Monday, January 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - January 28

I hope your weekend has been fun. Ryan and I did the best sort of Australia Day things - a big barbecue with friends, and a trip down the coast. I'm branching out with the food this week, and trying a couple of new things, so here's the list:
Duck Laksa
Fish parcels on the barbecue
Asian Duck Salad
Roast chicken with veggies
Fish Pie

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blogging Weirdness

I love google analytics. If you blog, you really need to play with this. It tells you fun stuff like, 53 people visited my blog yesterday, 61% for the first time. It has a neat map so you can tell, generally, where in the world they came from. And, if you found my blog via google, it will tell me what you searched for. Thats how I know that somebody, yesterday, searched for:
porridge microwave lumpy gooey mess
and my blog was the first thing on the list.

I love google analytics.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Food for thought: Chilli Mussels

This is a bit different. I've written it for the skinny gourmet, and her food for thought event. I'd like to cook these and take a picture to show you, but I'm missing a few key ingredients. Mostly, I'm missing a sunny Sunday afternoon, the great brown Swan River estuary, and a bunch of Freo drinking buddies. They are all still around - just far, far away.

First you need a hot, dry Fremantle afternoon. A salty sea breeze would help, but the tang of a sheep ship in harbour is strictly optional. The best way to get the mussels is to jump off the jetty at East Fremantle Scout hall with a snorkel and a diving bag. Oh, and a heap of friends. The water is around three metres deep, tannic and briny. The depth is helpful - you don't want to pull any mussels off the top third, in case they've been left high and dry by the tide. And the bottom third are also unadvisable, because any persistent pollutants will linger in the mud below. The mussels grow thick on the pylons, and it isn't hard to gather enough for a feed.
The next step requires a friend with a backyard and a barbecue. Sit in the backyard and pick over the booty. It doesn't require a lot of concentration - just discard any tiny mussels, or broken ones, and trim off their beards. Beer helps this process, and it goes quicker when there's a few willing hands. The beer of course, is Little Creatures.
Finally, you need to turn on the barbecue and find a stockpot. You could cook this in the kitchen, but it would stink out the whole house. Also, this is boy food. The barbecue is better. Maybe a third of a bottle of white wine goes in the stockpot, along with some chilli and ginger. Always a lot of chilli. When it's nearly boiling, the mussels go in and the lid goes on - you only need to steam them for two or three minutes. Tip them out in huge bowls and pour over hot tomato puree and fresh parsley. There might be chips, if anyone can be convinced to drive to the fish and chip shop. But otherwise, eat with crusty bread, much mess, and more beer.
The afternoon slides into evening - maybe it's cooler. Either way, there's more to drink, and too many mussels to finish. Whoever manned the barbecue will be telling the rest to eat up - half annoyed that his labour is going to waste. But everybody is full and lazy, and the mussels will still be good for sandwiches tomorrow.
And nobody is in any hurry.

Menu Plan Monday - January 21

Monday has rolled around again, and this time it's a bit on the chilly side. We are using up leftovers from our big entertaining weekend, so here's the list:
- baby octopus marinara pasta
- white bean stew
- chilli on spuds
- vegetarian minestrone (from the freezer)
- a big chunky salad
- a curry night with friends
And I've bought a heap of salad veggies to keep up with my good-health-a-thon goals.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vegetarian Chilli Recipe

This is another Destitute Gourmet recipe. I made it yesterday (for nachos) and we had the leftovers in wraps today - and both times it disappeared too quick for photos!
Sophie Gray calls it "smart chilli", and I think she's right. It's spicy, rich, heart-healthy, vegan, quick, cheap, full of vegetable-goodness...
The original recipe is only dinner for two - to stretch it, add some mince with the onions, or another can of beans (or both).
Smart Chilli
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 Cup tomato paste
2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp molasses
1/2 C hot water
squeeze of lemon juic
1 can of kidney beans (or 1 1/2 Cups cooked beans)

Saute the onions and garlic in oil until soft, then stir in the spices. Mix together the soy sauce, hot water, sugar or molasses and tomato paste. Add to the onion and spices, squeeze in the lemon juice and season with black pepper. Process half the beans to a puree (I just mashed with a fork) and mix all beans into the other ingredients. Serve as nachos, on baked potatoes or toast, or with rice.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - January 14

Still trying to keep the menu high on salad, and low on fat. Bring on the vegetables! I wanted to buy a barbecued chicken at the supermarket, but they were all gone. I had to settle for some discount mince instead. Here's the list:

Turkey chops with salad and potatoes
Nachos (ok, we can't be healthy all the time)
Wraps with left over nacho sauce
Chunky salad with ham and eggs
People over for a barbecue! There will be sangria and salad and garlic bread - and a big fish! Maybe.

