so, whatcha eating?

I ask because I’m kind of feeling burned out with my eating of late, and don’t really feel like cooking from scratch for anybody. Bleh.

Daddy J has been doing the lion’s share of the dinner cooking, which is often a meat, rice, and veggies, or pasta with turkey smoked sausage and tomato sauce, and I’ll have marinated/grilled/deep fried tofu or else a processed faux meat in lieu of whatever meat Daddy J fixes. So, Amy’s California burgers, Italian tofu bratwurst, Gardein Italian fake chicken breasts, that sort of thing. Which is fine, but I could use some inspiration. I guess it’s about stew time, and time for the ol’ crockpot, as well.

So, here’s the question du jour: Got any good and hearty veggie meal ideas?

As far as my actual eating plan, I feel kind of silly even describing it. It’s very… personalized.

I never drink cow’s milk (though I swill vanilla rice milk) or eat chicken, pork, or beef. (Although I won’t turn my nose up at a dessert that was cooked with milk, and MIGHT have a bite of a meat dish that Daddy J says is exceptional.)

I avoid real cheese in general, but if Daddy J brings home fancy cheese from Whole Foods I’m ALL over it.

I started eating fish every week or two a few months ago, and am a big fish fan now, preferably raw or seared, but baked or grilled is good, too.

I started eating eggs a month or so ago, and am very pro. Maybe twice a week I’ll have a fried or poached egg, and it’s GREAT. I like to make whole wheat McMuffins with soy cheese and a fried egg – mmmmm. I either get eggs from a friend with chickens in her backyard or the fancy organic free range eggs at the grocery store, so I’m hopeful that the chickens aren’t leading too terrible a life.

(Dear Internet, Please don’t correct me here. The moderately-happy-chicken illusion is important to me. Thankssomuch.)

And I’ve totally gotten lazy with the fresh fruits and veggies thing, which is probably at the root of my dietary ennui. I just hate to grocery shop, especially with the babe. I like to make a huge trip every two weeks, and it’s hard to buy fresh stuff and use it before it spoils.

Anyway. Eh, on the whole feeding myself thing, and would love to hear any good advice or recipes you like.

funny Rockinrolla and a rockin’ recipe

There’s this ad that came on television during American Idol last night: a long-armed, orange muppet creature, Hungry, tempts a dieter with trays of cupcakes, cookies, pizza, when she’s just trying to relax on the couch or whatever. As in, Hungry won’t leave you alone! The Hungry Monster offers the junk food with wagging eyebrows and a flourish, and the willful dieter ignores him disdainfully, and various painful-looking things befall Hungry.

