From Inspiration to the Table

Yesterday I had an almost perfect day. It went like this:

Got up (too early since Friday night was late, but that’s OK…see Nap, later). Headed out to Cora’s Restaurant for breakfast with JD’s (and now mine) Auntie Lorna, down from Exeter, and to meet her old friend and neighbour Aya, who she is staying with. (I had my usual delicious Bobby Button breakfast with only tomatoes, spinach and cheese in the omelet. Ate half, took the other half home to enjoy later,  for lunch.)

It was a wonderful visit and always, when I am in the presence of vibrant older women, I just soak it all up…I find it so inspiring to see healthy and engaged elders enjoying life, still thriving despite life’s inevitable blows, both minor and major. Both ladies have been widows for quite some time and both expressed to me their total surprise that they were able to function so well without their  “decision makers” in their lives any more.  It certainly seemed to me that they were functioning well – their agenda for the rest of Saturday made my head spin. Oh, to have that much energy to pack so many things to do into a day when I am in my seventies!

After bidding the ladies adieu, I went back home to put my breakfast leftovers in the fridge and to get ready to walk down to the Village centre to my pedicure appointment, with the lovely Tracy of Tips n’ Toes by Tracy. By some miracle (told you I was having a near-perfect day, didn’t I?), I had some extra time to stop off at the Library on the way to Tracy.

The library has been one of my happy places since I was a young child. My definition of a perfect summer Saturday when I was about 10 years old was jumping on my bike to meet up with my book lovin’  friends to head off to the library together, then stopping at the Tea Room in downtown Preston to share a plate of fries and some cherry Cokes before hitting  Stedman’s store to lust after gaze upon the latest Barbie dolls and their sparkly mostly-pink or purple “fashions”. Then happily riding home again, my bike’s basket full of lovely books, to enjoy with a cool drink under a shady tree.

(And oh, the day I was finally allowed to borrow from the Adult section, at 12 years of age! Heaven! A precocious and prodigious reader,  I had exhausted all the books of interest in the tiny childrens’ department within no time, so I often had to re-borrow old favourites on my Saturday sojourns. )

Anywho, where was I? Oh yes, at the Village Library, in the present day! I picked out a well-balanced diet of books. 😉

Consisting of: an autobiography of David Suzuki, a short story compilation by Alice Munro, and a couple of trashy “beach-read” type paperbacks, just for the pure escapist pleasure of them…

This side trip left me with 5 minutes to cross the Village square to get to the salon where Tracy works. A pleasant hour or so of pampering and chatting ensued and I left the salon with pretty toes and soft feet again. The annual Music Festival was happening in the Village Park so that became part of my route back home.

After meeting and chatting there with some of my downtown acquaintances from my days’ on the Village’s Business Improvement Association Board of Managers, I was quite happy (ever the introvert) to get home again for some quiet time.  Did my strength training workout per the July challenge, had a quick shower, then my lunch –  and decided a nap was definitely in order!

Is there anything more luxurious, more satisfying than taking an afternoon nap? I never used to be able to nap when I was younger. Too nervous, too keyed up, too full of Dutch Protestant work ethic, to consider stopping everything to lay down in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY?!?!?! It took a lot of hard work (I’m actually being serious here!) to get over this and get to the point where I could take a nap, sans guilt, but I am happy to say it is a skill I successfully mastered. (Disclaimer: being severely anemic for a few years helped immensely.)

I am so pro-nap these days, I feel I could start a club. Maybe I will. The Red Nap Society. Red Nappers Matter. We’ll wear our red and purple hats strategically placed over our eyes to keep out the daylight as we doze. 🙂

Replenished by the nap, upon waking my domestic goddess roared to life, and I quickly found inspiration for what I wanted to create in the kitchen:

Thai Pork & Papaya on a bed of Quinoa

However, I lacked the necessary papaya, lime and fresh cilantro so some adjustments were in order. I decided to make a similar dish, based on what I could find in my kitchen, with a bit of an Indonesian flair.

First, I made a batch of quinoa in my rice cooker. Cooked it in chicken broth on the brown rice setting and it turned out perfectly! 1.5 cups quinoa + 2 cups chicken broth = fluffy, yummy, perfect protein, whole-grain comfort.

Then I scoured the sadly neglected vegetable drawer in my fridge to see what I could chop up for a stir-fry to accompany the quinoa. Hmmm…a couple of only slightly withered looking red bell peppers, some carrots and a red onion. I had some very tasty tiny French green beans (thank you Costco!) in the freezer – all of these ingredients would give me the basis for a colourful and healthy veggie addition to the grain portion of the meal.

As I was defrosting the pork loin roast in the microwave, I happily chopped up the veggies and dumped them, with a tablespoon of  grapeseed oil, into my heated wok. I added a teaspoon of curry powder (Lalah’s, the best IMHO) to the sautéing vegetables – a trick I learned from the Caribbean chef at Rambell’s Waterside Dining in Ayr, sadly no longer in existence.

Once the veggies were almost done, I covered them and turned the heat off, to let them finish by steaming themselves to tender-crisp perfection (I hoped!) while I worked on the meat in another pan.  To the heated olive oil in the pan, I added the now chopped-into-chunks pork loin, chopped garlic, sambal badjak and ketjap manis – didn’t keep track of the amounts  but just added “to taste”.  The meat didn’t turn out as dark as in the photo in the magazine (food stylist trickery??) but it the taste was there, believe me.

Here is the finished dish:

Mizz D's Indonesian-style Pork and Veggies over Quinoa

Feels good to be cooking again…tastes even better!

My near-perfect day ended with connecting with JD at our rental property (and future home) after his shift at the Golf Course, and heading back down to the Music Festival to hear some great bands.

Why can’t every Saturday be like this?

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  • YUM! Reading this made me hungry….. I adore stir-fry suppers.
    & quinoa…. also Millet, though I eat less of that.

    Enjoyed reading about your condiments…. being a feindish collector of such. If you open my over-stuffed fridge, you’ll see a wall of condiments. They probably outnumber the food 6 to 1. I am a suace-a-holic!

    Oh and I bought a bottle of Maischewitz (sp?) kosher concord grape wine & discovered that it makes a wonderful marinade for most meats…. the sugar content makes it an instant BBQ-style finish. Not so great as a drink to be sure. 😛

    Lovely to read that yu’ve achieved the ability to nap in the daytime.
    Guilt is such a waste of energy….. !
    Hope your week goes splendidly!

  • Haha… Kim, you just confirmed what I long suspected – you ARE a SAUCY wench!

    I bet that wine would make an awesome marinade. I will have to try it. Gives me an excuse to check out the 1 year old (already?!) huge new LCBO outlet in town. Not a place I visit often since I only use a splash of wine for cooking now and then, and “yer basic plonk” I can buy at the grocery store’s wine boutique…

    Hope you have a fantastic week as well! Keep healing that foot!!!

    • Funny thing, the wine is inexpensive, nice square, big bottle for about $12.
      My Jewish friends used to joke about it… how undrinkable it was.

      Made from concord grapes, I thought “must have mega anti-oxident properties” plus I like sweeter, not dry wines, & this was a 1 or an 8, wasn’t sure, as the sign seemed to have a typo. I bought it.

      Turns out it’s an 18 (!!!) on a sweetmess scale & to me, 2 is sweet enough!!
      Most excellent as an addition to beef, pork & chicken along with garlic & spices.

  • 18!!!!!
    It’s more like syrup than a drink. No wonder it makes a BBQ sauce type finish for meats. I must try it.
    Thanks pal…

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