Monday, April 25, 2011

Sometime not long after I posted that I would eat out of my pantry for the next week as a culinary vow of poverty, I completely changed my mind and decided to go on a very expensive diet. Luckily, enough of it is posted all over the Internet that I don't need to buy the book to do it (Amazon's free peek is really quite generous sometimes). Because I'm broke, remember? Now I'm spending my dwindling funds on meat _ pricey when you're as picky as I am about eating organic, no hormone, free range, thrilled to be killed animals _ and eggs and lowfat dairy products.

So this was Day 1. I ate plain nonfat greek yogurt for breakfast. This was hard because I had already bought the packages that have the delicious shot of blueberry-acai on the side... which I love so much. But I threw that fruit right out.

For my three lunches _ yeah. seriously, three. _ i rolled up slices of pricey, high-end deli meat from Trader Joe's with laughing cow cheese and pickles. In all, I think there were 7 or 8 slices of meat, 3 triangles of cheese and 3 pickles eaten. I'm dubious that this all-you-can-eat meats idea is great, but I'm choosing to believe.

(Then I went to the worst yoga class on earth, where I didn't even break a sweat because it was so... touchy feely and deep-thinking, and the weird instructor kept saying "there is no such thing as good news or bad news" and then he would bash media and say stuff like "you can believe CNN or believe in you"... causing my inner yogi to silently shriek: "Look, dude, you wanna take this outside?! And people of Crunch's 7 p.m. yoga class, please believe CNN over this guy and his intolerable beanie!" But I digress.)

For dinner I came home and made a delicious dinner of shrimp that I was too wildly hungry for to photograph. Shrimp with basil, oregano, garlic, lemon juice and feta cheese. Oh, and I ate the weird oat bran pancake from the diet for dessert because I think it's the only fiber this diet has for the first 10 days. Hopefully I find a way to make that taste better; my addition of a packet of stevia and a squirt of lemon were undetectable.

We've officially exited my comfort zone on what I'm willing to blog about. Welcome to my diet shame.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I've woken up to my most common Sunday morning regret: I overspent this weekend. Just like the weekend before it, and the weekend before. I went to dinner, the theater and drinks and just like that, I'm out three figures. Not that I have any regrets. But compensations will need to be made.

So, this will be my week of salad days -- not my youthful heyday, but the week where I will scrounge up scraps and bits to make it to the next payday.

First, the fresh vegetables and the leftovers have to get eaten up.

Baby arugula mix buried under the "Healthy Seven Vegetable" mix from Trader Joe's. Topped with raw mushrooms, feta, olives and walnuts. Dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Leftovers from a trip to Darya to celebrate a friend's soon-to-be new baby: leftover basmati rice and my new favorite kabob there, the Naderi kabob. Filet mignon, no less. I have no shame.

And an odds and ends salad that I had earlier this week, as if I knew this penance would come due: smoked herring, tomatoes, celery, green onion, parsley, lemon juice. Yum.

This will also be the week where I consider, for the umpteenth time, moonlighting at Whole Foods. Ugh.

Stay tuned. I have a feeling there'll be lots of posts about weird food that gets tossed together this week.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Did I ever tell you about the time that I attempted the world's most delicious kale salad? I did! There were a few things I'd never cooked with before, chief among them, this beast.

The object pictured here is exactly as oversized as it appears. Bigger than my big knife, dwarfing the coffeemaker.

I'll admit, at this point I felt a vast and deep intimidation. This thing is freaking huge and I was eating papaya for a week.

The dressing for this kale salad required an unholy amount of sweetener and an unholy amount of oil. I balked -- which is the problem I usually run into with baking. If the recipe says 8 tablespoons of butter, I just can't bring myself to do it. Which is why I can't bake for crap. I'm always trying to substitute milk for cream or Splenda for sugar and it always comes out awful. Other people's food/emotional problems manifest as eating disorders, mine manifest as cooking disorders. Or cagey rebellion, if you will.

So, I skimped on the oil and used a few tablespoons of sugar instead of 1.25 cups of cane juice. I dressed the kale with it and let it marinate overnight. It looked like this.

Admittedly, this was a lot of kale for one woman to eat. It took a week, but it got eaten.

This was how I liked it best. Instead of making corn salsa, I bought Trader Joe's and it gave an extra sweet punch that this dish needed after I skimped on the sweet dressing. I liked it over a mix of butter lettuce and radicchio. Plus walnuts, which I've learned are always great on everything.

In all, it was a pretty amazing salad.
Like most people who spend a good deal of time in the kitchen, my best teacher is failure. This morning I awoke uninspired. Then I thought of the delicious breakfast of fried egg, tomato and big basil leaves I ate wrapped in fresh lavash on a recent vacation in Palm Springs. My mouth watered with the memory and I went into the kitchen, remembering that I still had some of that lavash bread left and everything else on hand.

But when I picked up the bag of bread, I saw that it was polka dotted with a bright mold. Sigh. I went to the fridge for the basil and saw that it had wilted into a dark, unhappy mass (and then I cursed myself for putting it in the refrigerator at all--stupid!). Sigh.

But I would not be thwarted so easily! Fail number one leads to idea number two! There are always certain things that can be found in my home, and these are the makings of a Greek omelet -- though I don't think I'd ever actually attempted that dish before. I whipped up some eggs, topped them with crumbled feta, rough chopped some tomato and olives and thought I was on the path to breakfast redemption. But when I went to flip the omelet closed, I saw the not-so-delicious image above. I'd burned the damn thing black.

Oh well, I tried. At that point I told myself that I'll have to cook it over a much lower heat next time, and maybe use oil instead of butter to grease the pan. And then I put on cutoffs and went down to the newstand for my paper and ate tofu chilaquiles at Fred 62. Sunday saved.