Sunday, March 9, 2008

Culinary Adventures

While this weekend was not the productivity fest I had hoped (such is the case with all my weekends, Hmmm, I'm sensing a pattern), I did get a chance to play in the kitchen tonight. This evening's attempt at vegetarian cooking was this little dish.

Zucchini fritters with Pasta Portobello
(... and I don't think it came out half bad, if I do say so myself..)

For the Fritters.
Grate 2 medium zucchinis and 1/2 sweet onion onto a clean dishtowel. Wrap tightly and squeeze all the moister out with your hands.
My original attempt with this was a paper towel. Kids, don't try that at home. My paper towel got soggy and ripped at the bottom and I had to then transfer my zucchini to the dishtowel I should have used in the first place.

Once drained, transfer to mixing bowl.
Two beaten eggs
4 tbs flour
2/3 cup really good pecorino Romano cheese. (grated)
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Mix it all up into a consistent "batter" and spoon into your hot skillet.

Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium to medium high heat. I suppose you could use any kind of cooking oil like sunflower or canola, but I'm half Italian, I use olive oil on instinct. Besides, I think it adds a great flavor, and it's really good for you.

Spoon a healthy plop of zucchini mixture into the pan and gently work it into a relatively round patty. Cook about 3-4 min on each side or until golden brown. Cook fritters 3-4 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Remove to paper towel (those guys again) or a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet. Salt immediately and keep warm in oven as you prepare the rest of the fritters, and your pasta. (I used a 250* oven).

For the pasta
1/2 lb of pasta. ( I used Pene, but you could use whatever floats your boat)
1 pkg sliced Portobollo Mushrooms
1/2 coarsely chopped Sweet Onion
1 good handful (about a 1/2 cup)of Romano Cheese.
1-2 tsp Dried parsley. If you have it you could use fresh, just be sure to up your amounts, fresh herbs aren't as strong as dried.

Once your fritters are going, you can start your water for the pasta and cook using the specifications on the box. Now would also be a good time to coarsely chop your mushrooms and onions.
I used portobello mushrooms because, to me, they have the taste and heartiness of steak, but you could probably use any other type you wanted (or even a mixture of mushrooms. Go crazy!).

OK, your fritters are done, they have been salted and are in a warm oven staying happy. Now drain the oil out of your pan (leave all the tasty bits, and the residual oil), and place back on heat, reduce heat to medium. Throw in your mushrooms and onions. Do not salt your veggies at this point, this will cause your mushrooms to release all their moisture and it will make them kind of soggy and tasteless. Saute in the residual olive oil (you can add more if you need to) until onions have started to brown.

Add a pat of butter to the mixture and stir it in right before you add your pasta. *this is optional, but it does add a richness in flavor*.

By this time your pasta should be done. Drain your pasta, but reserve a little of the water, ohh say about 1/4 c. Throw the pasta and reserved water into your skillet with he mushrooms and onions. Mix well and add a hand full of Romano cheese. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with one or two of the fritters.

How's it look?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ow, Ow, Fuckity, Ow! - Juno

Months of inactivity. Countless.
Minutes on the cross trainer. 30
Number of old men with gas working out next to you. 1
Number of Calories burned. 450
Maintained heart rate. 144

Tripping over your shoe laces on the way back to the locker room and landing flat on your face? Priceless.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Facing the Music (the healthy you challenge check in)

Here's a little peek into my psyche. You know I've had a bad week if my check in post is absurdly late, almost to the point of being nonexistent(believe me, I did have more than a few thoughts of just not posting at all). I got on the scale this morning and it wasn't good. At all. I'm not going to post the ugly details because, quite frankly, I find that counter productive. A bad morning on the scale can undermine me for weeks to come. It can toss me into a pit of self pity and self loathing so deep that all I want to do is binge. So we won't go there.

I spent the day trying to organize my thoughts about this post, or more to the point, my thoughts on what factors could have contributed to the temporary demise of my losing streak. I still feel very positive about my decision to give up meat, but I do think it needs some tweaking. A dear friend of mine, and one time vegetarian herself, cautioned me about overdoing the dairy. Evidently it's a rookie mistake, and one, on further inspection, I have totally run with. I also realized that while I have definitely increased my fruit and veggie intake, I have also exponentially increased my carb intake in the form of pasta and rice. Ooops. Note to self. Pay closer attention to carbs and dairy. Thanks Cindy!

