Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Dish Made in Heaven

Here is a one-act play that I've just written for one of my literature classes at Our Lady of Holy Cross College.  It seems an appropriate fit for my blog, so please, enjoy. AM

A Dish Made in Heaven (A one-act play)

Hungrietta (a hungry girl)                                          Spaghetti (delicious)
Lasagna (delicious but complicated)                         Russet Mash (very soft and comforting)
Chip (fast and easy)                                                 Salade (very healthy)

The home of Hungrietta.  After a lifetime friendship, she has fallen in love with Spaghetti, who loves her back. 

Scene I
Hungrietta:  (stands at stove)  Oh, Spaghetti.  I've always loved you, and tonight I can't help but think I will want you forever.

Spaghetti:  (steaming)  I feel the same way about you, Hungrietta.  All I want is to satisfy you.  I don't expect much, just a pot of boiling water and a little ground turkey and tomato sauce.  You make me so happy.  Let's get married.

Hungrietta:  Yes!  Oh, yes, Spaghetti.  I will marry you.  We can be so happy together.  I know that we'll never be apart.  We shall become one.  Let's do it tonight.

Spaghetti:  Tonight?  Of course!  Why wait?  I'm easy.  You can have me within the hour!

Scene II
{Hungrietta sits on the couch with Chip, watching TV.  Enter Spaghetti.}

Spaghetti:  (angrily)  What's going on here?

Hungrietta:  Oh, Spaghetti.  You're a little early.

Spaghetti:  Really?  It looks as though I'm here just in time.  I'll ask again.  What's going on here?

Hungrietta:  It meant nothing!  I was just, and you weren't ready yet. 

Spaghetti:  I was only going to take an hour!!

Hungrietta:  I know!  I just... I just couldn't wait.

Chip:  Hey, man.  She just needed a little bit to tide her over.  It's not like I'm the main deal or anything.  She always ends up with you.  She just uses me to get to you.

Spaghetti:  You've ruined EVERYTHING!  How can we be joined together when you've been having somebody else?

Hungrietta:  Oh, Spaghetti, forgive me, please!  It was just a little bit.  He didn't even satisfy me.  You're the one I really want.

Spaghetti:  I don't know, Hungrietta.  I feel so betrayed.

{exeunt all}

Scene III
{The next day, at the breakfast table.  Hungrietta sits down to eat her eggs with a friend, Russet Mash.}

Russet Mash:  So, what did he say?

Hungrietta:  (sobbing) He said he couldn't be with me after I'd had somebody else.  I don't know what to do, Russet.  I can't live without him.  I have to have my Spaghetti.

Russet Mash:  He's just too hot right now, but he'll cool off.  You know he loves you.

Hungrietta:  I don't know.  He was SO angry.  What will I do?

Russet Mash:  Well, if he does leave you, there's always Lasagna.

Hungrietta:  Ugh!  That drama queen?  He's so high maintenance!  I'd have to spend the rest of my life working twice as hard for essentially the same result. 

Russet Mash:  But you know he looks so good!  Even if their flavors are the same, his presentation is really something, you must admit.

Hungrietta:  It's not always about LOOKS, Russet!  Spaghetti is comfortable.  I know I can be myself with him.  Lasagna always has to have things just so.  It's exhausting.  The perfectly coiffed noodles, the layers.  Don't even get me started on the cheesiness.  I mean, sometimes I don't want to deal with all that cheesiness.

Russet Mash:  Well, you just hang in there.  Whatever happens, I'll be here to comfort you.  You know that.

Hungrietta:  Thanks, Russet.  That means a lot to me.  I know I can always count on you.  

Scene IV
{Back in the kitchen, Hungrietta, Spaghetti and Chip are trying to work things out.}

Chip:  Hungrietta, you know I love you, even though you keep leaving me coming back to me.  I'm willing to accept your love on whatever level you let me.  I don't care, as long as I'm a part of your life.

Hungrietta:  Chip, you know that's not going to work.  You're no good for me.  You're just so hard to resist.  Sometimes I feel so weak.  (to Spaghetti) And that's all that happened the other night, my dearest Spaghetti.  I was weak.  I still love you best.

Spaghetti:  I'm not angry anymore.  I just wonder if you can resist the urge in the future.  If we get married, how do I know you won't be weak again?

Hungrietta:  You don't.  You'll just have to trust that our love will satisfy me enough that I won't need Chip anymore.

Chip:  Hey, I'm right here, you know.

Hungrietta:  Sorry, Chip, but you know this is the truth.  I need someone more substantial.  What we've had is fun, but it's not meant to last.  It was only a fling.. or two.. or seven.  You don't even usually last that long, but the damage stays with me.  What we have is a toxic relationship.

