Hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken wedges

omelets and plain pasta.  You know what I’m talking about.  Day in and day out.  Every once in a while, for no rhyme or reason, I find that I can slip in a plate of chicken pot pie or a bowl of lentil soup into the schedule, and it goes down the little hatch without a hitch.  On most days though, it’s nothing but salt for seasoning, and nothing touching. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere, I got “Mom, this pasta tastes like nothing.”

“Excuse me?”

“It could use some flavor, Mom.”

This is when deep breathing and condiments come into play.  Nobody wants to see dinner take flight out the window after all that hard work, if a certain somebody changes his mind.  With chicken that has been well rubbed with olive oil and seasoned generously with kosher salt and tiny bit of freshly ground black pepper and then seared in the pan and finished in the oven (or thrown on the grill) I love corn relish: Boil the corn on the cobs (4 cobs) for 4 minutes.  Remove.  In a saute pan, add 1 teaspoon of coriander seed.  Remove as soon as it becomes fragrant.  Smash in a mortar and pestle and reserve.  Add a splash of olive oil to the pan, a well chopped clove of garlic, a few thyme sprigs, a few parsley sprigs, and one small, tight, red onion, finely chopped.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add 2 finely chopped red bell peppers, and continue to saute until completely softened.  Add the reserved coriander and the corn, off the cobs.  Give it a tiny splash of red wine or sherry vinegar, and a little squeeze of lemon.  Taste for salt.  You can also serve slow roasted cloves of garlic that are soft enough to spread, or chopped up olives and tomatoes or a really simple fresh herb oil of about a 1/4 cup of whatever fresh herbs you have, smashed along with half a clove of garlic, then a tiny bit of salt, and then a drizzle of olive oil. Or hell, make a catsup that will knock a certain person’s socks off:

Saute one finely chopped onion with a clove of garlic and knob of finely chopped fresh ginger.  Add a stick of cinnamon, a cardamom pod and a clove.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until completely softened.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar and add 1 tablespoon of cider or white vinegar.  Crush a can of plum tomatoes in your hands and add them to the onions without their liquid.  Cook them for about 1/2 an hour over a low flame, adding just enough liquid to keep them from sticking to the pan.  Adjust to balance the salt and sweet adn sour.

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