Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Terrifying Tuesdays - we got a good one! Red Lentil Soup

I finally hit upon a recipe that I like. The boys, not so much, but they are barbarians. It has been raining cats and dogs for a whole week straight (you may have heard of the flooding in downtown Atlanta) and it's been wet and cool - perfect soup weather. Wouldn't you know, yesterday the sun came out and it was decidedly NOT soup weather any more!

Okay, first on to the lentils. Our Krogers has revamped it's store and put all the organic/health foods in it's own section. Plus they've added bulk bins. (I wish the bins had grains, but that's probably wishing for too much) So I bought a few scoops of the most interesting thing I saw - red lentils. Have you seen these things?? Here's a picture:

Aren't they beautiful? I've only made lentils one other time and wasn't wild about the bay leaf in it. I'm not a bay leaf kind of person. This recipe does not call for any bay leaves! Hooray!

I got the recipe online, I can't find the exact blog that convinced me to make it, but everyone (it seems) who does the Red Lentil Soup with Lemon online refers to the same new york times recipe that I also used. Notice that the lentils turn yellowish. The little orange specks are carrots. It said to blend half the soup, but I just stuck my immersion blender in the pot and didn't have any chunks left after that! (I would have liked chunks, but it's good this way too) I did not put any olive oil on top - there was enough oil in the soup. I did not sprinkle on more chili powder. I did stir in the cilantro (although I think the original recipe calls for mint?) The cilantro has a strong presence. (I love cilantro) I think it could have benefitted with a little more lemon. Maybe my lemon was too small or dry. But I think the soup was lovely.

I couldn't remember if you were supposed to rinse the lentils beforehand, so I did quickly, and when I went to dump them in the soup, they all stuck together! I think they were afraid! But they broke up quickly as I stirred them. Another recipe note, I opted for chicken stock. So I'm not sure how it would taste with vegetable stock.

The next picture is an experiment. I saw a bag of TVP in the same health food section of Kroger and wanted to try it. So I went to my favorite vegan blog Vegan Dad and found a hot dog chili recipe using TVP. In the picture above you can see I grilled hotdogs and asked Gary to try at least a little bit on his dog. (I went out last night so I didn't eat any hotdogs) He asked if there was any orange in it. No, no orange. But he must be thinking that because some of the spices in this stuff are the same that go into Russian Tea. Allspice, cloves, cinnamon. Yeah. Weird. Below is a picture of the end result. The texture didn't bother Gary at all. So I think if I can get a recipe that is actually similar to a chili dog sauce, then it'd be worth trying again. I'm definitely going to try other TVP recipes!


I'm just now posting pictures for last week's TT. I already have photos ready for this weeks and will post that next (actually, you'll see those first...)

The french fried rutabegas, before baking:

my cute new chicken timer and my spongebob bandaid on my cut finger:

the baked rutabegas after we've eaten a few (not too impressive):

The cookies and cream ice we made in the Donvier. I later made a peanut butter ice cream that I like so much better:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Terrifying Tuesdays: Rutabega

These TT's are taking a decidedly old-fashioned turn. I chose rutabega's thanks to my mom. You know my parents visited this weekend - my dad went to the Atlanta Falcon vs Miami Dolphins game with the men=folk. Mom sung the rutabega's praises, so I had to try it.

She said that she loves them oven -roasted. She said she used to put oil and salt on them, but likes them plain. They are a sweet vegetable. So that's what I tried. I purused the internet to get guidance on how long to cook them.

Most people on the net cubed them when they roasted them. I found one that cut them into "fries" and baked them for 15 minutes on 425 degrees. So that's what I tried. Let me give a little warning: rutabegas are a little bit firmer than potatoes, so use a little caution when cutting them. My knife slipped on the rounded surface and caught my ring finger fingernail. Just a tiny bit of blood - could have been much worse. It's going to be the dickens when that nail grows out. It's going to catch on everything before it grows out enough to cut. Ugh.

So there's the warning for you. I think it's too firm a veg to use the mandolin on. (another finger slicing machine!)

I did manage to get them roasted. I arranged them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. No oil, no Pam, no salt, nothing. They weren't bad. They just weren't as cravable and good as potatoes. They have a slightly sweetish flavor. Nothing reallly offensive. Mild. I also tried them raw, didn't taste a whole lot different when cooked. Not bad.

Anyway, the people weren't wild about it.

At least we tried it!

I also made homemade ice cream last night. I used my Donvier. Finally! Now that I've got my big freezer, I can store the cannister and made icecream when I want. The recipe is just too sweet though. It was half and half, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and you take that basic recipe and add stuff to it. I added crushed Newman's Own oreo type cookie.

We are sick here. I'm suspecting swine flu, but just because that makes it seem more dramatic.
  • Jake has been sick for a few days with cough and sniffles and then suddenly came down with a high fever last night.
  • Yesterday I woke up with that first feeling of a cold, full sinus on one side and my nose dripping like a faucet. So I went to CVS, bought some zycam with echinacea, cough drops with echinacea and a neti pot. Let me tell you, that neti pot experience is weird. It doesn't work so hot when your nose is stopped up. If it's blocked, it can't pour. I cleared my sinuses right before bed and was able to sleep for about an hour before my nose got completely clogged again. I went downstairs and slept in the recliner. THE recliner. (no, we haven't thrown it out yet) It's good sleeping though. Jake still had his fever, so he's here home with me. I took a nap (it's not even noon yet!) and feel like I might get a fever, but my temp is still normal.
  • Gary has a cough, he's at the end of his cold. I'm calling him ground zero - the typhoid mary.
  • Ryan is fine.

