Monthly Archive: April 2013

gwyneth to the rescue

So we are 15 days into our 30 day real food challenge.  Half-way there!  On the downhill slope!  Other than a couple little snaffoos things have been going pretty well.

After more carefully studying the ingredients in some of our typical foods, I had to rethink some of my breakfast and lunch menus.  For breakfast, I’ve been on an instant oatmeal kick of late.  I know making the oatmeal myself is better for me, but it just takes too long for me to do before work.  (I have a slight problem getting up in the mornings…)

Lisa raved about her homemade granola cereal so frequently on her blog that I decided to give it a try.  But,  along side my oatmeal, I’ve been having two small Jimmy Dean turkey sausage links and an orange.  Well, after giving a hard look to the contents of my fridge, the Jimmy Dean had to go, leaving me in search of a real food alternative as I had serious doubts that a simple bowl of granola would tide me over until lunch time.

Enter Gwyneth Paltrow…

I know what you are thinking.  “Seriously?  Gwyneth Paltrow solved your real food problem?”  And the answer is – yes, she did!  Well, she helped at least. But let me back up…2 yrs ago to be exact.

In April 2011, I entered a giveaway on my friend, Beth’s, blog and won.  The prize was Gwyneth Paltrow’s recently released cookbook, My Father’s Daughter.

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I won!  I was super excited because I’d never one a blog giveaway before.   I started a post about winning the cookbook, but because I was a bad, bad blogger for a while I never finished and published it.  I made a couple items out of the cookbook then put it on the shelf amongst the gazillions of other cookbooks I have and kind of forgot about it…until recently.

I remembered that her cookbook contained several options for vegetarian meals as well as some recipes for homemade pantry staples.    So, I grabbed it off the bookshelf, knocked the dust off of it, and started perusing.  Guess what I found…

A RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE TURKEY SAUSAGE PATTIES!  Hazzah!  I don’t have to forego my morning boost of protein after all! The recipe is super simple and tastes the same as much better than those prepackaged Jimmy Dean things I was buying.

Here’s all you will need:

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(cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, herbs de provence, salt, sage, ground turkey, Vermont maple syrup)

AAAAAND it’s as easy as 1-2-3.  See…

1. Combine the spices and ground turkey

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2.  Form into small meatballs and flatten into patties.  (When forming meatballs, I use a little trick I learned from Martha Stewart.  I use a small spring loaded ice cream scoop so that they are more uniform in size than if I just grabbed a hunk of meat out of the bowl.)

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3.  Cook in a skillet

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In re-reading this recipe for this post, I realized that Gwyneth’s instructions actually call for you to use a mortar and pestle or mini food processor to “bash” the spices together.  Somehow I missed that bit, as I’ve just been dumping them all in a bowl and stirring them up.  Mine have still turned out tasty, though it would be nice not to bite into a big ole fennel seed every now and then…

The whole process takes maybe 15-20 min.  Gwynnie says that her recipe makes 12 patties…but I’ve only been able to get  8-10 per 1lb of ground turkey and that’s using a ????? ice cream scoop.  Since it’s such a quick and easy process, what I’ve started doing is doubling or tripling the recipe, putting a week’s worth in the fridge, and freezing the rest.  That way I make these once a month and I’m set.

First I let them cool on paper towels to absorb any excess oil from the skillet.

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Then I layer them in a freezer appropriate container, placing wax paper between the layers.

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Then I label them and pop then in the freezer.

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You’ve just gotta love these Martha Stewart food container labels from Staples.

A bowl of Lisa’s homemade granola with local milk, one of these turkey sausage patties, and a piece of fruit is now my favorite breakfast.  And, I’m telling you, it absolutely keeps me satiated!  I usually eat breakfast around 6:30a.  With my previous breakfast, I would always notice the first twinges of hunger around 11:00-11:15a.  With this breakfast I’m good to go until 12:30p.  For me, going 6 HOURS without feeling hungry is a freakin’ miracle!

