26 March 2008

A Veritable Feast of Wondrous Delectables

Off from work today with a bit of a tummy upset. Yes, someone pays me to stay at home and be sick! Amazing.

The problem with being an ostomate who loves crunchy indigestible things is that, sooner or later, I am punished for that love. Usually, I can safely get away with a few seeds or nuts or raw veggies if I up my fluid intake accordingly, but I occasionally "forget" and have too much at once. A work day menu consisting of a small green salad followed by microwaved carrots and broccoli on a whole grain rice medley and topped off with a half cup of sliced strawberries was just too much, apparently. Especially, as I didn't increase my fluid intake until quite too late.

Silly woman.

While I am quite a lot better than last night, I still feel like someone kicked me in the stomach with a nice heavy boot. I'm not hungry, but I know I should eat something light and easily digested. I'm not thirsty, but I know it's even more important to keep up my fluids now than it usually is (and fluid intake is something I'm always concerned about -- not only how much I have drunk, but how much is available to drink, and the approximate location of additional beverage sources).

So it's an easy low residue diet for the next few days. Judging from the contents of my pantry, the safe food choices are limited to scrambled eggs, toasted mini bagels, low sodium cream of chicken soup, yoghurt, gelatin, and ice pops. All, of course, chased with lots of tea and water.

Oh, a veritable feast of wondrous delectables!

22 March 2008

Tastes Like Cake

I'm bringing dessert for Easter dinner and, as I am short on time and kitchen availability,¹ I'm making a pound cake using King Arthur Flour's "Sugar-Free Pound Cake Mix" which will be served with blackberries, sliced strawberries, and whipped cream. I've made this cake mix before and it yields a nice dense buttery cake which manages to taste sweet without any weird pseudo-sugar after-taste. I usually bake this pound cake in a normal loaf pan, but I think I'll make it in my fancy Nordic Ware Bundt loaf pan to give it a little extra pizazz. If the local Big Y were still open, I'd nip over and pick up a pack of edible flowers to garnish the cake and cake plate, but Big Y is no more and none of the other grocers stock edible flowers with their fresh herbs.


I will just have to go with unadorned cake.

My mother is making a roast leg of lamb embedded with garlic and rosemary, asparagus casserole, buttery carrots, and scallion mashed sour cream potatoes. The asparagus casserole, in particular, interests me. My mom's description of it makes it sound a lot like green bean casserole, but with asparagus and a real white sauce and bread crumbs. She thinks the recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, but she isn't sure and I fail to find it listed on their website. I will have to try to track it down.

(¹ We bought carpet yesterday and the Carpet People² are coming today to install it. It feels as if we were up all night moving furniture and I am utterly exhausted and yet can't imagine doing something as light as baking while wiry Arabic men destroy and then prettify half my house -- no, I'll be industrious and go clean out the garage or something).

(² Sing to the tune of "Crab People" from South Park).

15 March 2008

Antipasto in a Pinch

I had to bring a dish to a shindig we had at the library earlier this week. When I used to live fifteen minutes from work, I loved cooking for my co-workers. Now that I have to get up at a god awful hour of the morning and schlep an hour north every damn work day, I am less inclined to supply anyone with yumminess. Still, needs must and all that.

Antipasto in a Pinch

I wanted a savory dish which could handle travel with minimal fuss and as well as withstand long exposure to room temperature without becoming an immediate threat to human life. It also had to be something I could toss together with minimal effort or time when I came home the evening before.

After much staring at cookbooks and the internets, I eventually settled on antipasto. In particular, a totally slapdash affair from the Kraft website which I then, of course, had to tweak due to the lack of availability of some listed ingredients. For example:
  • I substituted my favorite extra-garlicky Italian vinaigrette for the Seven Seas 
  • I used turkey pepperoni instead of the "normal" kind (thought about using Yves Veggie Pepperoni, but wasn't sure I could get away with it)
  •  Used a "real" "Italian" brand of mozzarella (when I think "Kraft" I do not think "mozzarella")
  • Used whole grape tomatoes instead of halved cherry tomatoes
  • I drained the antipasto very well before plating and did not serve it with any of the drained marinade (as the recipe suggested), because that seem just a bit much
I serving it up in my white bread plate and it looked quite festive. Taste? Not bad. I would say it needed more garlic, but I've also been known to stand at the open refrigerator eating pickled garlic cloves straight from the jar with my fingers. My co-workers seemed to like it or, at least, there were no leftovers and that's good enough for me.

