Posts Tagged ‘muesli’

frugality

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

I’m not bad with money. I mean, I’m no investing genius, but I’m not rolling in debt. (Aside from a mortgage and school loans – but everyone knows that’s good debt, right? Right, guys?)

However, there’s an area in which my ability to budget goes out the window.

Ok, two areas.

The first one is the area occupied by Banana Republic in the local mall.

The second, and more relevant, is the area of food.

The two big areas are eating out and buying fresh groceries frequently and when I want them rather than when it makes sense. (Wait for sales? Sure! As long as I don’t have a vague hankering for whatever it is right now, that is.) A third is stockpiling things and then saving them, because I’m worried that I won’t be able to replace them. See: frozen Bing cherries from Costco. I’ve hoarded my last bag for months, and just started eating cherries again when I was able to buy a replacement bag.

cherries and yogurt

Now that I have six pounds of cherries instead of just three, I feel like I can eat them again.

Quirks. We all have ‘em.

Yesterday – cherries heated in the microwave with a little cinnamon, topped with Costco’s Greek Yogurt (not to shabby, for 2/3 the price of Fage) and some granola.

It was like breakfast pie.

IMG 2517

Today – same basic concept, different delivery. That’s actually cocoa powder that the still frozen cherries are tossed in, not cinnamon, and plain oats instead of granola. I stirred this up and and let it warm up during the drive to school.

The cherries are so sweet that neither breakfast needed added sugar.

Dear Costco, Please keep selling enormous bags of frozen cherries. Love, Emma.

pork bowl

I also end up throwing out food. Well, first I transfer food that I think we won’t eat in time to the freezer, for some future date. Then, when that future date is clearly never going to happen, I throw it out.

It’s sad.

I’m working on it.

more pork bowl

I’m working on it by eating the things in my fridge, even when I don’t feel like it anymore. Witness: pork and coleslaw, Monday afternoon.

Sooooooooo much pork.

sandwich

More pork, yesterday during office hours.

IMG 2528

I proctored my first test last night! This is only half the classroom – there were students in the other half and somehow I suspect they wouldn’t appreciate their last minute nerves ended up online.

I was in Golden from lunchtime until almost 9, and I packed lunch but drew a blank on dinner. I ended up stopping by the grocery store and grabbing some of that guilty pleasure sushi (you know, the kind with the shredded fake crab?) to eat during the exam.

The exam was more stressful for me than I’d expected.

sushi and grading

So I ended up eating the sushi after I got home, while grading tests and watching Breaking Bad.

Anyway, I’m aiming for pantry meals this week. Tonight I made mushroom and white bean soup – I’ll show you tomorrow.

What food do you hoard?

lemon asparagus risotto

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Why, what did YOU have for breakfast this morning?

You DIDN’T have lemon asparagus risotto?

Ok, technically I didn’t make risotto for breakfast. I made it for dinner. However, every picture of risotto that I took last night was all yellow and stuff. There’s only so much correcting you can do on a picture to make it look like daytime, y’all.

Or there’s only so much correcting I can do to make it look like daytime. A photo editing wizard I am not. I take 2 to … eh, maybe 5 pictures of everything I make, and then I get bored. If none can be fixed by the free software that comes with Crockett’s mac (that I’ve completely taken over and he’s never getting back unless he tells me I can’t use it anymore and is then willing to put up with the included sulk fest), then you don’t get to see any.

I did have leftover risotto for breakfast, though, because the recipe that I started with suggested it made 4 – 6 servings and the recipe that I ended up creating made more like 10.

What. I like it when I have asparagus scented pee all day.

Last night I did give Crockett the camera. I asked him to take some candid dinner shots.

Then I looked at him to see if he was doing it.

Bobblehead.

Then, when he did take a candid picture, I was all ‘dude, what is going on with my hair and why am I leaning like that and what the fuck am I looking at and didn’t you see my NOSE and…’ and now he may never take a candid photo of me ever again.

These things happen.

Right?

Lemon Asparagus Risotto
inspired by Spring Lemon Risotto with Fiddlehead Ferns and Asparagus by The Kitchn

A note about risotto: this stuff takes a very long time. I knew that, going in, but if you don’t know that, believe me. Risotto recipes round DOWN, y’all. They say ’20 minutes’. They say ’30 minutes’. I don’t know how long risotto takes at sea level, where the water boils ten degrees hotter than here in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Maybe it does take half an hour. Here, it takes an hour or more. Just embrace it. I did. I embraced it while running into Crockett’s office every twenty minutes to holler that I was STILL STIRRING. Just so he knew.

