


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