11 March 2008

What's That Behind the Cucumber?

We were going to have baked salmon for supper and I was pretty sure we had some leftover asparagus hanging out in the crisper drawer, but when I went rummaging around all I found was an unopened crimini mushroom packet just on the cusp of sliminess. So, we et mushrooms with salmon, instead, and it was very good. Who would think they would pair so well?
Baked Salmon & Mushroom Dijon

6 - 8 oz packet crimini mushrooms, cleaned and halved (or quartered, depending on size)
3 T Dijon mustard
1 lb boneless salmon fillet, skin removed
¼ seasoned bread crumbs
¼ butter, melted
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place salmon in a lightly greased baking dish just a bit bigger then the salmon. Spread with mustard and season with pepper. Top with bread crumbs. Spread mushrooms around the edges of the baking dish. Drizzle melted butter over everything.

Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
(An easy way to skin salmon is to heat up a skillet, throw the salmon fillet in skin down, let the salmon heat for very little bit, then slide the salmon out and peel the skin right off -- this is much safer and easier than faffing about with sharp knives).

08 March 2008

Greco-Midwestern Casserole

I don't know where this recipe came from -- I just found it scribbled (untitled) on a piece of notepaper in my Giant File of Random Pieces of Paper I Don't Know What to do With and Dare Not Throw Out for Fear They Are Important. It turned out to be quite a nice little casserole -- very easy to throw together and pretty tasty. It seems like the type of recipe which would easily accommodate additions like chopped zucchini, julienned carrots, or whathaveyou.
Greco-Midwestern Casserole

12 oz dried whole wheat or multigrain rotini
15 oz can low sodium tomato sauce
10 ¾ oz can condensed low sodium tomato soup
15 oz no salt added garbanzo beans (chick peas), rinsed and drained
8 oz crumbled fat free feta
1 cup coarsely chopped black olives
½ cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 T butter, melted
2 T grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package and drain. In a big bowl, combine pasta, sauce, and soup; toss to coat. Stir in beans, feta, and olives. Spoon into a lightly greased 3 quart casserole or baker.

In another bowl, mix butter, crumbs, and Parmesan together. Sprinkle over pasta.

Bake uncovered 375°F for 20 - 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
(I made this recipe using a thawed 18 oz bag of pasta sauce I had put up last autumn and it worked out quite well).

02 March 2008

Every Day, Cake

Back in December, I picked up one of Nordic Ware's "Chocolate Decadence" bundt cake mixes at a clearance sale and then promptly lost the mix in the shadowy depths of the kitchen cabinets. Happily, when I recently discovered it fetched up in a back corner with some pine nuts, the mix was still good (the bottom of the box read "best if used by 04/11/08") so I made the cake up with a blithe heart for to give unto my own dear love ...

And then read the "best by" dates on the inside of the box. Yes, while the bundt mix in toto was good until 04/11/08, the cocoa packet was "best if used by: 02/14/08" and the cake mix packet was "best if used by 09/08/07." Weird and disturbing, but neither weird nor disturbing enough to keep us from eating the cake.

Indeed, it is a delicious cake. Even now, four days after baking, it remains a delicious cake. Tender. Moist. Chocolaty. It needs no dusting of confectionery sugar or splodge of whipped cream. It is perfect all on its own.

I suspect most right-thinking people like cake and, as long as you don't sit down and eat the whole thing, there's nothing wrong with a little cake. The Husband, being a right-thinking person, likes cake and, perhaps due to his unique cultural proclivities, is quite vocal in his liking of cake. He sees nothing wrong with me supplying him with a near continuous supply of cake to go with his tea and I, being an enabler, am happy to oblige him.