Happy Monday

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Frugal Food Tip: Fish in the Freezer

As part of my healthy new year, I'd like to be eating more fish. We're all supposed to, aren't we? Except, you should try not to buy big predator fish, because of the mercury. And you should avoid farmed fish, because it's fattier, and unsustainable. Beware of contributing to fishery collapse by following the Green Peace 'sustainable fisheries' guide. Make sure you choose 'Dolphin Safe' tuna, but then, Ryan doesn't like any fish in tins anyway...
It's all too freakin' hard!
Even if you find the perfect, mercury and dolphin free salmon steaks, from wild Alaskan salmon... there's my food budget for the week!

I give up. I've been buying my fish in the freezer section of Aldi and Supabarn. There's a couple of different brands, but basically, I can buy a 1kg bag of firm white fish fillets for around $10. Easy, cheap, versatile and (heavy metal poisoning aside) I'm doing the right thing for my health.

Tonight we had chilli and basil stirfry, with steamed fish. It was good.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

We all scream...

for icecream! Well, orange sorbet. Last night was our first experiment. We pulled the bowl out out of the freezer, attached the lid and set it going. We watched with anticipation as Ryan poured in the mix. I got a bit distracted and forgot about it, while it went around and around and around...
Then it beeped! It was done!
With much excitement, we removed the lid - only to find it was all just sludge. We attempted to re-start the machine, to no avail. We ate some sludge, which was too sweet and very disappointing. Finally, we put it back in the freezer. But it turns out that was the secret. Tonight, we have honest-to-goodness orange sorbet!
Stay tuned for many more icrecream experiments to come : )

Monday, January 07, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - January 7

Happy Monday! Well, actually, not so happy for me. I went to a funeral for a work friend, it was shockingly untimely and very, very sad. Between that and the heat, I don't feel much like eating, although I'm sure I'll make room for icecream.
But this is a new year, and with good health, and healthy living very much on my mind, here's the plan for the week:
Salad and left over tempeh
Smart (vegetarian) chilli, on sweet potato
Fish and more salad and couscous
Sweet potato pasta with spinach and feta
Basil Chilli Chicken stirfry. (actually, we already ate the chicken, so it might have to be broccoli stirfry. sorry ryan)
Whatever the last frozen veggie meal is lurking at the back of the freezer.

Hope your week started better than mine.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Shiny new Christmas toy!

My parents have decided to sponsor a new toy in our house. An icecream maker!
We have never had one before. It is already preparing itself for Orange Sorbet, and I'm very excited about it. I have decided to avoid thinking about potential effect on my waistline, and concentrate on the idea of having an Icecream Sundae Party. All in capitals, just like that.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

This is not a diet!

Tis the season for resolutions, weightloss plans and left over ham. I had a great holiday with snorkelling, sand, small cousins, champagne and very good fruit cake. One day I am going to beg Melva for her award-winning recipe, but right now my heart is set on lighter things.
It's not about the extra kilo's that snuck up in December. It may be about the absurdity of plum pudding and roast meats on a 40 degree day. It's mostly that after a month of chaotic good cheer, I am home, and my heart is craving routine and my tummy just wants salad.

I am joining the BlogHer 2008 Good Health-a-thon!
I have two big goals:
- I will be in my healthy weight range by the end of April (this means losing 6 kg)
- I will catch up on all the check-ups that have fallen by the way side, by July

For January I have some baby-steps:
- avoid all the sweet stuff hiding in the office kitchen (it's all junk I don't really like anyway)
- make body appropriate meals. This means Ryan the crazy cyclists gets carbs on the side with every meal, and I get enough vegetables on my plate so I don't want the carbs
- make an appointment to get my eyes checked. thankyou, little sister, for helping me discover that my eyesight is not what it was.

Don't worry! The dessert recipes won't disappear, and I won't start harping on about Atkins. But I'm going to turn up to a few more cardio classes at the gym. And maybe (no promises) get out my pushbike...