Day 27 & 28 – A Friday without Popcorn

Managed to eat like an adult on Thursday and Friday. No popcorn …

Thursday PRESSURED CHICKEN REVISITED – thawed chicken breast, then added to a covered glass dish with some mustard mixed with grated ginger spread on top of the pieces and a little water in the dish.  With the lid a bit skewed, microwaved (yes, I used the microwave) this on reheat until the sensor said it was done.  OK actually I was directed to “let stand covered.” While waiting for the Sensor-djini to do its magic, I filled a flat bowl with baby greens, dried cranberries, and a touch of blue cheese.  On top of this, the chicken and over the greens the jus.  Really good eats (sorry Alton … I keep stealing your hook line).

Friday: Grilled steak, cabbage with mushrooms, bacon, sour cream, Tabasco, plus snacks for the prep work — Home-made HUMMUS and sliced English cucumber.  Looks like it has been 2 days of revisiting past recipes.  The hummus was not so different from the first attempt; this time I used un-salted, organic garbanzo beans (much better) and less tahini (sesame paste), more lime juice, a bit of minced ginger, a little apple cider vinegar and a little EVOO (a nod here to Rachel Ray) and some Indian spices.  Oh yeah … and a small skinny green chili. (I have no idea what kind of chili – I picked up a bunch at the Farmer’s Market two weekends ago).  Mixed all of the ingredients in the Cuisinart and then ate with the cucumber chips while making dinner.

Pre-heated the oven to 500.  Nothing on the steak, which I put under the broiler.  While steak was smoking up the kitchen … I sautéed the bacon (in small pieces) with the mushrooms and a little EVOO again.  While that was cooking, I flipped the steak over and sliced some Chinese cabbage into a large flat bowl-plate, added a heaping table spoon of sour cream, some tabasco, and some blue cheese crumbles.  Mixed the bacon/mushroom mixture to the bowl and stirred all to coat the cabbage.  On top of this the steak. (Over cooked the steak just a bit because I closed the door when it was done instead of pulling it out of the heat – What was I thinking????).  Tasty meal … but … well … Something in this (or the sulfites in the cheapish red wine) triggered a bit of an allergic reaction.  “Only new item?” you ask.  That would be the sour cream and blue cheese.  Go figure DAIRY.  Should have stuck with the Hummus and steak slices on a side salad.

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Day 26 – Intermediate Pressure Cooking

I’ve advanced to a new stage of pressure cooking — PIP (pot in pot) or something fairly close. So what did I do? I decided to use a set of steamer baskets in the pressure cooker. I used the small set and made a single serving (for a change – no left overs).  Oh is this easy!  Note: Aunt Liz – I promise I am being careful!

Ingredients:  Salmon, mushrooms, collard green leaves, orange bell pepper, lemon juice.

Process: I had wilted the whole collard green leaves first in the pressure cooker with a standard lid and some water.  I took a leaf, split it into large pieces, and lined each of the steamer baskets with the greens (so the FISH wouldn’t stick). One steamer for the mushrooms and peppers; one steamer with the fish. Put the lid on.

Place the rack in the bottom of the pot and add water to reach 1/2 cup — I still had the water from wilting the greens.  Place the steamer on the rack. Close the pressure cooker and start the process.  Highest heat until the pressure button POPS, then turn it down as low as you can and still keep the pressure up.  5 minutes.  Take it off the heat and then cold water release.

Layer each basket on to the plate with some lemon juice.  Pretty sure this was done in less than 15 minutes.

So, again with the very, very clean vegetable based lunch … yours truly is craving red meat and some sort of sweet/gooey something.  I know I need to have more protein during the day and I am trying hard not to be bored by hard-boiled eggs.  So tonight, instead of the sweet gooey – I am having an apple and one more glass of water.  At some point, I certainly hope my body begins to appreciate all that I have stopped eating in the name of its systems health.  It can show me by melting away some inches.  


