Thursday, February 21, 2013

Does It Really Hurt?

Does It Really Hurt?

This is a "must read" article! A short quote:

Most people sharing space with you at that moment would have no idea of the epic battle going on inside you as you ferociously and desperately debate yourself over your upcoming food choice. Sometimes we win that battle, and sometimes we don't. We may reach for the pie, smile at the person standing next to us, and  say, "Oh, well. Just this once won't hurt." And, it doesn't. If anything, it brings on a full-body wave of release. We actually sigh out loud sometimes with the bliss of it. Our shoulders drop as our muscles drain of tension.
Our eyes may even glaze over a bit as we go to our happy food place where our taste buds sing and our heart soars. Dopamine, after all, is the very same chemical that is released when we fall in love.
So, it's true, then. Just this once really doesn't hurt at all. In fact, it feels really good. However, when I close my eyes and picture myself having that bite of pie followed by the full-body melt, it's hard not to also imagine the images we've seen of crack addicts in the movies. Just picture the wild-eyed, jonesing addict on the floor, leaning up against the dirty wall of the crack house, tourniquet tight around her upper arm. She inserts the needle into her vein, pushes the plunger, and we see that same body melt, the same release, the same eye glazing we ourselves get when we eat the pie.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Turkey Seitan In A Bread Machine

I love seitan. I've been making this stuff since I saw my first package of gluten mix from Harvest Direct, then found vital wheat gluten in bulk in The Mail Order Catalog and have been ordering it from there ever since.

 I have so many recipes for the stuff in all sorts of flavors, but for decades I made it the plain, semi-chicken flavor simmered in a pot of water, because recipes that claimed to make your seitan taste like corned beef, roast beef, even kielbasy, well, didn't. Then I discovered Bryanna Clark Grogan's chickenish cutlets. And Julie Hasson's Italian sausages. And Chef Brian McCarthy's turkey roast (encrouton, of course, for the holidays).

But the main problem with all of those recipes is that they took time to make after the dough is mixed. Cutting and shaping and wrapping and steaming/baking/frying. I wanted something as simple as old fashioned simmered seitan that was even easier to put together on days when I feel sluggish (like now, after almost 2 months of passing the flu back and forth).

Enter this recipe from Lazy Dave! I first read about it in a post on the PPK forums, where the people who tried it loved it. I filed it away to try in the future, a time that never came until the other day. Life has been hectic around here, between the flu and the impending death of the elderly relative I've mentioned in previous posts. She's been hospitalized twice in the past month, and the other day she was sent back to the nursing home in kidney failure and now receiving hospice/palliative care. Since my husband and I are about the only family she has left and we're the ones who have been responsible for her care the past 5 years, we're also the ones who will take care of her burial and estate when she's gone. My husband's job has been crazy the past few months (Remember me mentioning mandatory overtime? That's now going to go on indefinitely.) so we're trying to get as much prepared ahead of time as we can, so that means trips to banks, phone calls to various agencies and departments, and even a trip to the funeral director to finalize the arrangements. The funeral parlor is owned by the aunt's best friend, too, so we spent a lot of time talking with her reminiscing about the fun she and the aunt had over the years. All this while I'm sitting there with a box of tissues and a bottle of hand sanitizer coughing my head off. I'm still not allowed to see the aunt because of this flu but at least yesterday the nursing supervisor on duty deemed my husband non-contagious and allowed him to spend some time with her while I was relegated to a corner of the lobby.

Anyway, I needed to make something to have on hand for quick meals grabbed and eaten on the run, and seitan sandwiches was my former go-to meal, but I didn't have any in the freezer at the moment, and since I really needed to take a nap the other day (I'm still only getting a few hours sleep each night, thanks to this cough) I wasn't able to make traditional seitan because I knew I would fall asleep with it on the stove, and that's not good. Then I remembered the seitan in the ABM recipe I had and dug it up.

My changes:
Wet stuff - there was no way I was going to use an entire half cup of soy sauce! Even the lower sodium stuff has way too much sodium, so I watered it down to half strength, so 1/4 cup soy sauce and increased the water to 1 3/4 cup.
Dry stuff - And I skipped the added salt.

Those were the only changes to the ingredients.

