Monday, December 30, 2013

You've Got a Strange Magic

The genius here was making tuna burgers taste good when they didn't sound good in my mind to begin with.  At all! But first off, using slightly better quality canned tuna made the world of difference.  You actually feel like you're really eating chunks of fish instead of weird salty threads.  So I started with a better main ingredient.  I added shredded carrots for moisture, green bell pepper, celery, green onion, grainy mustard, and garlic. And to bind 1/4 cup of oatmeal and one egg white. I also have a new Szechuan spice.  I had a nice vegetable medley with water chestnuts and snap peas so I wanted these burgers to have an Asian theme.
P is currently heavy into lettuce tacos so I serve the leaves like torts on the side so he can form his own little pockets.
I like mine served like a big salad.  This was exciting and that grainy mustard warmed in the tuna burger was such a surprise compliment to the tuna.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Give Me Just a Little More Time

I'm calling this Jive Turkey Salad!

The pairings are slightly odd but it was really good together somehow. 
I froze the leftovers from this years bird in small packs of white and dark meat.  Once again I pulled out yet another packet of that bird to help us with dinner just one more time.  Roasted turkey heating with fresh green beans put over thinly sliced iceberg lettuce, green onions, diced tomatoes, canned and drained black beans, cilantro with a lemon-mustard vinaigrette.
I like to pre-toss the lettuce in the dressing before serving so it really has flavor and also serve it nice and cold for that refreshing bite against the warm meat!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mars Ain't the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

Flew to the Midwest for a short pre-holiday visit.  You know the kind you take when you're in retail or a job you can't take off during the actual holiday like normal people?  I would write about the food but really the food was not the big attraction on this trip. 
However, we did have a kick-ass burger at Five Star Burgers I believe it was called?  And my almost-mother-in-law had a nice beet salad that looked good and well dressed.  On the last night we also had the best ever burgers and peel and eat shrimp at Fast Eddies.  The funny back story was that I was dying to have pizza because we hadn't eaten bread in weeks. I love food.  I look forward to it, I dream about it, I consider it.  I plan for it.  Like this pizza.  That was to be my big extravagance on this trip.  Italian food in general is something I love but we never eat out.  P doesn't like pasta and now we don't eat white flour so there you go.  We parked at the Italian restaurant and got out of the SUV but suddenly like a stroke of bad luck we agreed that having Italian for lunch and then pizza for dinner would be too much, so we should do burgers. I was thinking more like Christmas and Thanksgiving on one day!  A wonderful treat! But I wasn't too disappointed.  My turkey burger was super tasty and came with an apple compote that served as a nice little side dish.  We shared onion rings that were light and well spiced.   
We set out for some downtime before dinner at Blueberry Hill, a super fun non-franchise bar restaurant that has games and rock memorabilia, lots of good history in St Louis, especially for the area called The Loop.  Chuck Berry still plays there and is longtime friends with the owner who is a major music and pop culture buff.  Well dinnertime came and it seemed like a whole lot of extra trouble to take this large group to get pizza especially when we were all cozy and comfy playing darts and having beers. The next decision was made to just go ahead and eat at the bar.  So we had all kinds of appetizers and bar food.  Somebody even ordered pancakes.  I went for the chili mac.  P had the turkey burger.
I grew up in a family where the main component of a holiday or any kind of a visit really revolved around food.  But my in-laws are not foodies.  That's why everyone is thin and in shape I suspect. And with healthy interests.  They enjoy eating at nice restaurants and I'm sure they can get down with a favorite dish but I've never really seen it firsthand.  Real foodies are slightly different in that they can't help but talk about the food incessantly beforehand and then after the fact, we dissect every ingredient before trying our hand at guessing the preparation. Of course then the reviews come.  A truthful one in your head and then one you can share with friends, depending on who cooked.  My sister R and our friend J is a foodie.  My mom and dad were foodies. It's almost like a form of Attention Food Disorder without the deficit.  Where when there is food in the room, there is no way to pay attention to anything else.  But it's a nice thing for me to experience, the eating as a side thought because then you can really focus more on the actual people and enjoy the kids and talk and listen.  It's a relatively new concept for me I'm ashamed to say. 
So I never did get my amazing St Louis pizza from Pi, where they serve award winning thin-crust pizza that I remember being completely awesome on a previous visit.  But man this town where P grew up is beyond spectacular.  That's the wrong word, it's majestic, yeah, majestic.  The Mississippi river is just flowing so strong and mighty.

There are all these equally cute little river towns with all this history and houses made out of limestone.  River rock.

