Day 32 Part 2 Easy Cheat Soup

Ok … I confess! I used a cheat starter for my soup tonight.  I found a box of CORN CHOWDER in the pantry, which did not list garlic on the label.  With the cheat as my inspiration, I chopped up a bit of onion and a YELLOW SQUASH.

Heated oil in the pan then sautéed the onion with a little bit of green chile.  After a little bit of stirring I added the squash.  Again with the stirring to coat with the oil and to begin to sweat the squash. Then added a little cumin and sage.  To this I added the corn chowder and placed the lid on the pot. Checked once and stirred to ensure no stickage.

While that heated through, I chopped up some of the chicken pieces into a large bowl. Added the hot soup on top of the chicken.  Garnished with fresh parsley.  I’m going back for SECONDS.

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Day 31 and 32 Pass Uneventfully

The biggest news in the kitchen is that JR landed back in the states, even if his luggage did not.  Still not back in New Mexico, but at least is no longer 1/2 the world away.  Like the title says … not much else of note in the kitchen here during Week 4 – I made another Rotisserie Chicken Stock, which needs the fat strained off and to be frozen in 2 cup servings.  I feast(ed) on chicken off the bone along with left over soup and cumin flat bread.  And I cleaned out the freezer, throwing away 2 grocery sacks of miscellaneous, unrecognizable-due-to-freezer-burn items.  Shelves are again re-organized — MEATS at the bottom, FRUITS & VEGETABLES in the next bin up, topped by frozen stocks, CHILES, and JR’s pizza.  Tossed out old flour and pancake mixes along with the mystery foods.  Dumped the ICE and started over, while also fixing the ice dispenser so that it will again CRUSH the ice.  (Note: We’ve been stuck with whole cubes for months. GASP)  So, I suspect I am ready for the SO’s imminent return.  I do wonder how I will translate all the cooking I have been doing into a more vegetarian friendly fare.  I am suspecting that I can not and I do like having meat protein again.  Though it won’t kill me to add FISH in once or twice a week.  I suppose that I can make the meat in a packet separate from the other items if pushed.  And he can make his own starch if he feels deprived …  Time to reconsider all the cookbooks. A LOVELY way to spend the rest of the afternoon on this wonderful Veteran’s Day holiday.

Day 30 – Already?

Peppered Vinegar:
Ingredients:  A handful of colorful chile peppers, red and green, slim and the right size to fit into a narrow opening of a bottle, and white vinegar. 

Process:  Bring the vinegar to a boil, while waiting stuff the container with chiles, using a funnel or measuring cup so the hot vinegar does not spill everywhere (don’t ask), fill the container.  Leave it open as the peppers will absorb the vinegar, so you will have to add more.  Once full and cooled, put your cork or top on the bottle and place in the refrigerator.
Stay tuned – I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Cumin Flat Bread:  — from a Gourmet Magazine read in Guatemala circa 1999
  •  1 1/3 cup of warm (105 to 115 degrees) water
  • 1 envelope of yeast
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemon peel (yellow part only)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons course salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Place warm water in the Kitchenaid Mixer bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast over and stir to combine.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Add oil, lemon peel, salt & ground cumin.  Using dough hook attachment, gradually beat in flour. Continue beating 5 minutes.  Turn out dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth dough forms (about 2 minutes).  Dough will be very soft.  Lightly oil large bowl.  Add dough; turn to coat.  Cover with plastic and let rise in warm draft free area until doubled in volume — about an hour.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 12×18-inch baking sheet with heavy duty aluminium foil.  Brush foil with oil.  Place dough in pan.  Using finger tips, press out dough, covering pan completely. (Dough will be very thin)  Sprinkle with cumin and sesame seeds.  Bake until golden – about 30 minutes.  Loosen bread from foil — Serve warm or at room temperature.

Well – the water was the right temperature – but the kitchen is apparently not WARM – had to put the bowl on the floor in front of the heater vent.  So maybe a little flat – but WOW – the lemon is great in this.  Served this to myself with EMPTY THE BIN VEGETABLE SOUP.  Very, very good.
Empty the Bin Vegetable Soup – is just that.  Tonight I started with chicken stock, collard greens and cooking water (pot liquor), the last of the spinach, a red and yellow bell pepper in a chunky dice, chunky pieces of carrots and sweet potato, a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, a couple of sage leaves sissored into the pot, some herbes de provence, and a few stalks of celery.  All into the pressure cooker – and cooked for 20 minutes beyond reaching pressure.  Perfect with the flat bread.

Week 4 – Day 29

No cooking and little eating … the cable installers took too much out of me I guess.  I suspect I will be raring to go tomorrow – list in hand ??? to the market(s) and an empty pot or two just waiting for something to do.

A week to go … haven’t conquered that gym thing yet, but … well, there is still a chance that tomorrow I will suddenly feel the urge to walk on a moving track without going anywhere for about 20 minutes among a room full of strangers similarly doing impressions of hamsters in a habi-trail.  🙂

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.

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.