Monday, February 02, 2009

Quinoa and Chicken

So my job hunt not going so well, but this is a recession. Writing is going slowly but at least is going and exercise and diet are going pretty well. I even managed to run a bit this morning which impressed me (although no one else seems to care).
OK, so this is one of a few recipes that are basically my experiments and came out good. Also these are dishes I make for myself and have no real concept of amounts but like me you'll probably be able to guess how much you need. This stir fry dish came out delicious, but is only for garlic lovers.
What you'll need: mixed vegetables ( I use a frozen mix that has string beans, baby carrots, cauliflower & broccoli); pullets (basically a very young hen, one for each person should do); quinoa (I made one cup (dry), which was way too much and would probably serve around six or seven) ; Onions (half an onion per person) and dry garlic (one big clove per person). Oh and oil (canola is best) & salt and pepper (and any other seasonings you might like).
Now, wash the quinoa thouroly. I usually put it in a pot of water and change the water three times (each time for at least half an hour but can be more) and then rince. This is imperative as otherwise the Quinoa will taste bitter. Then put the Quinoa in boiling water with a few drops of oil and let cook for 20 minutes.
While you're cooking the Quinoa, chop up the onion\s and put them in the pan with oil and pullets (which should be cut into small pieces). Start frying. When the onions are clearish and the pullets look less raw add the veggies. Stir every now and then and dice or crush the garlic. When the Quinoa is ready and the veggies are starting to get soft add the quinoa and garlic and season to taste. (Tip: if the Quinoa isn't ready yet but the vegetables are starting to get brown, turn on very low heat and maybe add a little oil. If the quinoa is ready to soon just take it out of the water as putting it in the pan will heat it up again). Keep on medium heat and stir for a couple more minutes.
Bonn appetite.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Pleasure of Food

So, I was listening to the Fat2Fit podcast and they were talking about this new diet book "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. One of the advice the book supposedly gives is that you shouldn't eat anything your grandmother (or in my case, probably great grandmother) wouldn't recognize as food. This reminded me, as I am now on something of a diet, of what happened when I tried to look up eggs in one of the calorie counter websites. All I wanted was the count for a simpy made sunny side up, what I found were a bunch of products I couldn't even recognize. I gave up.
Now, I should mention, if you don't already know this, that I'm from Israel. And while Israel is very advanced in some aspects, most of the products you find in your supermarket are foods your grandmother would recognize. I mean, we have the snacks and cereals and the instant soups and other than that... We don't have TV dinners, we don't have these egg replacements, and I suppose there are other things I wouldn't know about. In order to get fruit or veg out of season you need to go to a specialty shop. People who live close to an outdoor market (shuk) will go there and some people will make the extra effort - because it's cheaper, you get more choice and it's fresher. Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts tried to open here and failed, probably because most Israelis like to be able to recognize their food.
Things are changing. More processed food is entering our diets and people are getting heavier, but while many people I know are over their recommended BMI, I can count on one hand the number of Israelis I have known throughout my short life that are obese. This however, was not my point. My point is that sometimes I wonder how much Americans really enjoy food. I know, people say that the reason they gain weight is because they like food to much. However, the Americans I know live on what I would consider a relatively plain diet where salt, oil and sugar are the usual flavorings. Kids get home from school and eat the same salty or sweet. There seems to be no place for the nuances of different vegetables, for tangy, spicy and the millions of flavors in between. Mostly the food itself looks plain and has little smell, as opposed to colorful meals that give off strong. Cooking is seen more as a chore that is better done away with than a way to be artistic and experimental.
As I said, I'm not an American and possibly I am wrong, affected by the images of the US from TV. So I'm asking any Americans out there, do you really enjoy your food like one enjoys lounging in the sun or hot bath, or do you treat your food as if it were something to satisfy your body because otherwise the pain is to great and if you could you'd get rid of it?
On a side note, I did discuss the egg issue with my elderly grandmother who said that for a while when she was growing up in Ireland they had powdered eggs. This was during WWII and they couldn't get real eggs. A point of fact to remember is that many of the processed foods we eat today were in fact designed in time of war (including canned goods) simply because people could not get the real thing. They would have loved fresh vegetables or real eggs. What does it say about us, that given the choice, we choose what they were forced to eat?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Red, red beats?

I'm looking for a job, which is really hard in this market. At least I have time to exercise, write and blog. Oh, and cook! So I decided to revive this blog for as long as it's fun. I'm experimenting a lot so you might expect a few "what not to do". At the moment I don't really have an oven, just a stove and a microwave, so oven recipes will be kept to a minimum.
Warning: if you have anything against the taste of beets or the color pink you will not like the following recipe. Although, if you've only ever tasted pickled beets give this recipe a try- you'll be surprised. This recipe is also very good if your kid has decided he\she will only eat pink food.
So lately I've been on this new diet and am eating more soy because it's a cheap and easy way to add protein to a diet. This is a quick and easy meal for as many people as you want, from one to one hundred. The ingredients I give serve one big portion though.
You'll need: one small beet (or half a large one), half an onion, one or two cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic), One small potato, tofu or filleted mackerel, olive oil (though you can settle for canola) and salt & pepper.
OK, now peel and chop up the beet into small pieces (if the pieces are too large it will take ages to cook) and toss that in the frying pan with a bit of oil and start cooking on a medium heat. Peel & chop up the potato (also small for the same reason) and toss them in too, same with the onion and garlic. Make sure to mix every once in a while. Now if you're using tofu once you see the onions have gotten a bit soft toss the tofu (cut it into small blocks) in and add salt and pepper to taste. If you're using the mackerel don't bother frying it - just pour the mixture on top and then mix (add the salt and pepper to the mixture while still in the pan). In both cases its ready when the onion is clearish and the potato is soft (you can easily stick a fork in it - if you taste it will remain slightly crunchy. I love to make this - it's easy, quick and a complete meal in one (oh and healthy).
As always, if you have any questions, comment or whatever - leave a comment on the blog.
Some data on beets: