Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Fennel and Fruit

The salad that we did not order at Italian food fest 2012 was a winter salad that had, among other things, fennel and grapefruit. It's what I've been pondering ever since.

I thought that I would put off fun with fennel until later, but couldn't wait. I picked up a fennel bulb on my way home. Along with a grapefruit and a bunch of mint.

Lacking a mandolin, I tried to use a vegetable peeler. I would not recommend this. I eventually switched to a knife trying to slice it as thinly as I could. I got a bit worried. The texture would be less delicate and the fennel itself tasted weird. Very stemmy and only slightly liquorice-like.

Tore up some pieces of mint, threw them at the bottom of a bowl with some grapefruit chunks, topped them with fennel, and repeated that layering two more times. The whole mess was drizzled with balsamic vinegar and grapeseed oil, and topped with parmesan cheese and half an avocado.

The cheese was too much. I shouldn't have be having it anyway.

Balsamic grapefruit was a bit overpowering for the fennel. Maybe a bit less balsamic, a bit less oil, maybe more mint. Better yet, muddle the mint and the grapefruit with a dab of sugar and a bit of basil. Or maybe a different kind of citrus? Add some pine nuts or slivered almonds in place of the cheese, slice and chunk the avocado.

I was worried that it would be too sour, too bland, too much, too weird.

It was sour. Crunchy, sour, sweet, with an occasional bite of avocado to soothe the sour tongue begging for a beautiful piece of crusty bread.

Just what I was looking for.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Re-reversing a reversal - The journey of 10,000 steps

I wrote this post and then took it down to try to tell it in a different way. But then I had a comment from MomVee and it seemed like this thing should go up as was. Plus, I happen to agree with her on the question of spaghetti squash.

The journey of 10,000 steps

JK's doctor told her that the secret to losing weight was to eat right and take 10,000 steps a day. 10,000 steps is about 5 miles.

Rather than our usual plans which are to eat too much and drink a lot, we met up and walked 3+ miles and then ate too much.

We had juice and then walked from Union Square up to 57th street to Bergdorf's and back down to 34th street to Macy's. She was returning shoes. I was purchasing food processor / blender combo.

After which we took the train back downtown and ruined the whole effect by having waaaaay too much Italian food.

It was delightful. But perhaps I should develop some mechanisms by which to exercise some portion control.

There was much to praise and critique about the meal.

I have been thinking about anchovies a lot. The toasted garlic bread with anchovies was a sin. It was salty, garlicy, toasty, oily and mushy all at once. Very nice with a glass of red.

The lasagna was a big cheesy mushy meaty mess. Not an unpleasant one, but I prefer my lasagna to have a lot of substantial noodle in it. And I missed it. Fortunately, the pappardelle was quite satisfying on the pasta front, although the meat in the ragu was tough and chewy.

Funny enough, I really enjoyed the vegetables. The string beans in garlic and olive oil were sweet and just the right balance between crunchy and soft. To start off this adventure we had shaved fennel with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lots of parmesan cheese.

And even funnier enough, after all that glorious food, I am thinking about the fennel. Two years ago, I signed up to be part of a CSA. I got too much of a lot of vegetables that I did not know what to do with. Fennel was among them. The worst were Mizuna and kolrabi. Kolrabi was an utter mystery to me.

Thinly shaved fennel with balsamic vinegar was a delicate and fresh combo.

I might spend some time playing around with shaved fennel. Maybe recreate the salad or use it in a sandwich with a little tuna salad or a little bit of chicken.

Comment from MomVee
Mizuna tastes like dirt. I really resent humankind for deciding that it and spaghetti squash are edible.

But kohlrabi is delicious in matchsticks and made into a salad or slaw, or roasted. If you're into that cabbagey kind of taste, which I am.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Food jail: the red light green light remix

The problem with food jail is that the inmate and the jailer are the same person.

I am pretty lousy at this. I used up all my willpower last month.

I've decided to try to add exercise to this three months. It might help. I took my very first Zumba class on Saturday. Damn near killed me.

Food Jail.

But I might try it again.

Food Jail.

I made a tofu scramble. This time, I added rosemary and celery. Rosemary to make it more awesome and celery for a little bit of crunch. Since it didn't have to be vegan or even vegetarian anymore, I added dashi. That Friends, was a game changer. Salt, msg, umami, fishy. So good. Totally not vegetarian. I will try vegetarian vegetable boullion and/or some sea kelp.

Much Less Like Food Jail.

The Fella is in a children's play about vegetables. I went on opening night and afterwards I had a spinach and cheese empanada.

Not Food Jail.

