Monday, August 27, 2007

8 random things meme

Cindy tagged me for that "8 Random Things" meme that has been going around the food blog verse. Just call me a lemming as I cave to peer pressure.

1) I have the worst eating habits ever. One day I will eat non-stop, shoving food (really unhealthy food) into my mouth at an ever increasing rate. The higher in fat and lower in nutritional value, the better. The next day I will wake up, have a glass of oj, and then not eat anything until 4:30. I either don't feel hungry or I get so busy that I lose track of time. It's bad.

2) I am a music teacher who has a weakness for pop music. It doesn't even have to be good pop music. I will listen to the Pussy Cat Dolls. Horrible! Although, I draw the line at Beyonce. NO!

3) We moved around a bunch while I was growing up. Once we lived in Colorado for only 10 months before moving. Due to this I get "itchy feet" if I live in one place for too long. I have been in my current apartment for three years. The feet are itching pretty bad.

4) When we lived in Colorado I attended Columbine High School. It was nice. Good school, nice teachers. Pretty average. That was years before the shootings. For me the school is still that place where I spent freshman year.

5) I have never been out of the country. Not really. No offense, but I don't count trips to Canada and the Cayman Islands as "out of the country".

6) I feel like a grown up more often than not. This is a new development. I have felt for a while as though I was straddling the line between post-college-20's and adulthood. Maybe it was turning 30 that did it. Maybe I have reached a new phase of my life. Instead of feeling like I should know what I am doing, I actually feel as though I do know what I am doing...most of the time.

7) Adulthood scares me. I've reached it, but feel as though there is so much I didn't do before getting here. Life rarely turns out how you think it will, but my 21-year-old self would cringe to see which milestones I haven't reached. At the same time, I think she would be proud of some of the ones I have unexpectedly reached (I am getting a student teacher this fall!!!)

8) I have two main guilty pleasures: stinky cheese and bad sci-fi. My perfect Sunday afternoon would be spent in front of the TV watching Star Trek the Next Generation or Quantum Leap and eating brie on crackers. Oh yes.

OK, who to tag? I'm not sure who all has done this. If you already have, ignore my tag.
Lynn Barry

I think everyone else has done this meme. If you haven't and I didn't list you, consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gluten Free Tears

Yesterday I almost started crying in the grocery store. It has almost been a year since going gluten free (where has the time gone?) I have been close to tears more times than I care to admit. Frustration. Annoyance. Anger. It doesn't even take one hand to count the number of times the tears have been brought on for a positive reason. Yesterday was one of those days. My first stop was at our old favorite, Trader Joe's. Bless them and their gluten free shopping list. The difference this visit was that they are now carrying the Gluten Free Black Forrest Torte. I want to eat the whole thing now!!! Instead, I will be sensible and save it for Saturday when I have friends over for dinner. But no worries! I have so much more to nosh on.

My second stop was a long time coming. A new grocery store had opened up in my neighborhood a few months back. I ignored it, figuring it was just another Whole Paycheck... I mean Foods. My landlords told me otherwise. So off to Sunflower I went. THANK GOD!!! (This is where I nearly wept.) They have your typical selection of Amy's frozen foods, soy and rice milk products, etc. What did they have that threatened to activate the tear ducts? Glutino cereals and cookies, GF protein powders, a whole section of frozen Kinnikinnick foods, and a line of products from a company called World Foods. I actually had to make a choice between two types of bagels, three types of bread, and two types of donuts. Heaven!!! World Foods almost made me cry because right there on the label it states (not just that it is gluten free) that it is "suitable for Celiacs". They give us a shout out! And OOOH Baby! The yummy stuff they have. Salad dressings and stir fry sauces from numerous cultures. I purchased the Coconut Lime dressing and Lemon Grass Pineapple stir fry sauce. They had over a dozen products. I think I may have fallen in love with this store. They carry my new favorite yogurt, Cascade Fresh (also labeled GF) in about 6 flavors and the yogurt smoothies. I could go on and on listing the great foods I bought...or I could go eat some of it. Sorry y'all, but you lose out to my appetite. :) But if you live in Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio you can enjoy the wonder of Sunflower for yourself. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We're feeling hot hot hot!!!

