I LOVE that my husband enjoys cooking and creating interesting meals for us. I like to bake, and can turn out a pretty decent bread in 90 minutes, but I’m rarely inspired to cook. He, on the other hand, loves to create. The other night he asked if I was okay with a flatbread for dinner. Okay? Oh Em Gee, Babe, I’m okay with whatever as long as I’m not cooking. 🙂 When he pulled it out of the oven he called it a pizza. 🙂 I don’t care what we call it – it was DELICIOUS. I asked him how he made it but of course I glazed over as soon as he went into the details. What I DO remember: He pureed broccoli and brussels sprouts with coconut milk. He makes his own crusts. He sliced mushrooms and let them sit in the puree until it was assembly time. The layers are something like this – crust, puree, something else????, a layer of cheddar cheese slices, puree, mushrooms, layer of gouda slices. I’m fairly certain I’m missing something (I know there are onions but I’m not sure at which stage they were added) but that’s good enough to explain the photos. 🙂 We had just over half the first night, and the remainder the next night, with his left-over crust-less quiche. 🙂 Ahh, life is good.
Flatbread for Dinner
This weekend my husband announced on Saturday that he would be making flatbread for dinner on Sunday. I wasn’t really sure what that meant but I’ve learned over the years that if my husband is cooking, I’m enjoying (okay, there was that one time over 30 years ago when he made fried rice and none of us could feel the inside of our mouths for the next 2 weeks). I was given instructions to pick up fresh yeast (not dried yeast) and some more mushrooms. We had, according to the chef, sufficient plum tomatoes and onions and tahini and parmesan cheese. He likes to talk to me to tell me what he is going to concoct. I don’t always listen in detail because these conversations often occur when I am in the middle of doing something else. 🙂 I listen for the “do we have any” and the “can you pick up” phrases. I went about doing a zillion errands and chores on Sunday – dusted his office (no wonder why he is always coughing up there), cleaned the bathroom, did the laundry, grocery shopping, got books from the library, and emptied garbage cans. I figured after that day I was entitled to sit back and let someone else make dinner. It was, of course, totally delicious. Other than what I mentioned above, I have no idea how he made it or what was in it. But now it’s in us and our tummies are oh so very happy!
Cooking Beats The Blues
Yesterday was NOT a good day. There are some ‘things’ that are making me less than happy at work. I expect those to clear up, but in the meantime I’m not enjoying the state of things. I can tell that I really am fully healthy again because I have the energy to be grumpy. I’m aware of all the things that NEED TO GET DONE and all the things about myself that are not satisfactory. Gee, almost makes me wonder if being sick DOES have an upside. 🙂 I know – be VERY careful what you wish for.
To top it off I went out at lunch to try to find paint for several of the rooms in the house that still need finishing after taking apart the house for the new electrical wiring in the renovated kitchen. The paint is annoying for a few reasons. First, I can’t believe it’s been over a year and I still haven’t done anything about it. Well, that’s not fair. I DID engage someone to do the painting but he never got to it before I had to tell him to cancel the request. But I HAD picked out paint colors. I thought I’d run over to the big box stores and see if I could pick up the paint myself. Maybe my husband and I would be inspired and tackle one of the walls. I cannot find the colors I selected off of the contractor’s color wheel. I remember the numbers and some of the names. They were NOT at the first big box store I checked. I grabbed a multitude of color samples but none of them look right. I went to the other big box store yesterday to see their colors. While I was standing there the screen over the lights fell on my face. Yes, that is correct – on my face, cutting my nose and hitting my lip as well. I was very taken aback. It is indicative of my mood at that point that I wanted to cry. 😦 When I went to Customer Support to get the cut cleaned and bandaged and some ice for what felt like it might be a swelling lip, they were completely nonplussed. It was if no one had EVER been injured in that store before nor had they personally ever seen a bleeding cut. Really????? Anyway, the woman got me a wipe from the entry way (the kind you use to sanitize your shopping cart handle) and the man ultimately found me some ice, which he delivered in a napkin. And HE was the manager. Honestly, what passes for training these days? You can see why THAT errand left me grumpy and frustrated.
