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.


Day 21 – A Retrospective … on Friday habits

If its FRIDAY it must be popcorn and movies.  At least it has been the case for the last 2 Fridays.  Not just popcorn really.  I had sushi for lunch and only ate 1/2 the roll … so I had 1/2 left, along with the last of the bell pepper slices and the last of the English cucumber.  Along with the cup of air-popped popcorn tossed with butter and popcorn salt and cayenne pepper.

Just eat half … that was the PA’s suggestion to help with the perimenapausal spare tire conundrum.  A new MANTRA only works if saying it stops the path of food to the mouth … half of everything one sees is still a lot of halves!

SO called …apparently there will be a story in approximately 15 days concerning his “astute” sense of direction and the world’s tallest mountain.  Can’t wait and wonder how many were following the pied piper as he led away from the goal. ❤

Day 20 – Cold Winds Blow – Calling for Soup

Still looking into uses for my 2 beautiful pomegranates …

Tonight, after scraping the snow and ice off of the windshield, I flew into the house straight to the freezer. A RETURN to the Root Veggie Soup with an addition of leftover beets (ALL GONE finally) Indian spices and red pepper flakes.  Reheated the “old fashioned way” in a regular pot on the gas burner. 

The fact that I cooked 2 weeks ago and had “good” food to fall back on  when I ran home from work tonight is exactly that for which I hoped to result from this 36 day experiment.  Looks like this weekend needs to be a concerted effort to clean out the freezer and re-organize it so that there is room to freeze extra servings, then to later store them on their sides.  A huge vegetable soup or two … and possibly cook one of the frozen meats so I can portion that out as well.  Just over TWO weeks left to firm up these new habits.

Day 19 – Pomegranates

Now I am contemplating POMEGRANETS. This will take a lot of consideration.

To keep up my strength for this next exploit I figured I needed some traditional protein for dinner.  So … Dinner was stew meat (yes from the amazing pressure cooker) tossed over a salad-style bowl of spinach with julienned apples, beets, and a large spoon-full of beans.  Browned the stew meat and then cooked for 10 minutes with 1/2 water and a little wine I had used to release the brown bits from the pan bottom.

Day 9 – Clay Pot Pork Loin

Ingredients:  Pork tenderloin (2 in a pack); yellow, red, orange bell peppers; pineapple rings and juice; rosemary, tamari &/or salt, rosemary
Process: I have the best clay pot ever — my dad found it at a garage sale for $3; a never-been used Romertopf.  WOW.  Ok, so we begin as anything in the Romertopf begins — soaking in cold water for 20 minutes or more.  I’ve read cooking pages where people talk about not soaking their clay pots. Frankly, that is just plain crazy talk.  
a.       Chop the peppers into small chunks and place in the bottom of the pot
b.      Place the loin(s) on top of the peppers
c.       Season the loin(s) with rosemary and salt
d.      Place pineapple slices on the top of the loin and pour some of the pineapple juice into the bottom of the clay pot (you could also use broth or water) and add a little tamari
With the lid on – place in a cold oven – set the temperature for 450 and the timer for 70 to 80 minutes.  I usually check the meat with 5 minutes to go – use a thermometer or other technique to determine if the meat is the desired doneness.
Pull the meat out of the pot and add a thickener to the remaining juices – I use arrowroot. You could also pour the juices out of the pot into a sauce pan and thicken it over additional heat. Serve with rice.
So – now you are done and the clay pot is, well, dirty.  What do I do? I pour course salt into the bottom and use a vegetable scrub brush to clean off all the bits.  NO soap just very hot water and the salt.  Most of the black bits come off; nothing stuck to the sides – done.  Let it dry and store again until next time.
No word from John in a day or so.  I think he is travelling outside of Dharamsala.  Pretty quiet around here without him and the Sunday Night Football.  Maybe I’ll turn on the last quarter for company. 

Day 6 – Roots in a Spin

… or “how I learned not to over-stuff the food processor” and other interesting tidbits.
Used a little over half of the vegetables that I cooked last night.  The first round of puree activity in the food processor took for ever … because I over-filled it.  Oh … and I didn’t include enough liquid.  Next batch, fewer pieces of the roots, more of the stock. Better. 
Thought I had thyme in the spice rack and found it was tarragon … so, a change of pseudo plan — I picked the spices to use based on how each smelled after having a bite of parsnip.  I grabbed jalapeno peppers, apple cider vinegar, toasted sesame oil, olive oil, plain yogurt, cumin, sage, white pepper, lemon juice, and molasses. (not all in the mix – just on the counter to see what made sense as I went along)
Process, process, process while adding the broth a ladle at a time.  I added a jalapeño chopped very fine to the roots in the processor.  Sometimes during the processing, I also added a little dash of one or both of the oils and a squeeze of lemon. WOW I had no idea how sweet parsnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes would be – the turnips were not enough to cut that down.  I’ll need to work on this. So, armed with a very sweet base – I was looking for savory.  Didn’t want to use too much salt so I started with the apple cider vinegar and a little salt.  I then added a little cumin, nutmeg and sage.  A large dollop of molasses and a fewdollops of yogurt.  Into a large pot and onto the stove top to bring up to temperature.  Not looking for a boil here – just hot.
Plated the soup with fresh cut parsley and chopped walnuts in the center and sprinkle of cayenne pepper lightly across the top.  While waiting for the soup to heat, I toasted a pita lightly. Once the soup was in the bowl, I spread the pita with goat cheese and then sliced it into small strips and ate those with the soup.
Results are mixed.  My initial impression beyond the fact that the soup was a bit too sweet – it lacked fat.  Channeling the great chefs and their use of butter. So maybe next time just carrots and parsnips or just sweet potatoes.  I’ll search for savory – maybe if I could have garlic that would round out the flavor but that is out.  Maybe if the soup is served as a side with a grilled meat … ??? Stay tuned.
Dharamsala will not long remain on John’s itinerary — he is considering his first venture off plan. Yeah for the adventure!  I am 1/7th of the way though this blog experiment.  Hope it gets easier. 