Chip:  If you feel that way, then maybe I should leave!

Hungrietta:  That's probably best.  Goodbye, Chip.  And good luck!

{Chip, crushed, storms out.}

Hungrietta:  Now, Spaghetti, you need to decide.  Are we going to become one, or do I have to give up on you.  I want you to be a part of me.

Spaghetti:  Oh, Hungrietta, darling.  I love you so much.  We shall be together.

{A knock is heard at the door.  Hungrietta answers it.}

Salade:  Good evening, Ma'am.  Sorry to disturb you, but we've had reports of some unhealthy activity in this neighborhood.  I'm here to find out if you've seen someone described as white, salty, generally round and prone to cracking up...answers to the name of Chip.

Hungrietta:  (Looks at Spaghetti, gasps) 

The End

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sneaky Smoothies

Now that summer is in full swing, that blender is looking mighty good with all its icy smoothie potential.  My son loves smoothies at home.  Smoothies can be healthy or not depending on what you put in them.  For me, they're an excellent way to sneak nutritious fruit and vegetables into our diet without really noticing, because many veggies are completely unrecognizable in a fruit smoothie.  My favorite starters are frozen strawberries and apple juice, and I get more creative from there.  This morning, I felt green, leafy vegetables were in order, but who wants a salad for breakfast?  Not I.

Sneaky Smoothie

1-1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup apple juice
handful fresh leaf spinach
1/8 cup grenadine (or 2 tsp fructose, or a tablespoon of agave nectar for a healthier alternative, or blackstrap molasses for an iron boost, or just skip the sugar)

Blend on slow speed for about 20-30 seconds, pour into a glass and love it.

So many combinations make delicious smoothies: mangos, papayas, peaches, blueberries.  If you can find it in the frozen fruit or fresh produce area, try putting it in a smoothie.  As the old adage says: "Try it; you'll like it." I've used celery before, too, a natural diuretic, which is great the day after a salty boiled crawfish binge. ;)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Addendum to "No Breads..."

I forgot to mention that I did use a large pinch of xantham gum in the dry ingredients.  This helps keep the whole thing from crumbling apart since we don't have the sticky gluten to do that for us.  Sorry about that.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No Breads for the Sickies

The title is just a dorky twist on "no rest for the wicked," but it sums up how I feel sometimes.  Good-tasting bread that is celiac friendly is not easy to come by, or to make.  I had a hankering for some bread today, so I peeked in the fridge to see what I had to work with.  As it happened, I had brown rice flour and potato starch but no corn flour or anything else.  Well, this is a blog about using what you've got, so here it went.

DISCLAIMER: I didn't actually measure ANYTHING. (note to self: start measuring stuff)
I used about 2 cups of brown rice flour and another 1/2 cup of potato starch.  I threw in about 5 teaspoons of baking  powder, at least 2 tablespoons of powdered egg white, maybe 3 teaspoons of salt, and stirred that all together to make sure it was evenly mixed.  Then I added 1/2 cup canola oil and 3/4 cup of almond milk (unsweetened) and about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.  I mixed it until it was all wet but thick (like peanut butter), then added water until it was the consistency of thick cake batter.  I spread some oil in the bread loaf pan and poured in the batter, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl.  I put it in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and baked it for close to an hour.  While it baked, the center puffed up like a sweet bread, and I checked several times for a dry center.  When I began to smell the bread from another room, I covered it loosely with foil to keep the top from burning.

I was hoping the vinegar would give it a little sourdough type taste, but it really didn't make any difference.  Maybe next time I'll use more.

It turned out to be pretty tasty.  I'm getting used to chunky, thick bread, since that's the best one can hope for on a gluten-free diet, but at least the flavor is getting better.  On a stormy summer day like today, a good piece of bread with a little butter tastes good.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 12, 2010 Christmas Party Food

This year, I was invited to a Christmas party for, I believe, the first time since I started working from home.  I used to go to several every year because the company would have a party, co-workers would have parties, my little boy's daycare would have a party.  Ever since I started working remotely for an out-of-state company, and my son grew up, there just haven't been too many of those occasions.  Since I don't like to show up empty handed to a party, I decided to make an appetizer. 

I had half a large pack of extra lean turkey bacon that needed to be used, so I decided something to do with bacon would be a good use for it.  I experimented with bacon-wrapped mozzarella (which melted right out of the bacon).  I tried cornbread discs topped with mozzarella, wrapped with bacon, and that was okay but really time consuming. I even tried baby carrots wrapped in bacon, which really didn't appeal to me at all.  In all these experiments, the flavor was fair, but the texture was all wrong.  Extra lean turkey bacon just doesn't get crispy, no matter how long you cook it, unless you char it.