Prior to publishing this recipe in her cookbook, Gwyneth published it on her website, goop.com.  You can find this recipe here.  One of the things that I love about My Father’s Daughter is that Gwyneth has coded each recipe to indicate whether it is a recipe that can be prepared ahead of time, it’s quick, it’s vegetarian or vegan or can be adapted as such, whether it is a one-pot meal, or a “dress-up” meal.  Over the last couple weeks, it has proved to be excellent resource for vegetarian meal recipes as well as recipes for homemade pantry staples.  More posts to come on those later!

With my renewed appreciation for this cookbook gem, imagine how excited I was when I spotted this in Target last week.

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Gwyneth’s got a NEW cookbook!  You can pick it up at Target or Amazon for around $20.  Or if you so desire, you can order a personalized signed copy for $55 from goop.com.  I think Gwynnie’s cool and all…but I don’t think I’ll pay an extra $35 for her signature. I’ll get all the fun and 5% off for picking it up at Target with my Target Red Card.  I can’t wait to see what goodies it has in store.

newmrssig

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1143

pomegranate martini

Who is PUMPED about the return of Mad Men this Sunday?  ME!  That’s who!  It’s a good thing too, because I experienced my first real time Walking Dead season finale last Sunday.  No more of that until October.  So Mad Men will just have to keep me entertained, for the next couple months at least.

It’s no secret that The Mr  and I are big craft beer fans.  But, you can not simply drink a beer (even a really good craft beer) while watching Mad Men.  Even a nice glass of wine won’t rise to the occasion.  It simply must be a cocktail.

Am I wrong?

No.  I’m not.  You know it’s true.

Ideally, that cocktail should be a good old fashioned martini. But, I’m going to totally girl out and say that I just don’t like good old fashioned martinis.  Shaken, stirred, dirty, or otherwise.  I just don’t like them.  Never been an olive fan.  Why would I order a drink with one in it? (I know I probably just lost a little “grown-up” credibility there…)  I do, however, enjoy specialty martinis on occasion.  You know, the kind of brightly colored thing with some sort of tongue-in-cheek name that guys roll their eyes at…a girly drink.

And that, my friends, is what I have for you today.  Behold, the Pomegranate Martini!

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Doesn’t it look luscious!  My friend Gretchen made these for us at her house one night last fall.  I fell in love with it and made them all throughout the holiday season.  I know the pomegranate makes it seem a little Christmasy but, you know what?  It ‘s April.  It was raining and 39* in Charlotte today, and I was wearing my down jacket.  So,  it kind of felt like Christmas in the South today.

Feels like Christmas?  Drink a Christmasy drink is what I say!

Regardless of the current season or weather, give it try.  It’s appropriate year ’round, really.  Here’s what you’ll need:

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Pomegranate juice, Cointreau, Absolut Mandarin, and pomegranate seeds…plus a asecret ingredient that we’ll discuss later.

Well, maybe not SO much later as the “secret ingredient” is actually the first thing you put in the shaker.  Gretchen’s recipe calls for 2 tbsp of frozen lemonade concentrate.  Trader Joe’s carried it the fall, but I couldn’t find it today.  The only lemonade concentrate I could find was at main stream grocery stores.  Regardless of the brand, the first ingredient listed was high fructose corn syrup.   Number one…gross.  Number two…it’s against the rules. So, I found this at Earth Fare and tried it instead:

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Mango sorbet!  I’m telling you – this stuff is G.O.O.D.   I had to put it back in the freezer quickly so that I didn’t eat the whole pint…I calls to me from the freezer even now.  But back to the martini…

I loved it last fall with the lemonade concentrate, but I think I love it even more with the mango sorbet.  The sorbet just seems to give it a richer, more complex flavor.  Either way, you are in for a treat.  So whether you choose to use lemonade concentrate or mango sorbet, put a couple tablespoons of it in the martini shaker.

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Add 1 whole shot of Absolut Mandarin…

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1/2 shot of Cointreau…

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3/4 c of pomegranate juice…

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and give it a good shake.