And if we're being completely honest here, I have to talk about the big ass pink elephant in the room. It's an ugly one. It's the E word. Just saying "exercise" makes me want to curl up on the couch and veg. I really have to find a way to change my crappy attitude.

Where did this aversion to exercise come from? Funny you should ask. I like to call it "Walk Nazi Backlash". I affectionately call my mother The Walk Nazi. She loves to walk, and thinks everyone should love to walk. When I was a teenager, and we were in the throes of our own brand of mother/daughter angst, her panacea for all my ills was to walk. During my Jr. year in high school we lived at the end of a 1.2 mile dirt road. I had to walk that road every day after school. Up and back, as "exercise". It was an expected chore, that and cleaning the kitchen after dinner. My father liked to get in on the fun by prescribing loooong Saturdays of indentured servitude doing yard work all under the guise of "exercise". Yeah right.

Of course they had my best interest at heart, and seriously, how bad can a walk up a dirt road in the middle of a beautiful farm be? And the yard work? Well, that sucked, but who didn't have to do chores to earn an allowance? Unfortunately I processed the whole thing as being all about poor picked on me. I was being singled out, suppressed, and put upon all due to my blooming weight problem. I haven't really gotten past the "exercise-is-a-big-bad-ugly-chore-set-upon-this-earth-to-vex and torture me" thing. Mature huh? Maybe its time to move on. But how to do that, well there's the rub. All I can do at this point is take it in little tiny baby steps. I've promised myself to go to the gym three times this week (we won't discuss the fact that I haven't gone yet). That's it. That's as far ahead as I'm thinking.

So, there you have it, my less than stellar week. I just have to keep in mind that in the grand scheme of things, it means very little, and I need to keep my perspective. If I can take something positive from it and apply it to my pursuit of a healthy life style, then all is not lost.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What I did instead of cleaning out my closet

Oh yes, this weekend was going to be a study in productive domesticity. I was going to clean out all three of my closets (yep, you heard, I have three whole closets!), make some fabulous vegetarian gourmet delight to dine upon, and basque in my overblown feelings of superiority. And then Satan called, also know as "She Who Tap Dances" tempting me away from my chores with the siren song of fresh coffee and scones. Dammit.

Well, one thing lead to another, as these things often do, and Coffee gave way to rum drinks. Now I will confess that I might have had something to do wit the rum drinks.... maybe. So I ran back up to my house ( I live a few doors down, and we like to consider the street just a long hallway connecting different wings of the mansion. Delusional much?) and grabbed provisions for a day of blatant laziness.

It goes without saying that where there is lounging around and drinking, there will be random picture taking as well.

This is an up close and personal shot of the giant assed Camilla bush/tree in my front yard. It's way too big, and is currently eyeing my mailbox as a possible meal, but it has gorgeous flowers on it. Besides, it's one of the few things that bloom this early.

Daffodils also bloom this time of year, but I feel so bad for them most of the time. We get a few really warm days and they pop their little heads up thinking it's spring. Then BAM! It dips below freezing and they freeze their happy yellow butts off. It just ain't fair.

Ms. B has a great little creek running through her yard, and the sun was hitting it just right on Saturday, so I got jiggy with my zoom and took a few shots. Cool huh? I like to pretend I'm an "artiste".

Whew! After all of that hard work we needed sustenance. So, we retired to the back yard to relax.

Rum Drinks - magically delicious and good for you too! (it's got vitamin C in it. So there!)

Fear not! We had healthy snacks as well. Don't they look Delicious?

Word on the street is that a camera in your face is the new spring accessory. It's all the rage! Here's Ms. B modeling her new Fuji camera her lovely hubby got her for Christmas.

OK, so my closets are still a mess, but who really cares? In the grand scheme of things the total recharge I got from Saturday's escape from reality is far better than clean closets. I highly recommend it.