Friday, January 30, 2009
But I am drawn to these things inexplicably. Its like those giant texas claw doughnuts that sit in the vending machine.. they are so gross, but so appealing (like in an addictive way). I dont know if I've shared this story before.. but something in packaged doughnuts makes me ill, YET I STILL WANT THEM. Its messed up. I walk by the vending machine multiple times a day and Mr. Texas Claw or whatever his name is just stares back.. I start to salivate but then stop-- forcing myself to realize the grossness of the whole deal.
Same with cup noodles. I had my once-a-year fix, now we can get back to our regularly scheduled dietary programing.
I returned home in vacation mode, only to find a furniture catalogue on my bed.. I guess Potato thought I might like to look at it. Ohh and did I ever! The glossy was filled with page after page of retreat-style rooms, complete with botanical posters of tropical foliage and a crisp light green bedspread.. and the office... beeeeeeaauutiful.
I have this ridiculous grand vision of remaking my apartment...so that it can be like Puerto Rico every day! Suggestions? Have you done it and it failed? I want horror stories.
Oh you're not here to read about my decor? I almost forgot-- the cuisine of Puerto Rico was fantastic! Heavy on the meat and including a lot of plantains (including a Puerto Rican Burger in which a plaintain is mashed flat and grilled to serve as a bun). I did bring my rice cooker and george forman grill down to the hotel, but that too was wishful thinking. Next time, I will do it! I will bring my rice cooker and actually eat meals prepared using it! Maybe I'll even come up with a series of recipes designed for 2-5 night vacations.. Ohh maybe it can be local food too! like eat Jamaican food in Jamaica.. Puerto Rican food in PR.. Ohh I sense a great idea coming on.. and a great idea that gratifies my need to travel to warm places in winter!! How could this possibly be a bad idea??
Friday, January 16, 2009
But what are the consequences of this? A big one is that the source of my food.. the ingredients and methods used to prepare the meal.. are no longer known. Of course a cook serving someone else is going to make sacrifices in nutrition to benifit flavor.. They are in business to sell food, after all...
And the pocket book. Not everything comes down to money-- but a surprising amount does. Eating out is expensive, both in the initial cost (dinner entrees in Old Town Alexandria are $$) and in misc costs (gas for the car to and fro, dental work and doctor visits resulting from poor overall nutrition).
But every moment is an opportunity to make a choice for the better, no matter how many wrong or even just slightly off decisions litter your past. Potato is a big fan of the saying "past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior"-- but I am a little more optimistic. I have to be, otherwise I'd be in trouble (ie my past behavior doesnt bode well for my future). It's a small thing, I know, but making the choice to eat dinner at home, and eat food I prepared, is my little vote for change. Change in where the food comes from (I buy organic whenver I can, and local food as well) and where my money goes (to the farmers! I am still looking into the CSA/local grocer programs, thanks for all of your input thus far).
So today's dinner was simple. But I made it, and thats good enough for me :)
Imitation Crab, cut and flaked
chopped green onions
chopped white onion pieces (just a sprinkle)
all natural mayonnaise
Mix and eat with homemade bread or crackers.
Broccoli pieces, cut
Turnip pieces, cut
Veggies boiled together and served with a small amount of butter, salt and freshly ground peppercorns.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Ok, so I didnt cook Monday. I had leftovers for breakfast and lunch... and Potato prepared dinner while I sat on my laptop and worked-from-home. I know I know-- its bad to bring work home! But I am just soooo behind after my vacation that I thought it would help!
How do you cope with an increased workload? What activities do you cut out? What do you do more of? I spend more time working, but my efficiency is generally lower when I am stressed because I spend time worrying! Im looking for suggestions/coping mechanisms.. if youve got em, send em over.
I totally cheated on this natural diet today.. and I attribute it to my increased workload/stress. I had a muffin during a work meeting (from dunkin donuts)... and later on, a piece of chocolate birthday cake. I really wanted the sugar (more than usual, because ive been getting used to my natural diet as of late..) and after I ate them, I decided that I had better not fret about it and add to my stress. Its just life, after all, and would it be interesting if it were perfect?
I did, however, go to the gym today-- and I did put a little more effort into my workout than usual. Its just me, balancing my dietary karma... I shall resume my natural eating tomorrow :-)
PS-- great decision going to the gym. I feel wonderful!! Now, time for the great zzzz's that come from a full days work and exercise. I'll check in tomorrow. Also, start getting excited for the inauguration food special! Im going to the Ball.. the CHEESE BALL (for real, Suee promised to make it) tee hee hee. That and more, coming up in 1 week.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Here are the steps: boil the milk REALLY well. In a separate bowl stir a little bit of yogurt till its smooth, and slowly add spoonfuls of the boiled milk. Then pour the boiled milk/yogurt mixture into the larger container of boiled milk and mix with the spoon. Pour into a yogurt container (or other glass container or saved small yogurt tubs) and leave in a warm place (such as a 100 degree oven) for 3-4 hours, until the yogurt sets. Then take it out, and refrigerate it.
I boiled 2 cups of milk for 13 minutes in the microwave, pausing around 7 minutes to make sure the milk didnt boil over the lip of the container. The result was fantastic! The yogurt tastes so fresh and thick and creamy.. and it really wasnt that hard (mom, you know what you're talking about).
