Wednesday, January 30, 2013

An even dozen plus four

     I shook out a half way decent salad for dinner 12. I almost never feel like cooking and this particular night I thought I would have a protein shake and toss an easy salad over to Linus for his supper. I suspected he consumed enough protein at lunch. My protein drink was good but when I went back to the kitchen for KP I polished off the remains of the salad anyway. Typical.

     I foolishly missed an opportunity to photograph a dinner Linus and I shared at a restaurant after seeing Zero Dark Thirty. The movie was great and women may yet some day rule the world! Hey it's our turn now.  Linus has really come a long way in thirty five years too. During the first three decades of  our togetherness the only movie he went out to see with me was Apocalypse Now. He is making up for lost time to my astonishment. We like the same seats too, Pat taught me to sit all the way up top, last row.  Nobody is kicking your seat behind you, plus you have lots of leg room.

      Anyway, I was goldilocksing to Carla about my failure to take a picture of the food at the restaurant and one thing led to another and she sent to me her mother Peggy's recipe for gravy. Peggy was sweet and wonderful, and never gave me a guilt trip; I loved her for that!  Peggy excelled at crosswords and understated commentary, knew and stuck to LIRR etiquette, loved her family, loved Sinatra, and loved the Yankees. I am not sure who took precedence. Carla acquiesced (actually there was no arm twisting at all) and passed on to me a small treasure, a heartwarming account of how Peggy made the gravy. Peggy learned the art in a Bronx kitchen from her Italian mother-in-law many moons ago.   With Carla's permission and in memory of Peggy and the countless cooks who stirred the gravy here is the recipe.

you do know, don't you, that the secret to the best italian gravy
is that it cooks for a looooong time, so that the flavor of everything
that's in there, be it meat, veggies, tofu balls, or 'a piece of pork
for gravy,' permeates every bite.
    peggy always made gravy with meat, so i'm stuck for a vegetarian
recipe. i guess you could just substitute any mention of meat with
your choice of vegetables. peg used cans of tomato puree and paste,
with seasonings including bay leaf (don't eat the bay leaf; it's
poisonous!), basil, oregano, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. when i
married tom we added crushed red pepper to every recipe. here's what
she'd do:
start heating a big pot (big b/c meat was coming to fill it up and we
were big eaters. also, leftovers were essential for carlie) with
can(s) of puree seasoned with the seasonings. she'd add water - equal
parts, i think, b/c of evaporation (due to lots of time simmering -
not boiling). our family recipe didn't call for cut-up onion, but you
could do that for the next step, if you like. what peggy did was, in a
frying pan,  fry meatballs in olive oil with a whole, peeled onion (by
the time it was done, the onion looked a lot like the meatballs and
meatballs were imbued with onion flavor due to a lot of moving around
getting all brown) along with chopped garlic (this is where you could
have the chopped up onion, if you prefer). of course, this was before
fried foods got such a bad rap...let's call them 'well sauteed.'
    anyway, after well sauteeing all this stuff, she would put it all
in the simmering (never boiling) pot of puree, then spoon (paste is
too thick to pour) a can of tomato paste into the frying pan to get
all the drippings, little pieces that fell off the sauteed whatevers
and anything else from the pan with gas still on low to soften the
paste. pre-teflon, this was, so if there's nothing in your pan to
salvage, just spoon a can of tomato paste into the pot, not the pan.
get all the paste from the can by pouring water into it and scraping
around. add that to pot. simmer, simmer, simmer, with an occasional
stir, stir, stir and taste, taste, taste. that's it. very simple.
right now i'm seeing chopped/sliced peppers, mushrooms, etc, instead
of meat (those are the veggies i like) ... good, i'm sure, but just
not peg's. she'd be okay with you not adding meat. she was pretty okay
with anything.
    now the manigut (manicotti) recipe, i'd have to dig up (or email
lois for). that was made from scratch -- i remember spooning stuff
like crepes onto a griddle, not filling big macaroni tubes with
cheese. interested?

      The lack of effort on my part produced a lousy Dinner # 13. For starters I should have thrown that lettuce away. Enough said.

     #14. Thank you Mark Bittman for one of my favorites, Espresso Black Bean Chili  My rendition looks like it has a lot more chopped tomatoes than Mark's original because I throw amounts out the window and throw whatever I have into the pot.  Linus loves too.

     #15. A little cheese, some tortillas, Bittman's chili, and voila, a quesadilla. We like.

     #16.  Beastless roast. Use up the veggies before Linus leaves town. Is that all there is he asks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vinyasa & 8, 9, 10 & 11

     While I have been practicing a baby Raj vinyasa class and fine tuning it to put it on the road and actually teach it, I also needed to put together meals 8, 9, 10, and 11. There were many other distractions that got in the way of meal preps. For instance, I donned a plastic garbage bag to dye my hair. The entire dyeing process is a drag and I never fail to discover some gook on a wall or door when it is all done. It's like vooom.

