Saturday, October 29, 2005, 11:18 PM - soups, comfort food
breakfast: um... breakfast?
dinner: mashed potatoes with gravy and meatballs
1. Search your house from top to bottom in hopes that you have some foodstuffs besides the ones you just bought at the store, because you just aren't in the mood to eat any of that stuff today. I didn't buy much because my car is 3000 miles away so I just bought some staples I was out of due to poor planning in July. Plus I'm going back to Albany in a week so I didn't want to buy anything that could go bad. Just some canned and frozen stuff.
2. Discover a stash of ramen in (surprise, surprise) the little hidden ramen cupboard. Score!
3. Boil water. I boil water in one of those counter-top boiling water pitchers. You could use a stove top, but it's much slower and quite possibly less efficient (more waste heat). I couldn't swear by the heat efficiency, but I can swear by the time efficiency.
4. Scrounge through your freezer for veggies. I found green beans.
5. Microwave the green beans in the bowl you plan on eventually having your ramen in.
6. put the ramen in the bowl. use the block of ramen to put the beans aside so that the beans end up on top of the ramen; this way it's easier to make sure the noodles are properly submerged.
7. add flavor packets. If you know what you're doing and buy the good ramen, there will be several flavor packets. I had 3 flavor packets. Do not decide that fat is bad for you and you're going to skip the fat flavor packet. I've never tried this myself, but I've been warned by several reliable sources that it tastes yucky without the fat packet. And really, it's not that big and your body needs some fat.
8. Pour boiling water over the ramen.
9. Let it sit a while.
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy and Meatballs
1. decide, upon reflection, that you still don't feel like eating anything you bought at the store the other day.
2. poke around looking for cream of mushroom soup.
3. open the can and put it in a saucepan. stir up the soup. You need to add a can of water, but if you stir it first it won't get lump. Once it's smooth, you can add the can of water and it will stay smooth.
4. Remember to turn the stove on at some point. It doesn't really matter when. I turn it to hi because i'm impatient. If it bothers you to risk boiling a cream soup, you might be more patient and use a lower setting. But I've always been too impatient so I use high and turn it down when I remember.
5. Add 6 fake meatballs. Why 6? because the package says 6 is a serving. If you're using different fake meatballs, you might need a different number. My fake meatballs tell me they should be cooked for 8 minutes. It really doesn't matter if you overcook them, but I set a timer just in case, because nothing is worse than having an unexpected frozen chunk in your food from undercooking.
6. Poke around in your freezer for vegies. Ideally, you want brocolli, but no such luck. Add a bunch of green beans. Somehow brocolli is much more comforting than green beans. When I was a little kid, I always wanted brocolli on my birthday. Yeah, maybe I was a freak. It might have been because when my mom made mashed potatoes she let us build landscapes with gravy volcanoes and tree-covered slopes and all that... Let that be a lesson to any parents that might be reading this: if you want your kids to eat their veggies, let them play with their food. It's all about presentation.
7. You might want to stir periodically.
8. Oh yeah, I added a couple of cloves of garlic. I didn't have any real garlic, I had this frozen stuff in cubes that are each supposed to be a clove. I dunno... it seems mighty suspicious, but the store I went to didn't have any other garlic. It's better than that powdered stuff, anyway. Not having a car really cramps my style. If I ever have to do this again, I might risk eviction and sneak out the back of the apartment complex, cutting 2 miles off of the round trip walk to the grocery store.
9. Boil some water in the water-boiling-pitcher.
10. Stick a chunk of butter in a bowl.
11. Pour some instant mashed potato flakes into the bowl. Just eyeball it... make about as much as you think you'd want to eat once they were expanded. And add some salt.
12. Pour some water into the bowl... just enough to make the flakes turn potato-like when you stir them with a fork. I always eyeball these things because following the directions never works. It's always too runny if you follow the directions, so you go back and add more flakes, then you have way more food than you intended. The directions also call for milk, which I don't have on me at the moment. But it tasted fine just using water---good to know for future reference.