On another note, I scored a healthy eating victory at the movies today. Before I left to see the show, I was just a little bit hungry.. so I snacked on a banana. At the movies, it's fun to get the buttery bags of popcorn that highlight the experience (even though it isnt that fun to fork up whatever it costs)... but it isn't good for ya. For one, the mindless eating (you're intently watching a movie.. are you sure you're going to stop eating when you're full? I sure dont), for another, the copious amounts of butter and sometimes powdered cheese product (what IS that?). So victory for me in being able to avoid the popcorn line, despite the aroma and the fact that soooo many people in the theater had popcorn.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
To this, I added a pot of boiled mixed veggies-- what I had on hand: turnips, potatoes, radishes, and carrots.
and then the tamarind juice. This tamarind actually came from my father's family tamarind tree in India. To remove the juice, the tamarind goo (this can be found in an Indian store..also I have seen fresh tamarind pods in the DC are Korean Market) is mixed with a bit of water, and then squeezed till the water turns brown. The water is then added to whatever dish (ex Sambaar) and the rest of the tamarind fruit rind is thrown away. It should look something like this:
To finish off the Sambaar, heat oil in a small frying pan. Add a few pieces of fenugreek and about a tsp of mustard seeds, until the mustard seeds pop. Then add urad dhal and onions (and curry leaves if you are using them). Cook until the onions are soft, and then add to the sambaar. Its done! Sambaar is great with several dishes, including plain rice and Dosa and Idly (you'll see a post about these soon).
The next meal I did was Garbanzo bean curry and chappatis. Chappatis are a whole wheat flat bread that is pan fried. They are simple to make, but time consuming.. I use the food processor to mix wheat flour and water till it forms a dough ball that isnt very sticky (I usually go back and forth, adding a little bit of water alternately with a little bit more flour till its just right). I then take this dough ball and form 1 inch or 1.5 inch balls. On a little mound of flour, each dough ball is rolled into a flat circle about the thickness of a flour tortilla. I take this flat dough and pan fry one side pretty well, and then put the un-done side on top of a burner set to "high" on a suspended cooling rack (See the picture to get a description). This wouldnt be needed if I had a gas stove.. but since mine is electric this is an alternative method to make it poof.
I could have sworn I took a picture of the garbanzo bean curry, but I guess I didnt. Ahh well, Those will have to come later.
The bread was surprisingly easy. I was going to proof the yeast (put in warm bowl of water with sugar and salt till it becomes frothy) and do the traditional baking process, but Suee Introduced me to the wonders of the bread machine. I poured everything (white and wheat flour, salt, sugar, yeast, oil, and warm water) into the bread machine and set the dough cycle. Then I proceeded to dine on cheese fondue with baguette and apple slices, risotto, mashed potatoes, and pork chops.. and of course, wine.
The meal is surprisingly natural, with the fondue (made by Lindsey) coming from real Gruyere and Swiss cheese with white wine and the mashed potatoes (Suee) having only butter milk and salt. The pork chops (Tad) were simmered in mushroom gravy from a can, which was my only real cheat for dinner. But they were delicious!! I couldnt refuse... the gravy was from whole foods, but it is designed to be shelf stable so I am sure something unnatural is going on.. but I refuse to be bogged down with perfectionism. The rest of the meal was perfectly natural.. and compared to fast food almost anything is great. Plus it was delicious.
After our long dinner in which I finished my HUGE plate (kind of a no-no, since I'm supposed to stop when I feel full) and had a few glasses of wine, the bread was a giant puff ball in the bread machine. The recipe I used suggested letting it rise longer and then baking it in a conventional oven for a more fluffy loaf.. so thats what I did. The baking was easy, 30 mins at 350 degrees. It was wonderful!! Pictures will come as I use the bread (yay sandwiches and egg and toast and other delectable goods I've been missing)
One more development from Day 3-- I want to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I am doing my research and am trying to decide what kind of package I want (20 weeks with home delivery? 26 weeks and pickup at a local site? summer only? herb bouquet addition?).. any input for CSA's in the Northern Virginia Area would be greatly appreciated. So far I've checked out localharvest.org and http://www.buylocalvirginia.org/bfbl/index.php, although the latter has very little in NoVa outside of Loudon County.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Work was normal.. salad for lunch. Ate the whole thing.
Cooked chicken for dinner.. parm crusted chicken. Got mad at Ristan for not cleaning up. After a little screaming he came down (not happy) and did the dishes. Arrgh. Now I just feel bad for yelling.. but my arse it would have been done any other way.
pics and more narrative tomorrow maybe. Signing off for tonight. PS baguette baking tomorrow. Something to look forward to.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
As with a majority of people, I resolved to eat healthier in 09. And I'm going public with my initiative. For 30 days, I am going to follow all of the suggestions in the book, which basically amounts to: limited processed food intake (i.e., if your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't eat it), lots of whole foods, organic meat and dairy, enjoy food at a table for each meal and eat the meal slowly. I will post every day, at least a few words on the general challenges etc and my progress so far. The 30 day limit is a trial period, to be extended/reevaluated when the time comes- though I sincerely hope that this will be my launching pad for a much healthier diet (cue buzzword "lifestyle change").
Tomorrow-- my trip to the grocery store, and first day of cooking after vacation.
I anticipate spending more time in the kitchen.. but since I generally love to cook, this might not be a problem. I do worry about what activity I will cut out in order to spend more time cooking (hopefully a vice, like watching TV mindlessly.. though I can picture myself skimping on exercise with the excuse of "not enough time"). We will have to see. For now, I have high aspirations that this experiment will succeed and that I will discover some interesting recipies and techniques along the way.
So long for tonight. Happy New Year everyone!