Dinner observations

Image result for restaurants with screaming kids

I took the kids to dinner the other night, only because Sammy had it in his head that we should go and I liked the idea of not making dinner. Besides, we needed a break at the end of a loooooong week of school.

He picks Cheesecake factory, and we are seated outside. The tables are so close together, you can’t avoid sitting in the middle of the conversations around you.

On my left, is a family of 5. Two parents and three children, all seem to be under 5. They are loud, kids take turns screaming, actual screams…. and the parents both speak a mixture of English and Italian to them. I like the sound of the Italian, but not when the mom is speaking in a constant yell, right into my ear.

Jenna likes to watch other people, she’s still too young to realize it’s rude. And knowing her, she probably wouldn’t care. I keep directing her attention to our own table, but the noise and activity next to us are hard to ignore. First she comments that one of the boys goes to her school. I don’t look over, but I sense the mom turning her head toward us as though she knows they are being mentioned. Jenna says later that one of the boys is looking at her, as she continues to stare at him. I feel eyes on us again, and lightly tell her to just look at me then.

She continues to watch the progress of the family, parents attempting to stop the screaming and fighting of their kids and not doing a great job of it. During a lull in the noise, she comments to me “Yeah, I like the dad better than the kids”… Since the mom is practically in my lap, I am sure she hears it. The head turning toward us confirms it. I think I tell  Jen to eat her dinner and keep her eyes on her food.

But she’s so right. He was definitely the quietest…..

My headache cure

It started yesterday evening, a stabbing into my skull ranging from a very light throb, to a vicious pounding that makes me wince. Of course, I keep thinking I need to take something for it, but never seem to make my way to the bottle of ibuprofen.

Woke up with same headache, trying to keep myself from scowling at everyone as I continue to forget to do anything about it except be miserable and crabby.

This afternoon, I forced the kids to lie down with me so I could try to close my eyes in a dark room. I finally remembered to swallow the medicine and wanted a chance for it to work. The kids took turns propping stuffed animals on me before the youngest finally cuddled next to me, falling asleep immediately.

Sammy was reading in his bed, I thought…..

And then before I knew it he was standing next to me, big smile on his face.

“I brought you a sandwich and a glass of milk for your headache.”

Sure enough, he had dragged a table next to my bed, and had laid out his headache cure for my enjoyment.

What kind of sandwich?

I was thinking it was going to be peanut butter and jelly…..but not from this fancy guy.

A combination of American cheese and sprouts, nestled between slices of dry wheat bread. Sure to banish any headache in moments.

I ate (some of) that sandwich because he is awesome and I love how much he loves me. Bonus points for his original sandwich making skills.

 

 

Dying for a fish fillet

The cravings are killing me lately. Fasting is easiest for me in the beginning…. and then as the days go by without snacking…..I start to feel a little unstable.

Last night I made sure the husband had “normal” food for dinner, but I had compiled an assortment of things I felt I needed. Lentil soup. Kale Salad. Strawberry-Mango flatbread.  Sushi. Doritos. The night ended with a headless chocolate bunny left in the fridge….. only because I couldn’t scarf down his body quietly enough to avoid detection. That will be tonight…….

I stopped to talk to someone today, she had just eaten a hot dog, and that little end of the bun was left on her plate, sitting there all alone. Probably with a tiny end of hot dog nestled inside. and ketchup. maybe cheese.

I wanted it.

Has it come to this? Coveting discarded hot dog pieces?

And now, I can’t stop thinking about McDonald’s fish fillet. Something my grandma was very fond of as well. I stay away….mostly….from them. Sometimes though…. it’s really all you need for happiness. A perfect blend of soft, warm bun, tartar sauce, cheese, and questionable fish. Mmmmmmmmm.

youtube.com, @hodgetwins

The taste of failure

Still on my cooking kick, trying out new recipes, usually healthy-ish….

