I’ve been trying to cook and eat healthier the past few months, to help support Brooke and me losing some weight. It’s been working, and I’ve been continually challenged to make lower-calorie versions of food I like that don’t taste like crap.
So, when my box of pre-selected produce from the farmers market had potatoes, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me. Potatoes are exactly what I should not be eating. They have almost no nutritional value, and are high in carbohydrates, something I should avoid as a diabetic. With Independence Day coming up, I set my thinking toque toward making some potato salad. Here’s the result.
2 cups of diced potatoes
1 dill pickle spear, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 T chopped white onion
1/4 cup yogurt
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 package of fresh dill, chopped
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
After dicing the potatoes, cook them in boiling water for about 10 or 12 minutes. Meanwhile, chop all the veggies.
Throw everything except the potatoes (which are still cooking, duh) into a bowl and stir it all together.
Once the potatoes are done, run them under cold water in a colander.
After they’ve cooled mostly, throw those into the bowl, and stir everything around to coat the potatoes. Put it all in the fridge for an hour to let everything mingle and chill. Stir again, then serve.
This recipe makes three American size servings, perfect for the 4th of July with your sweetheart and some leftovers. Scale it up as needed.
This has about 1/3 the calories as store-bought potato salad for servings that are twice as big. I call that a success.
Now that we’re a few months into dealing with the pandemic most call COVID-19, something just occurred to me.
Doctors have been telling us from the beginning that the virus is transmitted on tiny droplets of water in people’s breath, right? Basically, someone who’s infected (whether they know it or not) coughs or sneezes, and a bunch of little water drops spew into the air with virus on them, and then someone else breathes that into their lungs.
The Centers for Disease Control say that COVID-19 can’t be spread by food. That’s why restaurants have been able to stay open and provide carry-out service. A dead and cooked hamburger can’t breathe in the virus from an infected cook, and it can’t breathe out on a customer, so food is safe.
But then I thought back to how this pandemic started in the first place. Some dude in southern China presumably ate a bat that was infected. Surely the bat was dead from being cooked, so there’s no way the bat could have breathed out to infect the human. And the human who ate it couldn’t have been breathing in, because it’s impossible to swallow food and breathe at the same time (thank you, epiglottis).
So something about this story doesn’t add up. Anyone have an explanation?
I’m doing some digital spring cleaning, going through a bunch of random old notes on my computer. And I came across part of a recipe for green chile stew that I made up to reflect what I was making. This was meant to emulate the green chile stew I had at the View Restaurant at the Monument Valley visitor center.
The thing is, I didn’t really write a full recipe, just a list of ingredients. I do that a lot, since usually they’re just to jog my memory later, and how to put the ingredients together is pretty obvious. Hopefully it’ll be obvious to you, too.
If I ever wrote down details, it would be things like “add enough cumin for it to taste good” or “cook it until it looks and smells right”. Do you cook the same way?
One nice thing about being out of work is I have lots more time to experiment in the kitchen. A few days ago I made “two-ingredient dough” for the first time. I made two batches, enough to make homemade bagels one day, with lots left over for another day. Today was that other day, and I decided to try some sort of somewhat low calorie dessert.
I’m doing WW right now, formerly called Weight Watchers, to lose some weight, and didn’t want a dessert that would blow my responsible eating out of the water for the day.
Going through a bunch of options in my mind, I decided to make a sort of pastry with a thick dark chocolate filling. I’m now calling it a chocolate pizza.
I rolled the dough out and then made a little lip around the edges, thinking that would help keep the chocolate topping contained (I was wrong, and it was irrelevant).
Then I beat an egg and brushed it on the dough to make it look nice and shiny. Then I put that in the oven at 425.
Meanwhile, for the topping, I put the following into my food processor and mixed it all into a wonderful paste the consistency of mousse, and the flavor of dark chocolate.
2 bananas, previously frozen, now thawed in the microwave
After a while (15+ minutes), the crust started to brown and I thought it looked like it was ready. Baking made the crust poof up, so the lip around the edges that I made turned out to be totally useless and lost.
Next, I chilled the crust in the freezer a few minutes to bring it down to room temperature, because my chief taste tester was in a hurry to get home so she could do her online Jazzercise class.
