E was going to be for Eggplant, but as I started looking at recipes I discovered the only ones I was willing to make all involved battering and frying the stuff. And then I remembered. I don’t like eggplant.
In keeping with last week’s Japanese themed vegetable I decided E is for Edamame. I considered just eating steamed edamame for 7 nights and calling it a day, but I looked out on the interwebs and there was a few edamame recipes I thought I could try.
Even Julia Child burned the meatloaf every now and again, right?
My original plan for Sunday was to make Edamame Fresca as a side dish.When I read the recipe at 4 o’clock and saw the phrase, “refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight,” I had to change my plan. I decided that Risotto with Edamame, Lemon Zest and Tarragon would work. I can sum this recipe up in three words – too much tarragon. It overpowered everything and made the first couple bites jarring. I made a substitution of mirin rice wine for the dry white wine. I thought it might make the risotto a little sweeter, but with the overpowering tarragon I couldn’t tell.
I must have paid too much attention to the risotto, because when I pulled the meatloaf out of the oven it was burnt on the edges and very dry. The real cause is probably that I’ve been experimenting with the meatloaf adding puréed vegetables and I haven’t figured the exact chemistry yet.
It was only a quarter inch of snow people.
Seems to be a week of changing plans. during the long summer months here in Minnesota people forget how to drive in the snow. As a result the traffic on Monday night was….stupid. Making my bus over 40 minutes behind schedule. By the time I got home I abandoned the plan to make Quick Edamame Soup from the Witchy Kitchen. Even this Quick recipe was still going to take about a half an hour to make, so instead of soup and sandwiches we just had sandwiches. I’ll probably make the soup eventually, but it might be time to stop making plans.
One of the first recipes that came up when I started searching was this one for Edamame Guacamole. It kind of makes sense. Avocados are green; edamame are green. It is a basic recipe for guacamole with edamame added in. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of water and I used milk instead to make it a little creamier. The jalapeño I added could have had a little more kick, but it was still delicious.I could have easily eaten the whole bowl of guac just dipping chips into it, but I restrained myself.
I have a couple more recipes planned, we’ll see how that goes.
I’m guessing most of the people who read this are familiar with daikon, but for the few of you reading this who aren’t related to me or didn’t go to high school with me in Japan I’ll explain. Daikon is Japanese for “large”(dai)”root”(kon) and it is a white radish that is pretty ubiquitous in Japanese food. It is possible that our trip to Tokyo over the summer made this my first thought for the week of D.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do with these, but once again after I started looking at recipes I couldn’t wait to start cooking. not surprisingly recipes using daikon require some different ingredients than recipes using carrots.
Last weekend as I was driving to my fifth grocery store trying to find some new ingredients I had mixed feelings. A combination of “It’s good to be back.” and “Why did I decide to do this again?”
The first recipe I made was a simple one. I guess I didn’t want to leave the carrots behind so I made a mixture of roasted daikon, carrots, and red pepper that I found on Sarah’s Cucina Bella website. They were pretty tasty and made a good addition to the steak and Hell’s Kitchen Mac and Cheese.
With Thanksgiving this week I wanted to make a side dish using daikon that would be worthy of sitting next to the turkey and stuffing. When I was researching carrot recipes I came across a recipe in the smitten kitchen cookbook for honey and harissa farro salad. The recipe calls for roasted carrots and parsnips. I decided to replace the parsnips with daikon and make this my Thanksgiving dish. Before I unleashed it on my relatives I decided to make the dish for our meal on Monday. One of the ingredients I was driving all over for last weekend was something called harissa. Deb from the smitten kitchen describes harissa as a “North African chile paste that has become so popular, we were tickled to find it all over tables in Paris two years ago, right next to the Dijon mustard.” I guess it isn’t popular enough to come to Minnesota. I went to three African markets and none of them had heard of it. I ended up making my own harissa using a recipe that she recommended on a blog called the Wednesday Chef. I didn’t think my version of this spicy paste was too potent. Kira disagreed so I went easy on it when I made the dressing for the farro salad. I added a good sprinkle of salt and pepper to my portion and the salad passed our Monday appraisal. The carrots and daikon didn’t quite work in my opinion, but the dressing was great and Kira and I both liked the farro grain. I had the dish as leftovers the next day for lunch and finished all of it. When I had the dish again on Thanksgiving day it tasted the same, but really didn’t seem to go with the other dishes.