Today, to prepare for Ramadan, I tried to make something Arabic to impress the husband. It’s actually one of MY favorite things, not so much his…..but I’m pretty sure he likes it.

Maklube, or Maklouba, according to this recipe I found on Pinterest. There are a LOT of ways to make this dish. some with meat, some without. My favorite is with eggplant… It’s a layered dish, with your rice dividing layers of meat/veggies, whatever you put in it.

There is a degree of technical difficulty, as you have to flip the whole thing over onto a plate and end up with a beautiful stack of yummy layers.Garnish with nuts/parsley and I like to eat it with yogurt as well.

That’s pretty much all the information you can trust me for on this one, as I failed in this endeavor on many levels.

But, in the effort  be transparent, lest anyone think I really am as perfect as I seem……

I give you……my failure

eeewwww, oily eggplant

 

Things started out well enough, until I used about 6 cups of oil to fry up one eggplant because the oil just kept disappearing with each eggplant slice I added to the pan. I did salt the slices like instructed, and also rinsed off the salt (which I guess I shouldn’t have) . I patted dry, but didn’t squeeze it dry….apparently this matters.

I didn’t have cardamom, a key ingredient in the “spice mixture” used for the rice. I chose to plow ahead without.

I realized the recipe I used was complete, but probably I needed many more instructions….it was most likely geared to someone who had a clue about Arabic cooking and didn’t need hand holding.

At some point, I decided it must be done cooking…. so I turned off the burner and let it set about 15 minutes. Then I flipped it over onto a serving platter ever so carefully.

Major clue of failure: There is not supposed to be a big puddle of broth appearing around the base of my food tower

Clearly, it was not done….but it was too late to put it back in the pan. I chose to continue on my path of dinner destruction.

First, I drained the broth. Then I added fresh parsley and almonds with pine nuts to  mask the flavor garnish.

It doesn’t actually look too bad…..

How did it taste? Perhaps I needed to remember salt…. and less oil. Hmmm, did I burn the eggplant? Maybe a slice, or two…..

It wasn’t terrible…but it wasn’t great. Or even really good to be honest. The older kids got their dad to take them to dinner, and the poor little ones were stuck eating this with me. They made a valiant effort.

I did save some for the husband, the majority went into the garbage as there was no way anyone is going to be looking for leftovers of this stuff.

Here is what it looks like when made by someone with a clue:

chefosama.com

This is the actual photo from the recipe I used, from Chef Osama. He seems to know what he’s doing.

I’ll try it again, because I love it (when other people make it). I think next time I’ll just ask one of our relatives who not only cooks it well, but is aware of my deficiencies in the kitchen….. so they can give me all the little secret steps that might have saved me from feeding my family a brick of greasy eggplant tonight.

Thai and peanut heaven

If I had to pick a favorite kind of food, it would be Indian or Thai.

Unfortunately, cooking authentic Indian sauces requires a lot of ingredients and time and patience, most of which I lack. My neighbor is Indian and I once asked her if she knew how to make Matar Paneer, one of my favorites. She actually came over one day with a cute little bag of ingredients and cooked it FOR me. I watched, and wished I could have had the foresight to record her efforts on video because I will NEVER be able to duplicate it.

Thankfully, we have a great Indian place close by that can cater to my cravings and it’s only too spicy about 50% of the time….

Thai is another love. The peanut sauce….. it’s sooooooo good.

With my newfound calorie awareness, I was really excited when I stumbled across a recipe for Thai Chicken Skewers on Pinterest. There is this stuff called PB2. Powdered peanut butter…. it has 85% LESS fat calories than the good old peanut butter that I love eat off the spoon. Two tablespoons of powder has only 45 calories!  It’s just powdered peanuts, pressed to squeeze out the fat and oil. Anyway, that is how the peanut sauce in this recipe can taste so good, and also not kill you with extra calories. I got mine from Amazon, but I guess plenty of health food and even regular grocery stores carry it.

So here are the ingredients from emilybites.com, I highly recommend checking it, and her other recipes out.

