Tag Archives: food

For the Vegetarian On the Go

A frozen, boxed Tofurky roast

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Between not finishing my novels, being a lawyer on a Star Trek simulation, not doing homework and kvetching about the treatment Helen Thomas received (yes, I am still angry about it and no, I will not let it go) I don’t always have time to cook up carrot ginger soup or some other wonderful vegetarian meal so I like to turn to some quick and easy and still delicious vegetarian pre-cooked meals. Here are some of my favorite:

  • Tofurky Vegan Loaf: A lovely tofurky loaf stuffed with fantastic stuffing and with its own mushroom gravy this is the complete package for a not just vegetarian but also vegan dinner. From Pangea Vegan Products.
  • Annie’s Certified Organic All Stars: Delicious stars of David in red sauce, Annie’s has once again produced a delicious lunch product.
  • Annie’s P’sghetti Loops with Soy Meatballs: If you’ve got a slightly bigger appetite then just the “All Stars” I’d recommend these. The soy “meat”balls are really delicious and even my anti-soy friends are big fans of these.
  • Quorn Chik’n Nuggets: I’ve written about these before and my loving words still stand today. A lunch standard for the past few years (I think that I’ve eaten at least one box every school week for the past year and a half) this is one of my favorite microwavable foods ever. I love Quorn!
  • Amy’s Vegetable Pot Pie: Sometimes it’s nice to be able to unwrap a block of ice, toss it into a preheated oven (we’re living in the 1940s and still don’t have a microwave) and pull out a piping hot, delicious vegetarian pot pie. Amy’s is a bit pricey (as most delicious things are) but well worth it.
  • Amy’s Rice Mac & Cheese: When I’m feeling classy but not too classy there’s nothing I like better then orange cheese on macaroni noodles. And once again Amy’s satisfies. Yum.

And of course, if you’re feeling a bit ambitious but still crunched for time make some English muffin pizzas and put some sliced tofurky on it (I’d recommend putting it between the sauce and cheese to stop it from crisping). Tasty, low maintenance and you’re still getting your protein.

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Thar She (the Gnocci) Blows!

boiling water

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I’m hunting. Whaling actually. And it’s thrilling. I have my harpoon in my hand as I stare down into the clouded ocean, trying to spot that one last whale. The knife of hunger is giving my senses a keen edge and… and there she is. The white whale! She surfaces but my attacks force her back into the opaque waves. Another stab and I’ve hooked her. Fat. White. Glistening. Delicious.

On my cracked wooden spoon rests that final pearl of gnocci. Beneath it the boiling water, cloudy from the starches, begins to come to rest and I realize how hungry I truly was. Hungry Lady Jane is Dramatic Lady Jane.

And so with a resolve to go back and finish Moby Dick I drain the gnocci and drop it into the empty bowl. A few final stirs of the boiling sauce (from a jar but still delicious) before it’s dumped from the orange pot and my main course is complete. It’s gorgeous, the white of the gnocci peaking through the earthy red sauce (I’m suddenly reminded of the tiles in my grandparents’ old house) surrounded by the porcelain with blue bowl. Next to it on an old tiny plate rest two slices of super-quick improv garlic bread.

Sometimes you need to cook a meal for one to be reminded why you fell in love with cooking in the first place.

Super-quick Improv Garlic Bread

You’ve probably made this yourself but just in case you haven’t here it is. Give it a try when you want something garlicy, bready and easy.

Preheat your oven to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a clove of garlic (this is assuming you’re making two slices of bread and have a strong enjoyment of garlic) and cut it in half. Now dice it up and set it aside. Toast two slices of bread (I used a very thick version of a baguette) before lathering butter on them. Take half of the diced garlic and push the pieces into the butter and then repeat with the other. Place the two pieces of bread (butter side up!) on a tray and then put it in the oven for just a few minutes (maybe two or three). Take out when the butter has melted in and the bread it really crusty on the outside. Eat it.

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I’m High!

A Bronze tom

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Well I’m just as high as Lenin right now. (I meant to write John Lennon but with my brain in revolutionary Russia Lenin just flowed out and I’m keeping it.)

No, not marijuana, cocaine, or heroin but turkey. Specifically turkey soup. More specifically turkey noodle and rice soup.

