Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why I Love Leftovers

While preparing a good meal can be very satisfying, not having to cook at all is sometimes a relief.

I have rheumatoid arthritis, which can sneak up and suck all the energy right out of me without notice - and that is why I meal plan like crazy but try to keep contingencies on hand and make a point of staying flexible.
Today is one of those days where I'd rather fast than have to cook, this time not because of RA, but because while I was in the middle of preparing yesterday's dinner, I somehow pulled a muscle in my back. I've heard of this happening, but strange as it may seem, it has never happened to me, and for the record, owww.

I really have no idea how I did it - one second I was standing there stirring a pot of pasta.... giving some sauteed veggies a little shake - multitasking, yes, but nothing major and as far as I know I wasn't trying to do any of this with contortionist maneuvers - and then whooosh, I suddenly couldn't stand upright and was trying to find a cool spot amongst all the burners to hang onto while the worst Charlie Horse in the history of muscle spasms clenched down on the muscle along my left side. (There is a anatomical name for that muscle but I will simply refer to it as that Backstabbing Backstabber Muscle)

Now, dinner was not at a place where it could just cruise along for a little while without me and there was no way I was going to be doing anymore stirring motions for awhile. So, I gasped out instructions to my daughter about what all needed to be done, and slowly slowly hobbled into the living room, hoping this would pass soon.

Well... here it is, nearly 24 hours and no - not finished. The hard core spasm has stopped, but the muscle is still terribly sore and screams in terror every time I flex it. That pretty much means with every breath I take.
So tonight is leftovers from last night - which was good enough to eat two days in a row - served with a side order of heating pad.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kitchen Bucket List

I am not the sort of cook that wants to make ridiculously complicated gourmet tidbits, but even if my aspirations are not as lofty as some, I do have a few.  Some are waiting for opportunity and inclination - others are in progress.  A few will likely never actually come to pass, but a girl can dream.
  • I want to own a professional grade mixer/food processor with all the really nifty gadgets so I can knead dough, grind meat and make pasta.  I will not likely do any of these things frequently enough to allow the machine to 'pay for itself' all that quickly, so this remains on the 'someday' list.

  • I want to grow my own herbs.  I'm thwarted in this at the moment by a lack of space for it and three pesky cats that see plantlife as lunch.  But I plan to be in a position to do this inside of a year and I'm looking forward to it.

  • I want to greatly reduce the level of processed foods I use and consume.  This is an ongoing effort, and I'm not even close to 'there' yet.

  • I want to lose weight...a slowing metabolism is not allowing me to get away with hardly any of the bad habits I used to be able to handle without thought.  Stupid growing old stuff!  Furthermore, I want to lose weight while eating well - discovering new healthy choices, not restricting food and turning eating into a chore.

  • I want to increase my social activity and cook more often for people who do not share my roof.

  • I want to plan well to keep a good store of freezer stock on hand.

  • I want to learn to can and preserve foods.  I am terrified of canning but I like the resulting bounty so it's time to get over this.
There are more... these are just the ones that come to mind right now.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Deanna's Birthday Sushi

A couple days ago, we celebrated my youngest daughter's 17th birthday.  I'd asked what sort of cake she wanted and she declared she didn't want any cake at all - she's not a fan, and her's was the third birthday within a month and we'd had a wedding in that time frame as well.

So, instead of cake, she requested Candy Sushi, something we'd seen recipes for but hadn't tried.

Two things about this stuff - it is really messy to make.  And it is insanely tasty.  It took over two hours to make and it was all gone in less than a day.

There are a few ways to do this - and in spite of the mess, we will be doing it again, but this was how we did it.

Deanna's Birthday Candy Sushi

Rice Krispie Sushi Rice:
10 cups Rice Krispies
15 oz marshmallow fluff
1/2 c. butter

Sushi filling and wraps:
Fruit Roll Ups
Twizzlers (in rainbow colors if you can find them)
Gummi worms
Fruit Gel candies
Swedish fish
any other brightly colored candies that catch your fancy

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan along with the marshmallow fluff.  When it is fully melted, about 5 minutes, remove from heat and mix in the Rice Krispies.

We approached the preparation of the Sushi Rice Krispy Treat mixture like this, but I'm not totally convinced it was the best way - we patted a rather thin layer of the mixture onto waxed paper, and kept doing this so that we had rectangles of the Rice Krispies stacked up and ready to roll.  Even so, by the time we got to the end of the stack, they were getting pretty hard to work with.  So alternative ideas are welcome!

Next, we set up our work station, taking one of our prepared Rice Krispie rectangles and laying out a line of candy and then rolling it up (jelly roll style), using the waxed paper to help hold it together.  Once it is completely wrapped around the candy, you want to cut off the log and apply some pressure to make sure it is tightly pressed in shape.  We found that each rectangle of Rice Krispies made about three logs.

As soon as the log is pressed together, a fruit roll up is wrapped around the log to take the part of a sheet of nori.  Don't stress to much about color - the ones we used were two tone (blue and red, yellow and...something).  Don't get the fruit by the foot - that would be very slow and messy.  DO get a kid or someone who actually eats the stuff to handle peeling the fruit roll ups off their paper for you, because trying to do that after you just had your hands busy squeeze Rice Krispy Treats logs will not be pretty.  The fruit 'nori' really helps hold it all together...squeeze a bit more and then set it aside for a few minutes to really settle before slicing into sushi rolls.

That's about it, except you do this over and over again for a couple hours and every so often, a roll won't quite work out or you'll try something that really didn't do what you thought it would - like making a roll with the rice on the outside and having the whole thing turn into a sugary pile of badness.  But that's okay, because you get to eat your mistakes and they still taste insanely good.

If - like us - you make a lot of mistakes, about an hour after you're done you'll suddenly find yourself crashing into a massive sugar coma and needing a good nap.  With visions of sugarplums dancing in your head...
Next time I want to experiment with more shapes, come up with something to act as wasabi, and figure out some better way to handle the Rice Krispy Treat mixture.

I also plan to make a more grown up version of dessert sushi here soon, with sweetened *real rice* and fruit... I'm still deciding what I want for the nori for that.