If you’ve not read What Did You Eat Yesterday, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a combination of a slice of life manga about a gay couple (a lawyer and a hairstylist) in Tokyo and their day to day life, and a cooking manga, with detailed instructions on how to make the dishes that the main characters try. And it’s just a quiet, domestic manga, and sweet as fuck besides.

My boything’s been wanting to learn how to cook better, and I’ve been wanting to try some recipes from this manga, so this recipe from Volume 12 seemed like the perfect intersection of our needs. This is a simple, cheap, low effort, and easy meal to make; just slice up some sweet potato, throw it in with some rice, sake, and salt in the rice cooker, and just let it cook, and boom, you’ve got a good, hearty dish, and the rice cooker can keep it warm for as long as you want. It is a bit bland, so I would recommend adding some soy sauce (or ponzu went real well with the bowl I just had for lunch). Also, we used Murasaki sweet potatoes from Trader Joe’s for this for a change of pace, would definitely recommend them.

Sweet Potato Rice
Makes enough to feed 2 people for 2 meals

Ingredients

  • Rice and water per your rice brand’s instructions (here, 1.5 c rice, 2 c water)
  • 1 sweet potato
  • pinch sea salt
  • dash sake

Rinse your rice (I did it for the first time with this, I’m going to try to get some better instructions on this later), and then add your rice and water in recommended portions per the instructions on your bag of rice to your rice cooker. (If you’re like me, you have one of those big ass 10 lb bags, because you go through a lot of rice in the space of a year, and you have several Asian markets near you, which means it’s significantly cheaper.)

Meanwhile, take your sweet potato, rinse it thoroughly, and then half it width and length wise, and cut into .5 in fan shapes (see pic 4). As you get closer to finishing the sweet potato, add the sea salt and sake to the rice cooker. Once the sweet potato is fully cut up, add the pieces to the rice cooker, and then cook on the normal settings for white rice (usually about an hour).

Then, stir and fluff with a rice paddle, scoop into bowls, and enjoy!

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As frustrating as dealing with my landlord can be (“I’ll maybe fix the peeling ceiling after the holidays,” oh and there might be mice as evidenced by the large trap placed right by a hole in the back stairway, and one running through the bedroom, that trap seems super helpful), one of the things I love about where I live is the neighborhood. And specifically, the middle eastern bakery/grocery that’s a ten minute walk up the street. They do amazing, cheap hand pies that are great for lunch or breakfast, wonderful sides (dolma! baba ghanoush! pita!), they have a small fuckton of spices, and they have a lot of reasonably priced staples. Like say, the black lentils that are central to this recipe.

This is a simple, cheap, low energy, but amazingly filling recipe. I’ve been perfecting it over the last few months to my and boything’s taste, and the recipe as I have it currently is beyond perfect. My spices are a bit more haphazard than the ingredients list below suggests in terms of amounts, but I promise you you can adjust this to your own taste, easy. Throw this on the stove while a Destiny 2 or Overwatch session is going on, and voila.

Punjabi-Style Black Lentils
Makes enough for two and then a little meals for two

Ingredients

  • 2 T ghee (regular butter or oil also acceptable)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • .5 T ground cumin (original says seeds, I went with what I have on hand for simplicity)
  • 1 in piece of ginger, grated (original says finely chopped, I go with the ginger grating trick mentioned earlier in the blog these days
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 t ground tumeric
  • 1 T garam masala (usually more)
  • pinch ground chile powder
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 t sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 c dried black lentils
  • 3.5 c water (reduced from original recipe bc now I just use a whole can of diced fire roasted tomatoes, which is an extra cup up from the original recommended amount
  • 4 t salted butter
  • 2 T heavy cream (can be omitted if people don’t like it)

Over medium heat, melt your ghee. Once warm, add the onion and cumin, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned in places (pic 1). Add in the ginger and garlic, cook 1 minute more until fragrant, and then add the remaining spices (pic 2) and can of tomatoes (pic 3), and cook 3 more minutes, scraping up any bits that may be stuck to the pot. Add the salt, water, and then the lentils. Bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Cook 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender (see pic 5). If you want a looser dal, add more water. Adjust the spices and seasoning to taste.

To finish, ladle the dal into the bowl, add 1 t butter and .5 T heavy cream, and stir in to melt (see pic 6).

Another quick, simple summer dish I did earlier in the week.  Quite good, too, and pretty simple, all things considered.  Also, cheap.  Except for the bread and cheese, you should be able to get the vast majority of this from a garden, or your pantry.

Basil Scalloped Tomatoes and Croutons

Ingredients    

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/3 loaf of bread chopped into .5 inch cubes (I used roasted garlic bread, because I ❤ garlic)
  • 2.5 lbs grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • .5 c basil leaves, torn
  • .5 c shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 (my oven runs hot, so it went to 325).  Heat your olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and chop your bread while it heats. As soon as the skillet is heated, add your bread and mix so that it’s coated thoroughly with oil. Stir frequently and cook, until your bread is fairly crispy on all sides (5 mins).  While this is happening, half your tomatoes and mince your garlic, and combine with the sugar, salt and pepper.  As soon as the bread is ready, add your tomato mixture to the skillet and stir and cook for another five minutes.  Remove it from the heat, and stir in your basil. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish, and cover with parmesan. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is goldenish. Let cool, because tomato juices are REALLY hot. And then, enjoy!