13. Spoon the mushroom soup/green bean/fake meatball mixture over the potatoes. The gravy-type stuff made enough for 2 meals (I ate all the meatballs, I'll probably cook up some more and add them to it for another meal some other time).
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Spinach Soup, part 2. This time it's personal.
Saturday, October 22, 2005, 11:23 PM - soups
breakfast: More cold pizza. It's good stuff.
lunch: I can't recover what I ate for lunch. I'm pretty positive I ate something, but I don't know what it was... maybe it will hit me sometime around 4am and I can come back and edit. This is what happens when I eat by myself; the details become sketchy and there's no one to confirm or deny rumors of what I might have eaten. Although I'm feeling a bit peckish; it's entirely possible that I was irresponsible and completely forgot about lunch.
dinner: It was a gloomy, rainy, soup day today. We just made spinnach soup a few days ago, but there was still some spinnach left, so we made it again. I keep wanting to write spinnach. I've become entirely too reliant on those spell checks that underline everything in red. Back in the day, I could spell all by myself.
Spinnach Soup, revisited
1. fill a pot with water and stick 6 eggs in it. Also stick in an egg timer if you have one of those egg-shaped timers that changes color when they're done. Why 6 eggs? You might want to save some for later; they're good to have around.
2. In another pot, add chopped onions, cellery, and carrot. If you're me, you pulled these all out of your freezer. Add a dollop of bacon fat and sweat the entire mixture for a while.
3. Add a bunch of spinach and stir it around until it wilts down.
4. Add some chopped broccolli stalk (we used the flowery part last night).
5. Add water until it covers everything up.
6. Add 5 calamata olives---remember to take the pit out first. Why? We were trying to figure out what classic combinations went with spinach, and spinach and olive oil is the classic combination. So why not spinach and olives?
7. Add some hazlenut liqueur. Why liqueur? You always want to add some alcohol to soup... it makes it seem more full bodied. The alcohol will cook off. Why hazlenut? It seemed like a good idea at the time.
8. Add salt and coriander.
9. Heat to boiling, then turn the heat to low, put a lid on, and ignore for 30-45 minutes. You might want to check on the eggs at this point; they're probably done.
10. Remove the eggs from the pot and put them on a towel or something. While they're still hot, draw on them with a crayon. Draw smiley faces, or frowney faces, or vampire faces, or faces sticking their tongues out... this is to distinguish the hard boiled eggs from the raw eggs. You can draw on all of them, because it's fun, but you will want 2 eggs for dinner (assuming there are two of you eating dinner). I always try to use up the cracked eggs first. You should draw something distinctive on the cracked eggs. We draw faces with big, beady eyes.
11. Blend with immersion blender. The soup, not the eggs. Then put the soup back on high for a while; I have found lately that it is a little cooler than I like it when it's been ooooking on low heat for a while.
12. Chop up the 2 eggs you set aside for soup. Put the rest in the refrigerator; they're probably cooled off enough by now. Peel the eggs before chopping them. You'd think I wouldn't have to tell you this, but I once asked a friend to chop some garlic and he just took a knife and started slicing it without taking the skin off. Plus, chopping garlic is more fun when you violently whack it with the side of a cleaver. Whacking the eggs with a cleaver is probably a bad idea.
13. Dish the soup into bowls.
14. Put an egg's worth of chopped egg into each bowl. In retrospect, we probably ought to have blended this in, but I really don't know how the white would behave.
15. Put a piece of stale, rye bread on top of each bowl.
16. Put a generous amount of grated cheese on top of the bread... enough that some of it slops over into the soup. We used a the a pre-grated Italian cheese blend and then added chopped some sharp vermont cheedar because there wasn't quite enough grated cheese left. I thought they'd conflict, but they didn't.