I first started putting the ingredients into my Mini-Zoji bread machine and then thought this may be too much dough for the machine and dragged out my old full-sized Oster ABM. Next time I think I *will* use the Zoji, because the seitan loaf really wasn't that high at all, maybe 2-3 inches, sort of like a slab of over-cooked corned beef on Saint Patrick's Day. Here's a photo of half the log with some chunks I couldn't slice any thinner. The chunks will get chopped up smaller and tossed into a pasta meal later in the week.

One more change I'll make next time I make this recipe (And I WILL make it again) is to use the Light setting on the ABM. Dave used the Medium setting so I did, too, but fresh out of the pan the crust was so hard my sharpest bread knife had a hard time cracking through it. After spending a night in a ziplock bag it softened a bit, but it would be much better with a softer crust to start with.

As far as taste goes, my husband loves it and made himself three sandwiches. He said if I didn't tell him it was seitan he would have thought it real turkey. I didn't think it tasted anything like turkey because all I could taste was the soy sauce. I think that was all in my head, so to speak, knowing how much of that stuff was in there. In fact, I was reminded of it all afternoon and all night, as I'm so bloated my wedding ring and shoes are all tight on me this morning and my mouth has been so dry that glass after glass of water still hasn't quenched my thirst. But of course, some of that may be because of the flu and my constant coughing and frequent sneezes, and another part could be that we did a lot of running around yesterday and the only time I drank anything was when I took my medications in the morning. I wasn't going to be stuck in a car an hour from home and no clean restrooms in sight with a full bladder!

Saint Patrick's Day is fast approaching. Maybe instead of the cabbage dish I have planned I'll tackle Brian's corned beef seitan again. It's another one of those simmering seitan recipes, so I hope I have some degree of health back by then!

Monday, February 11, 2013

McDougall Food Plan At A Glance

Remember the old Food Pyramids the US government used to put out every few years? Dr. McDougall had his own version, the McDougall Trapezoid:

Just take the standard Food Pyramid, remove the sections for dairy, meat and fat/sugar, and all that's left are the healthy foods with the starches planted firmly as the foundation.

In his newest book, The Starch Solution, Dr. McDougall showed his answer to the newest version of the Standard American Diet's MyPlate graphic:

sorry for the bad colorizing

Black and White is a bit better

Monday, February 4, 2013

Engine 2 Mexican Casserole

Remember the other day when I mentioned how sick I was with the return of this blankety-blank flu? Well, it hit me a bit harder this time than the last, probably because I still wasn't fully recuperated. I can't eat, sleep or breathe because of the sneezing, coughing, and tsunami of - - - well, you get the picture.

My son feels sorry for me (and doesn't want me near his food) and volunteered to make dinner tonight. I figured it's about time he wants to learn how to make more than pasta or frozen pizza, and printed out the recipe and put all sorts of notes on the page.

Mexican Casserole
Pre-heat oven to 350
In a baking dish:
1 thin layer diced tomatoes
1 layer frozen brown rice
1 layer chopped tomatoes (thin layer)
1 layer frozen spinach
1 layer black beans
1 layer mixed veggies or corn
1 layer of chopped tomatoes (thin layer)
Sprinkle with chili seasoning.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until it’s hot ;)
You can serve it on corn tortillas or whole grain tortillas or just plain :)
from Engine 2 Daily Beet blog

My changes:
Each layer of tomatoes was one canned of diced, with juice. The bottom and middle layers were no-salt added tomatoes. My guys did the grocery shopping Sunday and one of the items I asked them to get was no-salt added or lower sodium flavored tomatoes, explaining a type that has onion, peppers, and/or garlic, like Rotel. My husband brought home a can of Hunts Spicy Red Pepper.
The sodium count of this is a little higher than I usually like (320 mg per half cup), but at this point of this flu I can probably need the salt, and the spiciness (I *hope* it's not too spicy!) will only help the sinuses flow, so this is what I he used for the top layer of tomatoes.

I already had 3 cups of cooked brown rice in the refrigerator so all he had to do was dump and break up the lumps.

I make my own seasoning mix using this recipe and skip the added salt and use Bryanna's unchicken broth powder so all he had to do was open the jar and dip in with the spoon.

We're corn lovers so I told him to use a whole small bag of frozen corn. 

When ready, it all barely fit into the 2 1/2 quart Corningware casserole dish! Whoops! I guess I should have had him use the gigantic Pyrex bowl. Oh, well - next time. At least as the frozen foods cook they shrink down.

