Guest Blog – On Repeat

I should probably point out as today’s guest blogger, my connection to BigLittleMeals is not only as a very big fan of the blog and its creators, but that I also happen to be dating and living with their son, Travis, in Brooklyn, NY.  Just a small coincidence.

This weekend we were lucky enough to catch the unbelievable work of Liza Lou at the Whitney Museum, titled Kitchen.  This life-sized 168 square-foot kitchen covered entirely in millions of tiny glass beads, each placed with a tweezer, took her five years to create. She describes this as a “monument to women’s work, to the labor that is uncelebrated, to the mothers and grandmothers who baked pies, and cooked and sowed [sic] but yet are never thanked, the labor that is endless” (Artnet).

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Liza Lou’s beaded, life-sized “Kitchen”, completed in 1996 – at the Whitney Museum in NYC.  A quote from the Whitney’s website: “Kitchen might also be read as a commentary on American life—even the American dream—with its ubiquitous products (Tide and Cap’N Crunch), aspirations (glittery surfaces and suburban assimilation), and realities (dishes in the sink and other kitchen drudgery).”

Speaking of uncelebrated labor, it occurred to me recently when I was thinking about what to make for dinner for the umpteenth time, that whoever came up with the phrase “Variety is the spice of life” was not working a full-time job in Retail and trying to eat a somewhat healthy meal before 9 pm.  According to the origins of this phrase, William Cowper’s poem, “The Task” written in 1785, that assumption is definitely true. Admittedly, Cowper was not referring to his dinner routine, but more so breaking through the mundanity of life.

I’m sure there’s someone out there who gleefully loves planning dinner night after night, but when I saw this meme it made me feel a little less alone in the world: “Who knew the most taxing part of being an adult is trying to figure out what to have for dinner every goddamn night until you die.”  It’s truly comforting knowing there is someone else out there complaining the good complaint.

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Yes, we can all agree that choosing what to eat for dinner is not the most taxing part of being an adult (sarcasm people), but I think the sentiment perfectly illustrates the mental bandwidth available after a long day, in our case after a(n) (often) (delayed) commute to/from Brooklyn, to feel the urge to cook something fresh, good for you, and that maybe even tastes good. It’s a lot riding on one meal!

Living in a major metropolitan city has its culinary perks, like finding oat milk or matcha on every menu (how dare they not!) or in the likely event of dinner dysfunction, having anything you want to eat at the click of a button.  Yet somehow living in the land of convenience can lose its luster. It’s definitely not the most sustainable approach, both economically or environmentally, or even always the most convenient (delayed deliveries and cold food) but it creates the allusion that you should always have something exciting and new.

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I decided to do some market research, so I asked one food obsessed friend how he decides what to cook every night. To summarize, he doesn’t fuss over dinner, simple is best. Maybe my data pool is a little small but he makes a good point. When I really think about our best dinners, they are not the most complicated or critic-worthy or require the most thought.  A version of pasta, tacos, soup, or stir fry – these are the ones we have on repeat.

A good friend once gave me some advice worth heeding, “set the bar low,” she said. I’m pretty sure she was talking about planning dinner.  Figuring out what to eat is as complicated as you make it and sometimes it can even be, fun?

Well, I think we’ve come full circle, and hopefully I’ve calmed my current dinner anxiety.  Is variety really the spice of life?  No, it’s cumin.

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Cumin-Spiced Mostly-Veggie Stir-Fried Rice

Cumin-Spiced Mostly-Veggie Stir-Fried Rice

Lots of pre-chopping and slicing helps this come together quickly. The omission of eggs makes this a fully plant-based dish.

  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 1/2 c chopped mixed vegetables of choice
  • 1 jalapeno or Fresno pepper, minced
  • 1 c dark leafy greens, preferably kale or swiss chard
  • 1 1/2 c day-old rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 2 shakes coconut aminos (optional)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil, preferably hot
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 eggs whisked (optional)
  • 2 T avocado oil (or vegetable oil)
  • salt/pepper, to taste

Pre-chop scallion and vegetables of choice, slice shallot and set aside together in a bowl. I used what I had on hand – broccoli, celery, and bell pepper for crunch.

Remove dark leafy greens from stems, rinse, and cut into strips, set aside. In a small bowl, stir together minced garlic, rice wine vinegar, coconut aminos, sesame oil, soy sauce and cumin.  If using, whisk two eggs and set aside in a small bowl.

Warm avocado oil over high heat in a wok or skillet, once sizzling, add your bowl of scallions, shallot, and mixed vegetables. Cook about 4-5 minutes until softened, stir frequently. Lower heat to medium-high, add in minced pepper and garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes more. At this point I season with a little salt and pepper.

Add in kale or swiss chard and cook until softened, then mix in day old rice. When rice is warmed, about 3-4 minutes, add in sauce and stir frequently until evenly coated. If using eggs, make a well in the middle of the rice and pour in the mixture, grind some fresh pepper on top, and keep stirring into a scramble. Once egg is mostly cooked mix together with rice and serve.

Recipe brought to you by Hannah in Brooklyn and

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