Dinner: A Capricious Love Affair

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Beer & Food, Life As I Know It
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I generally love to cook. That is to say: I love to cook when it comes out well and I get to show it off and preferably share with friends and potentially strangers.

I live by myself so a lot of the time cooking just ends up being a race against expiration dates and vegetables that are more soft and more brown than I’d prefer. I try to do a good job of only buying what I need, but what ends up happening is that “trying to do a good job” turns into “failed spectacularly” and I lose vegetables. I freeze when I can, and try and pre-prepare some things (chopping, etc) but I always seem to end up throwing a bit away. The trouble tends to be that when living by myself, it’s hard to muster the desire to put together more than two ingredients, dirty more than a single pan, and have to spend more than 30 seconds in front of a stovetop. I think every person who has ever lived alone, or really even with roommates (maybe it’s just everyone who’s been twentysomething, yeah?) knows well the desire to just make some mac & cheese and toss a couple hot dogs in the microwave for “protein.” Or at least just the well-worn desire to make pasta over and over again. For me it’s putting a veggie burger in the microwave, sauteing some onions and peppers, then throwing it in a tortilla with some cheese and hot sauce on top. but I digest…er, digress.

It seems, really, that there are basically only four (4) situations in which I really do love to cook.

When I Have People Over. This is mostly limited to situations when the operative “people” is equal to <5 people. On occasion for a larger party I’ll enjoy making snacks and a fun appetizer or two — but there’s a difference. I enjoy being able to provide tasty snacks to friends in a party, but I enjoy actually COOKING for smaller groups. Having a small dinner party, a couple or just a few random friends, is something that’s always exciting. I enjoy tremendously having a couple bottles of wine with friends around dinner and games. It’s something I don’t do enough.

When I Go Cook For People. This is new. I’ve only done it once, actually, and it involved a squash soup I’ll explain in the next paragraph. It came out better the 2nd (this) time around. Some good friends of mine recently had one of those things that falls out of a woman’s vagina if you’re either not careful or misguided…baby, that’s it, a baby. And little Miles is only 9 months old (cute too!) and I hadn’t seem them for a while and thought that especially with a 9-month old at home they might like it if someone volunteered to cook dinner for them. So I bought ingredients, showed up, cooked — it was a really great time and made me feel tremendous, plus they’re great liars and told me it was delicious and they loved it. I am eager to do it again.

For Dates. I love cooking for potentially special lady-friends who enjoy having boys they find to be both nice smelling and cute when the light hits them just right, mix ingredients together (often with the aid of heat and spoons) with the goal of manufacturing something guaranteed to be no less than 78.2% edible. In fact, I came up with a really tremendous spicy chorizo and squash soup for just such an occasion recently. (Comment if you want the recipe!) While the post-dinner making out was tremendous, the mismatch in our religion (more appropriately her strict adherence to and my strict avoidance of) was not. Friend zone. Despite how that particular attempt went, There are few things that make me feel cooler than being able to cook a decent meal for a girl. It doesn’t even have to be incredible, just decent. I’ve found that lots of girls are impressed by a guy who can make something taste good with a modicum of flair; I’m never gonna have washboard abs so I better have something to offer.

Those Rare Instances I get Solitary Motivation. While most times I’m lazy and just want to microwave that veggie burger, or open a can of beans, a can of corn, a frozen chicken breast with some onions and peppers and throw it in a pan with spices for 20 minutes, I occasionally want to actually put together a healthy, balanced and well-portioned meal. And this is what brings me to the point of this blog. (You don’t say, Jason writes 750 words and is JUST getting to the point? Go figure.) It can be really great to spend the time required to make a decent meal for just yourself, and it’s ultimately tremendously satisfying when it not only tastes great, but looks great too.

Though what often happens, as I have found on multiple occasions but can never seem to remember when it comes time to cook, is that cooking something “nice” is often less time consuming and simpler than some of the easy things things I like to make. Take for instance this bad boy.

Seared Tuna with a Soy/Honey/Sriracha glaze, Sauteed asparagus, and whole wheat cous cous.

I totally win dinner.

It looks so good (to me anyway) that I just had to show it off. I was inspired recently by a friend mentioning that she was cooking tuna, so I decided to be a copycat. While going through the local grocery store I picked up some tuna steaks and some asparagus with just this meal in mind. It turned out to take less than 20 minutes, dirtied only two pans, and was the most delicious thing I’ve cooked at home in a while. It’s simply a seared tuna steak with a spicy honey glaze, sauteed asparagus and some whole wheat cous cous. It’s barely even an actual recipe it’s so simple.

1/4 Tuna Steak
Asparagus (how hungry are ya? that many.)
Whole whea cous cous
Salt & Pepper
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Soy Sauce

Coat your Tuna Steak in the montreal steak seasoning (you can use just pepper if you want, but I have a sort of primal and visceral lust for the montreal stuff.) and then toss in the fridge for a bit to let it sit. In the meantime wash and cut the ends of your asparagus, and boil some water for your cous cous. In a medium to large (or really whatever the frig you have) saute pan, put a little olive oil (I use a Misto!) and once it’s up to a higher heat level, grab your tuna steak for some hot steamy searing action. The key is to sear it for really only like 30-45 seconds on each side. And I mean each side, not just top and bottom, but on all the edges too. Once that’s done, set it aside and let it rest. Toss your asparagus in right where your tuna was, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. While that’s going, add however much couscous your fat ass desires into the boiling water with a tbsp of margarine if you are so inclined. While your cous cous soaks up water like a dehydrated desert flower, toss the asparagus around for a few minutes under a lower heat until it’s just starting to get tender. (Don’t lie, you love warm salty tender things in your mouth.) As your asparagus finishes, in a small bowl mix a tbsp of honey (warmed) with a roughly equal amount of soy sauce and then a tsp of sriracha (or comparably textured hot sauce) and mix. Drizzle over your tuna, add everything else to the bowl and then thank your lucky stars you read my blog.

So delicious. I definitely win dinner.

Cooking is not always easy, but when you can pull of something that looks great and tastes great it’s an insanely satisfying pursuit. And while I may not always be able to share it with people in person, I can at least always write about it.

Like a boss.


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