This game will go so and so and so on for the next three months at least.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

My musical fantasy life pt. 1

I saw Steven Colbert do a duet with James Taylor and was jealous beyond belief. If I could sing with anyone who is famous, James Taylor is at the top of that list. I realize that I would probably be unable to sing. I would be crying too hard because I would be so completely overcome by being in his presence.

Lyle Lovett, I think would also be a real pleasure to sing with. And I think maybe I could keep my shit together long enough to get through a song or two.

I am sure there are others that I could add to this list - the Eagles, the Indigo Girls, Kansas but topping the list are James and Lyle.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Food Jail

I have been looking forward to the part where I stop eating healthy and go back to my usual nonsense.

Last week I went to the Dr for a routine physical exam. They drew blood. I peed in a cup, all that good stuff. I told him about the healthnut thing but that I would go off of it at the end of the month.

Today I got a voicemail from the Dr's office. I have elevated triglycerides, high LDL's and low HDL's and a severe vitamin D deficiency. That is what I get from my month of trying to be a healthnut.

Further to that I am to take vitamin D3 supplements. My vitamin D levels are way way low. They said that at first they thought my blood glucose levels were elevated but then said something about running the test again and they were normal. To me this suggests that the test should be run a third time.

I am to take fish oil pills and vitamin D3, follow a strict low cholesterol diet and come back for tests again in three months.

As a reward for my dietary struggles this last month, I have been sentenced to food jail.

In response to this I came home and decided to run in the opposite direction. I made meatless spaghetti carbonara and had a bowl of it with half a bundle of steamed asparagus.

Yep. I got the recipe wrong because I cannot fry an egg proper. The idea was from a book I recently read. You boil pasta, fry two eggs, drain the pasta, put the eggs on top, add grated cheese, black pepper, a little of the pasta water and toss.

Except that I used whole wheat pasta, overfried the eggs and added too much pasta water. Whole wheat pasta has the wrong texture and the wrong consistency. It doesn't hang on to a sauce the right way. It sticks but it is not a harmonious meld. You can taste the struggle, sauce vs. noodle. Whole wheat pasta is not pasta. I don't think it actually qualifies as edible. I could have thrown the mess away but no. Instead I cracked a raw egg on top of it all and tried to toss it in.

The pasta was no longer hot enough to cook the new egg. So then I turned up the heat and tried to cook the eggy, cheesey water onto the pasta. Which kinda worked. Almost. I ate it anyway. If I never post here again you will know that I died of salmonella poisoning. And yes, my friend Rosemary came to the three egg pasta party. After a little time in a pan of hot olive oil she got feisty. In a good way - someone had to stand up to all that eggness.

I don't actually even know what a low cholesterol diet is. I envision steamed fish and steamed vegetables and brown rice with no salt or flavor FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

Food jail. At least for the next three months. Possibly forever. And dreams about cookies. Perhaps I will start believing in God in the hopes that if I am good I will go to a heaven filled with cookies, pie and ice cream. I have always been more of a salt person but if I am to live out my days in food jail, send me to cookie heaven when I die.

I take comfort in one thing. Sardines are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. In my youth I was very fond of sardines and now I intend to revisit my fishy friend.

When not on the wagon

Last night with the best of intentions I met up with CK for a drink. But then I had a red wine flight with cheese pairings. Roquefort cheese, by the way, with a hefty Shiraz is a gift from the Gods. Camembert, however, when paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon /Cabernet Franc blend will taste like dirty feet, very unpleasant.

Going from strength to strength we wandered across the street to our usual watering hole. There was more wine and almond stuffed chocolate covered figs. Perhaps someday I will try to do this at home but with a dark almost bitter chocolate sauce instead of the chocolate shell.

From there we went next door with a new friend to say hello to another friend. While there the cute bartender mixed us a parting shot. Which I should have refused. But I did not.

I did not pace myself, I forgot to eat dinner.

This could happen on any night of reckless drinking. I somehow managed to get home. I expelled my demons, I passed out. I woke up at 5am. There wasn't much to eat in the house so I had two glasses of water and a pear.

Usually when I wake from that kind of a night I want fried foods. I want eggs and bacon with hashbrowns. I want a burger with fries and a milkshake. I want fried chicken with mashed potatoes and buttery biscuits. But this morning I wanted avocado and mozzarella with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat. I didn't want mayo, or salad dressing or mustard. I wanted it dry. Just the AMLT.

It was revelatory. With each bite I wanted wave my sandwich at my co-workers and say, "My God. This is just so amazing. Have a bite. Go ahead!"

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Microsoft does not understand me

Microsoft products restart your computer when they want. I went to pee and brush my teeth and on my return discovered that Windows 7 decided to restart the computer. Without asking me if I wanted to save the files that I was working on. I will never use Notepad again. Never.