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Garnish the bottom of your martini glass with pomegranate seeds…

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and pour.  The seeds at the bottom are beautiful in the glass and like a tart, vodka soaked little treat at the end. The Mr says they are like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.    And, lest you worry this drink might be too girly, The Mr was seen to throw back several throughout the holiday season…although he claimed that it was just to get to the pomegranate seeds at the bottom of the glass…

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Now sit back, sip, and enjoy a little Don Draper and company.  You’ll thank me later!

newmrssig

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1055

real food: a confessional

Well we are now on day 8 of our 30-Day real food challenge.  I bet you are wondering how we are doing.  For the most part we are doing really well with it. I’ve altered some shopping habits and been making several menu staples and pantry staples myself (I’ll tell you about those later) but…

I have a confession to make…

We had two instances this week where we ate some processed food.  :(  The first one was quite minor.  The second…well…

You know those kids who never drank in high school, were always home before curfew, and never broke any rules, then went off to college and went stark, raving mad and partied to be point of nearly flunking out during their first semester.  Let’s just say the second incident fell more along those lines…

Does it help if I clarify that neither instance was intentional?  I think that just illustrates how hard something like this is in our current American food climate.

Since you guys don’t follow us around town and only check in on us here, it would be very easy to skip over the bits where we didn’t follow the rules and only report back on the parts where we succeeded.  But, if we are going to do this, it only works if we are completely honest about it.   (As I sit here writing this on Easter Sunday, I can’t help but consider parallels between my temptation to hide these “real food sins” and our attempts to hide our actual sins…but that is a whole other can of worms. Let’s stick to the “real food sins” for the time being, shall we?)

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We host our small group for church every Tuesday and the members of our group take turns providing snacks.  This week the provided snack was a “veggie pizza.”  It looked beautiful with all the raw broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers and tomatoes on top.  Without thinking I grabbed a small piece (~2″ square) and swallowed it down only to realize later that the “pizza” crust was made from pre-packaged crescent rolls.   Not a terrible “real food sin” in severity.  But you’d think on Day 2 I would have been a little more focused and on my guard.  Apparently not.  I’ll have to be more careful next time.

Oh, and, I’m pretty sure The Mr had like 5 pieces…

I also need to figure out a balance here.  If friends will be bringing snacks to our home weekly, then this is something that is going to come up at least 3 more times during our 30 day crusade.  I’m certainly not going to impose these rules on them and make them go to any extra work to bring us snacks.  This is our challenge, not theirs.  So, we’ve got to find ways to politely decline snacks (and eat something from our pantry) if they include processed foods.  Hmmm…

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For some reason, at the end of my work day on Friday, I was craving a burger something fierce.  So, I texted The Mr shortly before leaving the office and he was up for burgers as well, even though we had leftovers ready to be reheated in the fridge.  Our usual go to burger joint is Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar on East Blvd but The Mr wanted to try something new so he suggested we check our Kickstand Burgers-n-Bar on Central.  Y’all…it didn’t even cross my mind to worry about what real food options we would have there.

The Mr was hungry and jonesing for an appetizer.  As soon as he grabbed the menu the Shrimp & Fried Grits caught his eye.  (Yes, you read that correctly.  It was Shrimp and Fried Grits, not fried shrimp and grits…there’s a difference.)  It was a cake of deep fried grits with a “shrimp and grits” sauce on the top with andouille sausage.   It tasted like jambalaya.

Our discussion was whether or not we needed an appetizer, not

  • “No refined grains such as white flour or white rice.”  I’m pretty sure that grits fall into a refined grain category.  
  • “No deep fried foods.”  Strike two.
  • “Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).”  Not sure whether or not the sausage in it was local because it did not even dawn on me to ask.

I’ve gotta say, though, it was totally worth it.  Just look at this…

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Seriously, The Mr is lucky that I didn’t tackle him to keep him away from it.  It was crazy good!

But wait, our sinful indulgence didn’t stop there.  After all, the whole reason we were eating out was because we wanted burgers.  I had The Kickstand signature burger (which is mixed with onion, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic) topped  with cranberry chutney, caramelized onions, and baked brie.  The Mr had The Fender Bender with chili, mushrooms, slaw, American cheese and bacon.  He asked that they hold the fried onions.  Sides included fries for me and tots for him.  (Sorry, no pics.  I was too busy cramming that burger in my face to remember to take pics.)  So let’s see how many real food rules we broke with these:

  • “No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat, not just wheat).”  Neither of us had or asked for whole wheat buns.
  •  “Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).”  Again, not sure if the meat was local ‘cuz we didn’t think to ask…
  • “No refined sweeteners such a sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial things like Splenda.”  Not sure what all was in my cranberry chutney, but it tasted very sweet and tangy.  Also, both of us were freely dipping our sides in Heinz ketchup, which every one know is full of sugar…
  • “No deep fried foods.”  Um, yeah…#epicfail.

