Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whatever It Is That Boy Put a Spell On Me

There has been some fuzzy-ass anniversaries in the past few years. We celebrate on Halloween.  Our first date was near around that holiday about a hunnerd years ago in SF.  I met him from my bestie KK who worked in the same record store.  I was swore off of men at the time even though it was torturous to try to find a straight one in that town anyway.  But it was also very interesting to see how the lines get so blurry when freedom and youth and openness come into play.  I met some amazing boys that I'll never forget but not because of a romantic connection, mainly due to an inability to find a way to connect romantically.  I never felt like it was any kind of a sin to experiment when your heart was driving you somewhere new.  But some things don't work. It was like a dairy intolerance. Or a bear trying to eat at a turtle or something.  You know something cool's inside there but you can't get to it.
But nonetheless I was still ecstatic to start fresh and meet this amalgam of so many of my interests and dreams.  A musician and a songwriter, a genuine lover of music, a Midwesterner, a kind heart, a poet, someone engaged in life, someone who I could also learn things from and grow with. He made films on Super 8 and had provocative friends.  His voice on the phone used to send me reeling.  Of course he was also a smoker at the time, wasn't that considerate of women and didn't know how to act on a date.  He was not romantic or really all that sweet to me at first, although he had his moments.  He drank all my roommates beer on our first date and never called me the next day.  At one point I considered off'ing him just to have some peace.
Maybe it's fitting the anniversaries are as hazy as the courtship.  Two years ago, I went to visit my sister.  One year ago we had Sandy come visit unexpectedly.
This year for reasons I am not at liberty to divulge, we are on a strict diet of no oiled foods and no fats and no sugar.  We both worked, so the celebration was muted. I made a stir fry of sorts with fresh vegetables, a frozen medley, canned bamboo shoots and shrimp.  I cooked each of the items separately in a bit of chicken stock before finishing them all together with a corn starch slurry.

We like to remember the date but we're really not ones to haul off and hold some big party.  It's more like a gentle reminder, oh yeah that happened at this time of year.  huh.  It's all a purple haze.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You Do Something To Me That I Can't Explain

Quick Fat free Chicken Vegetable Soup made with Rachel Ray Chicken Stock because it has no MSG, help from frozen vegetables and enriched with fresh carrots, celery, zucchini, mushrooms, green bell pepper and chunks of chicken breast.
For me, hunks of potato were missing at first bite of this delicious soup but in the end, because it was so chocked full of light vegetables, you weren't left with the super full feeling of having the root veggies. It was almost energizing, hard to describe.  To be satisfied and full but also to get a burst like coffee.  Even better the next day.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wanted a Chicken, Never Bargained for You

I love broccoli rabe or rapini, another name.  There is something so bitter green about that vegetable that really makes you feel strong afterwards.  Strong like bull. 
And the edamame is also very instantly gratifying as far as soybeans go.   Normally I love steaming them in garlic water, putting a bit of soy and then some good sesame seed oil, a squirt of lemon.  Are they genetically modified?  I'm afraid to find out.  Probably.  If I can afford them, they're probably all mucked up.
And more chicken breasts....yawn.  But with the right spices and swimming in this Sriracha sauce, not bad at all.  At least it's a clean feeling, like no bloat or discomfort.  Yep... it's all just good for you and so delicious.  Ho hum...
Egg white scramble with herbs and zucchini for breakfast.  Kinda broke my heart to throw those yolks down the sink.  Little golden silky pillows of soft rich goodness.  Sniff*sniff.
It's an adjustment to eat without oils and fat, sugars.  Did you know even broccoli has 2 grams of sugar?  Sure, it's the good kind and all of that but kinda odd huh?  Then you have tomatoes that have 5 grams in just 1/2 cup of a sliced one but then no calories.   Better compared to other fruits.  1/2 cup of grapes has 12 grams of sugar although you get more nutrition from eating real fruit.  It comes down to what's your poison?  Is it calories, carbohydrates, fat, salt, pesticides, genetic engineering, sugar, wheat, dairy, glutten?  Are you trying to eat more leafy greens?  Well you better be sure they're organically grown.  Are you trying for more whole grains?  Well you better be checking those labels twice because the ingredient lists are full of lies!  It's all a big cluster.  Gone are the days when you could just 'eat'.
I am actually loving all the extra oil, fat and cheese-free vegetables but man I just wish they'd quit playing that Pizza Hut 3 Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza ad for only $12 commercial on T.V.!  Especially cruel since we don't even have Pizza Huts in NYC except I think in the outskirts of Queens or something.  I haven't had Pizza Hut pizza I believe in about 25 years.  As I recall I loved it.  They had a great salad bar with those great fake bacon bits and an especially tasty ranch dressing back when you could eat a salad topped with all the fattening bits and still believe in your heart it was healthy for you.  Knowledge is not all its cracked up to be.  My sister M fell in a Pizza Hut parking lot and I believe broke her leg or fractured it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Islands in the Steam

