Oh My God, I Just Made Gnocchi

There are some foods you don’t think you can make yourself. Foods that you associate with dining out. And once you stop eating out, you think, “Ok, I will live the rest of my life without this food, and that’s just how it is.” It’s sad, but it’s really a waste of time to be sad about food.

For me, gnocchi was that food. I’m not sure why. I guess I just always loved ordering it in restaurants, so I just associated it as a special restaurant treat.

It’s not so! Gnocchi is totally an easy home food. And – spoiler alert- made a fantastic dinner tonight.

I decided to make the dish because we’re editing a cooking show at work, and in the episode currently in edit, the chef is making gnocchi. I found it utterly impossible to spend the day hearing about gnocchi without developing a serious craving. I couldn’t think of any other food that was worth eating. I needed gnocchi.

I figured since the chef on the show could make gnocchi in her home, I could, too. I googled it, and turns out it’s ridiculously easy. I followed a simple recipe from All Recipes (though I used 2 eggs to get the consistency I needed, and made the balls with my hands instead of rolling the dough out), made homemade sauce, melted on string cheese, and had a delightful restaurant-esque dinner from the comfort of my couch.

More importantly, I learned something: there is no reason people will food allergies who have to restrict their dining out can’t have restaurant food. Cooking is easier than we think it is. Sure, some things have serious prep time, but a lot of that can be done while multitasking — I washed dishes that were long overdue while my potatoes boiled, for example. This morning I roasted chicken and pears while I got ready for work. Yes, the dish takes 40 minutes to prep. Luckily, it takes me 40 minutes to get ready in the morning, if I decide to eat breakfast. Cooking doesn’t have to be a whole “to-do.” But there’s no reason you can’t do it.

I was totally empowered by my gnocchi experience. Plus, I made a few servings worth, and now I have lunch and then some. And all it took was some googling and half an hour of my time (including letting the potatoes boil for longer than they needed to). It would have taken the restaurant that long to bring me the food, plus it would have cost more and I wouldn’t have had leftovers. (Or dishes, but hey. You can’t win them all). While restaurants are nice — I am going out to dinner tomorrow — a home-cooked meal that’s outside the box is somehow more satisfying.

Gnocchi boiling in my pot. Who knew mashed potatoes rolled into flour and eggs and boiled for 5 minutes could be so darn delicious?

Gnocchi boiling in my pot. Who knew mashed potatoes rolled into flour and eggs and boiled for 5 minutes could be so darn delicious?

Gnocchi, tomato sauce, and cheese. The best dinner ever.

Gnocchi, tomato sauce, and cheese. The best dinner ever.

 

Goodbye, Squash Aversion (and a recipe, too boot!)

There’s a difference between a food overdose that makes you sick and a food overdose that makes you just averse to the food. The first is something reserved for those among us with serious allergies and escalated food sensitivities, and the second is, well, pretty normal.

But I gotta say, it’s terribly inconvenient to experience a food aversion when you’ve got a billion food allergies. So it hasn’t been great that I’ve been distancing myself from squash these last few months.

Over the spring/summer, when I could eat basically squash, zucchini  beans, eggplant, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, non-green peppers, corn, quinoa, millet, pumpkin, oats, lamb, chicken, turkey, and bison, and all of the above only three times a week, I ate a ton of squash. Like squash at every meal, because every squash counted as a different food. But once my diet opened up, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat squash that regularly. Sure it was in season. And I did buy it a lot, just in case. But I could never bring myself to cook it. Maybe some bottleneck or zucchini here and there, but acorn? Dumpling? Kabocha? Not so often.

This shabbat, I decided it was time. Mostly because I’d bought the cutest little kabocha squash and didn’t feel like going to the grocery store. Oh. My. God. Can we say DELICIOUS? I felt like I’d travelled back in time. Friday night dinner, complete with reading and sleeping and resting, mixed with a challah and a matzah (didn’t want to buy two when I can only eat a handful of bread anyway), chicken, green beans, and kabocha squash. And pumpkin oat muffins (that had flour and eggs, but let’s not unnecessarily torture ourselves, esp. when baking ten minutes before Shabbat starts).

It was like being transported back in time. It was lovely. I realized how far I’ve come, how many new foods I can eat, and how I don’t need to eat literally everything I am not allergic to, even if I don’t like it. I thought about how lucky I am that I get to have more foods and say things like “sometimes I don’t like squash.” I thought about eating kitniyot on Pesach and whether I really have to this year (the answer is yes, because a potato and tomato don’t replace millet, beans, green beans, lentils and corn). But I thought about how I WILL get to eat karpas (the ritual potato). How I had wine. And real wheat matzah. And how much has changed since last March. And how it’s all so good.

And tonight, as I dogsit for my quasi-aunt and uncle’s dog Roxie, I think about how I used to spend every Shabbat here in 2008 when I was at USC for the summer. How I live in LA for real now. How then, they didn’t have a dog, and now their dog is a family member. How I spent those Saturday nights watching movies on their couch, and how now I go to the theater with friends.

How a year ago, I didn’t know why I was getting sick every day when I ate lunch. How I gchatted T every day saying “tell me to take benedryl bc I’m sick but I don’t want to be.” How I had finally got test results back that said I was allergic to nuts, sort of, and fish sort of, and cabbage not at all, and how I thought that was it, but still got sick. How now, I get sick randomly once a week max (usually less), or when I have a bad challenge. Which has happened exactly 5 times. My list is getting “back to normal” every day. Soon I can say “I’m allergic to leafy greens, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, fish, horseradish, some onions, avocado, artichokes, hearts of palm, and pasta.” Which isn’t a big deal at all.

So bring it on, squash. We’re not averse anymore.

We're back, baby.

We’re back, baby.

The recipe, in case you’re curious:

One Kabocha squash, cut into manageable pieces (depends on size of squash), with the seeds and guts removed

Some kind of oil. I use safflower, grapeseed, or canola, but use whatever. Oil is oil. It works.

A sprinkling of salt and pepper

Some ginger

Some nutmeg

Coat the pan in oil. Season the squash. Drizzle a little more oil on if desired. Roast in the oven for 30-50 minutes at around 400 (or 350, just check it), depending on the size of the piece. When it’s soft and smells good it’s done.

An Ode to Cheese (and a wheat-free recipe!)

Cheese is something I can totally live without. I barely missed it over the last few months. But man, now that I can live with it again…wow.

I think I just invented food heaven. And it took five minutes…

overrated.

I’ve been making rye, oat and rye/oat crackers for a while now as a bread substitute/starchy snack. And I stopped once bread came back to my diet, because, you know, rye/oat crackers are only just okay, not to die for. But I have been craving cheez-its for a few days now, and I can’t eat them yet, and I can’t bake my own because I’m running low on wheats (have to have challah twice this weekend, plus I had that mean pasta and some bread on Sunday). But it occurred to me – what if I baked cheez-it rye/oat crackers?

BEST. IDEA. EVER.

Make this. Every day. It will be the best thing that’s happened to your tongue.

This recipe yields 10 small crackers.

1/2 cup rye flour

1/2 cup oat flour

1/3 cup oil (canola?)

some water — look

a few shakes of garlic

shredded mozarella cheese, to taste.

Mix the ingredients, roll the dough with your fingers into small circles, stab with a fork, and bake at 400 for about 5-10 minutes.

EAT.

Thank me later.