Food is love….a totally fun afternoon….

My friend, Susan, is a chef. Our beloved Friday night restaurant was hers. Recently, the Bluestone Grill burned down. We are sad over this tragedy. Susan and Lauren are trying to put their lives back together and set a new course.

The upside is the time they both have to rest and rejuvenate from what was an extraordinarily busy and tiring venture. This free time has allowed me to see her outside the restaurant and last week she came to my house and cooked with me. It was so much fun!

We made kisir and cauliflower pizza … And a mess of the kitchen! LOL So much fun and so delicious!!!

The Bluestone served a dish with kisir (tabbouleh) and hummus with flatbread…..mmmmm….. I loved it. I had no idea how simple it was….

You need:
* one onion
* bulgur
* tomato paste
* s & p
* cumin or paprika ~ your preference – we used paprika
* tomatoes ~ as many as you like, but Susan used 2 or 3 plum tomatoes
* flat leaf parsley

Prepare the bulgur according to the package. Much like quinoa or couscous, it absorbs all the water when finished cooking.

While the bulgur is cooking, dice one nice sized onion...white or yellow, not red….and sauté until soft.  A pinch of salt will help break it down. When the onion is translucent, add s&p, paprika to taste and tomato paste.…we used a tube…probably about 2 tablespoons?

Let that sauté. Dice tomatoes and add parsley to them.

Now, into the bowl of diced tomatoes, add the bulgur and the saute mix until combined. SO GOOD!

Again the restaurant served this cold with hummus and naan (flatbread).

We ate it hot. I could hardly wait. As we ate, we talked about how it was good hot or room temperature.  It would be lovely with an egg over it for breakfast or sliced chicken for dinner.

**********

Susan wanted to make cauliflower pizza crust, which she had never made before. I was crazy nervous to cook with this woman who made food into magic for the mouth!!! My recipe of February 15, 2013  (https://neatnosh.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/success-and-a-simple-endeavor-for-today/) was our guide.

We used 6 cups of riced cauliflower and 6 cups of cheese….but I thought that 6 eggs would be too much and she agreed. We settled on 4 and that was great. She couldn’t help herself, so she added s&p and I think a bit of oregano! LOL All about YOUR taste I always say.

We made one large crust on parchment and a cookie sheet. And we made a smaller one to eat right away on a ceramic pan. Both cooked well….but…….

****** NOTE!!!!! ******

BE SURE TO DRAIN THE CAULIFLOWER WELL. WHEN DRIER THE CRUST WILL BE ‘STURDIER.’

I was so nervous, that was my mistake. Still tasted yummy!

Susan deciding which piece to devour first!

photo 1

photo 2Cheesy and divine!!

We ate our fill and relaxed on the sofa to talk….Susan said her belly was doing the happy dance with all the yummy cheese!

We had a lovely afternoon….. Thanks Susan!!! I really did ENJOY! 😉

Happy Fall!

I had a busy summer. Our Moose moved from Chicago to Silver Spring MD to finish her degree in DC. In between she spent a few weeks with us. It was a good visit as we got the chance to know our daughter as a blossoming woman.

Moose turned 25 while home and we celebrated by taking her on a wine tour….something she had dreamed about for years but never had the chance to do. The best part was that we didn’t tell her a thing. The surprise was worth it. The trip was fabulous!

Having not posted for awhile, I put up some food pictures on my Facebook page and one of my nieces, Katie, asked me where my “fancy blog” went. I responded that I had been grumpy and writing while grumpy was bad….I was encouraged to do so. Art thought it would be amusing.

So call me the Grumpy Gourmet.

Summer is gone and today is the first day of fall. Seemed like a good day to write again. I am already in full fall food mode and I have started my Christmas planning and shopping. Our Moose and her significant other split up, but remained friends. Having only three kids to buy for, Boyfriend declared that the extra buying power should be thrown in his direction…. After all, he had catching up to do on Tammy and Moose. Well, all had trouble not laughing and agreeing.

So Katie girl….. I am back. And I am ramping up the soup season. I have also been to the farms and gotten so much deliciousness. Corn this summer has been AMAZING so I have been buying a lot and freezing it. I will show you how in the days that follow.

With Tammy in a new job, Boyfriend excelling in his masters while still working full time, and Moose incredibly happy in DC, it is hard to be grumpy about my continued unemployment. Almost.

I have realized something odd though. Happiness is a full pantry. With uncertainty comes trepidation. In these times I find comfort in a full pantry and fresh food on my counter.

We will talk some more this week. I thought I would take a few moments this morning over my Sunday morning coffee time to say…..

THE GRUMPY GOURMET IS BACK!!!!

Back to my coffee and to……..enjoy!

