Thursday, May 30, 2024

Food Diary: What a 64-Year-Old Retired Novelist Eats With $3.5 Million in Savings in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

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5:30 p.m. Simple fare tonight: buttermilk-poached salmon salad with leek and caper dressing, recipe courtesy of Aran Goyoaga. I put seasoned salmon filets and leeks in a skillet with buttermilk and lemon juice, bring it to a simmer, then leave it covered off the heat for 15 minutes. I make a dressing with a bit of the poaching liquid, the leeks, olive oil, capers, chives, dill, mustard, and lemon zest. I arrange garden lettuces, green olives, and avocado on our plates, top with the salmon, and sprinkle with toasted pecans. It looks both pretty and virtuous.

The recipe is a keeper. Considering the modest effort, the salad is delicious, and the poaching method worked like a charm.

7:32 p.m. We have a handful of roasted almonds from a bag given by a friend. (Everything else today was previously purchased.)

Wednesday total: $0


5:54 a.m. Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffee. There’s still some pasta salad for P’s lunch, but he’s not much of a noodle guy and he’s had it twice. I make him a sandwich, pack the rest, and blend up a smoothie. He’s out the door by 7.

8:03 a.m. I make a smoothie for myself with yogurt, almond milk, cantaloupe (frozen from last summer’s garden), vanilla, hemp hearts, and protein powder. I mostly taste vanilla, which is fine. The cantaloupe wasn’t the flavor sensation homegrown melon usually is, which is how it ended up in the freezer.

9:05 a.m. I head into town to shop at Kroger. I buy Applegate ham ($7.49) and turkey ($5.39), Siggi’s yogurts ($1.50 each), broccoli ($2.11), avocados ($0.89 each), brussels sprouts ($2.20), Cara Cara oranges ($1.25 each), a bag of honeycrisp apples ($5.89), coffee ($9.99), potatoes ($2.89), strawberries ($2.00), red onions ($2.15), shallots ($1.93), mangoes ($1.25 each), asparagus ($2.25) and a few other items for $115.49 total.

12:21 p.m. I dispatch the last of the pasta salad, along with roasted asparagus from Monday— a pleasing combo—and finish with…drum roll…yogurt with apricot spread.

2:40 p.m. P calls to say we passed the inspection! Seems like an excuse to celebrate, so I prep a blueberry galette. I make a pastry dough (almond and tapioca flours, butter, salt, a bit of sugar and rosemary, and an egg) and slip it into the fridge. I mix frozen blueberries with sugar, lemon, and cornstarch for the filling and place it in the freezer until I’m ready to bake.

4:46 p.m. P heats the grill for the chicken I prepped yesterday (spatchcocked and marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and lemon thyme), then makes us cocktails. I open a good bottle of pinot noir (Buena Vista Winery, $46) to give it some air, then put together a quick salad of fennel, celery, oranges, herbs, and Parmesan. I assemble the galette and stick it back in the freezer. Don’t want those frozen berries to make a juicy mess! It’s festive in our kitchen.

P grills slices of local bread (Seasons Yield Farm, $9) and starts the chicken. We top the toasts with olive oil, goat cheese, lemon thyme, honey, and prosciutto, and devour them. So good.

At 6 the galette goes in. P brings the chicken inside. It smells amazing and tastes even better. The salad is refreshing; I adore fennel.

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