A note about rice: see below where the * is? Ok, so. Arborio is easy to find and good. Carnaroli is harder to find and like twice as expensive, but is the darling of the foodie community right now. I haven’t tried it. I don’t know if it’s worth it. What I do know is that if the rice you have on hand isn’t one of these two, it isn’t going to be great risotto. It will be GOOD, I’m sure, but these two have lots and lots of starch, and that’s what makes that creamy risotto juice.
You heard me – I said risotto juice.
Do not under any circumstances try this with brown rice. Better cooks than I have tried. And then failed. And then fallen into a black hole of dispair, never to be heard from again.

1/2 bunch asparagus (if you’re not buying your asparagus in bunches, this is 8-12 stalks, depending on thickness)
3 tablespoons butter, in two roughly even pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium sweet onion
2 medium shallots
2 cloves garlic
2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice *
1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/4 cup white vermouth
7 (or so) cups hot vegetable or chicken stock
zest of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup grated romano cheese

  1. You’re going to need to pre-cook the asparagus. Rinse it and slice it into 1 inch lengths, and then blanch it (boil some water and drop the asparagus in for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water).
  2. Chop the hell out of the onion and shallots. Basically here you’re going for pieces the size of a piece of rice. Irritating, yes, but it really helps with the final texture and it only takes one or two minutes longer than a rough chop.
  3. Put the broth in a pot, then bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn it down far enough that the surface is still steaming but no bubbles are appearing. On my stove, that’s all the way down.
  4. In a big old pot (dutch oven if you have one), heat the oil and one part of the butter over medium until the butter is melted. Dump in the chopped onion and shallots, and add the two whole cloves of garlic. Cook until all the onions are clear, but try to stop short of browning. While browned onions are delicious, that’s going to completely screw the rest of the dish, so totally believe me here – stop at clear. (FINE – I do usually brown my onions, no matter what recipes say. Don’t be like me.)
  5. Add the rice all at once, and stir casually until the grains are all  clear around the edges but white in the middle (3 – 5 minutes). Add the wine or vermouth and stir until there’s no extra moisture in the bottom of the pan. The rice will be very slightly wetter, you’re just looking for no puddle.
  6. Add the stock half a cup at a time. Every time you add stock, you’re going to stir until the stock is mostly absorbed. It’s going to take longer than you think. It’ll happen faster at first, and you’ll be all dude, what was Emma smoking, this IS super fast, but towards the end you’ll start to wonder if something is going wrong. It isn’t. What you’re looking for is rice that is exactly bordering the line between firm and crunchy. Crunchy = undercooked. Firm = perfect. Risotto has bite. It will take awhile. If your rice is older or drier than expected, it may take more than the 7 cups of stock. If your rice is younger or softer than expected, it may take less. Use your best judgement. No one knows what you think is delicious more than you.
  7. When you think you’re ALMOST done, add the lemon zest. When you think you’re done, add the asparagus so it can heat back up and the cheese so it can melt.
  8. Eat.

It really was a valid choice for breakfast. Think congee.

However, since I didn’t get my breakfast muesli, I took it for lunch.

Pretty, no. Delicious, yes. I have these Sonya apples and they’re super duper sweet without being soft – the holy grail of appledom, as far as I’m concerned. Crunchy is king, followed by flavor. I grated my apple into a container, and then added oats, and then added yogurt, and then put the whole mess into my backpack to be opened several hours later.

More exciting than the fairly pedestrian muesli is what I used to eat it.

This is my new To Go Ware reusable bamboo utensil set. I got obsessed with this ages ago, but Crockett was all ‘hon, what’s wrong with packing real metal utensils?’. He was right, except that I forget them both coming and going. Either I end up with no way to eat my yogurt and I try to turn the lid into a makeshift spoon (unsuccessful 100% of the time) or I use my spoon for my yogurt and then three weeks later I find an weird crusty spoon in my backpack. I saw these at Whole Foods last week and I happened to have a lost-until-the-move gift certificate to WF from my dad, so I splurged. They make me feel like I’m backpacking, even when I’m not. It’s all very exciting.