In her fantastic cook book, The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Judith Jones writes about the next lives a meal takes on from the left overs. My parents and I are big believers in this and this turkey soup is the third life of a multi-pound turkey. It started as a roast turkey served for our thirty guests gathered for my birthday five days ago. The next few days it was sandwiches consumed by me (wheat bread, turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing) and then yesterday I spent the day inhaling the scent of the turkey carcass boiling in the large black pot. Today my father used the remaining turkey meat and this fresh broth to make a fantastic soup that I’ve had for two meals today.

A homemade turkey broth, slivers of turkey, rice and egg noodles. Perfect.

The dinner served up by my father tonight was simple, hearty and utterly satisfying. Besides a massive bowl of this lovely soup there were slices of a soft long bread with sesame seeds along the crust. And butter, so much butter. One of the greatest joys in my life comes from slathering salted butter onto a thick slice of bread and soaking it in the broth. Then I pop it into my mouth and lick the juices off my fingers.

And now I have a mug of Earl Grey tea, Selected Shorts (with Leonard Nimoy currently reading) on the radio and Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Classics coming up.

I’m just high.

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Me: 1 Sugar: 1

You know what makes a great post-dinner snack? No, not chocolate chips… not chocolate chips… chocolate…

Right, great snack. Toastable, organic, multi-grain waffles with local apple butter (made less than a mile from my house, how much more local can you get?) I was skeptical about the quality of the waffles since pre-cooked foods tend to scare me (yes, I am still afraid of penicillin, indoor plumbing and opposable thumbs) but they seemed fine coming out of the toaster and covered in nutmeggy-appley-creamy goodness they went down like a treat.

I think this is beginning to represent a changing point in my relationship with food. When hunger struck I didn’t rip the door of the cabinet off for chocolate instead I walked like the modern hominid that I am to the freezer and opened it calmly and then attacked the waffle with apple butter. It seems that I really just need to surround myself with good food. When clementines and whole-grain breads are within reach I don’t need to shove sugars into my system.

Yeah, it really is that simple.

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Me and Sugars

Raw (unrefined, unbleached) sugar, bought at t...

This counts as a first course for me. --Image via Wikipedia

I have low blood sugar. Alright, I’ve never been technically diagnosed with Hypoglycemia but thanks to my mother, biological grandmother and legal grandmother I need to eat hourly or I start getting shakes, headaches, cramps, coldness and really really bitchy.

Recently my therapist and I have been discussing the idea that perhaps my depression isn’t some chronic biological hormonal imbalance thingy but is linked to my food and sleep patterns (mixed in with my artistic temperament, translation: Emotional whacko) . Huh. Well, seeing as how I re-doing my sleep schedule would involve me turning off the internet before ten and closing my book before eleven I decided to think about my whole relationship with food.

To be honest I didn’t have any profound insights other than: Lady Jane, your eating habits are fucked up.

I always knew that I wasn’t the healthiest eater but my body seems to burn fuel faster than Keith Richards going through a pound of coke so sugary, junk food stuff never seemed to be a problem for me. But what I came to realize is that what I was eating only contributed to my extreme food related mood swings.

Let’s start at the morning (assuming this is a day where I am home from school). After not eating for ten hours or so (also a period known as post-diner and sleep) I’m starved in the morning. But when I’m starved I can’t make a single decision and so it ends up with me storming around the kitchen screaming about how there is nothing for breakfast. If I end up eating something it is usually Cheerios with at least (and this is me being literal) six tablespoons of sugar. The sugar high keeps me going for a few hours but by noon I’ve crashed and being to stamp around the kitchen screaming about how we have nothing for lunch. If there are cookies, donuts or similar baked goods I eat those until I feel sick and then go have a stomach ache. By 1.30 I’m craving food. This is the part where I eat a few spoonfuls of sugar to keep me going until my 3.30-4.00 meal. This meal is the point where I eat crackers or chocolate chips (lately Baker’s Chocolate if I’m really jonesing) or a few more spoonfuls of sugar. Dinner, if I’m eating alone which I do about once or twice a week, is something heated from a can or Ramen. Then I crash and crawl into bed after two hours on the computer.

(I left that as one long paragraph to give you sense of how I feel at the end of the day.)

Something’s got to give and it’s got to be sugar.

The truth is that I use granulated sugar as a homemade insulin but unfortunately it only makes things worse. When I feel myself crashing I pump some of that lovely white powder into my stomach which only serves to delay my unavoidable crash and then makes said unavoidable crash all the much worse when it finally occurs. And the more times I delay it with sugar helpings I only crash that many times harder.