Even though it's not cold enough outside yet to crank up the oven every night, it's starting and that is exciting!  Such a pleasure to open that door and slide your dinner inside and await the finished result.  You can clean up whilst the magic box does it's thing that only it can do.  I love all kinds of roasting and braising, the pizza stone, and now the packet pouches.  Each method provides a unique flavor transformation.
Tonight I took chicken breasts and layered vegetables and herbs for a wax paper packet dinner.  I had zucchini, onion, basil and tomatillo slices with red pepper sprinkles, garlic, salt and pepper. I squeezed lemon juice and a bit of soy sauce, wrapped it up and let it steam bake away.
I roasted some mushrooms on the side and they stayed bursting with juicy goodness on the inside.  The chicken was moist and infused with the essence of all his new buddies. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Know What It Is to be Sad

For health reasons, we are on a food regime consisting of plenty of greens, vegetables, fish and chicken.  Chicken without the fat, which for me, is nothing short of sad.  I've never been a fan of chicken breast or white meat in general but it's not bad actually.  I can learn to love it.  It's much more expensive and for that I still remain bitter.  I love my chicken thighs and have loved them a hundred different ways.  I also get down with my legs, however I broke up with wings years ago and only make them on very special occasions. 
The fun thing about roasting meats and vegetables is how easy the clean up can be.  Just lay them all out on the roasting rack and let it go.  I used my Misto oil sprayer to just mist them lightly in order for the salt and pepper to stick to the vegetables.
This is like food without make up, in it's natural state.  This is when it's apparent how perfect mother nature can be regarding taste and flavor of her own offerings.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time, Didn't I?

So I'm talking to my co-worker today B, and she whips out a bag of cashews.  It's a full moon so I'm feelin' people much more today than usual, almost chatty, very rare.  I start up a conversation especially since being the nerd that I am, the previous night I had just happened to study & compare the nutritional value of different nuts.  We're talking about them, I'm telling her how they are super high in good fats and antioxidants.  She screams 'they're fattening!?' and I explain myself.  We talk a bit more.  I notice things about people.  I've worked with her for 5 years, so I've seen what she eats for lunch, which is a lot of fruit.  So I end up throwing in some fun facts about fruit.  All the sudden I'm a nutritionist, showing off and even offering advice about her high cholesterol. 
So anyway, she starts telling me how much she loves the cashew fruit.  Hold the phone! What the heck is she going on about?  She has a thick accent so I think I am not hearing her right, so I tell her back up the truck, cashew fruit?? Yeah, cashew apples she says.  And then she draws them for me and I have to believe she's messing with my head.  Who has ever heard that cashew nuts hang off some piece of delicious edible fruit???  Actually it gets much weirder than that because this sweet red apple, is what they call an accessory or false fruit, and the real fruit of the tree is the casing of what we call the cashew nut but what is actually the seed.  WTF?!  She says its super soft and sweet, very different and couldn't tell me what it tasted most like.  I race home to Google it and there it is, just like she drew it.  Wikipedia says it has notes of mango, raw green pepper and just a little hint of grapefruit like citrus.
I guess the false fruit is super juicy with soft skin so it's unsuitable for transport. 