17. Microwave so that the cheese melts. I realized after I microwaved them that it's winter and we could have just broiled them without any ill effects, but I'll have to remember that next time.
It was interesting, and not in a bad way. There was a lot going on. I liked it, but I wouldn't serve it for company. PD thinks the hazlenut liqueur added a weird taste, but I didn't notice any weirdness. Then again, I still have this dumb cold and I feel like I have a golf ball stuck in my throat, so maybe my taste buds aren't terribly reliable right now. If you decide to do this, y ou might just use vermouth instead of getting experimental.
Other Spinach Soups:
October 18, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005, 11:24 PM - soups
breakfast and lunch: again, eating seemed like a bad idea. I snacked on goldfish crackers when I got really hungry, but that was it. I'm starting to get sick of goldfish crackers, despite their high placebo rating. I probably ate as many cough drops as I did goldfish crackers. I hate being sick. If I get through today without getting a strong message that eating is a bad idea, I think I'll have something more substantial for breakfast tomorrow.
dinner: spinach soup
We started with a dollop of bacon fat in a pan. We tend to strongly resemble vegetarians when cooking at home, but everyone who resembles a vegetarian but isn't ought to go buy a thing of bacon once in a blue moon and save the fat. It keeps a really long time in the fridge and a teaspon or so adds a lot of flavor to many recipes.
Then we added about half a cup each of chopped onions, carrots, and celery. These were all frozen. I don't know if you can buy frozen celery or not; I just buy celery once in a while and chop it all up and throw it in the freezer. We also found a bag of chopped parsley in the freezer. There was quite a bit, probably a third of a cup, maybe even a half. It was stuck in a big clump; after one injury trying to de-clump it, we just threw the whole thing into the pan.
We defrosted then sweated these in the bacon fat. The purpose isn't to brown them, so much as to have the veggies suck up the fat and the fat suck up veggie flavor and so on. Then we added half a bag of pre-cleaned spinnach. We also added the leftover, leftover rice from that duck dinner on Saturday that was too big. When the spinnach wilted down, we added just enough water to cover the vegetables and some salt and pepper. Then we heated it to boiling, just to make sure it was hot enough, then turned it to low, put the lid on it, and set the timer for half an hour.
Half an hour later, the timer rang. We weren't paying attention. So who knows how long it really ooked... maybe 45 minutes? We blended the soup with an immersion blender until it had a creamy texture. Then we added the leftover, leftover duck, which we'd diced. We gave it another 5 minutes (and even payed attention to the timer this time).
We split the soup into 2 bowls and topped it with a grated cheese blend. It was one of those Italian blends you buy when you go to the store and find they're out of parmesian. We microwaved it to melt the cheese; if we'd been high falutin', we would have probably broiled it to melt & brown the cheeze, but we didn't.
October 9 -- Pizza
Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 05:09 PM - soups, breakfastI've been irresponsible the last couple of days... I didn't forget to eat, but I forgot to update the blog. Here's what I've recovered.
breakfast: fake sausage wrapped in pancakes
pancakes with fake sausage
We used up the last of the leftover pancakes. We wrapped fake sausage in them. It was the kind of fake sausage that comes in a tube and you have to brown it in a frying pan. It's good stuff.
1. Put some water in a pot.
2. add a bunch of onion, carrots, and cellery.
3. if you don't want it to ook forever, you can throw in bullion if you want it to taste like broth sooner.
4. add some spices. We used salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.
5. Cook it until it boils, then turn it down to low and put a lid on and ignore it for half an hour or so.
6. Add frozen fake meatballs and noodles and let cook for about 8 minutes. These were pretty thick noodles; if I were using a thin noodle I might let the meatballs go for a while then add the noodles later.
We both felt sick and didn't want to cook so we ordered tomato broccolli pizza. I've had bad experiences with broccolli on pizza, but this time it worked out well.