So my New Year’s resolution? Begin cutting back on the sugars. Something that I recently was telling myself was going to be no problem because I had a magic bullet. Citrus. More precisely: grapefruits and clementines. I was telling this to my friend today (who is also cutting back on sugars for the new year) when she crushed my magic bullet. According to the Baroness citruses tend to be full of sugars. (That could explain why I was finding them such a useful substitute.)

Well I guess I have to regroup and get a new plan of action.

New Plan of Action: Moderation! I need to be mindful of my intake. No more handfuls of chocolate chips (though one or two chips are allowed.) No more sugary Cheerios (I’m cutting myself off here, it’s one of my addictions and needs to be killed cold turkey.) And for heaven’s sake, THE SUGAR BOWL IS NOT A SERVING DISH. I need to surround myself with whole grains (home made bread anyone?) and if I really need something sugar then I’d better bake up something yummy and make myself earn it.

Now let’s see how long this lasts…

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I’m Daring!

List of cookies

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First of all, I do not enjoy sharing a kitchen with others. My parents might be lovely but last night’s dinner party left the kitchen trashed so I’m baking cookies and scones in the dining room today. And we’re out of sugar.

It’s that last sentence that lead’s up to me being DARING.

Right now I’ve got it stuck in my head that I’m going to bake these “lovely tuille fortune cookies with a splash of fragrant bergamot” from Gesine Prado-Bullock (link here) and then some cream scones because we’ve got extra cream. As I was setting up my improv-baking center in the dining room I noticed that the sugar cannister seemed suspiciously light.

According to my measuring cup I’ve got exactly 1/2-cup of sugar. One 1/2-cup short of what I need.

A slightly peeved phonecall to my mother inquiring as to whether or not we have a bag of sugar hidden away in the cupboards only resulted in a slightly peeved answering machine message left on her work number so I went to Google. I Googled sugar substitutes and ended up on allrecipes.com where they pointed out that I could try a variety of substitutes. Since I’m in Vermont I’m going with maple syrup and I feel like these cookies could be really good with a hint of maple. Now I’m stressing over the conversions between liquid and dry cups so this is just fantastic.

But, because I’m Daring I’m just going to plow ahead. Because when you’re baking for a Christmas party you don’t need to worry about how it tastes right? All the adults will just be buzzed on eggnog so I could bleed into the batter, bake it and they wouldn’t notice a difference.

Now I’m just freaking out.

New Daring plan! Eat a grapefruit to combat low blood sugar and then if my mother isn’t home I’m just going to dump a gallon of maple syrup into the batter.

By the way: Is anyone else listening to today’s Splendid Table? I’m loving it.

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A Mess of Crêpes- Actually They’re Crepes.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, original ...

This is (more or less) my copy of Julia and Simca's book! --Image via Wikipedia

First of all. These are not Julia Child Crêpes Suzette or even “real” crepes. I love traditional crêpes but sometimes I want the sugary Joy of Cooking-based recipe that my mother has concocted. In fact to prevent the food purists (of which I kind of am) from writing me about what a crêpe really is let’s just call them crepes. There are /ˈkreɪp/ and there are cray-pps (yes I made up that other phonetic spelling but I think you can get it.) I’m writing about cray-pps.

A few posts ago (maybe two or four) I mentioned that I was making a Mess of Crepes. I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seats waiting to find out what exactly I meant by this so here is the recipe.

First make sure that you like sweet things. Do you? Good.

The next thing you need is our super secret recipe. Basically we just adjusted the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. Here it is:

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 3 large eggs (home raised free ranged eggs are the best but I’m a bit biased)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3+ tablespoons sugar (add more as your taste runs)
  • pinch of salt

Beat it all together. Now take a flat pan, about the size you’d use if you were normally making crêpes or perhaps scrambled eggs, and add a Julia Child sized tablespoon of butter to the pan and heat it so it’s all buttered up. Now pour in the batter. All of it. With a spatula (I’d recommend against using a spoon or fork as the batter tends to stick into these particular utensils) mix it up like scrambled eggs. Keep mixing until it’s firm and lightly, lightly browned. When you’ve got this in your pan then drop it onto a plate. Eat it. Die of cholesterol. Enjoy.

This may not sound like a big break through but I feel like most people wouldn’t do this without some prompting. It’s funny how scared people are to play around with recipes. I’ve never really felt like I need to follow a direction word for word. After all if it turns out inedible then I simply feed it to the chickens or our garden and cook a frozen pot pie.

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