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Finding Balance

Finding balance may be easy for some, but for me it is sometimes a challenge and the journey is always interesting. As things change in your life, as you encounter new obstacles, it is best to pause and consider…something I do often. Reflection is always better than abrupt lifestyle change.

And so I did what I have always done: plan, plan, plan!! So much of what I already do was perfect for my current circumstance, that being ‘medicinal eating.’ LOL The same preparations that come from that planning have gotten me through the worst of the adjustment with little effort. Again, I had to tone down the seasonings, herbs, and spices in my food, but the basic premise of planning ahead and planned leftovers has worked marvelously. One thing…

I MISS MY COFFEE!!!!

Aahhh…that’s better…not really, but it was nice of you all to let me share.

The key to any change has always been the same for me. Make changes wisely. Make changes thoughtfully. Make changes you can live with, not just temporary diets. Though my doctor will undoubtedly makes a few minor tweaks when I see him again in a month, the changes I am making are comfortable and doable. And when I am back to eating three times a day, that will be gradual. And adding the flavors I have come to love back into my cooking will be gradual too.

When the healing has taken place, we had a discussion of building up the stomach wall again to ‘tolerate’ spices, coffee, and so on. So I know that my flavor seeking days are only postponed and not denied. I did find in the midst of this that I had gradually altered my husband’s palate, an accomplishment which makes me quite proud. He loved the hot chilis in the North African eggs, where before he would have set the plate aside. He ordered a soup when we went out last week… it was a chicken tortilla soup…. spicy though he denied that it was! {wink} I am happy for him to be ignorant of what I have done to him.

Well, my thoughts for today… I have to go make Barry more of his favorite apple bread. We have added raisins to it now! The fridge and freezer have ample planned leftovers at the ready to make dinner for the week. Planning ahead and cooking ahead are the way I live. You should try it and always be able to enjoy!

 

Finding Balance ~ Eat well. Food heals.

So I have been on and off for a couple of weeks because I have been struggling to discover the reason I was having ‘tummy trouble.’  This is the kiss of death to a foodie! LOL!!

Three visits to the doctor, one to the ER, a dozen tests, and one final face to face with my beloved gastric specialist, and I have an answer and a cure. It is nothing drastic! Fear not. But it is something that must be attended to. So I have some medicine in pill form. And though I told the doctor I had all but stopped eating because it hurt to eat, he said his other prescription was food.

Food! I have to eat six small meals a day. And I need to add back some carbs for acid absorption.

Oh, and…. No coffee! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

I CAN DO THIS.

I think.

And my research began again. I looked for foods I can eat that are healthy, easy on the stomach, and have some, but not a lot of carbs! I found that what I already eat is good, with some adjustments to the herbs, spices, and seasonings.

I love cracked black pepper. For a while, this has to go. And garlic powder is a no-no.

Boyfriend’s AMAZING North African eggs (thank you Gordon Ramsay) with their hot chili peppers…. they have to wait too.

But my favorites are ok.

Dinner last night was Dutch oven pork tenderloin and apples. Delish and will make great pulled pork sammies tonight and tomorrow for Barry…he can have the BBQ sauce!  There is chicken in the Dutch oven today and quinoa with veggie broth on the stove. I hard boiled eggs to eat ~ and make egg salad. Edamame in the freezer. Yum! As I think about flavor I need to think gentle.

In the middle of all of this, there was also a dip in my potassium. The ER pumped me with an IV of it, and sent me home with a prescription. I looked up potassium rich foods and when I spoke to the gastric specialist I said I actually eat a potassium rich diet. He challenged me a little (with a grin) and said, oh yeah!? What foods would that be? Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocados, salmon…. and on and on. I ticked off the list and he smiled. No potassium supplement. Eat well. Food heals.

I was concerned that eating all day was going to be a weight issue. I have to say I am surprised by two things. One, I am tired of eating LOL! Two, I have lost 4 pounds eating ‘medicinally.’

So, remember as you search for recipes and for flavors, food is healing too. Listen to your body and then find the answers in food…but the right foods. All the more important to eat healthy, and eat fresh.

