I don’t know what it is about traveling. I love it, of course. But there is a small, homebody part of me that can get stressed out – aka frazzled, in Team Johnson vocabulary – about the actual traveling. I’m not afraid of flying or anything like that, and I’ve been traveling alone for quite some time. I’m not sure why leaving my nest gives me a little flutter of underlying anxiety (god help my future college-age children if I’m a ball of nerves about myself).
Of course, as if I didn’t have enough to prepare for a multi-week, cross-ocean trip – including food for a 12 hour plane ride since United is too silly to provide gluten-free meals! – I like to use big trips as a deadline for achieving stuff around the house: clearing out clutter, seeing friends that I have been too “busy” to connect with in the past month, even creating future recipes. And when I say “like”, I mean, this is an old habit that I fall back on in times of stress, which only makes me more stressed out. Makes perfect sense right? You’ve got a lot on your plate, so you might as well add some more! Eeesh…Really I should be doing these things a little bit at a time, day by day, getting energy-draining or clutter-clearing tasks done immediately. I’m slowly improving on this habit, but I do have a long way to go.
One thing I will not do, however, is sacrifice my diet for an upcoming trip or travel. Of course I try to use up fresh produce in smoothies or salads. But I also will freeze any leftovers – chicken stock, vegetable scraps for future stock, single-serving meals – so when I return from my trip I may encounter a bare fridge but a healthy freezer. And, in the ultimate combination of fridge-tidying, friend-seeing, and food-enjoying behavior, I invite close friends to help me dine on the last of my meals and then give those friends any leftover food that can’t go in the freezer or might otherwise go to waste.
I have a very dear friend who often comes over to eat and never cares how unorganized I am or if the food is brand new or a revamped leftover, so she is the perfect guest when I am haphazardly preparing for a trip. She also likes to do the dishes! I wanted something quick and easy to cook up to go along with some curried zucchini soup I had made earlier in the week, so I dashed to the store and got some scallops for dinner. Some extra errands are worth the trip.
The scallops I buy are already pre-boiled, so I simply heat the pan to medium-high, add a tablespoon or so of coconut oil and sear them for 1 or 2 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.If you are cooking raw scallops – start here
Actually, cooking raw scallops only takes 1-2 minutes per side too, depending on the size. You want to be sure they are not overcooked, as they become stringy and tough. Just cook until the outsides are golden-brown and the insides are not opaque. If you have a “gungie” scallop, as my dad says (pronounced GOON-gie), then I usually cut into one of those to make sure it’s done all the way through. But for wee scallops, 1 minute per side is perfectly fine.
Or try baking them with this delish recipe from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations:
Creamy Baked Scallops
Then I chop up some onions and mushroom into about a half-inch dice (the size of the top two knuckles of my pinkie finger) and saute them in the leftover coconut oil. I’m looking for a golden brown color but also fully softened and even somewhat caramelized. If things start to look too dry, I add some chicken fat or olive oil a gurgle (teaspoon if you’re one of those exact types) at a time. This takes about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally but not too often.
If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll take a strip of prosciutto, turn the heat to medium high, and crisp it up in any leftover oil. That only takes about 30 seconds, but it can give your homemade meal some restaurant flair. If you have any leftover herbs, you can chop them up and scatter them around. I received this bountiful plantar from a friend who is moving, so I have my choice of a number of garnishes.Serve this simple yet elegant dish with a side salad, some soup
, or even some roasted root vegetables for an easy and elegant dinner that can be made on the fly, especially if you are dashing around trying to pack and clean, do laundry that was already washed but fell on the dirty veranda during a windstorm, hand wash each leaf of your zucchini plant in order to get rid of a black aphid infestation, and cockroach-proof your apartment.The scallops are best if they are really hot, so in retrospect I would make the mushrooms and onions first. BUT I can never seem to keep the scallops piping hot, no matter what I do, so I just deal with lukewarm scallops. They’re still incredibly delicious. My kitchen is never clean, or perfect
, and often there are splashes of coconut oil EVERYWHERE, but it is a comforting place, a fun place to spend time with a friend, and a nourishing place for this frazzled soul.Take care and have a great weekend everyone!