 

torta rustica (i.e. meat cake)

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Crockett’s papa is visiting, and we’ve been mostly gabbing and drinking wine all weekend. I made him a coffee cake (which I’ll post the recipe for later, because it was pretty tasty and is holding up remarkably well), but I also had signed on as a volunteer recipe tester for the ‘your best recipe with fresh ricotta‘ contest. I have had problems with completing my testing on time before, but I happened to have some fresh ricotta in the fridge, and I couldn’t pass up this recipe.

It’s essentially a savory ricotta cheesecake with romano and salami, baked inside a giant sugar cookie.

See? Giant sugar cookie.

Full of cheese and salami.

I kept going – man, this is weird, and then taking another bite.

And then my piece was all gone.

So I started in on the ones I’d cut for Crockett and his dad.

Apparently I liked it.

Since  I was testing it, I was very faithful to the recipe (except that I cut it in half), so I’m not going to reprint it. It’s here, if you feel like making a sweet meat cake of your very own.

That’s not all I ate yesterday, of course.

I had some muesli, to pre-soak up all the nitrates that were undoubtably in the salami.

And some chicken chili, while doing homework.

Apparently the hanta virus isn’t affecting my appetite.

Or my desire to pose goofy with Crockett.

P.S. I don’t really have the hanta virus (probably). I spent a large part of the weekend cleaning out the garage of my condo, and a lot of mice have – ahem – left their mark there. Now I have a fluey chest cold type thing. Draw your own conclusions. Both Crockett and my girlfriend Star have drawn the conclusion that I’m a hypochondriac – which isn’t completely unfair, so jump on that bandwagon, if you’d like.

spring loves me – spring loves me not

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

I bought more strawberries.

I couldn’t resist.

They went really well with my mango Chobani and tomato soup.

Aren’t they pretty?

Today I have to really really have to finish cleaning out my townhouse. I mean, REALLY. I moved in with Crockett almost two months ago, and I give my tenant his keys on Wednesday. I suppose I could cut this even closer – but not much.

Then I’m going to plan the garden I’m going to plant here at my new place. We have a backyard and a frontyard. There will be at least a single occurrence of strawberries, and perhaps more.

Spring makes me want fish and salads.

Me and the rest of the world, I suspect.

Except the fish thing. That might just be me. I mean, does fish really have a season?

I bought some end-of-winter pears, too, and then didn’t want them, because pear is winter fruit damnit. I ended up grating one into my muesli and I have to admit it was truly fantastic. Juicy and sweet – no honey needed.

Buh-buh-buh butterflies.

I think butterflies are a spring thing.

This has nothing to do with springtime. I just think Maida’s naptime cave is kind of adorable.

We had a kissing party.

Or I washed a bunch of strawberries and laid them out to dry before chopping them up to make coffee cake.

One of those two things happened.

Some of the kisses/strawberries also went into muesli.

I’m excited for the teeny tiny strawberries that I will soon be growing.

I don’t know how long strawberries take to grow – my plants at my townhouse are like four summers old now so I don’t remember the first summer.

If I’m not going to be harvesting my own strawberries soon, don’t feel like you have to tell me that.

Really.

I’m happy in my wrongness.

Mr. Sunshine

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Yesterday I tried two new things.

Thing one: I made lemon curd in the microwave.

Except that I used half grapefruit juice.

You know, because of the great grapefruit overpurchase of 2011.

I have made a lot of curd in my life. When I was in pastry school, I made it virtually every day. Lemon curd, lime curd, mixed citrus curd, orange curd (this needs lemon in it, if you’re going to try it – orange juice isn’t acidic enough to carry a curd on it’s own).

I will never again make it outside a microwave.

The recipe at the link makes about 2 cups.

If you try it, be aware that you are going to have to strain it. Because you can’t stir it for ever second while it’s cooking, little pieces of eggs will get cooked. They just will.

This morning I put my new curd on my muesli.

The word curd is starting to sound gross.

But it still tastes good.

Because I’ve started eating yogurt with lunch, I thought perhaps I would mix up my muesli by using cottage cheese and walnuts instead of almonds.

It was interesting.

But probably won’t be repeated.

In case you’re wondering, all the dairy I consume is low fat or fat free.

Except cheese.

Because low fat cheese isn’t really cheese.

Crockett went to Paul’s, our local coffee shop that roasts beans on the premises, yesterday.