Thursday, October 6, 2005, 07:23 PM - soups, flatbread, high falutin'Menu
For breakfast I had cottage cheese; for lunch, apple-onion blintz; and for dinner, carrot soup.
Um... about like you'd expect. Open container, spoon some into a bowl, salt and pepper to taste.
This looks impressive, but it was just a leftover fest. For leftover pancakes, see yesterday. I also happened to have apple-onion something-something sitting in the fridge from a few days ago.
To make apple-onion whatever, you'll need a granny smith apple and either one normal-sized onion or two small onions. This recipe made enough for 2 people to have with dinner and one person to have lunch.
Cube a granny smith apple. You can use a different kind of apple if you like, but it will be way too sweet. The cubes should be about a centimeter on each side. I didn't bother to peel it, but you might if you have way too much time on your hands and are particularly anal retentive (even I wouldn't peel it). Cut the onion into slivers. Throw everything in a frying pan with a bit of salt and olive oil and cook it until you feel like it's done. I didn't use a very high heat; the onions didn't carmelize or anything. Things just sort of heated up and sweated a little. Don't let the apples get too mushy, but you want them to be tender.
To construct your blintz, wrap some apple-onion mixture in a pancake. Put a slice of swiss cheese on top. Microwave until it's a good eating temperature. If the cheese doesn't get mostly-melty, zap it a little longer, or cut thinner slices next time. Any semi-hard to semi-soft cheese would work here; you want some flavor but anything really sharp would probably be too overpowering.
We're both still sick, so today was scrounge-around-and-eat-whatever's-left day. We'll probably have to break down and go to the store tomorrow. There were 2 carrots, 3 parsnips, and ginger in the vegetable drawer.
Put some water in a pot. I dunno how much water... maybe 4 cups? I don't know, 2+ servings worth of water. Make something up. Put the pot on the stove and turn it to high. Once everything is in and it's boiling, you'll want to put a lid on the pot and turn it to low.
While the water is thinking about boiling, prepare the carrots and parsnips. You can treat them the same way. Clean them then cut them into wheels and dump them in the pot. I try to make them roughly the same size. This is easy if it's just carrots (which it could be) but parsnips sometimes get much wider on top and much narrower on the bottom, so you'll want to do something about that when you chop them to make the pieces consistent. You could just leave the pieces wildly different sizes, but they won't cook as evenly. I'd care less if i was going to let it ooook a really long time, but carrot takes a long time to cook anyway and I don't want hard chunks in my soup.
Then I added a finger of ginger; this particular finger was about 3 inches long. Be sure to peel it well, because the peel get's really bitter and you won't be able to fish it out. I suppose you could use powdered ginger here, but I wouldn't have any idea what amount. We also added some frozen onion. I don't know how much, maybe a cup? Half cup? An eyeball's worth? It's soup; it really doesn't matter as long as it's yummy. Just make something up!
For what it's worth, if I were making non-scrounging carrot soup, I'd use about twice as much carrot and a decent sized onion. To get more bulk, we added a bit less than a cup of pea/carrot frozen mixture and about a cup of frozen carrot. Yep, we definately have to think about buying groceries at some point.
Season with a bit of salt, nutmeg, and cinnimon. Then let it ooook for about half an hour. The carrots should be ready to fall apart. I blended it with my happy new immersion blender that I got for my birthday. If you don't have an immersion blender, you could transfer it to a normal blender to blend it, or you could probably even moosh it with a potato masher. Or you could even have it un-mooshed. At this point you're going to want to taste it. Just dip in a spoon and see if it's seasoned properly. I had to add more nutmeg and cinnimon to get what I wanted.
At this point, if we weren't sick i would have added about a cup of cream or milk. However, milk products usually disagree with head colds, so I left it out and it was still pretty good. Since we otherwise didn't have any protein, i served it with hardboiled egg. I don't know that it went together as well as it would have in a different soup, but the egg was yummy and the soup was yummy.