Monday, January 28, 2008

Eat Like a Monk?

Juiceboy has been felled by stomach troubles, and I'm making him eat small, simple meals. My mother used to say, "No fats, no fruits and no fries" when we had tummy troubles. And so, that's been my motto too.

It worked. And then he thought he was all better and ate ice cream, and a pasta with olive oil, and he was up at 5:30am today moaning and groaning. So back we go to a monkish diet. But Juiceboy, despite being in the bathroom a lot today, was trying to dive into the tortilla chips, or have something like a hearty soup for dinner. I knew I had to make something that would satisfy his eyes, and baby his stomach.

For dinner, he and I had a simple, easy soup:

Sicky Soup

One rib celery, very finely diced
1/2 cup fideo (or well broken-up angel hair pasta)
Two small cans low-sodium chicken broth
Half a can petite-diced tomatoes
Splash of soy sauce
a few crusts or small chunks of day-old sourdough

Spray a pot with cooking spray, add the celery and pasta. Cook on medium heat until pasta begins to turn golden brown. Add broth, tomatoes, and soy sauce; bring to a boil, cook for 3 minutes until pasta is soft. Place bread in bowls and spoon soup over it.

The sourdough is an important part. The sourness adds a lot of flavor that the soup wouldn't have otherwise.

It was pretty good. Nothing you'd get in a fancy restaurant. And with no onions, no garlic, it's halfway to eating like a monk! (Switch the chicken broth to vegetable, and you'd have it....)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Can't Win them All

A Cooking Light recipe on braising prompted me to make something braised this weekend. It's been gloomy, we all have colds, and the thought of some slow-cooked, melt-in-your-mouth beef was just what the doctor ordered.

Being of stuffy-headed mind, I read the recipes and article twice and watched the videos on the website carefully. The videos were a disaster. The talking heads didn't discuss cuts of meat at all. They didn't show browning techniques. I wanted something more than a pot roast. I wanted delicious, braised beef. can guess what happened. It was Saturday afternoon, so all the smaller cuts of bottom round were sold. There was a huge brisket--but I don't have a container big enough for a whole brisket. If I'm going to buy flank steak I'm going to marinate and grill it. No roasts. So, I got a four-pounder. It had to be cooked in my bigger, lighter pot.

I forgot that it heats faster. What happened as I was dicing onions? Yup, I burnt instead of browned. Picture it: the Bug coughing from smoke, the baby crying, and I'm scraping meat like it's toast. Juiceboy to the rescue, and dinner got back on track.

I slowly simmered it in a lovely red wine sauce with parsnips, carrots and red potatos (those added about 45 minutes from serving time). I served it on top of wide egg noodles.

In the end, dinner was an hour late. The veggies were just barely cooked and the meat was tough. was your basic pot roast.

It made for good leftovers. I slowly simmered it the next two days, cooking extra egg noodles right in the sauce the second night. They were pretty good.

So--I don't know if I'm too excited by braising. I've yet to have truly tender beef come out of something braised. But then again, I'm known for my kitchen fiascos.

Did I mention I burnt the bacon the next day?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Itch I Can't Scratch

I've had a craving for something, but I don't know what it is. I know that seems like an oxymoron. Maybe I've lost my palate for food? I feel like I'm craving pho, or orange beef, or beets, or salty/crunchy, or grapefruit...and when I have some, some of whatever it is, and it's perfectly good, I'm just not satisfied. Not that I want more. Just that I really didn't want that. And I'm still craving.

It's like getting your back scratched. It feels really nice, and there's an itchy part right there under your shoulder blade, oh yeah,, actually to the left, an inch and a half above your bra line....oh, no, now down by that freckle near your the right and up....

Does any of this make sense?

Maybe what I'm craving is sex. Maybe I should go see.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Seasonal Eating

I'm trying to eat more seasonal foods. That means passing the Australian strawberries and going for oranges. Or skipping tomatoes and reaching for...winter squash. Even though none of my local farms are open, I'm assuming that if it's seasonal it's cheaper. And maybe fresher. And it's also a good way to open up to a lot of vegetables that I've written off in the past as wierd, boring or "why would I eat *that*?"

I tried a spaghetti squash, tossing it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. I found it to be odd, and certainly tasted nothing like spaghetti. I'd be willing to try it again with a different preparation. But it's the first time in YEARS that Juiceboy has left something on his plate because he didn't like it.

Before that we had a parsnip. Yes, one. I sliced it up and baked it with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and a few tablespoons of chicken broth. It was really a lot like apple pie filling. Hmmm. I wonder why? We all seemed to like it and I'll try it again, this time taking care to buy the smallest parsnips without a woody core, and dicing them in even cubes.

That same night (it was our Winter Solstice Feast), I made an apple & beet salad. Even though everything turned that bright red color, it was surprisingly yummy and Juiceboy had seconds--and previously he said he didn't like beets!

Apple & Beet Salad

Shrink wrapped, refrigerated beets (I get mine at Trader Joe's), diced
One Fuji apple, diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup to one cup crumbled blue cheese
The juice of one orange
Salt to taste

Mix everything in a bowl. Let sit 15 minutes for flavors to blend, adjust seasonings to taste.