I'm so grateful he's willing to help out, even though he's not over his cold 100% yet, but he sees how awful I feel and insisted. Tomorrow's casserole is even easier, so hopefully he'll be willing to do that one for me, too.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Another Q&E - Cuban Potatoes

When the McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook was first released, there was a publishing error and 6 recipes went  missing. Eventually those of us who owned first editions found them and subsequent printings naturally included them. I put the copy of those recipes in my AZZ Cardfile and forgot about them. Recently, while skimming through the book, I realized I never added those missing recipes to the book and did an old fashioned cut and paste and put them where they belonged.

Cuban Potatoes is one of those recipes. In all these years I never made these, only because the recipe wasn't in front of my eyes. I decided I finally had to give them a try, and a few weeks ago bought the required bag of red potatoes.

Then I got sick, made some really simple meals when I had the energy to cook, and forgot about those potatoes until yesterday. Some had eyes that were easily removed but the rest were just fine, which is surprising because in this house Russets and Yukon Golds sometimes go bad in less than a week. These reds have been here for a month.

                              Cuban Potatoes

Serving Size  : 4    
  2             pounds  red potatoes, whole -- small
 1/2           cup  raisins, seedless
  3               cans  chopped tomatoes -- 14.5 oz cans
  1         tablespoon  soy sauce, low sodium
  1             medium  onion -- chopped
  2          teaspoons  minced garlic
  1                     red pepper -- chopped
  1           teaspoon  cumin
  3/4           cup  green olives -- chopped
                        black pepper -- to taste
Preheat oven to 375
Cut potatoes into quarters, place in water to cover and cook for 10 min. Drain, reserving 1/2 c of the water.
Combine remaining ingredients in bowl.
Place the potatoes in a casserole dish with reserved water.
Pour the tomato mixture over the potatoes and mix.
Cover and bake for 60 min.
Recipe By Mary McDougall
The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook

My changes:
Instead of a red pepper I just used a bit more olives and counted the pimento stuffed in the middle of each slice as my pepper.

Believe it or not, that was the only change, and made only because I had no red peppers in the house.

It made a lot of juice just with the liquid from the canned tomatoes and really didn't need the extra 1/2 cup of water, but the sauce was so flavorful my husband jokingly said to just pour it into a glass and he'll drink it. He wound up dunking bread into his bowl, instead.

This made three nice sized bowls for dinner with just this container (3 cups) left over for today's lunch for me.
Good thing, too, because my cold, flu, or whatever it is is back. It started yesterday with a sore throat and swollen sinuses and a bit worse this morning. Next week's menus have been changed around so there will be minimal cooking again - leftover stew for the weekend lunches, pasta with jarred sauce for Saturday's dinner, burgers from the freezer for Sunday's. Monday will be the Mexican Casserole from the Engine 2 site. Tuesday will be what I call the Right Food's Casserole taken from this post about Star McDougaller Mike Teehan. I'll use the lower sodium chicken cups, a bag of store brand Southern style hash browns and a bag of frozen peas. Wednesday will again be a pasta with jarred sauce day and if I have the energy I'll defrost a sausage (made from Julie Hasson's recipe), 

slice it up on the diagonal, and fry it up with some (frozen?) onions and peppers and dump them in with the pasta. Thursday is our basic rice and veggie meal, a meal my son makes just fine for me when he has to using 2 bags of Success brown rice in one pot, 3 small bags of frozen peas and carrots nuked up in my 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup for 20 minutes, then all mixed together and served, each of us using our own extras on top, like canned water chestnuts, chow mein noodles, sometimes diced pineapple, canned beans or fried up marinated tofu or Soy Curls, the latter 2 only when I cook them up. We each have our own favorite sauce, too, with hubby reaching for either for full salt soy sauce, teriyaki or that hot "rooster" sauce and me either a lower sodium teriyaki or even salad dressing. Our son eats his sauce-less most times. Friday is usually pizza day and if I'm not up to it (like today) I'll have something else while the boys enjoy a frozen cheesy, meaty pie instead of a homemade whole wheat cheeseless and veggie heavy one. They don't mind the "sacrifice" and might even go so far as to call out and have one delivered.

But for now, time to take my asthma meds, pour a hot cup of tea, then get back to bed. I suspect my Puff Plus tissues and I will become good friends again very soon.