I learned two things from my cooking this week. First I need to limit myself to 3-4 new recipes and second I should probably blog as a I go. With that in mind I am just going to sum up the last few recipes.
On Wednesday I made a dish I found called Daikon steak. The recipe I found was really just a description so I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I wasn’t sure how long to boil the daikon before sautéing it. I guessed about 15 minutes and that seemed to work out. With the melted cheese I knew the “steaks” would be a little heavy so I served them with some baked talapia and some brown rice. I’d have to say this dish was the winner for me this week – which is not surprising since it was fried and covered in cheese. The daikon was really just a vehicle.
There were two other daikon recipes I had to squeeze into a busy holiday weekend. The first was a dried daikon and shitake mushroom dish that sounded very easy and tasty. My problem was that I couldn’t find any dried daikon. I decided to just shred some fresh daikon as a substitute. The results were…edible. It mostly tasted like soy sauce, but it was a little slimy and just didn’t look appetizing. I ran out of dinners to add this to so I just cooked it up on Friday as part of lunch. It looked a lot like sauerkraut so I added a brat to the meal; so it wasn’t a total loss.
Lastly I made some miso soup for breakfast this morning using the recipe from the Spoonriver cookbook called Tim’s Miso soup. The soup was good, but it wasn’t the classic miso soup I was expecting. I left out the cabbage it called for, which was a wise choice because even with this omission it felt like it had too much stuff in it. Miso soup should be simpler. I have most of a container of miso paste in my fridge so I will probably experiment with it a bit.
I am pleased to report that even with the Thanksgiving feast and my traditional leftovers eggs benedict I still made my weight loss goal for the week. I will confess that I had to practically stick a fork in my leg to keep myself from going back for seconds on Thanksgiving.
I admit I was worried about picking carrots because I thought it might be boring. Then I started looking at recipes and I couldn’t wait to start cooking.
I started the week off with something simple, Honey Glazed Carrots. I mostly used the recipe from the Commonsense Kitchen by Tom Hudgens, but I changed a couple of things. I used about twice the amount of honey and butter he called for and I added some minced parsley for color. The carrots made a great side dish for our meatloaf and mac & cheese. To keep with the carrot theme I grated a couple of carrots and mixed them into the meatloaf. I should point out that this was my only contribution to making the meatloaf, Michael mixed everything else together and put the pan in the oven.
On Monday I made carrot soup using a recipe from the Spoonriver cookbook. I was a little worried when it came out looking a lot like baby food, but it was quite tasty and the only “bad” ingredient is a tablespoon of peanut oil. To go with the soup we had turkey melts with Swiss cheese and carrot-top pesto.
When I bought the bunch of carrots you see in the picture it was mostly for show, but when I starting cutting them up for Sunday night dinner I realized that almost half of what I had purchased was the greens.
They had to be good for something. I did a quick search and found this recipe for roasted carrots with carrot-top pesto. I skipped the roasted carrot part and used the pesto for our turkey sandwiches. Even though there was one cup of carrot-top greens and only a 1/4 cup of basil it tasted like you would expect pesto to taste.
I had a couple other things planned, but I wasn’t home for dinner much of the week. I did manage to sneak in one more carrot recipe by making brunch for Kira and I on Saturday. One of the first carrot recipes I found when I started looking is a recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog for carrot cake pancakes with cream cheese topping. I’m not going to try to out blog her on these so you can check out her version for the full recipe. It was just me and Kira, so I cut the recipe in half. I made sure I included the raisins and walnuts that Deb considers to be optional. In fact if I made them again I would double the amount of walnuts and maybe dial down the carrots a little. It was hard to judge the carrots and I think I used too many because the pancakes were very wet. Kira and I both agreed the pancakes were good, but maybe not as amazing as I was hoping for.