After the crust chilled enough, I spread the topping on, and then cut it into 8 pieces. They look something like this.
They were tastier even than I had hoped, and the dark chocolate topping is so rich! I did the math, and each serving is only 3 SmartPoints.
Today in Denver it snowed a few inches and the high temperature was 28. So it’s perfect weather for some hot beef stew. For the first time in my life, I made Bun Bo Hue (or at least my imitation). If you don’t know, it’s a Vietnamese dish from Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. (Note: I’m spelling this the Anglicized way, because for some reason my blog site converts some Vietnamese characters to question marks. Here’s how it’s really spelled, in Vietnamese.)
I don’t have much experience making Vietnamese food, and I couldn’t get many of the ingredients in time to make a more authentic version, but I had a secret weapon that made all the difference.
Here is the secret ingredient. At this summer’s Dragon Boat Festival there was a little stand selling Vietnamese spice pastes, and so I bought this one. Combining that with a beef roast, bone broth, beef bouillon, and sliced white onion in the Instant Pot under pressure for a couple hours did the trick.
For garnishes, I had lime slices, cilantro, sliced red bell pepper, sambal oelek, green onions, and snow peas. I couldn’t find any bean sprouts since most supermarkets do not carry them any more due to contamination problems (E. coli, I think), and I didn’t have time to go to the Asian supermarket. So I thought snow peas would be close enough – crunchy and green. It worked.
It tasted even better than it looked.
I would definitely buy the spice paste again, if I ever see it. They were test marketing it in the US to see if enough people would buy it to make it worthwhile to put into supermarkets. And I have no idea how that went. But I sure enjoyed it, and have a bunch of delicious leftovers.
Since this past spring, I’ve been working to arrange composting at my condominium complex. And this week it starts to pay off.
Denver Compost Collective is an organization that collects food waste from apartment dwellers and takes it to their large scale composting facility. Then they give the resulting “black gold” to a local urban farm/food charity. The city has been encouraging composting the past few years, but if you don’t have a big garden, it’s tough to do. So this group fills that gap.
Here is me with my new bucket. I’ll fill it up throughout the week with food scraps (no meat or dairy) and then put it in my building’s parking garage for DCC to pick up Monday morning. They weigh each bucket, dump it into a bigger container on their truck, rinse the bucket out, and put it back in the garage.
In other news, I voted today. The ballot and issues were so easy this time I decided to do it while enjoying some quasi-legal recreational drugs. It’s great to live in Denver.
When I have time, some weekends I make muffin tin omelets, also sometimes called no-crust quiche. It makes it easy for me to have a high protein, low carb breakfast throughout the week. In the past, I’ve used a fairly shallow muffin tin. But that makes muffin tin omelets that aren’t quite enough to satisfy me, while eating two of them is too much food for breakfast. So I decided I needed a larger size muffin tin. Last time I visited my parents, I learned Mom had a spare! So I took it home with me.
Like my old one, the new tin holds 6 muffins, but each one is much deeper. Today, I finally had time to make some muffin tin omelets again. If you’ve never made these, you should try it sometime. You can find a ton of recipes online, so I’m not going to give you all the details, but here is the general idea.
I usually grease the muffin tin with coconut oil, since I don’t ever have shortening (or lard). Supposedly it’s better for you than vegetable oil or butter.
Today, the things I put in were:
some leftover BBQ brisket, chopped
one red bell pepper, chopped and sauteed in the fat from the brisket
one roma tomato I got from the farmer’s market two weeks ago and realized I better use before it’s too late
cheddar/jack cheese blend
9 eggs – so each omelet is 1.5 eggs
some milk – don’t ask me how much, I don’t measure stuff, that’s not how I cook
salt, black pepper, umami pepper
What, you don’t know about umami pepper? I found this thing on a “if we can’t sell it, we’re just going to throw it out” rack at Safeway a couple years ago and it was the most wonderful discovery.
Then I baked it until it looked good to me. That turned out to be 30 minutes at 350 degrees. And here is the result:
They sure look good, but I already ate lunch, so I’ll save these for later.
I had a bit of trouble getting them out of the muffin tin, maybe I need to coat the pan with something greasier next time. Or cook them inside of muffin cups.