I used my "Get Out of the Kitchen Free" card early this week. I just couldn't convince myself to get started cooking. We went to P.F. Chang's, which is special to us as it was the location of our first date. Ironically, we met one of my "heros" Henri Landwirth, the creator of Give Kids the World where we had our second date.
About a year ago, I posted a story about the fabulous selection of fun prepared foods on the hot and cold bars at the Whole Foods Columbus Circle. Well, Paul and I went back there because we needed some fast, good food. We ran out of time for a great sit-down lunch because we had been too busy being tourists and needed to get to the airport.
On our Friday in New York, my father-in-law sat with Nora. He had to work, and she could be protected from extra cold outside. Paul, his mom, and I tootled around the City. At lunch, Gerald and Nora went to the Red Flame for an egg salad sandwich. Sunday morning, he took us back for breakfast and a number of people remembered Nora. Even her name! Now of course I can talk about how great and special my kid is, but in a restaurant that always looked very busy when we passed going to our hotel, and had a long waiting line on Sunday morning at 0930, I'm very impressed with the staff who clearly pays that much attention to remember the name of a customer and even the last time they saw her.
Naturally the omelets are huge. They are a little less fluffy compared to Charlie's Frog Pond, but I loved their vegetarian selection of ingredients. We had one spinach and feta and two tomato, avocado, and mushroom (the California) at our table. They came with shredded potatoes or grits (creamy grits, mmm) and toast. Paul had me order a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. I asked for the whipped cream on the side. So they put it around the sides of the waffle. Amusing. At least it was easy to scrape off and share. The berries were certainly good for the season, and I thought my waffle was nice and light.
Have you seen these new Triscuits? Maybe they aren't new to you, but they are new to me. They are called "Hint of Salt." And believe it or not, they have 50 miligramss of sodium per serving. Care to guess how much sodium the traditional Triscuits have? 180 miligrams. That's a lot! And I'm much more comfortable about us eating these, and more likely to let Nora sneak one, than I ever would have been with the regular ones.
Our dishwasher is broken. It runs lots of water, but doesn't clean and doesn't dry. We'll be a week without one. There's a downside to being a two-income family. There's no one around to meet repair men. Meanwhile, I'm learning there was a reason my mom made me wash dishes as part of my chores growing up. And I'm significantly more appreciative of my darling father, who is always happy to wash dishes by hand when he comes for dinner even when I point out that we have (er, had) a dishwasher.
I got flack for this around the lunch table on Sabbath afternoon, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I had some bits-and-pieces of food around the house. Ricotta and Mozzarella were on sale. I put together a vegetable lasagna that I was quite proud of. (Paul teased me because it was like a "garbage-plate" of leftovers mixed together.)
This is going to be a good week. It's definitely going to be a good week as far as food goes. It's a little early in the season for a few things, but I purchased a nice supply of fresh items last week. So, although I'm keeping things on the simple side, it will be filled with lots of fresh fruits and veggies.
Plain organic yogurt. (Stonyfield is our favorite.) Homemade baked apricots with cinnamon. Warm oatmeal. What adult wouldn't eat this, let alone a baby? And that's the point. I want Nora to cultivate the same tastes now that she might eat when she gets older. I love the idea that you can add seasonings to your child's food. That's where the cinnamon comes in. It adds great spice without extra sugar. It's good for digestion. And as I add seasonings, she learns flavor doesn't have to come from just salt.
I have been craving these since the first time I made them. The original recipe came from Allrecipes.com for Louisiana Sweet Potato Pancakes. Now I have to tell you, I was raised in Louisiana, and I did not have the opportunity to try such a fabulous item. But I'm so glad I've found them now!
This recipe is automatically vegan when you use olive oil for preparation. And it's gluten-free when you use a preferred wild rice cooked to package directions.
Recipe for Sweet Potato Oven-Fries
1 Medium Sweet Potato
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 (heaping) teaspoon Corn Starch
Cut the potato into shoestring-size fries. Put in a bowl and mix thoroughly with olive oil, then corn starch. Spread evenly on a pan. Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes. Turn the fries over and bake another 7-10 minutes or until crisped.
This is another one of those recipes that we loved so much, we ate it twice in one week. The first time we had it at home. The second time was at my folks on Saturday afternoon, and my mom was looking for a lunch plan. I love this Walnut Pesto Pasta from The Geometry of Pasta because it's so fast, reasonably healthy to be creamy because it doesn't have cream, and it's easy enough to have memorized at the first use.
Recipe for Walnut Pasta Sauce
"Memorized" from The Geometry of Pasta
2 slices bread
3/4 cup walnuts
6 ounces milk
1/2 pound pasta
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste
Soak bread in milk. Add to food processor with walnuts and some cheese. Cook pasta. Cook sauce in skillet on low When pasta is nearly done, add semi-drained pasta to sauce. Stir and finish cooking. Salt and Pepper to taste. Garnish with cheese and serve.