I have to go tend to my kitchen. We’ll talk more…. meanwhile, go enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Balance ~ Portions and how we learn them…

My Moose was home for a visit last week. We made many scrumptious items…her Moose Quinoa Fiesta Salad, quesadillas, white pizza, and others. We also enjoyed a trip to the Bluestone Grill. Mmmm…

Me and MooMomma & Moose

When she and I were shopping one day, we were doing the comparison thing. Barry asked me to pick up Oreos. I had bought a package for the Valentine’s dinner dessert and he enjoyed munching on the rest of the package, so he asked me to pick up more. Moose grabbed for a generic called something like “twists and dips” or some silliness like that. Anyway, I said, NOPE. Some things you do not buy generics. And I told her a story…

When I was a little girl, my mother bought generic everything. Money was tight and there were many mouths to feed. Four kids on a tight budget was a chore at times, I am sure. When it came to creme sandwich cookies, we never got the Oreos. I told Moose about Hydrox cookies… Now no slight to the brand, but they are a poor man’s Oreo, for my taste. And mom counted out four cookies each. I mean every time… four cookies. At some point, I suppose mom counted the number that came in the package and did the math on how long they had to last and divided it by four kids… and got four. Moose thought this was funny enough…

In 1981, I graduated college, got my first teaching job, and moved into my first apartment. I remember one of the silly things I did was go to the store and bought Oreos… not a generic creme sandwich cookie…. Oreos. Then I went home and ate FIVE. Not FOUR, I ate FIVE. Another night I ate SEVEN. It felt rebellious! I had Moose laughing. Then I asked her about cookies when she was little…

There was a package of cookies and they ate one. Or none. Then if they wanted a second, they could have it. She had no recollection of me counting cookies. And most times she would choose an apple instead. I told her that the sad lesson learned was not just that I should limit myself to four cookies, but that I ate all of them, whether I wanted them or not. The portions were strict and there was no extra if you got hungry later.

Now, there are two lessons here…
One: Some things are not worth eating if they are not the ones you really like. So there are some things I will not buy generic. Balancing that, they are things I buy as a treat, not often.
Two: There are lessons learned in how we ate as children. Note that in my story I ate 5 or 7 once I controlled my own intake. I never said I ate only 2. And I never did.

I grew up in a household where tight control was put on food. It was a concern when you had your plate and that was it. If you were hungrier, there was no extra. If you weren’t hungry for it, you cleaned your plate anyway. There were no choices. How did I handle this as a mom? I did the opposite. There were always choices on the table. And we always ate family style. The plates were out and the girls were taught to take what they wanted but eat what they took. They always started small, knowing they could always go back for more. One rule was that they had to have a balanced plate. So a little protein, a little starch, and something from the veggie/fruit category. Did I say fruit? Yes. I often put out fruit as a choice. for the meal. And there were always two veggies because I spent way too much time at the dinner table as a child, waiting out my parents and stubbornly going to bed rather than eat peas.

What do you think is the result? I was a terrible eater. I became a carb addict, and until recently I was a BIG girl… 😦   No more, I am on a good journey now… LOL 😀

My girls? They are slender and lovely… and smart eaters. They actually stop eating if they aren’t hungry (imagine that!) ~ a practice I had to train myself to do.

Pretty girls
Photo courtesy Moose: (L to R) Moose, Kenz, Tammy, and Jamie (cousin extraordinaire!) at Lyon Hall, Clarendon, VA

Consider your memories about food and how they affect your eating habits now. With thoughtfulness, and good planning, your habits can be tweaked and your eating become healthier!  I subscribe to a mantra learned from my doctor’s team… “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!” So I plan my meals carefully, I make sure they are DELICIOUS, and then I ENJOY!! ❤

 

Thoughts of a Foodie ~ My kitchen puttering… a day in the life…

Sorry I missed you all yesterday. I had technical difficulties. I sat down to write and my iMac froze. RUT ROH! I tried everything to get it “unfroze” but to no avail. I finally turned it off and when it came back I couldn’t type. Grr… turns out the batteries on the keyboard died but it was sometime before I figured it all out, changed the batteries, checked the settings, and was back on track… yeah, I know…

So, we had a busy weekend and ate out more than once! Our delightful favorite, Bluestone Grill, was named Delaware County Restaurant of the Year for the fourth year running and had $4 appetizers on Friday and Saturday night. We were in heaven!! Barry brought home a chunk of focaccia bread that I immediately looked at and thought what a great panini sammie it would make with the “soup-and-sammie-sized” container of chicken noodle soup in the freezer. That was last night’s dinner and he loved it! I never waste, but take advantage of leftovers to (not just warm up) turn into a new meal.

Sunday we tried a new place and came home with a ton of spaghetti and chicken parmesan. Tonight, planned leftovers again, but I will take out some of my buttery marinara to add and freshen it all up. Remember I put two storage bags of marinara in the freezer. Never waste! Be thoughtful and come up with a way to use the leftovers so it is not just a throw-it-in-the-microwave-and-eat-meal.

