Friday, August 10, 2012

A helping hand for an ailing foot...

Well, technically leg...but 'helping arm' doesn't work. Anyway...

Every Wednesday afternoon, a friend and I meet for a cuppa tea and mutual support. Most times we converge on a gourmet market that has an open seating area where my friend knows at least one other patron. But a couple times I've gone to her home and last week, I had no choice.

When vacationing on the Outer Banks 11 years ago, a really rough wave tossed and turned Jeremy to the extreme. We thought he'd want to spend the rest of our beach time on the sand, but he stood up and let out a decisive 'Oh Yeah!' before going in for more. Last Monday, a similar wave found my friend on the Jersey Shore and broke her leg. In three places. Oh my. Not good for an active woman in her 60s. Not good for anyone, really.

But my friend is a trooper. She laughed her way through the story and the afternoon. And we lost track of time, as usual. Before I left, I did the one of the few things I do well: I asked what I could do to help. Turns out it was dinner time and she - and her cat - were peckish. So I did the other thing I do well: I fed them. Lilly the cat was can, dump in bowl, add a bit of water...reminded me of Sizzle.

It was a little trickier for my friend since I didn't know what she had. But she pointed me toward some leftover this - pasta salad with pesto and spinach - and that - canned cannelloni beans - and I added a few  cubes of mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. There were a few other things in this 'salad,' but for the life of me I can't remember what. Guess it didn't matter, or she was famished, being incredibly grateful and polite, because she said it was delicious.

But it gave my muse - the bubbles - some juice: Instead of stuffed burgers for dinner as I'd planned (but didn't have buns or cheese for the stuffing), why not make a large, leftover this and that, sloppy joe on ciabatta bread instead? Why not indeed!

Here goes:

-In a skillet, crisp up 4 oz bacon cut into 3/4-inch pieces.
-Then add 1 diced medium onion, 1 lb ground beef, 3 minced garlic cloves, a mostly-seeded minced jalapeno, 1 t cumin, 1/2 t cayenne, 2 T tomato paste, 1 1/2 T brown sugar, 1 t smoked paprika and a few dashes of bitters. Yes, bitters...I was looking for a savory element to add and lit on the bitters when I opened the fridge. It worked!
-Saute until the meat is well broken up, cooked through and kinda caramelized, about 12 minutes depending on the size of your pan.
-Cut the ciabatta horizontally and scoop out much of the crumb from both halves - so you can get all that yum onto the bread, of course! Spoon on the filling, cut into 'manageable' servings, and provide lots napkins.

So with some Peanut Butter Wild Cookies I made earlier, my friend had dinner and dessert and so did we... The genesis of inspiration never fails to amaze me. And who knows? Maybe food can heal a broken leg too.