Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today I learned...

to always wear glasses when cooking.

mistaking ginger for garlic may or may not be a pleasant surprise.

yes, i got all gusto about cooking again (in theory), only to spend my grocery budget for two weeks in less than an hour. but that's what i get for going shopping without having eaten lunch.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

is this what its come down to?

because of recent health concerns, namely feeling like i've been hit by a bus after each meal no matter how big or small, has caused me to try a new approach: eat small meals every three hours. (this was a recommendation in a book i'm reading about PCOS and insulin resistance). and in order to eat every three hours without blowing up like Violet Beauregard, i've been trying to eat 200-300 calorie meals. or less.

for the first week or so it worked out great. i was eating sandwiches a lot - well, actually, quarters of sandwiches a lot. i was feeling much better. i didnt feel as tired during the day. i wasnt feeling energetic, but not as tired as i had been before. i didnt have that "i need to sleep NOW" feeling after i ate.

but then it became a chore. i mean, eating every three hours? i'm glad i dont have a job because i wouldn't be able to maintain this schedule. even without working i find it hard to keep it up. i have no idea how to cook that small. i've had to cook regular meals (and by that i mean i've cooked twice in the last couple of weeks) and break the food up into tiny portions and refrigerate the rest. making a sandwich became making a half-sandwich and then cutting it in half to eat only a quarter-sandwich at a time, a few hours apart. i have been measuring and bagging snacks, sticking to the serving size on the labels very strictly.

do you know how long a bag of, well, anything, will last if you stick the serving size? a while. do you know how many times you eat spaghetti when you eat only 2oz at a time? i try not to be wasteful, and eat the whole package of whatever i open before it goes bad and i have to toss it out. a package of lunch meat lasted six days.

you might be thinking - that's awesome! but i say, i'm so sick of food. i'm so tired of eating the same things five times a day for five days straight. i'm soooo tired of being in the kitchen.  my hummus went bad half way through it and i had to toss it out today. me - toss out hummus? there's something wrong here.

i was really digging on cooking, baking, trying new recipes. i've been trying to talk myself into baking cupcakes since my birthday three weeks ago. i know that one package of cupcakes will last me a month.  would i get sick of eating cupcakes?! i dont want to test that theory.

while strolling through target last weekend, i noticed that they had lean cuisine on sale. i'm not a fan of frozen meals like that - i think they're awful. i hated them when i worked in the office and needed to bring my lunch every day. i hate them when i dont need to bring my lunch. but i noticed they have a new spa collection with some flavors that perked me up: butternut squash ravioli and cranberry apple chicken, both pictured with heaps of veggies in them and both under 300 calories each. the deciding factor, i admit, was that their sale included a free skinny cow ice cream when you bought 6 dinners. ok, i give. i'll give 'em a try.

Lean Cuisine Spa Collection™: Butternut Squash Ravioli
photo from www.leancuisine.com

i bought two butternut squash raviolis, two cran-apple chicken, and two thai chicken noodle somthings. and ice cream cones.

the cranberry apple chicken had great flavor. rissotto. veggies. (green beans, mostly). not much chicken, but that's okay because i dont like the processed chicken chunks anyway. off to a decent start.

the thai peanut chicken noodles. good. i didnt eat the chicken. not spicy or peanutty like thai peanut sauce should be. i give it a 'meh' rating.

then i had the second cranberry apple chicken, and the chicken chunks in this package were mostly fat. i spit it out.

a few days have gone by (i've been totally turned off by the last package i ate) and i just gave in to the butternut squash ravioli. in a white sauce that has zero flavor. five raviolis and a pound of carrots and peas. the ravioli do not taste like butternut squash at all. the filling, in fact, is barely yellow colored, which means its mostly ricotta cheese. i ate less than half of it, and i'm staring at the rest.

is this what its come down to? have i become so lackluster about food that i'm settling for frozen dinners? flavorless ones, at that? i have to get out of this funk. i need to find passion for cooking again.

i stared at a new recipe for nutella cinnamon rolls from sugarcrafter.net, and i got myself excited about them. i got all jazzed about making them and went so far as to write down step-by-step instructions to take to the kitchen. i pulled out my kitchenaid stand mixer, and then made a burrito and took a nap. what an epic fail.

i have half a dozen of her recipes pulled up on my computer right this very minute and by golly i'm going to make at least one of them. tomorrow.  sigh.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today I learned:

that i like spray paint.

its a great way to color your knees...

and awesome planters. like the ones my sister and her husband made for me for Christmas out of PVC, from a tutorial that can be found here.

and cheapy planters that came in a grow-your-own strawberry kit from Target last year (yes, i'm finally getting around to planting them.)

and concrete, apparently, because i didn't think about the slits in my cardboard.

i tried the rust-o-leum spray paint that is designed for plastic, outdoors, and the home depot guy said was sure to not flake off when wet. we'll see about that.

they should be dry tomorrow, so if i can figure out how to use our ladder, i'll install them and transplant my rosemary and oregano into them. (now before you go getting all high and mighty about the ladder thing, let me just tell you that its not your average triangular, open and climb sort of ladder. its fancy. and complicated. trust me.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012


was something in the air this morning that was familiar and yet made me uneasy. the feeling's still there.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Waffle Woes

Its an "Oh woe is me" sort of week in the kitchen. That's what I get for branching out, I suppose. Or, just another "learning" day here in the house of little ol' me.

