spring has sprung…almost ::::
Even with the inherent lack of much seasonal change here in California, I can tell when spring has lifted up through the wintry ground. The birdsong, the budding trees, the smell of rain on green, they all signify that start. A rebirth, again, is here. And so I must feel productive, winter excuses staving off those to-do lists no more. But enter in the family with young children. What energy I can muster up to do just a little bit more changes swiftly, my relative reserve tempered by the knowledge that if I stay up until 1AM to get something “important” done, I’ll pay for it for days. No sleeping in. No quiet afternoon nap on the weekend. It’s go, go, go.
As such, I am in a state of perpetual “almost done” these days. I almost finish folding the laundry then Sky-Girl interrupts with the need to breastfeed (9 months old today!). I almost finish cleaning the kitchen then find that Grub just wet his pants — on the carpeting. And Peach wants me to put her hair in a ponytail RIGHT NOW. There is always paperwork from work to address, which I try not to do after-hours (after-hours? for a physician? a joke…). “Almost done” becomes “half-assed” when I try to do some of these things one-handed or when distracted. We can settle some of this by a progressive meal prep. Yes, this I can do!
Enter in a cusp-of-spring cozy mushroom goulash. One can chop the onions, peppers, and mushrooms in a progressive fashion, taking long breaks in between each for baby care, toddler care, or for the kindergartener. So long as you reserve an hour or so to cook and about 30 total minutes of prep time (staggered as you wish throughout the day), you’re in good shape. And the leftovers give you a quick reheated meal option the next day. Enjoy the spring, your goulash, your important interruptions.
Three years ago: vegan banana bread with not-vegan cream cheese frosting and oat apple cider bread
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound Hungarian wax peppers or Italian frying peppers—cored, seeded and chopped
- 1½ pounds wild mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces*
- 1½ pounds cremini or white button mushrooms, quartered
- freshly ground pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- ¼ cup sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 tablespoon hot Hungarian paprika (I left this out, given the kids where going to eat this dish)
- One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (the fire-roasted variety are nice here)
- 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
- Sour cream and chopped fresh parsley, for serving (or skip the sour cream if going vegan)
- In a large enameled cast-iron pot (I used my lovely 6-quart Le Creuset), heat the oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add all of the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned, about 10 minutes.
- Using the side of a large knife, mash the garlic to a paste with the caraway seeds and a generous pinch of salt (or just use a garlic press), then scrape into the pot. Stir in both paprikas (if using the spicy), the tomatoes, potatoes and zucchini. Add the broth and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat to allow all the flavors to meld, about 1 hour.
- Stir the bread crumbs into the stew and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes; serve with sour cream and parsley.
- I felt this dish improved in time, making wonderful leftovers the next day.