     Then I was sidetracked by the inauguration. It was lots of fun especially listening to Richard Blanco read his poem One Today. I read the last stanza aloud during savasana in a hot yoga class on Tuesday. I hope the yogis liked it!
     At some point I decided on Cooking Light's Mushroom Lentil Burgers for Supper #8. I sauteed the mushrooms and red onion before throwing them into the chopper.

     I simplified things by using canned black lentils and instead of pre-sliced mushrooms I chose whole baby portabellas. I opted for the less healthy choice of white hamburger rolls, more because of availability than anything else, omitted the thyme, cause I don't always like it, and used the bad mayo with an addition of a few dashes of liquid smoke. Oh, and instead of food processing a bun, I used panko crumbs.

     Very tasty and the Primate ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. It's always a bonus to kill two birds with one stone. Not that I have  ever prepared lunch. Cooking Light's Mushroom Lentil Burgers

     #9 was a journey into the unknown...tofu! Wild Rice Salad with Miso Dressing. Sprouted Kitchen's Wild Rice Salad  I changed things up a bit 'cause I don't even know what miso is and I did not have I think it may be salty, so I would have to omit it anyway. I found low (relatively low, still packing a punch) sodium soy sauce and used it sparingly.

     I am not afraid to cook tofu anymore 'cept now a friend tells me it is bad for me, so I don't know what to do.

      I used 1 cup of brown and wild rice. I cooked the carrots and served the salad hot. I not only omitted the miso from the miso dressing but subbed olive oil for sesame oil when I noticed the expiration date on my sesame oil bottle was longggg ago. I could not find a shallot in my fridge so I replaced it with garlic.
     We loved the whole deal so dinner # 8 morphed into dinner # 9 the following evening.

     Brought back to life in the cast iron pan with some toasted bread. I sometimes don't even show you all the bread we eat! Only my scale  knows for sure.
     I got a little salad going with apples and walnuts and doctored up Cindy's dressing. I added some fresh orange juice and a squeeze of agave.

     Then we raced out to see  Silver Lining Playbook. Oh my gosh. It was the best movie of all time. LOVED it.

     Supper #10 was prepared by the nice people at The Crust. Check out the size of those croutons.

      Does it matter that I get the dressing on the side when I follow it up with this pizza? Oh and then I dip the pizza into the dressing! I gross myself out sometimes.

          Ad Hoc dinner # 11

     I sauteed kale with olive oil, garlic, Williams Sonoma Italian herb & roasted garlic salt free seasoning and served it with cannellini beans and mushroom gravy.

          There's that darn bread again.


     I am going out on a limb, one of Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga...the first yama to be precise, ahimsa. Do no harm. Whether you want to uphold Roe v Wade and advocate pro choice or like me are pro life, or maybe you fall somewhere in between, think about ahimsa. Do no harm. Viability? Really?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's 10 PM. Do You Know Where Your Dinner Is?

     A Late Quartet and bellying up to the bar at the Fat Canary delayed dinner # 7. We were starving by the time we got home. Fried peanut butter and jelly saved the day. Don't let the looks of the peanut butter scare you off. It softens up as the pan heats up and then we put both sides of the bread together and smash it down with a spatula. Delicious.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Downton Brides

Downton regained the number 1 spot in my TV heart; it was a cakewalk; no contest. Homeland who?  Coming to the plate with two weddings, Maggie and Shirley, the rest of the eclectic ensemble, the juicy story lines, c'mon Masterpiece your spoiling us! Are we entitled to so much fun?

Mary and Edith in full wedding regalia

     Vote for your favorite dress! My friend Glynis, a preeminent local Anglophile and responsible fashion critic raised the question of which gown was more enviable. Both Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith portrayed beautiful brides. I will reserve my opinion so as not to dissuade any of my readers from voting. Glynis, it's your turn; I need your input please.

     The only other show that came close to the excitement of Downton's first two episodes of season three was C-Span's coverage of the swearing in of the freshmen and re-elected senators of the 113th Congress  Joe Biden is the king of schmooze and he is the most likable politician of all time.

     Dinner #4 was a surprising success. Thanks are due in part to the contents of this little box. I have not actually read the list of ingredients, I don't want to find out we shouldn't be consuming what's in it. I am pretty sure it is low sodium though. Primate drags his blood pressure gizmo around the way Linus van Pelt dragged his blanket everywhere he went. I am not going to make a mistake with sodium!

      I roasted red skinned potatoes and sun dried tomatoes.

     A little while later I added some steamed broccoli.

     Dished up another salad.

     I fried  left over spaghetti and heated up a can! of cannellini beans in the wild mushroom gravy. It was not to difficult.

     It was tasty and approved by Linus; err I mean the Primate.

     Dinner 5 showed up as Squash and Goat Cheese Empanadas from The Sprouted Kitchen blog.  Thank you Sara and Hugh.