Day 5 – Root Veggies

Received a bit of feedback from a friend and reader, asking about the root vegetables mentioned in the earlier post.  After all, it is fall, its been raining in a lot of places – isn’t it time for a good root vegetable soup.  BUSTED 🙂 and I totally agree. I’ve just been stymied about how exactly to cook those roots.  Should I roast them first? That would certainly give them a wonderful sweet taste and a bit of different texture.  But that means cutting raw and sometimes ornery hard veggies. On the other hand, am I just procrastinating with the pressure cooker because I don’t really know how it works or how long it takes with differing foods?  Hot roasting oven or the pressure cooker plunge?  My choice …

Pressure Cooker – experiment #3! 
Root Vegetables prepped for soup … going for a puree soup in the long run so if I over cook them its ok.

2 sweet potatoes, 2 parsnips, 4 carrots, 2 turnips and an onion; the chicken stock that wasn’t spilled; and the rack in the cooker.  Left the skins on after scrubbing well – we’ll see tomorrow if that was a mistake.  Cut the larger ones into smaller portions so all are about the same size, and then cooked them for 12 minutes once the pressure cooker reached internal pressure.  I plan to mush them up tomorrow.  I will certainly need spices, there is not a lick of salt in any of it yet.  A little research and I promise a soup story!

BTW: the carrots taste really good – for those in the know, almost as good as when they are cooked in a clay pot with a chicken.  That recipe will be posted later.  Pretty done with chicken for this week. Thinking I will make the soup tomorrow and then move on to pork.  Day 5 better than Day 4 – at least nothing spilled this time.

John is in Dharamsala.  Over 12 hours time difference.  Love the internet and facebook for keeping in written touch.  Wish I was on this trek with him. Miss his voice in the house.

Day 5 – Curried Chicken Lunch

Lunch Time!  Probably my favorite meal time …
Tool of Choice:  Kitchen Aid Food Processor
Ingredients:  Left over chicken pieces, celery, apple, raisins, slivered almonds, parsley, plain yogurt and mayo. Spiced with a little salt and curry powder.
So it is early lunch and I am hungry. Thinking about curry on the way home. I love my chicken salad chunky with lots of crunch and interesting bites.  I wanted some brightness to the mayo mixture so I added the yogurt for a little tang and hoped the apples would add the sweet crunch.
Easy enough – filled the food processor 1/4 full (after all it is just me) with the following:
o    chicken hunks from the left-over Rotisserie Chicken;
o    chopped celery — small pieces
o    Half a large apple in hunks
o    Palm sized amount of raisins and almond slivers
o    Tablespoon of both yogurt and mayo
o    Salt and curry powder with a dash of extra cumin
Pulse until the desired consistency.
I put the Curried Chicken Salad on top of some left-over slaw (debated about spinach leaves but wanted that bite of cabbage to go with the curry) into 1/2 pita bread. Sliced the remaining apple on the side.  YUM.  Realized that as a Southern girl – not enough mayo by itself.  But I am holding back and trying to save a calorie.
Eating at the dining room table – looking out the south facing window at the leaves of the vine under the portal – swear they are glowing gold. Lunch is over – have to clean up and get back to work.

Day 4 – Melt Down?

Alright, I saw “Julie and Julia” and believe the time between initiating the cooking project and the first Julie melt down had to have been more than 4 days.  Guess I am missing the competitive drive that drove Julia to mince all those onions.

Today started well – boiled eggs: one for breakfast and 3 for use later.  Downhill from there.  Waited too long for lunch and decided a sandwich from a restaurant was the best use of time. Energy frazzled by 4:30 pm.  Home with a highly anticipated new kitchen trash can to find that the liner will not come out. Tell me I do not have to return this! Nibbled on some chicken hoping the protein boost would change my attitude as well as ability to cope with the obstinate liner. Reached for the vegetables pre-cut for snacks and managed to knock over the chicken broth that I had placed in the ‘fridge to separate the fat.  All over the inside of the refrigerator – fat and all.  I resorted to a bowl of cereal with raisins and rice milk.  I give up.

It should not be this difficult to be able to have the energy and motivation to fix a good meal after a taxing day at work.