I did not know that.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lady in Red

More tomatoes fresh from my friends garden!  What a treat!  I really needed to create something amazing with these but my schedule didn't allow amazing, just good.
When riding the bag home on my bike I brainstormed about a new fresh tomato dish that would wow the millions.  Then after three night shifts in a row a couple of the red cuties were looking a little under the weather and rotting, I decided to just use them, quickly.

This morning I put them in my spinach, tomato, feta scramble.  They were the highlight of the dish, left only to heat through and get more juicy but not lose their shape.

These are now all gone, some used in salads, some in quickie cream cheese, tomato, onion English muffins that I'm not supposed to be eating.  Nothing earth shattering was created but alone these smelled like real tomatoes and tasted fresh, tangy and tart just like they're supposed to and that was enough for me!

Monday, October 14, 2013

And All Ya Gotta Do is, Act Naturally

Stir Fry Tofu with brussel sprouts, broccoli and tomato.  Not the most likely combination.  I mean if vegetables were drunk at a bar, and the mushrooms and red peppers had already gone home, I still don't think broccoli would be caught nuzzling up to the brussel sprouts.  Brussel sprouts can be a bit much.  I left them whole this time but I like them better cut in half or quarters and with a little carmelization on them, roasted or braised. But I don't think they need all that bacon or butter, just salt and a squeeze of lime.  To me they taste great and are super filling. But this worked because after our bad eating spree and visitors, we needed to get something green and healthy inside us. 

 Just a soy sauce slurry...
 ...and some red pepper flakes and it was good to go!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

On the Sunday Mornin' Sidewalk

Had brunch at Putnam's Pub & Cooker in Clinton Hill.  Tried to eat at Chez Lola or Maggie Brown's but the line was too long.  We had four hung visiting relatives in town and needed to get them sitting down with a hair of the dog drink in hand quickly.
 It's a scary time to try a new place but after we got in so quickly with 6 people, sat down at a great table I decided I love this place!  The d├ęcor, the waitresses and staff, the menu and the food itself.  The food was soooo good and the presentation was fun and down to the table and chairs, I just loved everything about this place.  Someone was very thoughtful about all aspects including the seating. I hope to go again soon and sit in one of the big pub-style looking booths. 

I had the Putnam's Brunch Burger, grassfed sirloin, applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, a sunny egg and the bun was toasty.  Even though I had a hard time getting this thing in my mouth (shut up!) it was such a nice surprise and well worth the dissection to get every bite.  And they served it on a butcher board so that was easy too.

By the way, pricing is super reasonable.

I want to go there right now!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Change is Gonna Do Me Good

Nerd Alert! I love tracking the changing of the leaves every fall.  Nothing is too apparent yet but on this day you could see the beginnings of the reds and yellows coming in. It's gonna sound corny but because I'm so freaked out about the climate change, I have a small fear that in my lifetime I will see a year when fall does not come, nor spring.  Maybe there will be new swirly weather that brings all seasons in one week, like we've already seen in small doses.  I treasure the seasons now.  They are like gifts. Signs of winter are more like getting socks where maybe you don't see all the benefit at first open.  But later you can enjoy and appreciate.   I think for me the first thing I notice is the sky goes white the majority of the days.  The lack of sun does affect me strongly but this year I'm determined to enjoy the things that are better about the changing weather.  For example all summer long my hair is a frizzy mess that cannot be tamed.  Now it's behavin' and almost shiny.  I can air dry it and it will even have natural waves.  I like sleeping with blankets and not being sweaty all the time. 

Foodwise; soups are back!  Also casseroles and baked vegetables.  Hot food in general.  This morning I made quick chilaquiles with my dad's hot sauce and homemade hash browns.