Dr. Marry and Me,  Personal Writing

An added bonus amidst the stress

Before I had my current job, I was primarily a freelance writer and actor. That meant I had a lot of time at home to peruse the Internet, thinking about dinner (much of the world)/supper (midwesterners and definitely my mother) plans nearly every day. I love to read recipes, backstories, comments and reviews, and I have really missed that leisurely stroll through food blogs in the nearly 10 years since I started at The Arts Partnership.

I still am the primary cook (Dr Marry will want me to tell you that’s because I don’t particularly appreciate his style of cooking, which is to throw nearly everything but the kitchen sink into a pot and add a lot of dill and Worstchester sauce and green chili paste and a number of other things. His palette is, shall we say…interesting), but it’s often more utilitarian than creative because of time, or lack there of.

But being at home means I have some time every day to take a 15-minute break and scroll through some of my favorite sites. I have made some truly excellent meals lately, and often it’s even been from things I’ve mostly had on hand.

An added “bonus” at our house is that Dr Marry is a true Irishman in the sense that he would eat meat and potatoes three times a day if I would allow it. I won’t.

As a vegetarian, I am always looking for ways to incorporate more Meatless _____days into his diet. And for his part, he’s a very thankful spouse and pretty happily eats what I put on the table.

Once, years ago, I asked, “Dr Marry, if you’d known you were going to marry a vegetarian, would you have stayed in England?”

Without missing a beat, he said, “Yup.” and continued eating…probably something filled with beans, a food group he doesn’t truly appreciate like I do.

Also during this shelter in place time, my friend Jihye has started a private FB group with a number of her friends who enjoy cooking, and that has been really fun for me because it means I am documenting what I am making.

So I thought I would share some of what we’ve been eating and a few of my favorite sites in case you want to explore the fabulous world of vegetarian cooking…even if you have an Irishman in your house!

I don’t like non-meat food meant to taste and, more importantly, feel like meat, so I’ve never really been interested in seitan. But Dr Marry kind of likes it, and this Mongolian Seitan looked so good that I decided to make it. This is absolutely by far and away the best seitan recipe I have come across. It is firm but not chewy and it has some flavor on its own. And it was really good with this sauce, although next time I’ll use less brown sugar, increase the Chinese 5 spice and serve it with brown rice or quinoa. Overall, it was excellent, though.

I’ve never been to a country where street food is super popular, so the concept of it is intriguing but also a little scary to me. Feels a little unregulated, which you wouldn’t think I would care that much about, but I guess I might. At any rate, this recipe for Okonomiyaki (which I had never even heard of), from one of my favorite sites, looked too good to pass up, and it was. I made these on a pancake griddle so I could make them nearly all at once and served them with steamed Tilapia. Next time, I will add a dark colored vegetable (beets, kale or broccoli) to give the plate some more color.

Brunch is probably my favorite food group, so I am always on the lookout for great breakfast recipes. These buttermilk waffles did not disappoint. I used all whole wheat bread flour and increased the liquid a bit. They were exceptional. On Sundays, I always make Dr Marry two kinds of meat. It helps sustain him through the mostly meatless week. Poor Dr Marry!

Another brunch, this time for supper. Nothing vegan about this vegan breakfast skillet when I was done with it. I knew I couldn’t push my luck with Dr Marry, so I sautéed steak cubes first to brown. Did the potatoes as instructed and added the meat. Then added parsnips, mushrooms and turnips. Added a little broth and baked to finish everything up. Because of the skillet I used, I didn’t put the eggs into the mix, but with the right pan, I would have. Added tomatoes, fresh herbs, Parmesan and spring onions at the end. Served with homemade peach chipotle jam. He loved it.

I needed an accompaniment to his skillet, so I made this sweet potato hash brown skillet for myself (about once a year I try to eat an egg straight up. This was my time for 2020). It was also absolutely fabulous. After the first sautée, I added vegetarian breakfast sausages and kale. Added tomatoes, fresh herbs, Parmesan and spring onions at the end. Also, it benefitted from the maple syrup for the French toast I made from the last of the cinnamon currant English Muffin loaf I’d made earlier in the week. I did half muffins and half loaf; the bread turned out much better for me.

Made Jamaican jerk jackfruit Caribbean black bean mango wraps but did it in a bowl. A few adaptations: no cucumbers/pickles. Used purple cabbage and tomatoes. Added a little brown rice to the jack fruit. It was so, so good! Don’t make it unless you have mango; it was divine and helped cut the spice perfectly.

We love Fig Newtons. I decided they must be makable, and they are! And they are excellent. I combined two recipes to make this version. The cookie (doubled it) and the fig paste (I made a prune, apple, clementine and date sauce instead of straight apple sauce). Really hard to not eat these a row at a time.

I also made date cookies. This was what I made the original fruit sauce for. They were so pretty and amazing straight from the freezer.

And then there’s this buttermilk ice cream, which I have been making weekly. Oh my gosh… Served it last week with Rhubarb crisp from the last of last year’s rhubarb. Shut. the. front. door. It worked well for breakfast, too. I mean, there’s a lot of Vitamin C in rhubarb, and don’t forget the oatmeal in the crumb! And I need more calcium as I’m aging. I bet I still had less sugar than a bunch of store brand cereals.

We’ve had some other great food in these six weeks, but this is a snapshot (literally!) of the highlights. What have you been eating that you want to share? Would love to see how you’ve been using food and meal prep to stay calm, keep order and nourish yourself and your family. And if you have mostly been eating potato chips, pick one or two of these recipes and try them out this week. Let me know what you think!

Sites I love:

Love & Lemons (my absolute favorite site. Dr Marry even bought me both her cookbooks!)

Well + Good (a newsletter I subscribe to. Lots of these recipes are from that.)

NYT Cooking (I have an annual subscription to it and really love it.)

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *