Kind of freaking out over here. Apparently Conde Nast is shuttering Gourmet Magazine. This is bad. That’s the magazine I use for recipes for everything. How am I supposed to keep cooking? You going to teach me to cook without recipes Conde Nast?
And what about my grandmother? She’s been passive-aggressively insulting Julie and me year after year by sending Julie a subscription to Gourmet and me a subscription to Smithsonian. I’ve cooked her Christmas dinner for the past two years. From recipes out of Gourmet. I have no clue what she’s going to do.
Or what I’m going to do. I might need to buy some paper cookbooks.
I’ve been encountering a lot more vegetarians lately. It’s probably not so much that I’m encountering more, as I’m not driving them off as quickly. In the past I was an asshole if you were a vegetarian. Something along the lines of, “But we are omnivores, you’re just depriving your body.” Also, “Plants have feelings too.”
But as part of my
laziness new cooking regiment, I’ve been using epicurious.com’s weekly meal planners to plan my meals for the week. They pretty much always do a vegetarian meal or two. Something that at first I just left out. Or filled in with something meatier. Like hanger steaks and fries.
But recently I’ve started cooking them. And Julie and Stella have been enjoying them. Mostly. The meals are hit and miss. Often the things that sound horrible are quite good, and the things that sound good are completely horribly foul. We had a side dish composed almost entirely of zucchini and I liked it. I didn’t like it for zucchini. I really liked it.
I even cooked tofu last week. And last night. Which still gives me a bit of a weird feeling. Because I’d rather cook an animal, than an animal substitute. I actually like tofu. But I’d prefer to cook it as tofu. This really cool vegetable product. Rather than tofu, “I can’t believe it’s not chicken”!
I’ve noticed a trend. There are a lot of vegetarians I’ve encountered who don’t really eat vegetables. This is supposed to be a diet about health. Or politics. Or both. But I’m seeing a lot of people who just eat McDonalds fries. And Annie’s Mac and Cheese. And Mission cheese burritos. Which seems like it’s defeating the point. Vegetarianism has become big business. The business being providing calories without requiring the actual consumption of vegetables.
It’s the same bad diet that is making most of America obese, but without the benefit of getting second-hand vitamins and minerals from animals that have already predigested those noxious vegetables for us.
I’m still learning to love vegetables. But we’re working through this together. Stella’s my mascot. She’ll eat pretty much anything raw, but once I cook it she becomes uninterested. Potatoes. Zucchini. Red peppers. Garlic. Ginger.
Julie would prefer that I not give her raw garlic.
Maybe I should join the raw foods movement.
Oh goodness. What a week already. Monday night lentil soup was on the menu. I find that I enjoy soups once they’re made, but I don’t really enjoy making them. So I dutifully boiled the soup. Then I was supposed to put it in the blender to puree it. I should stop here to say that I hate our blender. It looks pretty cool, which I’m sure is why we put it on our wedding registry. But it sucks. None of the pieces are particularly water tight. The lid doesn’t completely cover the spout, so if you turn it on a high setting with something fairly liquid you’ll get whatever’s inside splashing out of the lip. It’s awesome for making margaritas. You cannot have enough sticky syrup coating your kitchen.
But back to the soup.
A while back I received a citrus zester. It is labeled as such, but it doesn’t really work well for zesting fruit. You end up with long skinny strips. When I want zest, I want tiny shavings, not long strips. This is clearly the wrong tool for the job. So it has been sitting in my drawer.
Recently I had a lot of julienning to do, so I pulled it out. Just on a lark, to see if it would work. I took down a cucumber in less than a minute. It works great.
Everyone I talks to about their mandolin says that they’re worried they’re going to slice their hand off. Not owning one, I don’t know exactly why this is the case, but I can say that you won’t do that with one of these devices. You might shave off your knuckles, but you shouldn’t end up in the hospital.