And then the bluffs, right alongside the river.  I think the reason bluffs are so fascinating is that you don't expect it. Being from Northern Indiana you can drive around all night with your eyes closed and as long as you drive in squares, you know you'll be fine. Then there are places like this.  You stare up at these bluffs and the river and suddenly it all means something more.  Something inside of you is moved, like standing on the beach at the ocean.  I can imagine my ancestors standing on top of one of these bluffs in a little loincloth with an eagle's headdress or something. 

There is a quiet beauty to most of the town, like the feeling being alone in a church.
On the top of the bluffs you see out across the width of the river and beyond.

P's mom and dad shared beautiful stories with us about of how they met, where they went to school, and one's I'll never forget of their experiences with friends and as a young couple.

Most of the pictures were taken inside the car because it was colder than a mother fluster out there. With winds that came and slapped the goofy smile I had right off of me. 
The town has cobblestone streets and lots of hills.  P was born there and his parents were born there and their parents were born there.  That place is so dang cute you just want to eat it!
...even it's industrial area is like a painting.
Coming back into the city always comes with mixed feelings.  Thoughts of suicide, uncontrollable weeping, deep regret, withdrawal.  Haa haa.  You must make light of these things but oh, it's so true.
And then looking at our industrial areas.  They're not the least bit charming. But the ugly grit had always been something I've been attracted to so I guess something has changed.
I always believed that trips are like dreams, they provide you with answers and information that you have been struggling to find. 
But damned if my foggy ass brain can make any sense of it yet, two weeks later.   Brooklyn, like any bad day, always looks better in the morning.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Making Love Out of Nothing At All

If you know anything about me you know that holidays are my chance to make celebratory food and snacks o-plenty!  Even though in previous years I cut down on the major fatty foods that was nothing compared to this year.  This year was a challenge due to the fact that we have changed up our entire diet to omit cheese, fatty meats, bread, sugar and assorted other good stuff.  The lack of cheese is really helping to tame my migraines I have to admit. 
Portion control was always a very tough one for me.  I couldn't comprehend the idea of serving way less then you knew you could eat.  Being full for me was when my stomach felt like it was going to burst and I started to feel sick. And then I go seepie.  You know, like a puppy.  But everything must change and as one ages a tiny bit your gut becomes like a sensitive little girl.  You really can't just shovel slop in there and expect good results anymore.  So whatever, things change.  But you still have to love your food.
So for starters this year I did a nice mixed green salad with raw asparagus tips, fresh herbs, carrots, red onions, radish, cilantro and  tomatoes. But to make it special I made a ranch dressing using no fat yogurt. 
For dinner I tried my hand at skinless baked barbeque chicken with a home-made sauce.  That sauce needed to be void of sugars. The sugars that make the sauce caramelize on the chicken.  I opted for more of a mustard vinegar sauce that packed a good heat punch without completely shutting down P's anal facility. Less heat and more smoky tang. 
We're not doing bread but I found this rustic course corn bread recipe that is flourless and super easy.  I was able to bake it in the skillet just like regular corn bread.  If you haven't eaten bread in weeks, this tastes really good. 
I rocked, well rocked might be pushing it but I heavily shook a baked artichoke. Instead of cheese and breadcrumbs and butter, I subbed out crunchy grain cereal, EVOO, garlic and herbs, lots of lemon juice on top. Better than expected.

This meal was one of my Christmas presents to us both as it is every year.  At first though it felt like I was wrapping up a pair of socks.  I didn't have tons of appetizers, actually none just the salad. There wasn't something decadent to dip in some creamy or cheesy sauce that was salty or fried..  It wasn't exactly a gourmet  meal although I did give it lots of thought. But all said and done, I loved it!   Clean up was a breeze.  I didn't spend my whole day in the kitchen and since I only had the one day off this year, it was all so manageable.  Is this what it means to be sensible? 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

That's What Christmas Means to Me My Love

Ground Chicken Meatloaf.  To the chicken I added frozen spinach thawed and well squeezed out, about a 1/3 cup of oatmeal, carrots, grated onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, s & p.  And I added one egg for binding. They say to barely mix your meatloaf otherwise it will be tough.
For the top I just put seasoned tomato paste and baked it for about 30 minutes on 325.
I made it in a cake pan for a hunkier serving.  This was a winner as far as easy meatloaves go.  And considering it was a week before Christmas when my mental state is usually foggy and depressive at best. 

As in every year December hits and then it zooms like a blurry comet until Christmas day and it all just happens.  I never feel I am able to really be present for the whole affair where my mind, body and spirit are all in the same room at the same time.  But each year I try a little harder because if you can crawl out of the fog of shopping and gift-giving pressures and that sinking feeling that you suck as a daughter, sister, friend or partner, then you can begin really getting into that Holiday spirit!  It's a blessed event and it's a shame all of this mental clutter has to come with it.  I will die trying to rid myself of this muckedy-muck during this most special time of year.