Well, go big or go home, right?  What upsets me more than the number of rules we broke in one two-hour period, is the fact that it didn’t even dawn on me/us to choose differently.  As soon as I realized I was craving burgers and started down that path, we were both on autopilot.  Back to our typical behaviors and decision making patterns.   It simply didn’t occur to us that this was not in keeping with the goals we set for ourselves for this month.  That’s supposed to be the advantage of doing something like this with someone else.  Your parter is supposed to remind you and help keep you accountable.

Neither one of us flinched.

I’m telling you, though, when we are done with our 30 day challenge, we are definitely going back to Kickstand.  It may have been an complete and total real food failure, but it was DELICIOUS!  My burger was amazing and those fries were some of the best fries I’ve had in a while.  They also had a good beer selection, not the best I’ve seen in our burgeoning beer town, but a good one nonetheless.  I guess we are just a little spoiled on the beer front here…#firstworldproblems.

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Let’s see, what else can I do I need to confess to you…

I’m annoyed by the inconvenience of shopping for local produce and meat for my weekly groceries.  I HATE fighting the crowds to do my grocery shopping on the weekend.  I’ve been working 4 10-hour days since October, getting Thursdays off, and doing my grocery shopping then.  Even then, though, I still like to get up and get my shopping out of the way first thing in the morning.  Until this last week or so, I had it down to a science.  Hit Target by 8:30a for things like toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.  Then head across the street to Trader Joe’s for the food. Home by 9:30a (or 10:00a at the latest) with the rest of my day off ahead of me.

Around here Farmer’s Markets are only open on Saturdays.  There are crowds there too and you have to get up at the stinking crack of dawn to get there before everything gets picked over.  The “stinking crack of dawn” is not where I like to start my Saturdays…and did I mention that I HATE fighting crowds?  However, there are two local public markets which sell only goods from local farms and are open on Thursdays – Atherton Mill Market and 7th Street Public Market.  However, one opens at 10:00a and the other opens at 11:00a.  So, if I want to get everything that I can locally, before heading to Trader Joe’s for the rest, I’m not even getting started on this until 10:00a.  I have found that I can consistently get the meat I want from 7th Street and between the two can always get local milk, eggs, and cheese on Thursdays, but neither of these places seem to be as stocked in the produce department on Thursday as they are on Saturdays. (I started researching this part of it before we started our actual 30 days.)  That means I end up running around to 3-4 different places in the middle of the day on Thursday just trying to get local grown food.

I miss the one-stop shopping!  Frankly, though, it’s starting to annoy me that it is more difficult and inconvenient to get the local food.  It should be the other way around. (Markets, if you are reading this, it would be immensely helpful if you would post on your websites the produce you have available each week.)  I am thoroughly pleased with the goods I get from these places, I just think it should be easier to get local stuff than imported stuff.  Ya feel me?

Final real food airing of grievances – I. MISS. MY. HAZELNUT. COFFEE. CREAMER!!!  My morning coffee is just not the same with plain half-and-half.  To say I am not a morning person is the understatement of the century.  Needless to say, taking away my favorite thing about the morning, makes for one unhappy momma (pup momma, that is.)

Despite our Friday night epic failure and my griping here today,  we are enjoying this challenge and have been able to stick to the rules for the remaining 95% of our week.  When we have eaten the food that I’ve prepared we have stuck to the real food rules beautifully.  And I am really glad that we are making a better effort to support our local farmers and economy.  I’m getting some tremendous satisfaction out of making some of our menu and pantry staples myself.  You’ll have to tune in later in the week to read all about that.

Until then, we will keep trucking along and trying to keep it real!

newmrssig

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1144