I came home early, resolved to bake or cook or something to beat the blues. I was expecting my husband home around 5:30. I knew he had an appointment far away and almost called him around 5:00 to ask where he was so I could judge arrival time. Imagine my surprise when he called a little after 5 to tell me he had only just left and wouldn’t be home until maybe 7:30. Ouch. That’s a bit late for me to eat. 😦 Good thing I had NOT called when I thought of it, as he would have still been in the meeting.
I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to read and think. That all led to me feeling more relaxed and positive about cooking. I decided to try a lentil recipe that I’d found months ago when I was looking for dishes to serve for Sukkot. I wanted something with flavor and texture but uncomplicated because I wasn’t in a mood to fuss. I went with the Pasta e Lenticche recipe. I liked that it cooked in one pot. I hate doing dishes. *grin* I had nearly all the ingredients. I only had green lentils, not brown lentils (note to self: buy brown lentils) and I didn’t have the suggested pasta – I had rotelle, not any tubular pasta, and only dried bay leaf, not fresh. But I did have fresh thyme because that is one of my porch pots that is still producing. 🙂
The dish was very easy to make and very tasty. I had to add much more liquid due to the use of green lentils, but it was easy to judge how much to add. The use of rotelle seemed not to make a difference. I had to add salt to my dish but that is always the case as my husband watches his salt intake. Just as I finished the dish and began to move it to the smallest burner to keep it hot, my husband came through the door. Perfect timing! I’d even had time to put together a fresh salad. Delicious dinner, recipe well worth keeping and repeating, and I was no longer so grumpy. Food, wine and thinking creative thoughts beat the blues yet again!
Perhaps This is What “Health” Feels Like
I’m not sure anymore what “healthy” feels like. Are you allowed to have a little bit of sniffles and still be healthy? This weekend I had more energy than I’ve had in weeks. My sister and her husband were coming to dinner on Saturday. I gave myself the luxury of sleeping late (or as late as BC allowed). When I got up, I fed the cats, put away the dry clean dishes from the day before, made coffee and made up a batch of biscuits!!! I haven’t really felt like baking in WEEKS!
Have I mentioned here what I’ve been doing with my coffee these days? I’ve been adding chili powder and cayenne pepper to the grounds before brewing. I sometimes add cinnamon as well. I find the heat really helps to clear my sinuses and cut through any PND syndrome that is present. I learned that I liked the chili/cayenne/cinnamon combination added to chocolate so I figured that it might work well with coffee as well. I think it was on one of Jinjer’s posts that I ended up in a discussion about those flavors, and the fantastic designer chocolate that introduced me to the combination – Chuao Spicy Maya dark chocolate. I love their website as well. How can you resist the slogan: “For when wine just isn’t cutting it“? They sure have me pegged. 🙂
Anyway, once I had my coffee, I was a fountain of energy. I had the energy to have a text conversation with my niece, I cleaned all the counters, wiped down the white cabinets, swept the floors, damp mopped the floors, and cleaned off the dining room table. I then took an hour to relax and make sure I hadn’t pushed beyond my reserves. Then I started baking the spice cake for dessert, and preparing the vegetables to go along with my husband’s cornish game hens. He was also making potatoes au gratin. Dinner WAS delicious. Apologies that I did not take a picture of the cooked hens & potatoes – you will have to trust me that not only where they delicious but they were beautiful as well. My brother-in-law made TWO delicious loaves of bread – a grainy bread with pine nuts and seeds. Also fantastic and we’ve been enjoying the bread since then. 🙂 They left BOTH loaves with us.
I did send the spice cake home with them. The menfolk told me that they loved the spice cake (made using Tagatesse and Sukrin Gold sugar substitutes) but neither of them much care for cream cheese frosting (in general – it was not a comment on the frosting recipe, which I found tasty). If I’d known THAT, I’d have skipped it and just served the spice cake with whipped cream. 🙂 I’ll know for next time. I have to agree with them. That spice cake recipe made a tasty moist cake that really doesn’t even need frosting. It would be perfect with coffee in the morning.
