No Publix trip necessary! A rarity.

I am finally, finally, out of the part-time teaching gig! I was on my way back from filling out and squaring away my HR business with St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine when I got a call from my new principal's secretary asking if I wanted to go from a 60% position to a 100% position. My answer was a very enthusiastic "Absolutely." Absolutely yes I want to start making double what I have been making for the past 8 years. Absolutely yes.

So I'm pumped. And so relieved that I will soon start making way more money than I am used to. My financial situation is the worst I've had!

I still thought I should try and make something for which I already had the fixins. I didn't go to the grocery store at all! I usually have to make a trip for one or two things every time I cook. Today I was determined not to do so. I browsed some recipes on Vegetarian Times - a really great resource for non-meat eaters! I settled on Chickpea and Potato Picadillo, which is apparently gluten-free? I don't pay attention to that stuff. 

I also made a side of polenta with Mexican seasoning. Polenta is a versatile, filling side dish. You can buy it in a tube, but I advise against doing so. It's really easy to make, and cheaper if you do it yourself! Bob's Red Mill makes a plain cornmeal. Every other brand is "enriched" - which I guess is a good thing? I fear any additives nowadays so I'll spend more to get the natural product. I also find it easier to make layered bakes like lasagna with polenta that I make myself, since it's spreadable. I get my polenta recipe from the unnaturally beautiful Giada. I assembled the Mexican seasoning myself and added a tablespoon into the polenta. Seasoning:

First, I microwaved the potatoes for the picadillo. I didn't test for tenderness, and I should have. Three minutes was not enough. They should probably be microwaved until starting to get tender, but not too soft. I also doubled recipe - so I was microwaving 4 cups of potatoes instead of two. I used red potatoes, because that's what I have, and left the skins on (a preference of mine - I love red potato skin). 

I made the polenta in my tall stock pot, which is the reason for the giant shadow. I added in the tablespoon of Mexican seasoning after adding the cornmeal to the water. Giada's recipe says about 15 minutes to simmer, but mine took about 12 or 13.

I adapted the picadillo recipe ever so slightly. I didn't have enough green onion, so I chopped about 3/4 of a cup of yellow onion. I also had a banana pepper and what I thought was a spicy pepper of some sort - but it tasted like a green bell pepper. It just didn't look like one? I don't know. Either way, I threw all that into 5 tb of olive oil - not quite doubled, but I thought 6 would be too much. I sauteed this until tender.

Then added about 2 tb of cumin. I had to buy the giant "Badia" brand cumin (ground; I can only find cumin seeds at the Indian store, and I really only use cumin seeds when cooking Indian) not too long ago, because so many recipes I use call for cumin. I'm cooking so much I'm buying giant everything now - 3 lb bags of onion, 4-packs of garlic. I never thought I'd have to do that!

I didn't have "dark raisins," as the recipe calls for, so I used about 2/3 cup of golden raisins. I like those a lot more anyway. These go into the pan, along with the chickpeas (which I had leftover from making Falafel), and potatoes. This sauteed for 2 minutes. Probably more, actually, since I multitask cleaning and cooking. But the recipe says 2 minutes.

Then, I added 2 cans of diced tomatoes and their juices, 2 tb red wine vinegar, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves. I simmered it until my potatoes were tender (because, as I mentioned them before, they didn't cook enough in the microwaving process.)

I served with some shredded Mexican cheese and avocado. The polenta and picadillo can be served together, as the flavors blend quite well. We ate in front of Kevin Spacey tonight - we're late to watching House of Cards. It is quite good.

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