Monthly Archives: May 2010

She almost ate a potato!

Tonight was another “3 people, 3 dinners” thing, but it wasn’t really that bad.  The Kid had some sort of pre-packaged corn dog thing; TPE had leftovers from last night along with a leafy salad.

In other words, I only needed to feed myself.  That’s fine by me because I like everything and this gives me a chance to try out new things.  My mind immediately focused in on “Indian food,” so I decided to dig into my now-trusty copy of Deborah Madison’s book for a recipe.  The recipe is more “Indian-like” than Indian, but it had the added appeal of not being too spicy (which meant TPE would at least try it).  The recipe itself is simple enough — some potatoes, cauliflower, onion, greens, and shredded carrots, all of which was covered with a fairly basic spice mixture.

Anyway, after the ladies sat down and began to enjoy their various dinners, I told TPE that she should check my dish and see if it was something she might like.  Her immediate reaction was…a disgusted face and a “what is in it?”  (This isn’t personal…I don’t think).  My dilemma…lead with the cauliflower, onion, or the dreaded potatoes?

You see, TPE doesn’t eat potatoes.  Well, that’s not quite right.  She eats french fries and tolerates a new recipe I’ve used for potato croquettes, but she will not under any other circumstances eat a POTATO! (Or, so she thinks…if you catch my drift.)

Given these circumstances, I led with onion and then cauliflower.  And she didn’t blow chunks, spit on me, or hand over the divorce papers.  She even offered a, “I could eat that…not bad” comment!  But then I blew it by saying, “Hey, maybe you’ll like potatoes in this!”  She tried.  She really did.  But it was a failure.  Let’s just say that the poor piece of potato that I gave her came back gnarled with its soul no longer in tact. I was…THIS…CLOSE!

But, I live to fight another day.

Technical changes for the page

I’ve tried making it easier to link FB and the blog.  Let me know if I’ve had success by posting in the comments.

The week ahead

Obviously — I think — I like to cook. When I first got interested in really cooking, I tied myself pretty clearly to a handful of cookbooks early in the week, made a menu, and then stuck to it religiously.  As I got more comfortable with my favorite ingredients and was less befuddled about how to adjust on the fly, I got out of that practice and mainly asked that we had a handful of things around that I could always use in a pinch (things like plain yogurt and cream, which are not really “standards” in most homes).  With the switch to vegetarian for TPE, I think I’m going to get back into that habit.

That means I need to spend some time today looking up recipes I like (I always like the comfort of a trusted author nearby as I cook).  I also have to figure out what I need to start keeping in the pantry/fridge for those days where I don’t have time to plan like I’d like.  Anyway, here is a short list of ingredients that I’m sure I’ll use this week: tofu (second attempt), another round with quinoa, an avocado (second attempt for TPE), some edamame , carrots, red onion, summer squash, and maybe some flaxseed (we’ll see).

How do you do your menu planning?  Do you stick to it? What are your go-to-ingredients in your veggie, or not, pantry?

When food is not really food

Check out this link, courtesy of my sister.

Bean Salad, Two Ways

With TPE not feeling at her tip-top, she was requesting something light on the stomach.  That screamed out “lentil salad” to me — simple, fresh flavors and the digestive ease of French lentils.  After perusing a couple of favorite cookbooks, I settled on a recipe that had some diced peppers, squash, and red onion.  I steeped the lentils in veggie broth with a splash of white wine, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf.  Add in some fresh sage and parsley from the backyard, olive oil, red wine vinegar, feta cheese and you have a mighty fine bean salad.

The problem with it was that I was going to still be hungry by the end of dinner and probably ravenous by the time The Child was in bed.  Short on time, I decided to put together a guacoamolesalsabeansalad-thing.  Avocado, yellow onion, garlic, tomato, blackbeans…olive oil, salt, pepper, and lime juices mixed up, and I had a dish that TPE wouldn’t eat but that I would.  Oh…a little bit of cumin and cayenne, which is the real source of her objections. All in all, it worked pretty nicely and would’ve done even better with a bit of corn in there, but I didn’t have any that wasn’t in a can (pass on the can tonight…I’m trying to break my canned veggie habit).

I didn’t think it was possible to be full with just bean salads.  And, in fact, it wasn’t.  But two bean salads?  That’s the stuff!  Yeah, they didn’t really go together in terms of their flavor components, but they went well in my stomach.  Most importantly, TPE not only liked the lentil salad but seemed OK with the idea of a bean spread/grilled veggie burrito with a version of purred black beans.  Maybe later this week…

Salt

A four pager from the New York Times about salt and the politics behind its regulation.