     I can't believe I made the dough!

    Surprise, surprise, there was a salad with Cindy's dressing.

     Looking good. I did not even know what an empanada was (poor sheltered me), but after I saw the post on the Sprouted Kitchen blog  I had to make them.

     I think I subtitled this blog practice yoga, learn to quilt; so to keep things legit I will show you my finally put together no color quilt. Primate believe it or not, does not like primary colors, so the quilt was put together with him in mind.

           Yoga mat is still my magic carpet.

      I am going to need to spend a whole lot more time on it if I keep eating these dinners! Which brings me to Dinner # 6. Left over squash filling rolled up in lettuce leaves, left over empanadas, and zucchini with sun dried tomatoes a la too much sesame oil.

      How many dinners did I commit to?

Monday, January 14, 2013

The 365 Dinner Challenge and a Dash of Harsh Reality

Dinner #2 . We need more kale in our lives. The primate likes it... who knew.

Dinner #2. Kale and Pears and Cindy's dressing
     Par for the course, this month sends throngs back to the gym, fills up yoga classes (yea!), and puts sedentary souls like me back out on the walking trail.  Dr. DiLena's words have been ringing not so nicely in my ears, "you have a very nice tan but swimming is doing nada for your disintegrating bones."  Okay well, maybe my synovial fluids along with all my other fluids are drying up, I can work around those issues. CVS to the rescue! Wrinkles, fat, memory loss, yada, yada, yada! What really scares me is SHRINKING! So, I am back out on the road.

Dinner #3  Pesto, Pasta, Bread, are you talking to me? 

Dinner # 3. Throw some salad at it with Cindy's dressing.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Tufted Duck Ushers In 2013

     Yes, I said it. A tufted duck via NY rare bird alert sent our foursome on a mission to Halesite. January 1 and I was already goldilocksing; I was still coming down from our New Year's Eve viewing of Argo in Great Neck and now we are going to see a duck. Life finds balance in crazy ways. Quack.
      Argo corners the market of timeless big movies; the likable characters, great performances and a riveting theatrical account of six Americans who dodged one bullet only to be stuck between a rock and a hard place at the Canadian Embassy in Iran kept us on the edge of our seats. Yikes! Argo is not meant for the casual moviegoer esp. one who feels stress watching Sesame Street. Glad we had gotten the depressing Life of Pi out of the way and oh so glad that we suffered Premium Rush months ago. Argo was not a bad way to spend the last minutes of 2012 after all. And I am fully recovered now.
                                 Not a Snowy Owl.

                                       Pit stop.

                                 My Pine Barons.

                                      There it is.

      We parked next to a couple as they were packing up their telescopic lens gadget whatever. We gave them the knowing, we are birders, with a touch of aspergers, and we are definitely not going to share this bird spot with anyone nod. They nodded back.

                             No crowds on the pier.

                              Plentiful Parking.

     They saw the duck.  I saw it too but not so much the tuft. The sailboat had me thinking about our summer days in Huntington, just up the Halesite hill. After the duck the Primate led a little tour across the harbor down Cherry Ln. i.e. the house that thank goodness did not become ours although location, location, location!


 Dropping Bren off, I guarded the car while Primate took the stairs. Gotta play your cards right!

      Traffic was light, and only one electric bicycle, as we headed to the midtown tunnel. Record breaking round trip of one hour, way to go Primate!

 Two calls to 911, one at Metropolitan (please don't give a check to someone who is waiting for the ambulance to take him to the E.R.) and another outside an Equinox. Moral is know what to do in an emergency and have address ready.

            My new special protein concoction, coconut milk and

 Spiru-tein with a couple of frozen strawberries and a banana.

     Meantime, I have been in the midst of back and forth with Carla on the pronunciation of Maddona.  I like the Neapolitan vernacular that turns the d's into rolling r's. Maaaahrone is about all this shiksa can get out but if you want to hear it pronounced correctly listen to Lorraine Bracco in the Bensonhurst Spelling Bee.
     I am going to bring Carla in to consult on the Irish slang too. She is pretty versatile being half Italian and half Irish herself. Anyway my cousins sprinkle their conversations with little tidbits of wee this and that; Clod something and as Cathy reminded me gom. We'll nail it all down this year.

                                      Dinner # 1

               Introducing the first of 365 dinners. I'll make it, they'll make it, or you will invite me over for dinner. Either way, I will take a picture of it.


The first picture does not do justice to the abundant amount of kale on the plate. The recipe is Wild Rice Harvest salad from  Kate in the Kitchen.  I took a few liberties, cheated really 'cause I am lazy but the meal prep took an awful lot of time. I was also making a disastrous tasting hummus at the same time. I need help in the soak your own chick peas throw them in the chopper department. Regardless, I suspected that neither one of us would enjoy this meal but we were going to eat a little healthy no matter what. Lo and behold it was delicious. 364 more dinner stories to go! Hope to see you at one!