Greetings from foggy London town, where the Summer is scarce and the condensation oh so prevalent. It’s been just over two months since I relocated from NYC to the Land o’ Scones (official name), and it seems as though I timed my arrival to coincide with sheets of rain and blankets of clouds (going with a bed theme here..just go with it). I can assure you I didn’t. Luckily, the absence of Sun is prolonging my youth! If I can’t find the Sun, then I’m guessing it can’t find my wrinkles. Right?! That’s pure logic.
I’ve been indoors lately far more than my former self dared, so it’s given me ample time to cook and decorate. I’m almost positive I’m turning full-on adult. Proof: today, I bought a small bunch of orange daisies! Who does that?! Adults. That’s who.
While I’ve been getting all domestic, I’ve also been cooking my face off. A few weeks ago, I made a Weight Watchers recipe of Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds:
4 halves apricots, dried
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c chicken broth, fat free
1 tbsp flour, white
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1/4 c almonds, whole, blanched
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 c whole wheat couscous, cooked
Start by bringing apricots and chicken broth to a simmer in a small saucepan, and then set aside. Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and cook over high heat. Toss chicken in the flour and saute about 5 minutes, and then stir in onion. Reduce to medium low and cook 10 minutes more. Stir in cinnamon and honey. Stir in apricots, broth and almonds, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Serve over couscous.
Weight Watchers recipes sometimes come out a little lacking in flavor, and this turned out to be no exception. I always feel like I need to add something citrus-y (i.e. lemons) or yogurt-y (i.e. Greek) or oily (i.e. extra virgin olive) on top. This time, I added some extra virgin olive oil for flavor. This turned out to be the right call, although I still feel the recipe needed more. Next time I’d maybe add olives or capers to give it some complexity or something.
A few nights later, I made another Weight Watchers recipe of Mushroom Barley Burgers. I know – I’m a glutton for bland punishment. This one was actually the exception, though. It was all kinds of delicious:
1/2 c uncooked barley
2 sprays cooking spray
1 1/2 lb mushrooms, portabella caps, sliced
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c sour cream, fat free
1 tbsp horseradish sauce
The barley takes a lifetime to make, so I actually made it the night before. You bring it to a boil with 2 1/4 cups of water in a saucepan, reduce to low and simmer, covered for 40 minutes. That’s way too long for me post-work, since I’m always thisclose to gnawing a hand off while I cook, so I made the barley the night before.
Coat a skillet with cooking spray and add mushrooms over medium-high heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender and transfer to a bowl. Mix together with the barley, egg, sage, salt and pepper and mash with a fork. This recipe also gave the option of blending with a food processor, but I’ve yet to buy one since I keep de-prioritizing it. Never-you-mind, though — forking is great for the biceps.
Once the mixture was all decently combined, I formed it into about 6 patties. The recipe said I’d find 4, but for some reason I found 2 extras! Win. I put them on a plate, covered them with aluminum foil, and refrigerated for 20 minutes.I then watched some Friends. Brits looove Friends.
I took the patties from the refrigerator and placed them under the broiler for about 5 minutes per side. I then mixed together the sour cream and horseradish in a bowl. You serve the burgers with the horseradish sauce on top. Delicious. I had never before taken an interest in horseradish, but this recipe converted me. I’m, like, dying for Passover 2013.
All this cooking and domesticating has driven me further and further from the gym, and I’ve neglected to even join a proper gym since I’ve moved. Instead, I’ve taken to the iPad workouts for yoga and pilates. I’m pretty into it, since the workouts are as short as 10 minutes yet there are enough to where you can get a full hour-long sesh just by combining a few. I’ve converted to primarily stretch workouts, and when I want to get my cardio on I’ve been going to dance classes. I’m kind of in love with this new philosophy, especially since I can take it with me when I travel and work it around my schedule.
On top of the yoga, pilates and dance, I joined a slightly ghetto gym for its courts and plethora of pilates classes. I was just introduced to badminton on said courts, and I just may have found my sport. I loved every minute of our 45 minute “game,” and even amongst the government-subsidized rafters I felt just like Maid Marion. And that feeling is just beautiful.
I went to Bologna last weekend (hence the Italian-dubbed Robin Hood clip, for those who clicked), which marked my grand return to Italy since I studied abroad in Rome in 2005. During the trip, I ate pappardelle bolognese (pictured left), spinach and mascarpone gnocchi, ricotta flavored gelato (unreal), chocolate flavored gelato (more real, but still bene) nutella crepes, and proscuitto and melon (pictured below). I’m pretty sure there will be more travels and fitting that much rich and delicious food into my belly, so I’m going to continue with the yoga and pilates and weekly dance and badminton. Cheers!