A whole post about…fiber?

A really fascinating link about fiber in today’s HuffPo.  It tries to explain why Bushmen are healthier than we are, points to a new kind of “super fiber” and then gives you nine tips for increasing your soluble fiber intake.

Normally I won’t comment on links like this so much as just passing them on, but this one hits very close to the challenges we face in my home.  TPE (The Picky Eater) won’t eat a lot of things on the list in that article (can you imagine me sprinkling flax seed on her food?), but has health concerns directly related to the intake of fiber.  So I have to think about how to slip brown rice into her diet without her knowing, and forcing a blackberry down her throat.  The Child will eat berries, but no grains and nuts of course.

Creative solutions are definitely welcome!

I almost forgot!

A big disaster has probably been avoided…the Picky Eater probably does not have a gluten allergy.  There is one more step to check for things, but at least the challenge of feeding her hasn’t gotten any harder.

Two Words

Watermelon sorbet.

OK, so more than just two words.  We bought a fresh watermelon this week and I cut up one half of it for eating and made sorbet out of the second half.  I had the first serving last night when everyone else was sleeping and it was very refreshing.  It probably could do with a little less simple syrup and a little more lemon juice, but its good practice for a tasty treat before we get into the deep summer and we’ll really want it.

(Side note — everyone should make sorbet.  Its easy to do even without an ice cream churn and its very easy to take control over what goes into your sweet treats.  And summer is a perfect time to do it!)

The basics of most sorbet’s I’ve made: 1 cup of simple syrup (around 3/4 cup of water and sugar each is my guesstimate), 2 cups of purred fruit juice carefully strained of seeds, and 1 TB spoon of lemon or lime juice.  It does differ by the type of fruit you’re using (watermelon was 4 cups, e.g.) but these are the basic ingredients.

How long will it take for this to get boring for you, dear reader?

The challenge tonight is what it is for most families, I suspect.  The Child — or, if you prefer her new Native American name, She Who Hums While Watching TV — had a Girl Scout meeting about an hour and a half after I got home.  As I’m sure you’ve gathered, we could just scatter chicken nuggets on the table with a few olives and she’d be fine.  The Picky Eater and I needed real food.

Looking for inspiration, I glanced at what we had in the fridge and found these notable ingredients — portabella and button mushrooms, yogurt, shallots, carrots, and some other sundries.  With that in mind, I decided to first focus on the mushrooms.  I opened Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (a must for everyone who likes to cook, not just vegetarians) and spied … a mushroom broth recipe.  Whoops, wrong page.  After finding the proper page, I saw a recipe for sauted mushrooms with a white wine reduction, cream, and sour cream.  That I can work with.

Here is where my wife’s food peccadilloes cause some problems.  What’s wrong, you might ask?  Sour cream.  A doctor told her sometime ago that she’s allergic to it and, sure enough, when she eats it she doesn’t seem to feel well.  That means no sour cream unless I want to see dinner more than once (if you catch my drift).  Experience does suggest that a plain yogurt will usually be a good substitute, but this was a white wine based sauce.

Ah, what the hell…no time to think, I just did it.  I cut up about 10 oz. of a mushroom combo, one whole shallot, and 2 TB of butter and cooked them up.  While that was going, I boiled some water for a hidden gem in the cupboard, namely a spinach fettuccine.  Once the mushrooms and shallot reduced, I put about 1/2 cups of of white wine and let it reduce.  Once that was done, it was a quarter cup of both cream and yogurt.  Once that was nicely mixed in, I reduced the heat to low and dropped in some fresh parsley and tarragon from the garden along with some chopped garlic.  Five minutes later, it was sitting on top of a pile of fettuccine.  The accompaniments were 1) a Northern bean salad with balsamic, olive oil, herbs de provence, carrots, and onion, 2) a slice of toasted bread and 3) for me, a quick pan fry of squash, zucchini, and onion.

All in all a fine meal.  I got protein in the wife, enough food for me, and the dinner cooked, eaten, and cleaned up in 1 1/2 hours.  I’d probably make more of the sauce if given the opportunity, because the pasta just soaked it up.  But not bad on a moments notice, eh?

What’s your short on time cooking strategy?  What did you cook the last time you didn’t have a lot of time?