Ingredients:

Chicken & Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (found by the Asian sauces)
  • Juice from one lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (Asian chili sauce found with the other Asian ingredients)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 ½ pounds (24 oz) raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
  • You’ll also need 9” skewers – if using wooden skewers you should soak them in water for about 30 minutes before use

Peanut Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons PB2 powdered peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

 

It’s so fast just to throw it all together. I double the amounts, using it for chicken, veggies, tofu. Great flavor even without marinating for longer than 20 minutes.

Ready to grill…….

Just off the grill……

Oh, the sauce……. it’s great on everything. You can play with the proportions, make it spicy or more mild to your taste. My kids love it. I love it. Life is good.

 

Desperation and dangerous deliciousness

I’m a snacker.

I love to have something sweet, especially when I’m up at night, enjoying my freedom from everyone else.

This is dangerous, because I no longer have the metabolism to support my shameless snacking. And I’ve developed a habit, a real habit for snacking on garbage.

So I went through all the cycles one must go through when confronting their snacking habit. I ignored it. I lied to myself about it. And to others, if they dared question where their mini snickers bar went. Really, why would  you even try to keep that where I could find it? I pretended if I just went back for ONE piece of candy, 50 times… that it was better than just grabbing the bag and eating all of it. Finally I admitted it. I had a problem.

So I thought I outsmarted my weak willed self, by not buying any candy! No snacks for me. No hidden licorice or jelly beans to grab. No chocolate covered anything. No mini chocolate donuts.

Sigh.

That lasted a couple days. And tonight I’m scavenging for something. Anything to feed this craving. No, I don’t WANT an apple, or a yogurt, or peanuts…. or any of the completely delicious and healthy things I force my kids to snack on every day.

No.

I want sugar, the kind that puts holes in your teeth. The kind that pulls out your fillings, sweet, chewy, delicious and bad for you. And I have NONE.

So on my 3rd round through the cabinets, looking for any morsel that may have been hidden too well from myself…. I find my fix. Delicious and gummy, coated in sugar. How did I not notice these before? And assorted fruit flavors! It might just work.

gummy

So happy to be vitamin D deficient right now. Don’t even talk to me about the dangers of overdose… I’m a medical professional, I’ve got this covered.

A taste of my life

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I love food.

I think about it a lot, and recently realized that so many of my important memories and “great moments” have been cemented in my head partly because of their association with my digestive system.

Not just those stolen moments with a bag of little chocolate donuts… of which there are many…..

but really significant and special moments.

Like being 4 years old. Kneeling on a chair in the kitchen as Grandma rolls out the dough to make noodles for her chicken soup. I can smell the flour, feel it spread over the cheesecloth she had covering the table; cool, smooth, whispery between my fingers, the dough soft and eggy. Grandma in her housedress, one of thousands it seemed. I can hear her voice talking to me, I can close my eyes and I am THERE. God, I miss her. And her soup.

My first trip to France, what else to do but literally eat my way through Paris?? We found the best gelato. Amazing. And it became necessary to stop and get more at that same gelato stand each day until we went home. I still pine for it, both the chocolate and the mango. It was too good for me to even try another flavor. Refreshing, yet somehow complex, like all things should be in Paris. We walked everywhere there, ate crepe’s from a street vendor (of course!), took a very long walk to the Sacre Coeur, and found a delightful candy shop along the way. Finished our walk eating from a bag of bulk candy and ended with an amazing view and black licorice breath.

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Oh, there are the bad associations of course. Who could ever forget the flavor of mom’s steak teriyaki after tasting it at dinner…..and then repeatedly during the night as the entire family shared a delightful gastroenteritis. I won’t. I won’t ever forget that taste. And I will never eat it again. We always remember what that last meal was before our GI tract shifts into a hard reverse….

No photo necessary.

I think it must be true that when we really experience a moment using all of our senses, including taste,  that moment stays with us. Forever I hope… at least the good moments.