We’ve been drinking grocery store beans.

I don’t necessarily mind, but Crockett does, and when we make the Paul’s, I can tell the difference.

Mm. Fresh roasted.

The other new thing I tried was suspiciously delicious cabbage, from food52.

I wanted it to be suspiciously delicious, I did.

Perhaps if I’d used heavy cream instead of half and half, I would be able to say that it was.

However, I would say that I ate close to half of a cabbage’s worth myself.

So… delicious, yes. Suspiciously so? Eh.

Spring sprung

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

See?

These little crocuses appeared in our front yard.

I don’t know where they came from. Crockett might have planted them at some point, but I prefer to think that they just happily landed in what looked like the funnest house on the street.

I don’t know very much about flowers. What is this goofy thing that looks like it’s trying to grow a sucker out of it’s face? Is it going to try to suck my blood or something? Seems unlikely.

These little guys are my favorite. They’re working so hard to climb up from inside the grasses.

I thought about trying to clear the grass away, but I think maybe the grass is protecting them from the frost, so I’m going to let them keep hiding.

In order to celebrate spring, I had strawberry muesli and? Bought new placemats.

Except that they’re not placemats.

They’re scrapbooking pages that I bought at Michael’s.

Pretty, huh.

I got one with sock monkeys, too.

You’ll just have to hold out for that.

Because right now this one seems most appropriate.

Flowers aren’t sophisticated enough for lunch, though.

Silly flowers.

A lunch of tomato soup with wild and brown rice and fresh greens (and more of the 567 pounds of strawberries that have taken over our kitchen) requires stripes.

It’s like formal wear for a home cooked lunch.

Except that the tomato soup came in a box.

I stirred in the rices and mixed greens to liven it up a little and heated it all up on the stove.

Spring in a bowl.

Also, grapefruit.

Have you ever noticed how grapefruits get kind of weird inside when they get old? Kind of… actually, I’m not going to try to describe it, because then I’ll get grossed out and won’t be able to eat my remaining grapefruits.

Carry on.

extra milk

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Extra milk is a weird thing to have, don’t you think?

Extra milk.

Like, how much milk do you have, Emma?

Oh, definitely extra.

Anyway, we had almost an entire gallon of low fat milk that we had no plans for. Niether of us drink milk in a glass, and while I could make pastry cream or something I would then EAT that pastry cream, and everyone knows that eating pastry cream with a spoon isn’t the healthiest thing ever.

So I made ricotta instead. (Please do not point out the inconsistency between that statement and the one that immediately preceded it.)

I have a lot of happy ways to eat ricotta.

On toast with salt and honey, for example.

Or mixed with oats and milk for a sort of non-traditional muesli.

Alice approves.

A couple of days ago I took my dogs to the groomer, and while I was waiting, I went to a different grocery store than I usually do.

A grocery store that had ten pounds of grapefruit for $2.50.

Yeah.

We have a lot of grapefruit now.

Also, four pounds of strawberries for $5.

I love spring.

So, you can only eat so much ricotta.

Earthbound Farms had the best idea of anything I’ve ever heard, so I used it to break my ricotta streak.

It’s half Spring Mix and half Baby Spinach.

With Morningstar Farms crunchy faux chik’n.

Mmm.

 

enchiLADAs

Friday, March 11th, 2011

This is clearly not an enchilada.

Nope, still not an enchilada.

There they are.

With red sauce.

With green sauce.

Both from a can.

Actually visible enchiladas.

Never let it be said that I don’t do things for you.

Last night there were still leftover enchiladas, but I draw the line at three consecutive identical non-breakfast meals.

Goat cheese and mushroom stuffed chicken with shallot pan sauce and wild rice pilaf.

… and salad.

 

and with the ow

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

 

I woke up at my mother’s house yesterday morning and did not immediately find oatmeal.

I almost had a panic attack.

Fortunately, after walking her dogs I was able to head home to my kitchen where the oats run free and brave and sometimes even seem to be reproducing and are frequently made into muesli. This particular version was the same yogurt/oats/water mixture as Thursday, topped with sliced almonds, honey, and a segmented orange and its residual juice.

 

Well fortified, I went for a run (half marathon in three weeks, yo) and then proceeded to go to the doctor so they could make me want to cry.