So the thing that is totally frustrating me at this point is that it is becoming impossible to obtain Tagatesse in this country. I don’t even mind paying the outrageous price Amazon demanded – $18/1 pound box. (You do realize that white sugar sells for around $1.50-$1.99 for FOUR pounds???) I need to make friends with someone in Europe (NOT the UK)and/or find someone heading over to Europe. Damhert does not ship to the United States. I only have one more box of Tagatesse. 😦
Venn-Diagram Menu Planning
OR: The Dinner Party That Wasn’t
Once upon a time, there was a world where everyone could eat everything and anything, and menu planning was simple. Times changes, people aged, digestive systems changed and one day we woke up to the fact that whereas we picked our food from Column A, they picked their food from Column B. Some preferences were due to life-threatening allergies, some due to digestive issues, but no matter the source, we all had very specific dietary preferences and needs.
I’ve mentioned our ‘gang of 8’ on this blog before – 4 couples who have been getting together for decades (more than one decade lets me use that phrase). We started with only 2 food requirements: vegetarians and no nuts. Then we added kosher/kosher-style. Then we started with planning for diabetes and high-blood pressure (no salt). Add in gluten-free, low-carbohydrate and I think we’ve got all of the requirements. To date none of us have needed to avoid nightshades but that would not surprise me in the least should it need factoring in. Just for fun, 4 of the people do not drink alcoholic beverages at all.
Couple A are meat eaters, but avoid gluten and carbohydrates. That tosses side dishes like pasta & rice, bread, and potatoes but it also tosses many high-carbohydrate vegetables. Couple B are vegetarians (NOT Vegan, thank goodness). They like carbohydrates and gluten. 🙂 Couple C have the severe nut allergy – puts her in the hospital. He can’t eat nut products either because should he kiss her with nut residue, off to the hospital we go. Couple D prefers kosher style and needs sugar-free desserts. What is a hostess to serve so that everyone feels like they have a variety of options and no one feels deprived???
I love to bake. I wanted to bake French bread and make desserts for my dinner party. I’m not all that big on potatoes but my husband loves them. I thought I’d bake gluten-free bread, but apparently gluten-free flour is still too high in carbs for Couple A. They WILL eat products with almond flour or coconut flour but see footnotes on couple C. Anything I baked would either kill Couple A or Couple C. *grin* I finally decided that I would bake with gluten, and Couple A would have their gluten-free cheesecake for dessert (which of course Couple C could not touch because the crust would be made with almond flour). Here is the final menu – I get to bake, my husband gets to cook, food for everyone and no one should be going hungry.
cheese board with crackers and vegetables.
home-baked gluten-full French bread
roasted brussel sprouts
potatoes au gratin (which does NOT mean in cheese)
Cornish game hens
gluten-free cheese cake
apple-cranberry tart (sugar free)
sugar free brownies
It should have worked. It would have been a great dinner. Too bad I was too ill to make it happen. And as I am still too congested today, and now my husband has congestion and is coughing, we cancelled the make-up date too. See everyone for the Superbowl party in 3 weeks!
Several weeks ago when it was too hot to cook and I was looking for cool salads, I saw a recipe for Wheat Berry Salad. Whole wheat, cracked wheat, bulgur wheat, tabouli, couscous – they are so similiar and it’s hard for me to figure out if they are the same thing or different. Wheat berries, on the other hand, triggered a pleasant memory. Many, many years ago our friend invited us to dinner in her sukkah. She’s an excellent cook. Her background is Iranian, and she often serves food that I would normally not eat if I were not a guest. *grin* My mother brought me up to be a well-behaved polite guest – you eat what you are served. 🙂 Our friend served a wheat berry salad. The reward for being a polite guest is that sometimes you learn to like something new, that you never thought you’d like. So when the wheat berry recipe popped up in my search, I decided to save it and try it.
Following this recipe meant first I had to find wheat berries. After trying several local stores I ordered them (and some cracked wheat) online. (The cracked wheat is my next new venture – stay tuned.) The recipe also calls for things that in my past I would have told you I don’t eat, and would have been cause for tossing the recipe. That would include nuts and dried fruit. I don’t like “things” in my food. *grin* Or so I thought. Anyway, I made the linked recipe just as it stands. It is DELICIOUS. I love the texture and the flavors. I think it will work well in fall, too, because of its harvest colors. My husband and I both made large inroads into the bowl of wheat berry salad. Definitely a recipe to keep and repeat!