Just heard from SO!  He is in a small hotel for the first time in 5 days – on his way back to Kathmandu tomorrow.  This adventure is almost over for both of us.  Equal parts “sigh” and “yea” …

Day 25 – Spinach & Bean Soup

This experiment is still working!  Came home to Fresh Spinach, English Cucumber and Orange Bell Pepper slices, and left-over Bean Soup.  Healthy choices – good proteins – lots of vegetables.  Not perfect eating today, but not horrible either (well, except for that drive-thru hamburger for the late lunch on the fly). Freezer is full these days … tomorrow’s menu will be derived from the weekend’s shopping: salmon and greens, along with a salad and apple.  At least that is tonight’s plan!

Wondered this morning on the way to work (a bit before 7 am) whether or not SO was looking at the same full moon I was seeing.  In the midst of his Nepal trek — just a little more than a week left of this experiment and time for re-invention.

Day 24 – A No Cook Monday

I had a salad with goat cheese and a “green drink” for lunch today.  Just feel like it was all too healthy … too green for my gullet.  Going to give my innards a break and provide only a protein drink for dinner; no more items from the BRASSICA family.  That and I guess I just am not hungry.  Chalk it up to the change of time.  Making a list for the week of things I’d like to get settled and things I’d like to get to … exercise will probably be on the later as that habit has not yet formed.  Another day on the road will lead to a lot of coffee (bad) and a lot of time to think (good).  Maybe I’ll be able to stop at the gym on the way home.  Guess I need to change my route so that I at least drive by the place.

Looks like it is a NO-Cook Monday.

Week 3 – Days 22 & 23 – Oxtails!

OK!  I can feel the disappointment each day I don’t timely post.  Mea culpa!

Yesterday I started the experiment with OXTAIL … and the beginning of an oxtail soup or soup base. Mixed results, but lots of learning experiences.  Oh goodie! how I love such “experiences” JK

1st lesson: check the total weight of your Sam’s Club oxtail package before putting them ALL into the pot to brown.  Pressure cooker book suggested 2 lbs, after finding a very tight fit, checked the plastic wrap to find I had almost 4 lbs ….
2nd lesson: when you realize you have too much meat in the pot to brown – take out 1/2 NOW.  Don’t wait and see how it goes …
3rd lesson: one needs cheese cloth or one of those mesh things to keep some of the spices together and make them easy to remove – the decision to toss them in, may have lead to a bitter stock
4th lesson: watch the pressure to ensure you did not turn the heat down too far … the meat should come off the bone without need for very sharp knives and lots of elbow grease and a properly set mouth.

Ingredients:  oxtail, olive oil, sage – herbes de provence, black pepper corns and 2 bay leaves in a bouquet garni, one onion, two stalks of celery, two cans of Guiness or another dark beer, 3 cups of water.

Process:

  • Brown oxtail in the oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Ensure the pieces are browned on all sides and that you haven’t over-crowed the pot (see lessons 1 & 2 above)
  • Remove the meat and set aside
  • Cut the onions in half then quarters, slice the celery – add both to the pot and cook until the onions are softened.  (3 to 6 minutes)
  • Add the spices (see lesson 3 above about the bouquet — oh well), the meat, the beer and the water and cover and latch the pot
  • Bring up to pressure and turn down to the lowest heat that will maintain pressure (see lesson 4) and cook for 35 minutes – Use the natural release method to de-pressurize.
  • Remove the meat and allow to cool
  • Strain the remaining broth to remove the vegetables and spices (colander with cheese cloth); discard the vegetables
  • Remove the meat from the bones and add back into the broth.
Now you are ready to make a soup – adding root vegetables or what ever you have in the pantry/freezer.  I will be adding collard greens and left-over frozen root veggies.  That is today’s project.  The oxtail did not come off the bone well – probably because I did not cook them long enough.  Tasty bits that I did remove.  I have the other half of the browned oxtail in the freezer – next time a hotter simmer.
Still working on the pomegranates — beginning to eye the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and to think about baking (egads) with the pips, cranberries and chocolate … just thinking, but I did notice a packet of yeast in the pantry … and there is a plethora of flour in the freezer … and the mixer is just sitting there staring at me!