In Which We Find an Alternate Use for a Plunger (Sort Of)

So, this post will cover two things:

1. The continuation of the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse.
2. A thrilling new-apartment disaster-adventure tale filled with harrowing scenes of despair and bravery.

First, the cleanse. Now, as I mentioned before, we are not necessarily sticking to the cleanse in any sort of exact way, merely using it as a holiday rehab guideline. Nothing illustrates this point better than that now, in the second week of the two-week cleanse, we are still working our way through the Week 1 recipes. In fact, we will only be using Week 1 recipes, as we plan to end the cleanse after these two weeks and go back to cooking whatever we feel like (not that we’re going to go all pork belly all the time or anything).

Anyway, the next recipe up (for us) was Cider-Glazed Chicken Breasts with Apple Fennel Salad. Let me begin by saying that neither the Boy or I like fennel, as it tastes like licorice and licorice tastes like demons. So we made some adjustments. We also didn’t have cider, but did have hard cider, so we made some more adjustments.

Cider-Glazed Chicken Breasts with Apple Fennel Salad

Our chicken and salad dinner, all plated up!

The recipe wasn’t particularly difficult or anything, but it also wasn’t very exciting. Maybe our adjustments took the punch out of it, but the sauce for the chicken was sort of bland and the chicken tasted “like healthy food,” as the Boy put it. As the Cleanse had thus far managed to avoid tasting like health food, this was somewhat disappointing.

I will say the salad was good – we swapped out whatever apple-fennel concoction was suggested and instead made a basic spinach and thinly sliced apple salad with the Bon Appetit dressing. The dressing was yummy – spicy and peppery and vinegary and apple-y all at once. I will certainly be remembering it as an alternative to my usual balsamic-olive oil-honey concoction.

Apple Fennel Salad

What a pretty salad. Yep, still the Christmas tablecloth.

The recipe for that yummy dressing will follow, but first I must tell a tale of woe and fear and heartbreak and eventual triumph.

Last night I was doing the dishes, as you do, and I decided to run the garbage disposal since there were a lot of various vegetable droppings that needed to be eaten up. It worked for a while and THEN, suddenly, it turned into to a vortex of doom, creating an enormous whirlpool in that half of the sink and, when I frantically shut off both the disposal and the faucet to ensure that a tidal did not overtake my kitchen, vomited up a good chunk of what I had just stuffed down it. Ew.

I declared a general state of emergency and made the Boy come over to look at it. We tried running cold water and turning on the disposal again. And again. And again. With similar soul-destroying results. I reached my hand down into the disgusting depths – nothing. The Boy hypothesized that a clog was somehow beyond the confines of the garbage disposal, though not far enough to have plugged the other half of the sink, which was working fine. A quandary.

So, we turned to that swami of swamis, that seer of seers, that magical land of answers, Google. And we learned that someone somewhere sometime had once unclogged a garbage disposal drain with a plunger. Gross.

Luckily, our plunger was almost new – so we cleaned it off, plugged the drain in the other half of the sink (using saran wrap, the top of a can, and a glass bowl – no one can ever say we’re not ingenious), and plunged away. The sink was a bit slippery, which made it difficult, and saran wrap also had to be used to plug the weird sticky-uppy thing that’s on the back of the sink (for a sprayer or some such, the Boy suggested). Yet in the end, good triumphed over evil and just like in a toilet, the water swirled down the drain and the garbage disposal functioned once again.

A victory for Google and saran wrap!

Apple Shallot Dressing
Adapted from the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse 2012

An easy but very unique dressing. The shallots give it a spicy, peppery flavor and the apples and apple cider vinegar a hint of tang and sweetness. It was delicious on our salad of spinach and thinly sliced apples, but you could use it on any sort of salad you like!

Yield: 4 Servings

1 small slice Granny Smith apple
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, divided
3/4 tsp. English mustard powder
5 Tbsp. grape seed or canola oil, divided
Salt and pepper

Ingredient Info: English mustard powder is available at many supermarkets and at specialty food stores. if you can’t find it, use Dijon mustard.

Finely chop apple slice to make 1 Tbsp. minced apple. Transfer minced apple to a small bowl. Add shallot to bowl. Whisk in 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar and mustard. Let mixture macerate for 10 minutes. Whisk in 3 Tbsp. oil; season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.

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