10 09 2021

This is food from a family lunch a couple weekends ago, where a family friend prepared the chicken. They diced garlic and put it underneath the skin, along with other seasonings, and let it sit for a while. The asparagus, salad, potatoes, and chicken were just right for an end of summer meal: light enough for a warm day but hearty to satiate that natural hunger I often find myself craving as Autumn draws near: root vegetables, oven roasted poultry, and gravies.

8 24 2021

If a time were ever so set in stone as my favorite time of all time, it’s in the 1990s and my best age is 17. I’m in love for the first time, have friends who finally get me, and truly feel like a golden boy, or girl, or whatever that turn of phrase may be. Stay golden, pony boy? I’m pretty sure that applies here.

Either way, over the weekend I had a get together with some of the girls from high school and I had the best time. We didn’t have an all day event or even a sleepover, which is probably what my younger self would have been able to tolerate, neigh first choice, but our afternoon lunch was plenty for my current self.

If I am able to convey the importance of the origin story, it is this: my oldest friends share the ultimate gift, which is those origin stories of my younger self. The meaning is that you were both there when it happened, and that is what binds you to them. That is what makes life so meaningful. I had waited so long to meet up with these girls and I’m not exactly sure why. I learn in sometimes the hardest way that avoidance no longer works for me as an effective approach, but rather now more and more these days that life is for the living and that includes me and everyone in it. So I try and recall some of those oldest friends from my youngest times in life and reconcile the shortcomings or downfalls, if possible. Getting to the place where you can all enjoy BBQ and watch their children play in probably the finest time to be alive, your current self will thank you.

I am not quite sure whether it’s these turns of phrase or just the recent reminiscence of olden days gone by, but I’m recalling now some of the required reading I had in high school: The Once and Future King. Its title captures an idea of this moment. Reading the book is an entirely different matter, as I am sure I only recall sad remnants of the way actually reading it in high school made me feel, but through this experience and by the appearance of the feelings it expresses to me, I am the once and future king, and I have found my people again.

I brought a cooler, 20 lbs. of ice, grapefruit and black cherry flavored zero calorie seltzer, hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns. I also brought a mint pea pecorino salad which stayed in the cooler and corn on the cob, but we didn’t even need that food. We had so much to talk about and share with each other. I so enjoyed listening to the old stories of times gone by and relating with those young girls now. It’s better than talking to our old selves, as we have so many new stories to share, dating stories, figurative war wounds, new relationships, actual careers. In the only way I have been able to maintain any sense of order, I tend to talk how I think, which is a stream of consciousness style, so it’s no surprise that I got pretty long winded when making a toast. I kept dragging on about something about divesting from Facebook, but ended up saying, to all the people in the room and in this house, we’re the cool people. To the coolest people ever! Which is not my best work, but it did for the occasion.

veggie plate featuring local farm stand tomatoes
chicken thighs with rice, green onion, and ginger marmalade
red-skinned potatoes, chive, hard boiled egg, no mayo
peach bergamot iced tea with mint and peach garnish cut with grapefruit flavored calorie-free seltzer

07 03 2021

The day before a food event where I’m traveling the next day, I’ll start preparing dishes to bring, that way my last minute to do’s and forgotten things won’t require the host’s oven or detract from their kitchen space. This morning I picked up some groceries, as I hadn’t gotten to shop for a couple weeks and have been working off existing food. As I assess what I had on my grocery list, I’m not keto anymore, not in the method of prescribing to the high fat to lower carb / protein ratio.

I feel like I’d been doing lazy keto as a sort of way to impart carbs and plant fiber back into my diet, and also I am experiencing weight loss by calorie/meal tracking through Noom. I’ll still continue to eat no/low sugar and use keto flour when baking and eat fewer processed carbs as a general guideline, as those principles were key in preventing spikes in my blood sugar that led to an unending habit of mindless snacking to keep up with the hunger pang caused by that sugar crash. I feel more in control of eating at this moment in time, and I’m excited to get to eat a wider variety of foods.

The idea of fiber acting as a rolled up ball of bubble gum and the pieces of lint and dust bunnies on a floor as cholesterol, that fiber bubble gum is able to stick itself to the cholesterol as it rolls across the floor and remove LDL / HDL from my system, which I’m excited to get to work on. As a result of the high fats in my diet over the past year, my most recent blood work revealed higher than normal cholesterol, which is another bigger reason why I’m moving away from a higher fat diet.