I found a tempting recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod for Honey Yogurt Waffles. They sounded divine. So I decided to try them, seeing as how Santa brought me a new Belgian waffle maker for Christmas. I've been thinking about these waffles since I found the recipe last night. I was planning to make them in my sleep. Planning in my sleep, though, not making waffles in my sleep.

Usually, I can barely make it to through the morning routine of I-potty-then-dog-potty-then-coffee before I'm ready to hit the couch again for a while of zombie-ing until I wake up. This morning was different. I got out of bed with a purpose.

We all know that your first waffle is like your first boyfriend  pancake - a mistake. It was uber limp and greasy. I gave 1/4 of it to Grainne. She sniffed at in her bowl for a few minutes. As soon as she began to nibble on the corner of it, she realized I was watching her and tucked her tail and looked over her shoulder at me. I told her it was "OK" (which she understands is "ok to eat"), and she turned and gobbled it up in one hunk. So, not poison. Although I'd never truly test poison theories on my dog, I have found things she oddly refuses to eat. And that's a clue for me too.

Waffle #2: I cranked up the heat looking for that steam. Still not much of it. So I convinced myself I was smarter than the instructions that came with the waffle maker and decided that the real key to when they are done has nothing to do with steam, but rather when they stop sizzling. Right. Next!
Burned. Holey. And yet limp. Only crispy on the inside burned parts.

Waffle #3 was to be the charm. I put the heat back down on ".." (which I suppose in my waffle maker's Medium in polka-dot speak). Nicely colored, golden but not burned yet still limp. Where are the crispy waffles I've been craving? I'm starting to understand why they cost as much as a cheeseburger in a restaurant.

Waffle #4: This time I used only three scoops of batter into the center of the waffle maker. No overflow. And I put the heat down to the middle of ".." and ".". It's been almost an hour in the kitchen now. This includes opening, cleaning and seasoning the waffle maker for the first time, dividing ingredients and photographing everything that has transpired so far today. Its almost 1pm (Yes, I slept in) and I havn't eaten a thing. So what I'm trying to tell you is that as soon you get a new kitchen appliance, you should take it home, wash it and season it (or otherwise set it up for use) even if you don't intend to use it, because waiting until you wake up starving on a Saturday morning is not the time to do it. In addition, if you are going to try a new recipe (and especially if you are trying a new recipe AND a new appliance at the same time) you should eat breakfast before you begin to cook your breakfast.

So I call my mother, aka Santa, to ask if this is the same waffle maker she has at home. Does it work for her? No, its not the same as hers. Her advice? "It's not like cooking pancakes where it just takes a couple minutes on each side. Cooking waffles is kind of like baking a cake - it takes a while." Well, Santa, I don't want to bake a cake. I want to eat a waffle. A crispy one. If you wanted me to bake a wafflecake, you should have sent me a cake pan with bumps in it. I find your gift deceptive.

Waffle number four has been in the waffle maker for fifteen minutes somewhere between ".." and "." and I'm going to add some !@#$@#!$! to it in a minute. I turned up the heat a little bit, back to "..". After thirty minutes, it came worse than its predecessors. I still have more batter.

I do not blame the recipe (They smell dee-lish, which is making this process so much harder). In reality, I do not blame the waffle maker. Of course, I don't blame myself either. Circumstance? That doesn't really fit here. Nor does coincidence. I'm looking for another scapegoat.

Waffle number five is in now. I've decided to put number three in the toaster to heat it up and see if that crisps it a bit too. I have to eat or I'm going to gnaw off my arm. Since they are too big for the toaster, I'm actually cutting in half and trying it that way. Now, my toaster is also a toaster oven (basically just a toaster oven with one long trap door on top and an arm that holds bread upright, side by side) and is perfectly long enough to accommodate the diameter of the waffle. Limp waffles, however, get stuck in your toaster no matter how its organized. Just sayin'.

The toaster browned it perfectly, but it was still soft. I don't care anymore. I'm eating it. With butter and honey on top. It's f*ing beautiful. It really does have the best flavor of any waffle I've ever had. And I'm thinking that the soft consistency of it would make great "bread" for an egg and bacon sandwich. Or a good bread pudding. Oh the opportunities.

Number five came out a little better. Perhaps this waffle maker needed a few rounds to "warm up" so to speak. Number six is in now, and I think it may cook best if I just put in there and fa-ged-a-boud-et. I may just unplug it and let it sit there for a while. It will be a nice surprise come dinner time.

I know I promised pictures. But I deleted them all. I don't when, or why, but they are gone. You'll just have to imagine. Like reading a book. Its probably funnier that way anyway. Especially if you are my mom. She thinks everything is hilarious. That's why she gives people wafflecake bakers when you really wanted something else.

Total prep/cook/complain time: 2 hours.
Recipe makes 6 Belgian waffles. Sort of. But it tastes incredible.

Update: I have made this my go-to waffle recipe because they are hands-down THE BEST waffles I have ever had. They are, however, soft waffles by nature of their ingredients. So if you are expecting crunchy crispy waffles like you get in restaurants, look elsewhere. I promise you will not regret trying these. And really, once you try them you will find crunchy waffles simply offensive.