Wheat Berry Salad, Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger, Posted on the Food Network website
Dinner Down the Shore
I think it must have been the fried clams at the county fair. In the middle of the week my husband suggested that we go down the shore for dinner on Saturday – he had a craving for fried seafood. “Down the shore” – that’s a Jersey thing. You go down the shore so you can go to the beach. I have still not made it to the beach this summer but I’ve been down the shore for dinner twice. 🙂 I am a Jersey girl through and through. We’re the best. Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen know that. *grin*
There are many places we like to go for dinner, but one of the most fun, most convenient and ultimately least expensive is Moby’s Lobster Deck. It’s owned and run by the same folks who run Bahr’s Landing restaurant (which has been there for over 100 years). We learned about Moby’s from friends of ours when our son was still in single-digits. As you can see from the pictures, it’s not much to look at. It really is a seafood shack. You go to the window and place your order and get a number. Then you go up on the deck and hangout and wait for your number to be called. I seem to remember that when we first started coming the picnic tables were covered with red and white checked plastic tablecloths, but I may have added that memory on my own. What I do know is a factual memory is that my son snitched a piece of fried food from his dad’s plate without asking. He’ll never do that again, because when he found out WHAT he ate, he was not a happy camper. *grin* I don’t remember it if had tentacles or suction cups, but my son did NOT want to be eating it. Some lessons are best learned first hand, pun intended.
When we left the house it was hot and sunny. Of course we took the convertible with the top down. It’s the best way to go down the shore. 🙂 (It’s the best way to go most anywhere, as I think I’ve mentioned.) The weather was perfect and traffic was light, despite it being a Saturday. We were doing something a bit different than our usual down the shore trek for dinner. We left around 2:30 pm (we had a stop to make on the way). We figured we get there around 3:30 or so and have an early dinner, before the crowds started coming. I’d not had lunch yet so that timing was going to work for me. We took the local roads, not the highway, which led to an interesting observation by my husband. He noted that in one short stretch of road we’d passed FIVE pizza parlors. 🙂 We immediately began counting pizza parlors the rest of the trip. That led us to the all important question: Are there more Chinese restaurants or pizza parlors? I will tell you that we asked Siri, and she failed utterly. But I think we may have discovered the beginning of a new car travel game.
We were on the last stretch of road on the way to Highlands. There is one hill you climb, and then start down again to the coast. As we crested the hill I thought I was seeing smoke. My husband said no, that’s fog. Sure enough, as we came down the hill, it was fog. What a sea change from when we left! I have been down to Sandy Hook in the rain and the fog, so it was not a new view for me, but it was a bit uncommon. We do tend to go down the shore in nice weather, not fog. I actually enjoy a bit of fog in the mornings, or late afternoons when we are staying for a week. There is something so soothing and exotic about a touch of fog with the salt air, and the sound of the water. I will tell you that when there is NO fog, you would be seeing the sandy stretch of beach on the other side of the Shrewsbury river.
You can see by the pictures that we did indeed beat the crowd. We had a lovely dinner listening to the seagulls (wow, those are BIG birds) and the water lapping against the pier. My husband indulged with fried clams and steamers. I had a fried fish sandwich and corn on the cob.
We had time after dinner to drive a little further to what used to be one of our favorite restaurants. It has changed ownership, name and menu. When I’d checked it out online the menu was not especially appealing – it wasn’t seafood oriented anymore. They still have the tiki bar and live music, but I’m not sure that will be enough to pull us back. There is another restaurant next door, that we have always observed, but never investigated. This time we found a place to park the car (parking is an issue in that area – not many spaces for out-of-towners. We wandered over and discovered that this place had a VERY interesting menu, as well as 3 different seating areas – the outdoor tables with umbrellas, an open-air covered area, and then the inside typical restaurant area. We decided we’d really like to try that restaurant next time. It’s going to take a bit of planning, however, because parking really is an issue down there. Too bad they don’t offer valet parking like our old favorite does. That was, I confess, a big lure for that place. We headed back to the car, and I cruised a few more blocks, scoping out where we might be able to park if/when we return. There did appear to be hope of spaces about 2 blocks away, so it’s certainly a stronger possibility now. *grin* All we need now is to find a time to get back there.