It is officially hot. Dang hot! How hot you, you ask? 90 degrees, 100 degree heat index, dew point at 73. Hot and humid. Now, despite living in Arizona for a large chunk of my childhood, I am not a hot weather girl. For me the perfect day would be between 75 and 82 with low humidity and scattered clouds. Ah. Heaven. Unfortunately, I live in Chicago where we have two seasons: winter and road construction...I mean summer. My two poor little window ac units are chugging away, but it is still uncomfortably warm indoors. It probably doesn’t help that I spent four hours this afternoon at a workshop held in a studio with NO AC! ehem.
That being said, there was no way my stove or oven was going to be turned on. Nuh-uh. I could order some Thai food, but my favorite place (that does not make me sick) has moved and not yet reopened. I am in desperate need of going to the grocery store. I am out of the staples in a big way. Well, I could microwave something. Or...I could eat a meal that does not require cooking. OR...rice cooker to the rescue! Thai food ala rice cooker:

Quick Curry Shrimp and Rice

1 cup white rice
1 can coconut milk
½ cup milk
2 t Silk Road Spice Blend or Curry Powder
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1-2 dashes/splashes fish sauce
pre-cooked, tail-off defrosted shrimp
salt to taste

Combine in a rice cooker the first 6 ingredients. Press cook or white rice button. When the rice is done mix in shrimp and peanuts. Salt to taste. (You could even garnish with cilantro!)

Easy. Rich and creamy. No impact on the temperature on your apartment. Fast prep with no need to hover over the cooking meal. What could be better?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Salmon Salad, Cheater Style

Today I am too drained, physically and emotionally, to do much writing here. The witty commentary will just have to wait for another day. Alas, I am nearly too drained to cook, as well. "But I'm HUNGRY!!!" screamed my stomach. Gah! Fine. McDonalds, pizza delivery, and frozen ravioli are no longer options. What to make? Cheater's style salmon salad. I saw a very delish looking recipe for a salmon salad over at Simply Recipes. It doesn't look too complicated, but I just didn't feel like running to the store for the missing ingredients. Instead I improvised with what I already had in my fridge and spice cupboard. Costco once again comes to the rescue, this time with some lovely salmon burgers they carry that are gluten free (says so right on the box!) This is so easy, but actually tastes quite good. I know there are many other ingredients I could add to this salad. Consider this the base, or foundation, upon which to add your own finishing touches:

Salmon Salad (Cheater's Style) for One

2 Omega Foods Wild Salmon Burgers, frozen
oil for your pan
1/3 cup sour cream
juice of one lemon (I used about 3/4 of the juice)
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1/4 cup vidallia onion, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste

Place the frozen salmon burgers in a lightly oiled small frying pan. Pan fry for 2 1/2- 3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl combine sour cream, lemon juice, herbs, and onion. Flake the salmon burgers and mix into the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes enough for one person as an entree, or two as a side salad.

I toyed with the idea of adding diced red bell peppers to this salad. You could double the dressing and mix in 1-2 cups of brown rice. Hmmm... What would you add to this salad to make it your own?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My new toy

I am a gadget person. I love gadgets and electronic toys. Music gadgets, PDAs, kitchen gadgets, schools organizing tools...they all make me a bit giddy. They don't have to be high tech. I don't own a video game system like Wii. Low tech is fun, too. For example, a new microplane grater or a candy thermometer. The big, hefty gadget are a blast, as well. I love my Kitchenaid stand mixer (goodness the thing is heavy!). But right now the gadget that I completely adore is my brand new rice cooker.

I have been cooking my rice on the stove. The stove method works just fine, but it does require a certain amount of attention. My new Aroma rice cooker is wonderful. I am sure most of you have owned a rice cooker for years, but this great machine is still a novelty to me. I love that you can just put everything into it, push a button and walk away. I suppose it is a bit like a slow cooker in that way...except much faster. So far I have made plain white rice and a rather tasty Cherry-Pomegranate Rice. I need more ideas! Those of you veteran rice cooker users who are out there, I implore you! What are your favorite rice cooker recipes? Either post it here or give me the link. I can put it all together in a "Rice Cooker Round Up" (totally stealing the idea from ByTheBay.)

In the mean time, here is my first installment. I use the measuring cup that came with the machine and the fill lines marked on the inside of the pot:

Cherry-Pomegranate Sticky Rice

In your rice cooker combine:
2 level cups (the cup that came with your machine) sushi rice
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cherries, diced
pomegranate juice (fill to the 2 line for a drier rice, to the 4 line for a more saucy rice)

Close the lid of your rice cooker. Press start. If you have different settings on your machine you can press "white rice" or "steam cook". (I used "steam cook".) When your rice cooker indicates it is done cooking, open the lid and stir the rice. You may need to taste the rice to determine if it is finished cooking. (I find that some rice takes longer if you use juice instead of water or stock. The sugar content perhaps?) You can eat as is or sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

My rice came out slightly tart and sticky. I was very pleased. It is best right out of the cooker, freshly made. Leftovers aren't too shabby, though. I need to experiment a bit more. I want to make sure I used this gadget often. I have to say, Costco is becoming my go to place to purchase small kitchen appliances: stand mixer, blender, rice cooker. I think next on the list to purchase will be a food processor. Hmmm...soup anyone?