She was tired. You can see it in her eyes for they lacked a sparkle. You can see it in her smile as little frown lines become more permanent. Even how she stands looks like a person who is about to fall over.
It wasn’t because she was deprived of sleep, it was because she was starting to feel bored. She hates to think of herself as bored because only boring people are bored. It is like she is on a hamster wheel and can’t figure out where to get off.
She is me.
I’ve been really struggling with repeating in my weekly menus. I have this problem every winter even without contending with a pandemic. Our stores have limited produce selections and the snow is so deep my ability to travel to hunt and gather is curbed. (By hunting…I mean finding a fun grocery store and by gather…I mean buy the food!)
Generally, I’ve been doing pick up orders to limit my COVID footprint in our small town. The other day, I just couldn’t stand it anymore so I went into the store. I expected angels to sing and for a sun ray to hit me directly on my face. Instead, it still seemed dreary and the only songs I heard were hits from the seventies over the store speakers.
I walked into produce and it all seemed so monotonous for lack of a better word. It was just the same old lettuce, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and tomatoes. I just wanted to see a few new exotic things. I just wanted something unconventional.
Feeling spoiled because this is only a moment in time. There have been times in this country where the food spread before me was a bounty. I could do something amazing so I told myself to look harder. I knew if I would turn my head a little, I could change my view on my hamster wheel and maybe even find a way off.
And then I saw it…. a fennel bulb. It was sitting there all alone. It was huge and had bright green fluffly fronds. How did I miss this? It was just screaming for someone to notice it. I picked it up and literally said “Where have you been hiding yourself?”
I grabbed a big crispy red apple and a bright yellow juicy lemon. The mere thought of those classic flavors together put some pep in my step.
I then went to the meat department and picked up some pork cutlets. It was all I needed to wake up my menu this week. (I know I made something like this after reading a recipe a few years back so the thought of flavor profile was very easy.)
This is one of those nights where I felt excited for dinner. It couldn’t come soon enough. I brought in my ingredients and laid them adoringly on my counter. I took out each cutlet and seasoned it with fresh ground pepper and slathered it in Dijon mustard on both sides. Dredged in a simple coating of panko and placed them in the fridge while I made the fennel slaw. (I put them in the fridge so the coating adheres better and it helps keep the pork from overcooking too fast.)
I cored the fennel and shredded the fennel and apple with my mandolin. I also added a tablespoon of fennel seeds to make sure this salad SCREAMED fennel. I also added some dried cherries as homage to a Bon Appetit recipe that inspired me to make this dish. A quick splash of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon seemed to be all that it needed.
The cutlets were cooked over medium/high heat in olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. It only took 2-3 minutes per side.
I piled my plate high with slaw and adorned it with the cutlets. I love a pork cutlet with a squeeze of lemon and a little heat so I dipped my lemon in red pepper flakes. It is a really neat way to put a little heat and brightness to each bite.
It is funny how one meal can rejuvenate you. I thought that I needed some complex dish with 23 different ingredients to make me feel like I was creating in my kitchen but I didn’t. I needed to tell myself to wake up and smell the fennel.
Here is the link to Bon Appetit that originally inspired this dinner if you need more instruction. I really liked my pairing of apple cider vinegar rather than rice wine vinegar. Plus, I think more people have apple cider on hand.
With all this said, sorry that I’ve been offline. I continue to work on making some changes to my blog and it is taking more time than I expected. Thanks for continuing to read Felt Like a Foodie.