I am happy to report that even with all of this delicious food and eating out for dinner four times this week I still made my weight loss goal (and then some). I had some pretty small lunches to make up for the dinners and I made myself go running on Saturday and Sunday even though it was less than 20º both days.
There is a myth that World War II, the UK developed high-carotene carrots in order to enhance the night vision of their pilots. However, this was done as a disinformation campaign to fool the Germans into thinking this was the reason for bomber losses (instead of the actual reason… British Radar). After the war this myth (carrots improve night vision) persisted. Unless an individual has a vitamin A deficiency, eating huge amounts of carrots will have no effect on vision (night vision or otherwise). – from Random Carrot Facts by Swampy Acre Farms
“Wow! You’ve put on some weight!”
This was the greeting I got from my mother when she visited us last May.
What stung worse – she was right. At the time of that visit I weighed the most I ever have.
Until I was in my 30′s I pretty much ate whatever I liked and relied on my awesome metabolism to keep things in check. Even with this very sound nutrition plan I added a couple of pounds every year and by age 34 I didn’t fit into any of my clothes from college. So I ran a marathon 10 years ago and it got me back down to a weight where my wedding ring would still come off. From there I started creeping back up a few pounds every year and every now and again I would realize it and do some more running.
In 2011 I did something amazing and fun and delicious and I gained some weight along the way. The year after I decided to run another marathon and get rid of my Hell’s Kitchen weight, but something weird happened. I trained most of the year, ran some half marathons, and ran a full 26.2 mile marathon, but I didn’t lose any weight. I didn’t gain any weight that year either, but it was a little unfair to do all that running and not lose anything. Of course I was still eating whatever I wanted, which now included the occasional meal with Hollandaise sauce ,homemade mayonnaise, and my secret weapons in all my recipes – cream and butter.
I didn’t do much running after the marathon and when my parents come to visit eight months later I was popping buttons off my shirt.
In June I made it a goal to go running every day and I think I only missed twice. I also tried to eat a little less and I lost about ten pounds – proving that I still have a decent metabolism, just not the same as when I was twenty. In July, I climbed a mountain and managed to lose about five more. I still weighed more than I had at the end of my year of cooking dangerously.
Since then I have managed to keep things about even keel with a bit of running and not eating too much. About a month ago I noticed the scale was creeping back up so I decided to just diet for one week. I halved my usual lunch, didn’t take seconds at dinner and skipped desserts. I also went running twice. That week I lost 1.5 pounds. It felt good.
I wanted to lose more and I did the math to figure out how long it would take me to get back to my weight from 10 years ago. If I could lose 1.5 pounds a week for 25 more weeks I would be there.
25 is not a very large number. It is easy to think about. I decided that if I could train several months to run a marathon I could certainly have enough willpower to diet for 25 weeks. As a bonus, 25 weeks from now happens to be very close to my 44th birthday.
So I did it for another week. And another. If I can stick to this little plan of mine for only 23 more weeks I will be the same weight as I was when I was 34.
My entire diet plan is this – Eat less food. Try to exercise a little.
For the last two weeks I have managed to make this work through sheer will power, but I don’t know if I can keep it up for 23 more weeks. I went running yesterday and thought about ways to keep my self distracted. I decided that I needed to add something new each week to make it interesting. 23 weeks left, what could I do each week? Maybe a new healthy recipe each week? Maybe a new diet tip that I take to the extreme each week? Hmmm….
And then it hit me like a Sue Grafton book dropping on my head – 23 is really close to 26. There are 26 letters in the alphabet. I could do a new “healthy” food each week based on a letter of the alphabet. I only have 23 weeks left, but I decided not to let that get in the way of a good idea. I would give myself a pass on X and I would consider A and B already done – voilà, now I am 23 letters left. [A and B seemed like they would be boring anyway, I mean I probably ate an Apple two weeks a go and I had a banana for breakfast almost every day this last week. Where is the challenge?]
I liked the idea so much I decided I would blog about it. It should also keep me honest and serve as another distraction.
Tune in next week to C how it is going.