We've been here almost 3 months. This is my 2nd cold. Georgia is going to kill me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Terrifying Tuesdays: Okra!

This was one of those that really terrified me. I've not had a good experience with okra, and only very limited experiences too. Plus I've been frightened by all the reports of sliminess of okra. This is the one thing my dad refuses to eat. But I've been inspired by Kath at Kath Eats Real Food - who touts that oven roasted okra is da bomb. I had checked a cookbook out of the library called "Grub" that has a grilled okra recipe, so that's what I used. I halved the marinade since I wasn't bold enough to use the full amount of okra that I bought. The marinade contains evoo, fresh squeezed lemon juice, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. The recipe calls for you to kabob the okra, but I had peppers and onions to grill too, so I slapped it all on the vegetable rack I have.

I found it pretty decent. Not slimy at all. And the cayenne added a nice little bit of heat. Just a little to add interest. So I gave it a surprising thumbs up. Gary gave it a half thumb. He's not an okra fan, so he was surprised that he didn't gag (his own words). Jake gave it a thumbs down, but he only gave it a half tooth bite. Ryan gave it a half thumb. He said it was not bad, but then said it didn't have a good aftertaste. I'm not sure what he was tasting. He might not have liked the pepper since he's not fond of heat.

So, I may not make it again, but I may. If reports come out that okra has amazing health properties, then I'll gladly chow down.
My parents are coming this weekend. Gary had bought Atlanta Falcon tickets for this weekend and I thought it'd be a good idea to give my dad my ticket. I think he would enjoy it more than me, plus I'd go out shopping with mom and we could bond a little. (not that we need more bonding!) I just think it's time I do a little inviting and not just be the invitee.

So I'm busy cleaning and getting the house in order. You know how it is when moms visit. Plus I need to get up the dust and pet hair. We don't have pets, but the people before us did. Every time I sweep, there is cat hair in the dust pan. I don't get it. Anyway, I've got to dehair as best I can because my folks are allergic.

Our dining room has been serving as a storage room, and I just can't see us finding other space for our junk. This house has a lot of wasted space. It should have room for all our stuff, but it doesn't. The upstairs has a very wide hall (wasted space) plus it's missing a big chunk because they opted for the soaring entryway. Not only is that wasted space, the light and sound from downstairs wafts upstairs, and vice versa. At least I know that this is not a feature I want in my forever house.

Anyway, the reason I bring up the dining room is because the topic of Thanksgiving has been brought up. I just don't see us hosting family get togethers, not without a dining room. We dont' have a dining room table anyway. *sigh* I think Gary has something totally different in mind for turkey day. Gonna have to break it to the folks. Well, they get us for christmas...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Birthday and Terrifying Tuesdays

Today is my boys' 10th birthdays. *sniff* I cannot believe they are 10 already. Double digits. Approaching puberty and teenagerhood and adulthood. Yikes! No way! Don't grow any more!! At least not once you finally figure out how to tie your shoes (you know who you are...)

Notice that there are two cakes. And very different cakes at that. Jake wanted a really decadent chocolate cake. He had seen one that was entitled "Death by Chocolate" that he wanted, but the store didn't have one, so I got the "1001 chocolate chip cake". Ryan requested a plain yellow or white type cake with yellow icing. I saw this fun sun one and thought it was perfect for him - but forgot that red icing is always bitter (why do they even bother with red icing??). We ate cake, now we're all feeling sick. (from overindulging) So I'm going to put half of each in the big freezer and save it until the following weekend when my parents come for a visit. I'm not sure that's a good idea since my dad was recently diagnosed with diabetes and he loves sweets.
On to Terrifying Tuesdays. Very late. My facebook friends know what we had. FISH TACOS!!
I got the whole process/recipes from You Tube. Supposedly the original fish taco from Rubio's. Here's the link: Fish Taco You have to also view a couple other short videos to get the marinade and sauce recipes.
Recipe notes: I did what he said to do to the tortillas. It didn't work out so well for us. The top two and bottom two tortillas stuck hopelessly to each other (Gary liked it though) and the rest stuck together too but were able to be peeled apart - they were quite steamy and wet and super hot. There is probably a better way to heat the tortillas.
It was really surprisingly good. It didn't come off as a big hit though, and I think that's because the fish was fishy. I used a frozen mahi-mahi, and when I opened the thawed package, it smelled fishy. It's not supposed to smell like anything. Mahi is not a fishy tasting fish, it's really good and meaty, so this was not a good batch. Note that this is my second bad package of frozen fish. I guess you have to be really picky about what brand you use, or stick to fresh.
I want to try it again, as long as the natives don't rebel. I don't understand how they could like those nasty catfish sloppy joes, yet not like these tacos. Seriously, it's just grilled fish in a tortilla with a really good sauce.