Tuna Stir Fry
We used to eat a lot of fish. I’m not sure what changed, but that has not been the case lately. If we’re eating meat, it tends to be chicken, although we’ve had a lot of beef since Thanksgiving. Perhaps it was the winter weather, or maybe because the grocery store is on the wrong side of the road for me on my way home (and I don’t like that fish market very much), or because my husband no longer stops for fish on HIS way home – I don’t know. But I realized that I missed it and I did NOT want to be eating so much beef.
When I did the grocery shopping this weekend I picked up some scrod and some tuna. My husband used to bring home sashimi-quality tuna from the fish market he passed on his way home. He would season it with a bit of oil, lemon and salt & pepper, and then sear it quickly. Fantastic. I knew the tuna I got at the grocery store was not that quality, so I spent a little time thinking on what to do with it.
The scrod was an easy decision. My husband baked it with lemon juice and a little salt, and we had fish sandwiches made with the fresh bread I’d bought. I haven’t been baking much bread lately. I’ll need to get a few loaves in before it’s Passover and we’re eating matzah. Matzah is fine, but it is NOT bread. 🙂
I thought that I would take the tuna steak and slice it the way restaurants serve tuna – in strips, as opposed to one whole unit. My husband is not as enamored of raw tuna as I am, so I knew I had to cook it. I’m trying to get us back to a diet with a lot of vegetables – have to get ready for spring and all of those outfits that do NOT hide winter accumulation. I also know that I have a tendency to throw LOTS of ingredients into the wok, so I wanted to rein in that temptation as well.
I decided on a Thai peanut sauce (a bottle I picked up at the Asian market). I knew that the sauce was fairly light and not over-powering. The ingredients for the stir fry would be bok choy, shallots, mushrooms and the tuna. I think the shallots have a lighter flavor than onions. We’d serve it with zucchini noodles (I cheated on that too and bought it fresh at the store). The beauty of cooking the tuna, and the limited number of ingredients, was the speed with which it cooked. I’d been doing chores and errands all day, and didn’t really feel like spending a lot of time cooking.
I thought it came out very well. It had a decent balance of color, no one flavor was overwhelming, and it was healthy. Zucchini noodles and riced cauliflower are great assistance in trying to be healthier in my food choices but still have something that feels like carbs!
Fighting Fatigue with Food
It’s been a long week. Work has been super crazy busy. It’s going well, for the most part, but it’s high visibility, high stress, multi-person, multi-goal, multi-everything project. There are 3 of us working to build what needs to do and be everything for everyone. *grin* Now that’s really the kind of challenge I enjoy. But it does leave me tired at the end of the day, when finally sometime well after dark the end of the day comes.
My schedule is comparatively open earlier in the day, which is when I delude myself that I will cook something interesting for dinner. I went shopping at the Asian Food Market near the office the other day during my lunch break and picked up some very interesting items. Unfortunately by the time I made it home that night there was no way I was interested in concocting a meal. It was microwave leftovers time. Last night I again logged out much later than I’d hoped. I was tired, it was late, it was Shabbat. I really wanted to do something nice for dinner but as usual I was TIRED.
I poured myself a glass of wine, sat down with my iPad to read a little, had 2 cats on my lap, and relaxed. Half a glass of wine, one short story and a lot of petting later, I decided I had enough energy to make us dinner instead of having something delivered or finding more leftovers.
This will be a pictorial post – step by step of the ingredients I added. I have to say that it was amazingly tasty and we both loved it and it’s all gone now. 🙂 The vegetables at the Asian Mart are so fresh and so appealing. Add some curry paste and riced cauliflower to that and what could be bad, right?
Eyes focused on me
Five beings with but one thought
Dinner! Feed us NOW!