Rockinrolla: Are you KIDDING me? I would LOVE that!! Having that thing follow me around and offer me pizza all the time! I’d be all, Why sure, thank you! And they’re all trying to crush it and kill it and stuff!! That’s crazy!

~~~~~

I concocted a super-tasty veggie-tastic dinner last night, if I do say so myself:

Jamz Pinto Beans and Polenta

1. Rinse 2 cups dried pinto beans well. Soak beans in 8 cups hot (I used scalding) water for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse again.

2. Bring to a boil 5 cups of water, 3 cups’ worth of dried veggie boullion cubes, and 1 can of cilantro and lime Rotel. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours total, with lid tilted. Add a good slosh of olive oil, 2 tablespoons nutrional yeast, and 1 teaspoon kelp granules.

3. In last 15 minutes or so of beans cooking, chop one large onion. Reserve half to top dinners. Saute one entire package of vegan chorizo with other half of chopped onion until onion is soft.

4. Follow instructions on package to make yellow corn meal mush. My recipe was so easy, and I’d never done it before: You just bring water to a boil, whisk in the corn meal and salt, and cook until thick. I added a big hunk of smart balance margarine. I’m sure this would also be good over rice, pasta, or potatoes of some variety.

5. Serve: Layer polenta, beans, cheese (if desired), sausage, and a sprinkling of chopped onions. I added chopped sundried tomatoes to mine, and Daddy J added some hot sauce.

It was fabulous.

perfect Sunday morning

Daddy J is off with his cousin to see a football game in Houston, the Fishmaster is with Grandma MJ, and it’s Rockinrolla and I minding the fort.

He is such a delight.  Just a sweetie-pie in every way.   I don’t think I was anywhere near that enjoyable when I was eleven.  We had spaghetti and watched Pirates of the Caribbean last night, and this morning woke up and watched Beauty Shop.  (Kind of silly, but pleasant enough.  Did you know Kevin Bacon was in that movie TOO?)

Grandma MJ is bringing the Fishmaster back at around lunchtime, and then we’ll do I-don’t-know-what this afternoon.  Hm.  A long walk down to the creek, perhaps?  I haven’t been in awhile; maybe a longish walk in the cold with the boys would be nice.

Rockinrolla is upstairs learning how to play “Rock n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” on the guitar, and I’m making potatoes and soy chorizo for breakfast.  It’s awesome.  I’ll share.

Potatoes with Soy Chorizo

Peel potatoes (I do three medium ones for two people) and chop into pretty small pieces.  Slice a few baby carrots thinly.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with spray oil.  Toss potatoes and carrots in olive oil and spread in pan. 

Bake at 350 til on the firm side of tender.

Heat more olive oil in large sautee pan.  Add one chopped onion and half a package of soy chorizo, and cook with potatoes and carrots. 

When potatoes are nice and tender, season with salt and pepper, top with cheese, and serve with ketchup.

Whatcha makin’, bacon?

I’m making what is possibly my all-time favorite “fancy” dessert (well, except for Mom’s Italian cream cake, but I’ve never made that myself – it seems awfully intimidating, and I kind of don’t want to know how much butterfat is in it.). 

From The New York Times Cookbook (thanks, Skyler!)

Nut Roll

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Coat a jelly roll pan with spray oil, line with a sheet of wax paper, then spray the wax paper well with spray oil.

2. Beat 6 egg yolks  with 3/4 cup sugar until thick.

3. Grind up 1 1/2 cups pecans in the food processor. Mix in 1 teaspoon baking powder.  Fold pecan mixture into egg yolks.

4. Whip 6 egg whites until stiff.  Fold egg whites into pecan/egg yolk mixture.  Spread batter in prepared pan and bake 20 minutes.

5. Cover cake with a damp kitchen  towel and roll up and chill in the fridge.

6. Whip 1 1/2 cups heavy cream  and flavor with sugar and vanilla to taste.  Unroll cake, fill with whipped cream, and roll back up, then chill. 

SOOOOOO delish.  I have mine all baked and waiting til tomorrow for the whipped cream filling.  I like to dust it with powdered sugar, too.

I’m trying out pumpkin pie wontons this year.  They look tasty and exotic, no?  I added minced pecans to my batch.  I’ve got the filling ready to go and will make and bake them tomorrow morning so they’re nice and fresh for the big meal.  I’m also going to make some rolls with rosemary from the garden tomorrow morning.

Daddy J is making Susan Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish Recipe from NPR.  It’s a sour creamy, oniony, horseradishy treat that he’s made the past few years.  Yum.  He’s also making a bleu cheese ball and a garlic-ginger-cranberry chutney.

(clearly, normal self-imposed eating rules do not apply at holiday time.  I’ll probably still avoid meat and poultry, but I imagine there will be some fancy cheeses, cream-infused recipes, smoked salmon, sushi, etc., in my next month or so of eating.  mmmmm…)

Grandma L is making the turk, stuffed grape leaves, and a fancy sounding veggie lasagna for Daddy J’s brother and me, and I’m sure everyone else will have some, too.  Grandma L is  FABULOUS cook so her meals are always to die for.

Soooo… what are you cooking and where are you eating the big meal?  We’ll be at Grandma L’s house with her husband and Daddy J’s brother.  A small but wonderful group.

school lunches

Part of the overwhelming appeal of the Fishmaster’s school is its tiny size and its pared down structure.  Like, the man who lives there and runs it with is wife is also the admissions person, the activities person, the hiring person, the grounds person.  There is no cafeteria – the kids bring lunches from home and are free to eat them wherever they want to: in the library, outside up in a tree, in the porch swing with a friend, at their desk studying.

Which I love because the Fishmaster is completely happy to eat the healthy lunches I pack.  Recent favorites of his are ham and shredded-cheese-with-mayo-and-mustard rolled up in healthy tortillas, bagels with cream cheese and deli meat, tuna or chicken salad with crackers, and the ubiquitous (at our house) PB and honey sandwiches.

They let the kids use the fridge and microwave at his school if they need to (the insanity!!) so I can send him with leftover stew or spaghetti and meatballs or whatever, too.  (Yes, I use insulated thermoses to put his food in, but it still doesn’t stay hot enough.)

So, the Fishmaster’s lunches are golden.

Rockinrolla’s, on the other hand, are public school cafeteria lunches.  They’re better health-wise than they used to be, but they’re still very heavy on the white flour/sugar/processed food stuff.  Rockinrolla likes to get the morning snack at school (usually, I think, a sausage biscuit) and then he’s been getting the school lunch.

Lately, he’s expressed dissatisfaction with the lunch menu.

Things are trickier here, because Rockinrolla is a little pickier with his lunches.  Also, I think there’s some ew-what-are-you-eating-that-looks-weird that goes on at his school that the Fishmaster doesn’t get at his school.

He has asked me to get him some Ramen noodles and put them in a thermos for lunch.  Which is okay, I guess, but aren’t they the nutritional equivalent of saltine crackers with a meat-flavored salt cube?  Also, will they get mushy if they sit in a thermos all morning?  Will I get in trouble if I throw some peas in?

We used to do Lunchables a lot, which are also borderline junk food, but whaddayagonna do.  You’ve got to give them something they’ll eat when you’re not there, right?

Did you used to eat school lunches or bring lunch from home?  (I always ate school lunches; my mom worked and appreciated the buy-lunch-at-school option, I think.) Do you pack lunch for your kids or do they eat school lunches?  Are you happy with the school lunch choices?  If you pack, what do you put in their lunchboxes?

In other news, my cousin Erin is getting married this weekend.  Today is her bridesmaids’ luncheon, to which she sweetly invited me (I’m not in the wedding.) 

Erin is quite possibly the most responsible and lovely young woman I know.  She is a long-distance runner and has this great slim figure with muscles, too (fine, YES, I’m jealous, but not enough to start long-distance running) and this hip fashion sense.  Plus, she can wear fabulous 4-inch heels and look completely at ease.  And she has this naturally very curly dark blond hair that I covet. 

She has been dating her fiancee for years, but they waited until they both got their Master’s in accounting before they got married, so now they are all set to work at great jobs and be good-looking and in love, too.  (Jealous of the working? – not so much.  Maybe I should have given her the cousinly advice that she should have just gotten preggers ASAP and avoided the whole pesky career thing.)

Her wedding is in one of those huge mega-churches that has, like, a campus around it, but the church itself isn’t insanely huge and is truly beautiful, with stained glass and carved wood everywhere.

Ah, weddings.  I can’t wait.

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