Posts Tagged ‘recipe experiments’

food porn

Last night’s supper was a resounding success–salmon with braised greens and citrus vinaigrette, with steamed rice (mixed blend, predominantly japonica).

It was also amazingly simple. The hardest part was browning the cut-up bacon before braising the greens. And did I mention healthy?

Salmon with braised greens and citrus vinaigrette

Salmon with braised greens and citrus vinaigrette

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Yesterday was the big appointment to discuss the issues related to my slightly elevated blood sugar. I was tense and worried, of course — because I knew exactly what she was going to say and I just didn’t want to face it.

Gotta pay more attention to my diet. Gotta lose the rest of this weight, or at least a good chunk of it. 40-45 pounds over the course of 8-12 months, basically. That won’t get me down to svelte but it will be down into a healthier range.

It shouldn’t be that hard. I lost almost 40 pounds a few years back, to get down to this size. I know what needs to be done and how to do it. But somehow this time, it’s hitting me in my insecurities and fears, down in the places where eating has been a source of pleasure and comfort over the years. It’s social glue. It’s a way to give and share love. A beer after a good golf match, a hot dog at the ball game, a brown toasty turkey for Thanksgiving dinner with all the family around, a wine country tour. And they’re telling me that all this is the enemy? (Note I’m not talking about things like pigging out at a buffet or eating an entire carton of Ben and Jerry’s at midnight after a bad day. I’ve done that, and it has its role, but I mean the ordinary pleasures of sharing meals and enjoying tastes.)

Well, no, the food is not the enemy and eating is not the enemy. There are things I used to eat freely that I have to think about and plan for, or maybe avoid because they’re not worth it. As I get older, there will be more of those things. That’s okay, there are plenty of good things left. The world is full of wonderful foods and flavors.

It’s not about giving anything up. It’s about finding the things I know are good for me, that build up my health and enhance my life. I know what many of those are, but I’ll have more to discover. As I focus on health and fitness, the rest will come.

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I’ve been copying the family recipes to give to the kids (specifically middlest in CA, who we visited recently). Trying to copy them, I mean. If all I had to do was copy them, I could have taken it to Office Max and used the photocopier.

The trouble is, I don’t really cook from recipes, exactly. They’re more like guidelines, or suggestions. In some cases they’re archaeological remnants of a recipe that used to exist somewhere, back in the days before blenders and slow cookers and in some cases even before electricity, modified and then modified again for modern use. But was the recipe ever updated? Of course not. I know how to make it — the actual text on the card is more like notes for a performance than an actual recipe.

So for each dish, I have to look at the ingredients list and see whether it even lists the ingredients I usually use, in the amounts I use. Then figure out whether I make it the way the directions say. If there aren’t directions, what do I need to add to make it make sense for somebody who hasn’t cooked much before? And how much does it make, anyway? Oh, and I suppose I’d better mention what baking dish or kettle to use. And what substitutions you can make. And how long to cook it. I mean, “until done” probably isn’t obvious to somebody who hasn’t made a cake before. And what about the family history that goes with, say, my grandfather’s recipe for chili (that I think is really Basque baked beans) that he got from the other sheepherders back when he was herding sheep in Colorado?

I got more done than I expected to, but not nearly as many as I had hoped. And Steven now has the only existing copy of that chili recipe with the directions and the story.

And I now have significantly more respect for anybody who has gone to all the work to actually put together a decent cookbook, no matter how uninspired.

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I am currently contemplating a recipe for Roast Pheasant with Champagne Cabbage and Noodles, from Sarah Leah Chase’s excellent Cold Weather Cooking.

Wondering where one might get pheasant at this time of year, if one is not oneself a hunter with several game birds frozen in one’s freezer.

Wondering whether it’s worth opening a bottle of champagne just to cook cabbage, a food that usually disagrees with me. By the time it’s done cooking, it looks like it will be closer to sauerkraut than to cabbage, but then it might also be a really stinky mess.

Mostly wondering whether it will work with chicken, or whether the flavors will overwhelm the more delicately flavored chicken meat.

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