For this weekend’s feast, I made pickles. My best friend gave me the recipe and I find that adding different herbs is a fun experiment. This time I used rosemary sprigs with:

2 Tbsp Swerve granulated white sugar

grated ginger

rice vinegar w sesame seeds

pickling cucumbers

water

I let them set a day in advance and eat them within 3 days.

6 21 2021

There’s a few things in life that make things worth it:

food with people you love

A few weekends ago my family got together for a cook out and there were tons of amazing foods. We had home cooked comfort foods: grilled chicken, potato salad, and macaroons, just to name a few. But my favorite was one that my step mom made: keto broccoli salad. She used 1 cup mayo, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, and 3 Tbsp Truvia sugar substitute as the base. Although she used cranberries, so it wasn’t completely keto, she used pecans, broccoli, and it went so well together.

Another surprising dish she made was keto mashed cauliflower, with a ton of butter, crushed red pepper flakes, and light cajun seasoning. This was surprising because the person who was interested in the “real” potato salad also liked the mashed cauliflower, and they weren’t expecting to like it so much.

11/25/2020

This morning has been a whirl of wind in preparation for Thanksgiving.

Picked up these adorable floral arrangements at the local farm store, potted in pumpkins. They used decorative cabbage, roses, alstroemeria, in these lovely purples, yellows, oranges. It is a fresh feeling I get when flower watching, I could just get lost in them. They clear my mind, until I am fresh and new again.

Listening to a new record, I just heard “drinking Coca Cola and red wine”. I wonder if this is an adaptation like rosè and Sprite, or if this is my mind playing tricks on me again. Sometimes I like to live in a world as if there were no google. It’s similar to how I felt as a kid I think, where I could with impunity believe things and just explore the world. I can remember times when I’d take closed containers of spices, a wooden spoon, and a bowl and pretend to mix the ingredients. I have a vivid memory of climbing into kitchen cabinets and holding my breath as long as I could. I must have watched an episode of Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers that talked about it. But I felt so free in that moment, I knew I could hold my breath just as long as those oyster divers would.

Waiting on a batch of three pumpkin pies to cook, I set up green bean casserole. Earlier this week, I looked online for the original green bean casserole, the one they used to put on either the can of mushroom soup or the can of Durkee fried crispy onions. This version was transcribed by a family member long ago and it now belongs to my sister. I recall looking at it a time or two as an adult, the neat handwriting on the index card. Yesterday, as I browsed YouTube, I could not find the original recipe. Many of the new renditions have sliced mushrooms, bacon, fresh sliced onion, even cheese. The only one I have ever eaten has soy sauce, I know that for sure.

I dumped them all into a pyrex dish:

1 can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup

1 16 oz frozen French cut green beans,

1/2 Cup heavy cream

1 tsp soy sauce

handful of French’s crispy fried onions

Stir it all together

Bake 350 degrees F for 25 minutes

Add the rest of the fried onion toppings on top

Bake 10 minutes

Let cool 30 minutes, then serve

11/21/2020

Last night a friend came over for a get together. It was a relief to get to visit for a bit. This was the second time we’ve seen each other during covid times and the first time we’d seen each other since our birthdays. Earlier on in the day I was feeling bakeful so I put together a lasagna in three layers:

  1. Instead of pasta I sliced thin steaks of cabbage
  2. a layer of pasta sauce mixed with the rest of the mushrooms sliced with a few chopped cloves of garlic
  3. the layer of cheese is a container of ricotta and a bag of three cheese blend: parmigiana Reggiani, asiago, and parmesean (usually I’d add an egg, but did not have any)

Cooked in a pyrex casserole dish on 350 degrees F for an hour covered with tin foil.

After the hour, I uncovered the dish and sprinkled some thin slivers of asiago and cooked it for 15 a final minutes to let the cheese melt and get crusty over the top

When my friend came over, we had parm crisps (zero carb cheese chips), green olives, dill pickles, caramelized figs, cheese roll, salami, pepperoni, prosciutto. We packed up the food and she microwaved a poblano bowl that she brought with her. After that, I offered her the lasagna. I was not expecting her to try it, but was so pleased when she cleaned her plate, which is high praise.

This morning, I opened the card that my friend left me. I opened it not expecting much. I had been standing with her in the parking lot of my place as she penned it before she got in her car to leave.

Earlier on that night we had been talking about advanced directives and death, and how hard it is for people to talk about death. Two summers ago when my aunts and uncles came to visit, I sobbed trying to explain how I wouldn’t want a funeral, wouldn’t want to be buried. How can you feel so bold but then not be able to say it out loud?