Which leads me to last night. I was making an Asian salad which calls for julienned beets. I was really going to town, tearing down this beet into strips, when I looked up from my work. The kitchen was covered in red. It looked like I had slaughtered a pig. I couldn’t have paid Hollywood special effects wizards to come in and do a better job.
While I love this tool, I’ve decided that I have to use it in the sink when working with beets.
Our movie night theme on Sunday was “hunting”. For some reason this got me thinking about Wild Boar, and the way that cooks used to make fake versions of food when the king demanded a beef roast when there were no cows on hand. So I made a fake wild boar.
Stella was really into the process and wanted to see the pig at each step of the way.
I was worried that once I put it in the oven the dough would rise and obliterate the basic pig shape, but thankfully it stayed put.
It’s actually a goat-cheese, mozarella, and prosciutto calzone, btw. And yes, I used food coloring in my egg wash.
So last Wednesday I made Zucchini soup. I’ve always been a meat and potatoes guy. Well, not the potatoes. But you get the gist. The idea of zucchini soup sounded revolting to me. But I’ve gotten hooked on epicurious.com’s “Dinner Rush”. Go to www.epicurious.com, then hover over “Articles and Guides”, and click on “Everyday Cooking”. They have a weekly planner for every week with 5 meals.
Even though some of those meals don’t appeal to me at all, I go with them anyway. It’s definitely made our eating much more varied and nutritious. At worst the recipies aren’t that exciting, and we’ve been suprised by how often they were really, really good, and introduced us to things we would never order at a restaurant.
And that is how I came to be eating zucchini soup last Wednsday. Stella and I were shocked. We really liked it.
So this post is mainly going to be about food. We had a good food night last night. I came up with something Stella liked. Really liked.
3 hot pickled okras, chopped
3 pickles chopped
1.5 cups diced green cabbage
1/2 cup roasted chicken cubed
1 pocket pita bread, cut in half
Mix okra, pickles and cabbage in a bowl. Line bottom of one half of pita with chicken, and then fill with slaw. Repeat with second pita.
I thought at the time that it had zero nutritional value, but now that I look it up cabbage is pretty good. Much better than iceberg lettuce. Okra and cucumbers aren’t fantastic, but they’re certainly not a twinky. In case you’re saying to yourself that you don’t like cabbage, don’t worry, it just tastes like a pickle relish. the cabbage is completely overpowered by the pickled vegetables.
Stella’s big into sour. The other night when I was cutting limes to get some fresh lime juice she demanded a wedge and proceed to suck on it for 20 minutes or so. So I figured she’d like the pickles.
When I handed Stella the pita she just looked at it. Then she picked it up and was about to dump it all over herself. I showed her how to eat it starting at the end, and she began doing so. It was amazing. She learned to eat a pita last night. And she loved the slaw. She was eating the slaw that had fallen out of the pita, while she still had bread left. Which if you know Stella’s bread addiction is shocking.
Then last night Julie and I had SPICE-RUBBED CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE TACOS WITH CILANTRO SLAW AND CHIPOTLE CREAM for dinner. It was fantastic. I love smoked paprika, and it was loaded with vegetables.
The one I said looked pretty, but tasted like Chicken Salad? Here’s the pictures. I think I’m going to try to rejigger this. I love the idea julienning a bunch of vegetables and wrapping them up in a little meat. It’s suck a nice way to get fruits and vegetables. This one unfortunately just didn’t work. Maybe I’ll try a hot and cool theme. Some of them will be a combination of citrus, peppers, and green apples. Some will be a combo of cucumbers, celery, pickles, and pickled okra. That would probably be good.
This is a great way to get a decent amount of vegetables into your kid.
1 yellow squash peeled
2 carrots peeled
1/2lb. ground beef
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Chop squash and carrots in a food processor until they are a fine dice. Mix carrots and squash into ground beef. Mix in spices. Form into small balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through.
Stella loved it, and I can’t get her to eat carrots in real life. I make no guarantees that this is edible for adults.