Food Friday

Today started out as a rather frustrating day. When I woke up, it was snowing quite heavily and Kris did not have a delay at work (they often give the government employees a delay due to the poor road care and large number of commuters) so I had to drive him in the snow. I was glad that at least we did not have freezing rain, as predicted, but my optimism may have been my downfall: thinking that there was no ice, I fell TWO times on the way to the car on ice that remained from previous days! Needless to say I did not venture out for a run considering that I could hardly walk 50 feet without injury.

I also refrained from walking Belle in that mess, and she was not too pleased with me. I feel so bad for her in the winter – even though she is reaching middle age (she is 5 or 6) she still needs to let out A LOT of energy. She was awake around 4 this morning even after being walked over a mile yesterday! “Luckily” she did get a long walk later in the day. I say “luckily” because she would have still had a short one had it not been for a fire downtown. It was on the block where we used to live and we wanted to make sure our old house had not burned down (it was not our old house). Thankfully no one sustained life threatening injuries (only one young man and his baby were home, and while injured, they will be fine). It was crazy how much of the city was basically shut down for this thing – 3 connected townhouses were on fire so they had like 7 fire trucks and had a 3 lane road closed for like 2 or 3 blocks with several other random road closures. You should have seen the surburbanites trying to flee from this during rush hour!  We live less than 3 miles from Kris’s office and we called on the way home for a carryout pizza – it took us more than the 20 minutes they quoted us to get there because of the traffic! I probably could have RUN the distance we traveled faster.

I am also dealing with frustrations with work and school. I have found a part-time job for now. This originally was good because there had been a plan to let me work part-time as a remote research assistant and take courses remotely from the university so that I could still finish up this semester, but that might fall through because I haven’t been able to find someone who is willing or able to work with me on a remote course. I was also trying to apply to a program where I could take courses at another university but registration-wise it would be set up as though I was taking those courses at my university, but no one involved with that program has any answers to my questions and they won’t tell me whether I am admitted or not. The semester is starting Monday and I am not thrilled that I still do not know whether I will be able to take courses or not. I am also really nervous about applying to full-time jobs in the case that I have no courses for the semester. Entry level jobs see me as overqualified (I have a Master’s and several years of professional work experience), but for the jobs that require experience, the experience that I have doesn’t match up. Then, when I tried to apply for a government position like my husband’s, they randomly decided that I wasn’t qualified because I had not sent them my transcripts (note: they never asked for my transcripts). I sent in the transcripts and called to see how long it would take to get everything resolved, and they told me 4-6 weeks! What?!

I guess the good news is that for the first time in a long time I am able to do a Food Friday post. Not all of my food adventures were successful, though.

When I first got my Kitchenaid, I was very excited about the dough hook – this meant I could make all sorts of exciting dough things without kneading them, like homemade bread. The problem: I have not made legit bread since I was like, 12, and that was in a bread machine. I tried to start with a simple recipe, I promise. Thinking that I had whole wheat flour, I went with this honey wheat bread recipe. It turned out that I only had all-purpose flour, though, so I just used that. I think the bigger problem came from the yeast, though. I did not remember that you had to wait for it to foam up to mean it was activated, and plus my house was freezing (this was during the polar vortex) which probably didn’t help matters. Let’s just say the bread didn’t rise. I did bake it just to see what it would taste like, and ended up with a tasty but very dense and very tiny loaf of bread. Kris and I each ate a couple of bites and threw it away.

LOL @ my bread.

I also decided that I would try to be productive by checking some vegetarian cookbooks out of the library to learn some new recipes. I live within walking distance of a branch, but for some reason had put off ever trying to go to one for 4 years. The first one that I got is making me feel quite conflicted, though. It has some good tips for someone who is new to incorporating vegetarian meals into their cooking – for example, good information on using beans and unique grains more frequently, but it is full of incredibly biased nutrition information. It is one of those books that tries to convince you that EVERYONE has a gluten and lactose intolerance and they are just not “natural” for us to eat.  Note: I have plenty of friends and family members with food allergies and intolerance and I try to be respectful of those, but there is a difference between being legitimately bothered by gluten and people just assuming that it is “healthier” for everyone for some reason.

I am also particularly displeased with how the book gets this point across. It has very biased information in it – for example, it uses the scare tactic of saying there is research showing that eating cheese is like doing heroin, but they give almost no context to this research (they imply cheese is made of heroin), but then go on to provide a “balanced” view of soy products in order to convince people whose doctors have told them not to eat soy that they should do it anyway (really overemphasizing pro-soy studies). Again, I am personally fine with eating soy products; I am not fine with a random cookbook dispensing medical advice. They sometimes even resort to childish retorts, such as saying “milk=yuck and snot!” I honestly prefer almond milk, but they almost made me want to go drink a big glass of the real stuff. At least the recipes look good!

Don’t worry – this point won’t be nothing but a discussion of this week’s failures – I had success as well! I am trying hard to make about 90% vegetarian meals at home, but Kris missed the simplicity of burgers+fries for dinner and wanted to buy some veggie burgers. I refrain from buying them usually because I am super cheap when it comes to groceries and could never justify them for myself, but when he went to the store with me, he agreed that they are way too expensive. I told him as a compromise I would look up some veggie burger recipes and put a few patties in the freezer for him to heat up. I decided that instead of a recipe I would work with this framework using ingredients that we had on hand (I had to buy some things that we were out of, but the only item I bought out of the ordinary was an onion). I made mine with the following ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I know its not vegetarian, but I don’t want to waste what we have and it’s not like we are “real” vegetarians, anyway)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (I know it said 1 tsp, but there is no such thing as 1 tsp garlic)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup brown rice

I am happy to report that they turned out tasting great and they were quite easy to make! I don’t know if they are ACTUALLY cheaper than pre-made ones since I have no real way of calculating their cost but I liked that they could be made in about 10-15 minutes with stuff we normally buy. I did take some (low-quality) pictures of the process:

Cooking up the chopped veggies.

Beans, veggies, and liquids in food processor ready to grind into a paste!

Adding in the dry ingredients. You can see the paste stuff made of beans and veggies.

The final product – 8 patties to freeze! I made them more normal burger sized (the original link suggests slider sized). They were more grey in person, so they actually looked less appetizing than they were here. They tasted great, though!

I also had to redeem myself from the bread incident so I tried to make it up by following a very easy banana bread recipe. I had frozen a few ripe bananas like 3 weeks ago and never used them for anything, so this was the perfect way to use them up. I though the bread was good, but next time I would use nuts. I really prefer zucchini bread so I am used to breads like this having more texture. My only complaint: this and the other bread recipe taught me that I REALLY need to get a splash guard thing for my Kitchenaid if I want to avoid having flour thrown all over the place. Oops.

Compared to the last loaf of bread, this looks amazing!



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