After reading Bittman’s article in the NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/dining/07mini.html?em

I decided I must try a few of the items on the list that weren’t already in use in our kitchen.

I procured miso paste and coconut milk for two different experiments. In grad school, I used miso from time to time but for some reason had fallen out with it since. I picked up the popular red bean miso paste at the health food store (note: Whole Foods does carry it). I used a little over a tbsp. of the paste to about 10 oz. of boiling water. I added some sauteed (in olive oil) garlic (1 tsp.) and shitake mushrooms. Then I wilted about 2 tbsps of roughly chopped watercress in it as well. My friend, Julis and I decided it needed something(s). We added two drops of tamari and it was pretty tasty but I really think some freshly chopped scallions and grated fresh ginger are necessary for full enjoyment next time.

Bittman says simply mix the coconut milk with curry paste sauteed in oil with chopped onion. Then combine a poached meat of choice (chicken) and serve over rice. Here is my version:

– can of coconut milk
– 1.5 tbsp. curry powder (Madras is what I had so it is what I used)
– 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
– 1/2 chopped red pepper (if you can find little red chiles, you should totally use a few of those instead!)
– 1/2 chopped medium sized yellow onion
– 1 cup chopped broccoli
– 1 poached large boneless chicken breast chopped
olive oil and salt and pepper

saute onion and curry powder in oil for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, add red pepper, red pepper flakes, broccoli and cook for another two minutes, add coconut milk and chicken. serve over rice (I used brown rice). Salt and pepper to taste.

I found it needed a little something. Next time, I’ll probably use a red curry paste from a jar or buy red curry powder. I also think you only need about 1/2 to 3/4 of the can of coconut milk. Basil would be a great addition and so would the little red thai chiles. This serves 4.

Dear Devoted Reader

April 9, 2008

 

Dear KatyBird,
 
You are wise in the ways of cheap and easy feats in the kitchen, and I seek your advice. How do you make sure you get in lots of vegetables? I like vegetables, particularly cooked ones, but I seem to always lack inspiration as to what to do with them. And sometimes I just need the most expedient tasty way to get some in my cakehole because I haven’t seen anything green in a while and I’m starting to feel like the federal deficit: Bloated and perverse. Got anything for me?

Your devoted reader,

Jessica

Dear devoted reader/ high school bud,

It has been a weird week so I appreciate the “kick in the pants” to get me going again. 

I remember summers in high school very vaguely but there is one day that totally stands out to me and I think marks the first time I really set out cook creatively. I made this roasted pork loin basted with a sauce made mostly of raspberry jam and stone ground mustard. I also took green beans and tied “stacks” of them with the stems of herbs I found in my dad’s herb garden. Then I steamed them and served them like that… a neat and annoyingly complicated presentation next to pork medallions and I don’t remember what else. I made the whole thing up.

Oy to the vey!

Since having a baby, who the heck has time to make little purses and tied crap? My husband is lucky if he gets something that was made in more than one pan. He is also, lately, lucky to avoid things made with soy *shuddering in my chair as I type disgusting yuck ick*.

One of my favorite CHEAP and easy ways to get in some veggies is to add it to some kind of pasta. I often cook pasta and toss it with some sort of combo involving pesto, cooked chicken or sausage and various sauteed veggies. I like to put shrimp, artichokes (used the canned in water or get them frozen from Trader Joe’s), baby peas (frozen…if Ina Garten uses frozen, anyone can and should!), onion, garlic, lemon juice, a dash of white wine, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and some linguine. Grate some cheese over it. Drink the rest of the bottle of white wine with it. Enjoy the veggies. 

I also saw someone make Mac and Cheese but add cauliflower. I tried this and it is great. Just make your favorite cheese sauce for the casserole, choose a pasta (I like Conchigliette which are just small shells), blanche some cauliflower (or if you like it firmer or are lazy like me just chop it kinda smallish and put it in raw).  Put the cauliflower in a casserole dish first, then add the cooked pasta, pour the cheese sauce over all and then put some grated cheese on top, cook for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool enough not to burn your tongue, ok?! You should probably make a simple green salad to go on the side as this is still pretty fatty!

Other ideas:

– I buy baby carrots, celery and a box of those Ziploc snack size bags. I divide all up on Sunday night and then my husband and I each get a baggie with our lunches we take to work. Ok, I manage to do this maybe not weekly but every other weekly;) *shrug*.

– I usually put lettuce/cress on our sandwiches for lunch. Get some pre-washed stuff so you can just grab it and throw it on there as you are slapping together the rest of it.

Veggie sandwiches or pita pockets are also good for lunch. Avocado with sprouts and cheese of choice is tasty (carry some vinagrette in a small ziplock container to add right before eating). Tomato on whole wheat with mayo, salt and pepper. Cucumber with ditto. You get the idea.

– In the summer especially, I like to snack on cottage cheese with either cucumber or tomato and balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Seriously yum and addictive. Find myself craving it.

Sauteed greens are quick for sides at dinner. Kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards, spinach, etc. all can simply be sauteed with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper. All you have to do is buy them, chop them (get rid of stems and ugly/blighted bits), rinse them, heat your skillet with the oil or butter and then toss them in, swish your cooking utensil of choice arounda bit, add salt and pepper and put them on the plates. Donesville.

– Make lunch on the weekend. I know… this is a crazy idea but think about it. It is cheaper than going out or getting take-out and certainly better for you. I TRY to plan ahead and have enough salad makings and fun items for us to have a nice and fairly quick lunch. Lunches we’ve enjoyed include: 1. Salads (think greens, either sliced cucumber or baby tomatoes and perhaps chopped red pepper. simple.) with a side of cheese and baguette, cooked gourmet sausages of some kind (um…may I recommend chicken with apple and chardonnay. so good. addicted.) or a nice sandwich. Get a bottle of chardonnay or a few good cold beers and enjoy. 2. See my Home fries posting and serve with sauteed greens or a salad and 1/2 an omelette between you. Coffee AND mimosas (orange juice and champagne…you can do that!) are a fine beverage combo for this. 3. cucumber and watercress sandwiches (this is seriously cheap and easy. get good bread. soften butter and spread on bread. sprinkle with sea salt and add cucumber or cucumber with watercress). Get some good scones (or make them…:) and brew a pot of tea.

Everything above is easy and most things are really cheap. Enjoy!

 Oh my CHRIST.

Tonight I set about making a simple but comforting and wholesome meal. First, I started water to a boil for pasta, added the salt and then turned to the cutting board. I diced a 1/4 of an onion, 2 leaves of fresh sage and cleaned 1/2 a carton of brussel sprouts then cutting them into thirds. I then took a box out of the freezer and pour, gently, the frozen ravioli I’d purchased earlier this week. 

Now, I’ve bought ravioli MANY times. I feel pretty casual about the whole thing having had only one true disaster and that was when I didn’t get it frozen. Having seen Alton Brown’s show, Good Eats, oh…every night this week and there was one about making ravioli, cooking, storing, etc., I feel totally vindicated in my aversion to any ravioli that has not been frozen prior to cooking {Note: I love Alton Brown. If you have a problem with that you should stop reading this blog as he’ll be referenced from time to time and with affection, usually. Think he is brilliant and my husband is just fine with these affectionate thoughts as he enjoys Brown’s shows pretty avidly too.}.

Ok, so the ravioli is in and I have a non-stick saute pan over medium heat (actually, I used the Joyce Chen pan…another discussion another time). I add the onions and sage to 1 1/2 tbsp of butter, cook for a minute and then add in the brussel sprouts. I turn the heat down to simmer and cover for a few minutes. When the ravioli are done, I drain them gently and then toss them in the saute pan to brown a bit (and loose some excess moisture that might be hanging out). After a minute I turn the whole thing off.

I serve in deep bowls. Many types would be good. I had parm on hand. I also had a weird array of other hard cheeses…a high-end cheddar (1/3 of a pd. cost $10, people…but it is LOVELY), Capra Sarda and young montchego. I decide that the cheddar might be seriously yummy…comforting and earthy and grate a bit on top.

I call my husband and we are siked to sit down and enjoy some channel surfing with our beverages of choice (sparkly water for me, milk for him). Good times.

We sit.

We relax…it smells good. It will be amazing yum comfort.

I take my first bite…just brussel sprout. LOVELY. Earthy and happy and buttery and I taste the sage. Rock the casbah even if the sherif don’t like it. I am looking forward to this ravioli. Interestingly it has all kept a firm looking shape. mmm. bite one…

wtf? is that squash, maybe? Wasn’t this supposed to be herb and garlic? wtf!?

Meanwhile my husband has tucked in. The smile has collapsed.
“is that like…PARSNIP? but like…no seasoning…badly cooked parsnip?”

I do NOT know.

I put down my bowl and go to the kitchen in this sort of fluid movement {what in the sam freakin’ hell!?}. Open the trash. Take out the box.

MOTHER PUSS BUCKET.

On the front, the label contains the “Garlic and Herb” in large letters in the center. Good. Very good. Checking further there is something about the USDA in a corner but I flip the box and quickly check the ingredients.

THERE IS FREAKIN SOY IN THIS CRAP! ok…and not just soy, people, the first ingredient (which…as we all know…is the ingredient the item contains the most of) is SOY RICOTTA!!!!!!

What is that? Is this like some kind of nightmare. I didn’t even know that made things like…soy ricotta. I knew there was soy cheese… you know, like you know there are people arrested for jaywalking but it was like…the state trooper was in my kitchen arresting me for crossing the street earlier today against the light. HOW did this product get into my holiest of holy KITCHEN?

ok, so I flip the box back to front. in the corner in small letters… VEGAN.

kill me. I go into the livingroom and explain the situation. My husband tries to keep eating while I simply scoop that crud into the waste bin pronto. I hear cries for mercy and rush to the livingroom grabbing the bowl from my husband all the while reassuring hiim that the tasty lentils we had last night would be reheated in about 10 minutes.

I gotta say. We looked at the box several times and like, this was not above board here at all. I want to write the company and really give them a piece of my mind. You go into Whole Foods and the soyoli is totally separate from the ravioli. They are different and should really be put apart from one another. ADDITIONALLY, a LOT of products have prominient labeling such as: 

Chef Soyardee
Chock full of Soy
Soylent Green

Clear. No doubt about what they contain. Forget the tax rebate and more mortgage crisis help…let’s get real laws in place, people. Laws where people who want to enjoy animal proteins can feel PROUD and GOOD to eat ricotta made from cows milk stuffed into little raviolis tossed with wild boar sausage and followed up with some sweatbreads!

I feel like the best advice I’ve ever gotten, “Never smile at a crocodile” from the Muppets may have been usurped by this “Never eat soy ricotta when you can have …you know…ricotta”.

I leave you with my favorite overheard in NY:

Mom: If you don’t behave you aren’t going to get any milk. Oh no, you’re going to get SOY milk!
Screaming child: NOOOOO!
Mom: Yes. Soy milk. Just like when Daddy was a vegan.And we don’t want that now, do we?

– 1 train, near Columbia