So, let me admit right here that my final choice was not something that happened to be in the fridge, but the idea was!  I searched the web for ideas to do with bacon and finally found one that appealed to me.  At this point, however, I was out of the extra lean turkey bacon, which wasn't working very well anyway.  I had to go out and get some regular fat turkey bacon and a sack of potatoes (I was out of potatoes, too).

Here's what I used:
small red potatoes
turkey bacon
olive oil
ground rosemary, dill weed
granulated garlic

Here's what I did:

Wash and slice about 15 small-ish red potatoes (larger ones would probably make better slices, but I really like the small ones). I sliced them lengthwise for "steak fries" size chunks (although you can cube them and get the same flavor in a different shape, but you'll want to cut the bacon differently if you do).

In a large microwave-safe bowl cover potatoes with water, shake in some salt and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for 5-6 minutes, depending on your microwave (less time if it's more powerful, more time if it's a wimp).  You want to undercook them ever so slightly because they're going to finish cooking later.

Drain and rinse potatoes.  Toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil, ground rosemary, granulated garlic, ground dill weed and a little bit more salt.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, open your turkey bacon and re-slice each slice lengthwise (for long skinny pieces).

Spread two large cookie sheets with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray (it's going to get sticky).

Now here's the fun part (read: tedious).  Wrap each potato slice with one strand of bacon so that it looks striped, a bit like a small candy cane.  *You  probably won't need toothpicks since the bacon will sort of stretch around the potato, but if you find your ends popping off, use toothpicks to hold them on.

Place them on the pans as you wrap them, then bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes one side, then flip and bake the other side another 10 minutes.

When you take them out, the bacon will be baked onto the potatoes, and your house will smell like IHOP.  My dogs were going nuts while this was going on, and they got to enjoy a few "mistakes."

To serve, I chose a Vidalia onion dressing that I found at Rouse's.  It was a little sweet, which was a really nice contrast to the salty bacon and potatoes.  If this sounds like a little slice of heart attack, just remember, turkey bacon is naturally much leaner than pork bacon, and we used olive oil, which is heart healthy.  Feel better?

By the way, once the plate was served at the party, it was a huge hit, wiped out in record time, and I was beaming.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28, 2010 Leftover Turkey

After Thanksgiving, what happens to all that leftover turkey?  Do you have turkey sandwiches for weeks?  Do you have to incorporate turkey into every meal until it's gone?  Do you feed it to the dog? Do you make soup?

Well, I have found a better way.  Rather than get absolutely sick of that leftover turkey, I took my mom's advice.

I finished taking all the meat off the bones.  Then one at a time I took a square piece of foil, topped it with a square piece of wax paper, then placed a heap of the turkey meat on top. 

I folded both layers to wrap around the turkey and folded the edges.

Then I placed the pack into a Ziploc bag.  I did this until the turkey was all wrapped up and put the bag in the freezer.

Just to test it, today for lunch I took one pack out, removed the foil and heated up the turkey to see how it had fared in the freezer.  It was just as delicious as it had been before freezing.  Now I have individual serving sizes of turkey whenever I want it.  All I have to do is take it out of the freezer and heat it up.

Today my job is boiling the rest of the carcass for soup.  I haven't decided yet whether it will be gumbo or plain old turkey soup.  And since I don't believe in wasting, all the cartilage and skin left over after boiling will be much appreciated by my dogs (NO bones; they're dangerous for dogs).

Monday, November 22, 2010

November 22, 2010 Blueberry Muffins

I love to bake.  Going gluten free hasn't changed that.  As a matter of fact, it only made me more determined to bake the most delicious stuff in the healthiest way possible.  I had an envie for blueberry muffins over the weekend, so I made some.  Lucky for me, I had every ingredient I needed in the fridge/freezer/pantry.

*Hint for Bakers:  My oven runs too hot.  I learned this by trial and error (lots of burnt cookies).  So when I bake, I know I have to adjust the baking temperature for my oven.  If the recipe says 400, I set mine at 350.

Blueberry Muffins (gluten free)

2 cups brown rice flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
1 egg
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup rice milk (or almond, or soy, or even real milk if you prefer)
1 teaspoon orange zest (finely grated orange skin--gives it a great tangy flavor)
1 cup blueberries (either fresh OR thawed and rinsed frozen blueberries)
*Large granule sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw or decorating sugar) 

Preheat oven to 400.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Mix wet ingredients together.  Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients.  Stir in blueberries and orange zest.  Pour into muffin cups full, very close to the top edge.  *Top with large-granule sugar. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.  If you use mini-muffins, bake them for less time, regular size or large muffin tins, bake longer.  If you stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out dry, they're done.  Remove and let cool.  Enjoy.