There’s really no good way to explain why I was there without oversharing – let’s just establish that it was nothing gross and wasn’t something that a man would ever have to deal with. And it hurt a lot.

Next week is midterms, so after I got home Crockett fried me an egg for lunch while I studied.

Yesterday was first Friday, and due to the aftermath of my doctor torture I didn’t really feel like walking around in Denver. We went to the Empire (it’s ok, you can go ahead and be shocked) and I had wine (I know, again with the surprises).

Crockett had an old fashioned (is the thing where I pretend you’re shocked getting old? Yeah?) and I really did think I was focusing on it, but apparently I was focusing on the gorgeous copper bar instead.

The last time we were at the Empire, Crockett gently suggested that perhaps, once or twice, we could share something instead of me having a calamari salad and protecting it from his intruding fork like I’m a mama wolf and my calamari is my adorable wolf pups.

That I’m going to eat.

Yeah, that simile got gross fast. Sorry about that.

I acquiesced and we ordered a tuna burger and a calamari salad. The tuna burger shown here did have a bite taken out of it. It’s done medium – they’ll do medium rare but I have tuna issues so Crockett kindly let me determine the cooking temperature. They serve it with wasabi aioli, and that was damn delicious.

Also, please note the plate of calamari salad in the background.

That there is proof that I did share.

I kept some for myself, though, too.

Obviously.

Afterwards we hit a couple of Louisville galleries (there are actually four, I think) and were not moved to be patrons.

Happens.

muesli? I hardly know her!

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Obsessed. I don’t know exactly what happened – all of a sudden I’m just not even mildly interested in cooking my oats. Perhaps, despite the fact that it’s supposed to snow today, it’s the feeling of encroaching spring?

Our mix yesterday morning was muesli with frozen mixed berries defrosted into a juicy delicious mess, almonds and honey.

Muesli, if you’re not familiar, is uncooked oats mixed with yogurt or milk (or water, I guess) until they’re a little bit soft. The mixture above is pretty dry – it’s about 1/3 cup rolled oats with an equal amount of yogurt and a splash of water. When Crockett ate it he said ‘this isn’t as pasty as I expected’.

High praise, y’all. High praise.

“Em, stop taking before-coffee and after-coffee pictures.”

“Ok. How about before-breakfast and after-breakfast pictures instead?”

Do you see that six days later the beautiful irises Laura brought me are still going strong?

When I was packing my lunch, I cut open this kiwi and I was hugely distracted by how gorgeous it was on the inside. Ain’t that just beautiful?

I finally finished the tuna casserole from Sunday while I was on campus. I have to say it help up pretty damn well.

Then, of course, I semi bombed a quiz in my Formal Automata class.

Sigh.

You know what makes me feel better about bombing quizzes?

Banana bread. I keep buying bananas – I hate wanting a banana and not having one – but we don’t eat them that fast, so I keep throwing the old ones in the freezer. The thing I love about banana bread is that it’s virtually foolproof. The sweetness of the bananas, the chocolate chips, and the crunch of the whole wheat – even if you’re not a baker, this will turn out well. Just what you need after a bad quiz, maybe.

Banana Bread (with chocolate chips, pecans, and a nod to whole wheat)

  • 8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed like brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed (optional)*
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, roughy chopped*
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan, and 8×8 baking pan, or an 8×4 loaf pan.
  2. Beat or stir together the butter and sugar, then add the bananas and make sure to smoosh them in good. Stir in the eggs and vanilla.
  3. Dump in all the dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking powder, and flax if you’re using) and stir them up a little bit before you mix them into the wet ingredients.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans. Scrape into your prepared pan and put into the oven for 45-55 minutes (25-35 minutes if you’re using the 8×8 pan). If testing with a skewer, you’re not looking for dry, you just want it to not look like it was dipped in melted butter.

*I meant to use the flax but forgot, to it’s not in the loaf you see above. Also, I didn’t chop my pecans and while I like the big bites of nut, it made the bread hard to slice.

This is from a smaller dish that I made, because I was worried about the 8×4 loaf pan not being big enough.

I spent last night at my mom’s house with her dogs, because she’s off being a superwoman (USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships) and she didn’t want them to get lonely.

Based on the reception I got, I’m thinking they weren’t pleased to have me as a replacement.

“What do you want, lady?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, did you want me to look at you? Um… nah. Thanks for the offer though.”

I probably should have brought them some banana bread.