I am feeling more than a little stressed this month. I have a presentation next Tuesday and my appraisal is at the end of the month. I have spent inordinate amounts of time preparing for both and I am exhausted. I woke up this morning with a sore neck and could not drag myself out of bed until well after midday. All Saturday I have been reading a few papers on neuroplasticity and trying to make sense of it and write interesting Powerpoint slides.
It’s pretty tough going and I thus far resisted the thing that I would normally do, in this situation – bake/procrasticbake. I have resisted so far, making pumpkin chai cupcakes as an excuse to get away from this work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and all the things that I get to do for it and because of it. However, it does take up a great deal of mental energy and creeps into my non-work time and sometimes I need a break.
While I was trying to think sensible thoughts about the building blocks of CNS plasticity, I was also wondering what we were going to eat for dinner. When I was eating my brunch, I was flicking through The Hairy Dieters Book 3 recipe book and found a nice recipe for lamb burgers and tzatziki. I thought, that will be a nice for dinner, not too heavy. So I took some beef that I had in the freezer, out for defrosting and wrote a shopping list for the other ingredients. Then somewhere between dendritics spines and GABA receptors I decided that I did not have time for a shopping trip and was getting increasingly stressed by my slow moving presentation. But the world doesn’t stop because Bunmi is crisis mode, so I decided that I would just use the mince beef as a basis for another recipe using whatever we had in the cupboard. I remembered in the honeymoon days of Nacho and I, I used to make lamb meatballs and orzo and mint side dish. It was such a pleasant combination that I thought I might create something similar. I looked online for some one pot orzo and meat combos and found there were actually plenty and many of which had ingredients that I knew I didn’t have. So I did the usual thing of just reading a few recipes, getting the basic gist and then making up my own version.
So what did I do? Chopped up two small onions and placed them in a pot with a small amount of oil. Then chopped up two small carrots, one red pointed pepper and one clove of garlic and added to the oil and onions. I sauted until the onions were translucent and added a pinch of salt. I then added 300 grams of beef mince meat adding more salt, ground nutmeg, ground coriander, a few pinches of mixed herbs, black pepper and two bay leaves. When the meat was browned, I added about 800ml of beef stock, 200ml of pasata and a cup of orzo. I added some more salt and then let the mixture come to a boil. I let the whole thing simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I found that much of the fluid evaporated away, so I was left with a thick concoction, not expected, but actually a very nice texture and an out of this world taste.