So this morning I went to the market. Barry eats an apple a day and I ran out. Eeks! So I bought a few other items of course. I came home and put my freshness away and then started a typical day of puttering in the kitchen. Here is the plan today…

  • I had about 8 red potatoes left and while they were fresh, they were going to start growing eyes soon. I boiled them in nice salty water and they are cooling. They will last longer, and are already nice and soft to use for dinner in the next day or two. Yum! There were days in the past when I ended up throwing potatoes away…nuh uh, no more! Never waste!

taters

  • I bought a lovely English cucumber. I love them. I sliced it up and salted it. This draws out water so I can make a wonderful cucumber salad and it won’t be runny. It will simply need red onions slivers and dressing and YUM!!

salty cukes

  • I bought two large honey crisp apples to make Barry his favorite apple bread. I needed flour and sugar so I bought those as well.

honeycrisp apples

  • And I pulled together the ingredients ~ what do we call that class!?!? ~ my mis en place ~ ready to prep the fruit to make fruitcake cookies tomorrow. They have to sit overnight to get ‘drunk.’ 😉 {hic}

mis en place for fruitcake cookies
Those days that planned leftovers make dinner easy, I often do this type of prep and baking. It is a great way to enjoy getting ahead.

Among the other things in my shopping cart, I bought some things to prepare for my little vegetarian to come home for spring break. I got pizza dough, so we can make pizza yumminess. I bought arborio rice to make risotto. I have saffron in the cupboard….mmmm…. I also bough tortellini just because she loves it, and sundry other items.

POPPY AND MOO
Taken at Bluestone Grill June 2012

So, the potatoes are ready to put in the fridge, the cucumbers should be ready to drain the water off, and I am ready to go make some apple bread and get some fruit drunk. What does a day in the kitchen look like for you? Whatever it is, ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

Planning ~ Holiday Feasts!

Last week I talked about the planning that goes into the holiday week, at least for me and my family. I make the menu, create a list from the menu, and begin the shopping. I buy in segments. It is economically more sound, and makes the whole thing less stressful. This maximizes the joy!

The menu on the Sunday before Christmas day includes a lamb roast for four. I may have just lost a few of my readers who are vegetarians, but remember I also discuss finding balance. Meat is enjoyed by the carnivores in the family. After Christmas, when Moose is home, I focus on high protein with less or no meat.

So, Barry and I decided to go shopping after school last evening. I took a portion of the list that was ‘buy ahead’ and copied it into a list for the trip. I wanted to get some of the big ticket meat items in this outing. And the store we were visiting is an hour away.

I called the butcher. Yup. I called the butcher and said I want a 5 pound lamb roast. He went to the cooler and found a perfect roast for me and set it aside. When I got to the store there was a perfect roast. Funny, but there was a day when I wouldn’t have thought to do this. Now I do it fairly often.

And you know what!? Butchers don’t mind. Actually, they feel that you value their opinion and their work. They are usually hidden in a back room. I love asking them to come out and talk to me.

The lovely roast is in the freezer in the basement, waiting for further planning. Now it is time to pursue the perfect recipe. You know me and recipes right? I will be reading recipes on lamb roasts everywhere that I can. As I read I will take in the ideas that reflect the flavors we enjoy, keeping in mind the four of us that will be eating it.

When I settle on a few, I will copy them into a document and begin the work of making the recipe my own.

Then the perfect side dishes. Here is the current piece of the menu for that night:

Sunday, December 23
dinner

  • lamb
  • roasted rosemary potatoes
  • broccoli

I am sure that rosemary roasted potatoes will be perfect and I will also read recipes on that. Now I can roast veggies, but I find when I read recipes, I sometimes pick up tips or ideas for flavor profiles I may not have tried before.

I put broccoli with this because I think the meal will need a green vegetable. But I am open to change on this piece. When I read recipes I will look for the sidebars that offer ideas on recipes to go with the meat.

One thing there will NOT be is mint jelly. I will explore ideas for gravies and sauces what may compliment the lovely meat, but no jar of green jelly. It seems this tradition may have begun because mint masked the gaminess of mutton. Well, I am serving a lovely lamb that will be prepared beautifully and no masking required. There are many options for fresh mint flavored sauces, but I will match rosemary with the lamb and the potatoes both, so I am not inclined to pursue mint sauces.

Last is the wine match. When I have the flavors/recipes ready and know the flavor profile, matching a wine will happen later. There may be a match in the wine rack already. I do need to pick up some new wines for the holiday too, so there may be a new one just for this meal.

So let me stop my little journey into foodie heaven and say this. Planning ahead allows you to plan every flavor. If you:

  • Create a menu
  • Make a shopping list from the menu
  • Buy in segments: buy ahead, buy last minute… Don’t make yourself nuts trying to buy everything in one trip!!!

You will be well prepared. You will be less stressed. You can begin then to breakdown the menu into single meals. And each meal can get all of the love and attention you would want to invest.

Speaking of planning, I have company coming this weekend, so I have a meal to plan for that! Luckily I have planned leftovers for dinner tonight! 😉

Go plan, because the holidays are coming ! And enjoy!

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