My friend would want a Viking funeral, and she laughed as she spoke it. “Send me out to the ocean.” And we’d shoot a burning arrow, and then you’d burn. In the instance she wouldn’t be able to enjoy life or live without medical assistance, she would want to go. She is an only child with no family and no children of her own, so she does not owe anyone anything. I spoke up and said she owes me something, and she would owe her friends something. Yea this would be if something changed and I wasn’t able to live life the way I wanted. She said she has always lived her life as a heathen, as she has made different choices in her life than others.

On the envelope she drew a fake stamp, fake postal markings with a future year on it.

Kitchen scrap chili

Last weekend I had a ton of leftovers and was craving chili. So, I took them all and combined them with some pantry items:

  • pan of curry seasoned, boneless chicken thighs with cauliflower and cabbage
  • container of taco seasoned ground beef
  • half container of pasta sauce
  • half can of salsa
  • can chili beans

I cooked everything in a large pot and added some salt. Served with several dollops of sour cream and tortilla chips, I had a lovely meal Sunday and had leftovers all week. The combination of taco seasoning and curry (Korma seasoning), along with the tartness of the sour cream was just right.

Note: I’ve been lazy Keto since spring 2020, which just means I add a ton of fat to whatever I’m eating. I hadn’t been in keto for a while, due to laziness and not tracking carbohydrates. That day my body had started Keto again, as I had lost 1/2 lb. by the next day and ended up catching that Keto flu by the end of the night: nausea, shaking, feeling awful

Home cooked meal (chicken optional)

 

 

I visited my mom yesterday. She fixed butternut black bean soup with a side of garlic kale, fig preserves, chicken, and special Texan corn bread.

(Note: My mom might have gotten her corn bread recipe from the side of a Quaker corn meal box.)

Doused in a modest serving of Sriracha, the dish was plenty spicy, and the heat blends well with the sweet of the fig jam.

Modifications

As for modifications in the soup, mom substituted chili powder for chipotle powder and omitted red pepper flakes.

Also, there was no mirin (Japanese rice wine) available at her grocery store, so she used sake.

P1120020

 

Thyme lentil potatoes

P1110829

I like the idea of slow food, and Sundays are perfect for all day food creations. Making home cooked meals is my favorite artisanal craft: you are constantly using your hands and you can perfect it daily.

When I am not watching TV I am usually thinking about food. As a result I tend to frame life goals around things I have seen on TV.

I recently had a conversation with some people at work about why some people live so long. NPR aired an interview with the 90-year-old Dick Van Dyke. He said the key to staying young is always keep moving. This is the same name of his recent memoir. He is constantly in motion.

Always Be Closing

Connecting the weird dot from old film stars to now, a gif in my mind runs Dick Van Dyke doing a little tap dance with a caption that reads: Always Be Moving, in the style of the ABC (Always be Closing) speech from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin’s character motivates a bunch of salesmen to make the deal.

I think there is a lot of play with this dish. You could add more lentils and less potatoes for a more stew consistency, or pack on the tots like my current incantation which reads more like a casserole.

Simple contrasts pull this piece together: savory thyme mashed up with  sweet coconut. This recipe includes ingredients I got at the farm market and items already in my cupboard.

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Equipment:

1 Butcher knife

1 pairing knife

1 peeler

1 strainer

1 9″ x 11″ Pyrex dish

cutting board

1 large pot

Ingredients:

4-6 red skinned potatoes

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp thyme

2 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

1 can chunked pineapple

1 12 oz bag lentils

2 handfuls Brussel sprouts

Optional topping:

plain Greek yogurt

Directions:

Preheat oven at 400ºF.

Crush and finely chop garlic cloves.

Fill large pot 2/3 way with water. Heat on high.

Pour thyme, ginger, coconut oil, and garlic into pot.

Open bag of lentils. Pour in strainer. Rinse in running water for a minute.

Once water begins to boil, add lentils. Boil lentils for one minute and then simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off burner under lentils.

Open can of pineapple. Empty entire contents in Pyrex dish.

Clean and scrub potatoes. Use a peeler to remove blemishes and eyes.

Chop potatoes into 16ths. Set aside in Pyrex dish.

Cut each Brussel sprout in half. Set aside in Pyrex dish.

Pour lentils on top of vegetables in Pyrex dish.

Cook in the oven for one hour.

Remove Pyrex dish from oven.

Let sit five minutes before serving.

Optional: top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.