Note: The author has a similar recipe with garlic. I'm hoping to try that one, too.
Happy Valentine's Day! And tomorrow, Happy Birthday to Me! The problem: I'm just a little busy to get it together enough to make a nice meal for either special occasion. Celebrations will just have to wait until after papers are graded. Lucky for me, I have a very patient husband.
It's really important to me as we are trying out the pasta recipes to remember to have additional vegetables. It's easy to eat nothing but a giant plate of pasta, but it's so important to remember to add additional nutrients and fiber. So, you'll often see a salad with a variety of ingredients based on what I have on hand and what is already allocated for another meal.This is the most simple of pasta dishes, but it packs a very special punch.
Aglio y Olio Sauce
Adapted from: Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand & Jacob Kennedy
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup good olive oil (Our favorite is Trader Joe's.)
1/2-3/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
3 T flat leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
Saute garlic in olive oil just a minute. Do not let it change color. Add red pepper flakes, then drained pasta and up to 6 tablespoons of the salted cooking water. Saute together long enough to coat the noodles. Add parsley and serve.
The author recommends starting this pasta just 2 minutes before your pasta is done cooking. Also, you want to make sure you a) don't rinse your pasta and b) cook the pasta until just before perfection because it will still cook in the skillet.
Two weeks ago, Eat More Produce had organic, local bok choy for $1.49/lb. I had seen box choy before, but this stuff was the most beautiful I'd ever seen. There were no holes in the leaves or anything. I bought it and added it to our menu. We had it when Paul's mom was in town. I must say, it was so good I ate more than I should have. I was very full. Luckily, we left enough for Paul to take to work the following day.
I got called by my old employer to work the lead nuclear tech's maternity leave. Naturally, this would happen during the last two weeks of class. Also during the week of my grandmother's 91st birthday. But fortunately after Nora's birthday! I'll do my best to enjoy the time at work (but away from my daughter) because change is good for variety, especially if you're in a rut.
It's rare that I serve just a salad for dinner. But one day a few weeks back, we had a big salad for our Sunday lunch. It had been so long that I actually announced that I loved it. Mind you, I make lots of side salads. But just a giant salad with every topping you can think of is a nice change.
I have received a complaint about the direction Eat Like a Rabbit seems to be going. And while I walked around grumbling for a few hours, I have since truly understood the issue even though it wasn't worded very well in the email.
I've got two days of outside-of-the-home work this week in addition to catching up on grading from last week, catching up with you guys, and getting Nora's birthday celebration together (which also includes having house guests). A big part of me just wanted to skip telling you about my menu plan because it's so boring. But in truth, meals sometimes need to be just basics to survive the week. And, I also want to prove our consistency. Consistency is so important. Maybe, I'm trying to prove the consistency to myself. Here's the short-and-sweet version.Lunch Ideas
My menu plan for Monday night required me to feed 20 for a church function. The only stipulation when serving is that it needs to be vegan-friendly because of allergies of some of the participants. I prepared the soup a day in advance because I didn't expect much time between work and the serving time. I was able to purchase the bread, lettuce, and cucumbers across the street and next door to my office, respectively.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I did it again. I ran from work home to reheat the soup in the Crock Pot and over to the church to get it served. Then some friends came that I hadn't seen in a while. And of course, Mom brought Nora over. So, I never got around to a picture of this pretty and tasty soup. I dipped my pinky-finger in as I was heating it up to make sure it had enough flavor, but didn't get a good taste. However, there were a number of people who had seconds. So, I think I'm safe in saying it was good.
Recipe for White Bean Vegetable Soup
4 inner stalks celery, including leaves
1 medium onion
4 small carrots, diced
4 slices jalapeno
2 bay leaves
1 T oil
1 T herbed salt
2 lbs. dry great northern beans (You could use any white bean, but I'm partial to Great Northern.)
Soak beans overnight and cook according to package directions. Add 2 bay leaves before you start the cooking process. When beans are nearly finished cooking, chop onion and celery in a food processor. Saute all produce in oil until carrots are soft.
Remove the bay leaves. In a blender, puree roughly 4 cups of beans and water. Return to pot and stir. Consider the thickness of the soup and how much puree you want. Add vegetable mixture and herb-salt to beans, reheating as necessary.
Serving suggestion: In deep plate, ladle soup over thick, hearty, multigrain (for color) bread and sprinkle with paprika.
Judging by the fact that I'm posting this so late, you've probably already figured out it was a long day. Also, if you read yesterday's post about needing breakfasts, too, you'd expect this post to be late.