Sweet Potato Project, Day 3: Cooking and bedtimes

So hey, the depression’s been pretty crap lately, but I’ve been trying to continue the project.  Two new observations from the past few days:

  • Cooking in itself doesn’t make me happy, but it has two advantages.  First, if I have a specific plan and a cleanish kitchen, I can do it even when the brain weasels are acting up a lot.  Second, the results of cooking (tasty food, pride in accomplishment, praise) can often be happy-making.
  • Going to bed early (which for me means by midnight) doesn’t make me happy.  Getting up earlier helps a little, because it means I have more daylight hours doing stuff.  But probably the biggest advantage is that I avoid the awful zone from 2 to 3am when I’m inevitably achingly lonely and feeling hopeless about it.  So that’s a thing.

Just so I have them down somewhere (someday I’ll start doing a real recipe blog, with photos and more concrete amounts), here are the three things I’m most proud of cooking over the past couple of days.

Brazilian collard greens and sausage: Brown and cook spicy sausages in a large skillet.  While they’re cooking, remove the central stem from the greens, then cut them into thin strips.  Blanch them in boiling water for one minute, then drain.  Add some olive oil to the skillet if necessary, then add a large spoonful of minced/crushed garlic and stir until fragrant.  Add the blanched greens, salt and pepper them generously, and cook, stirring regularly, for a few minutes, until everything’s hot and fragrant and well-distributed.  Sprinkle with red wine vinegar and serve over rice.

Papua New Guinean sweet potatoes: Poke holes in whole sweet potatoes with a fork, then bake them at 350 for about an hour, until they’re soft and oozing sweet juices.  Cool, peel, and mash the sweet potatoes with coconut milk or cream and salt to taste.  Sprinkle with chopped roasted peanuts, then bake until browned.

Bolognese pasta sauce: Brown a pound of beef, drain it, and put it in a slow cooker with a large can of tomatoes, broken up.  In the same pan, after adding some olive oil, sautee chopped onions, finely minced carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, and garlic (in that order), then toss them in the slow cooker as well.  Add half a bottle of red wine and deglaze the bottom, bringing it to a simmer, then adding it to the cooker.  Add a little more oil and sautee a can of tomato paste, then add the other half of the bottle and stir until the mixture is totally smooth.  Add to the cooker, along with thyme, oregano, basil, black pepper, salt, and a generous glug of cream or half’n’half.  Stir and cook on high for three or four hours, stirring occasionally.  Taste, adjust seasoning, and serve over pasta, with optional parmesan.