Friday, September 25, 2009

entertaining an army

I've made a progressive sequence of meals over the past few days. On Tuesday night I made Punjabi Peppers and Tofu so that we wouldn't have any leftovers (and it worked brilliantly). On No-Cook-Wednesday, I just heated up what was left of the corn bisque I made earlier in the week and threw in some leftover rice to calm the flavor of the nutmeg. I continue to be perplexed by how much heat that sprinkling added and I cannot find information anywhere on why nutmeg would make soup bite me.

Last night I made Vegetable Etoufee (pronounced eh-too-FAY) from One Dish Vegetarian Meals by Robin Robertson. Etoufee is french for "smothered" which refers to the thick tomato-based roux in which the vegetables simmer. This dish is apparently standard Cajun fare, although it normally includes shrimp or crayfish (straight out of the Louisiana bayous?).
Yesterday was a hungry day. Mister thinks it's because we don't eat a normal dinner on Wednesdays, but I don't think that explains all of the other Thursdays that weren't hungry days. I had a bigger breakfast than usual and thought to myself, "surely, this will hold me through training until I can have a snack." I had a meeting right when I got to work and went from there directly into my training class. I got about an hour into the training and realized I was so hungry that I felt weak and wasn't sure I was making sense. Miraculously, I finished the module I was teaching and then unloaded my trainees on the more seasoned agents they would be shadowing until lunch time. I immediately ate my gnu bar (more on that later) and to my profound disappointment discovered that I actually felt hungrier than I did before I ate it! I thought, "oh, my body just needs a minute to realize I ate something," but about 5 minutes later I was still so hungry I was becoming nauseated and shaky. Against my better judgment, I went to the cafeteria and bought an iced tea, a banana, and a "home-made" granola bar. After wolfing down the banana and granola bar, I finally felt better and made it through the next couple of hours until lunch. I happily slurped up my big bowl of soup and was good to go for a little longer. About halfway home, though, I realized I was starving again. I'm pretty good about recognizing my body's symptoms and it usually gives me a little more warning before going into full-on we're-never-going-to-eat-again panic mode, but when I say I was starving I was seriously hungrier than I've been in a long time. In fact, I couldn't even think about cooking dinner until I had eaten a piece of bread with my Dark Chocolate Dreams PB on it. The point I'm trying to make is this: I made Vegetable Etoufee because it was the fastest-cooking meal on my menu.

On to the next! Although we do have a decent amount of last night's dinner to make into upcoming days' lunches (probably 2), the sheer volume of tonight's meal amazed even me. At least I know what I can make the next time I have to feed an army (or my husband's side of the family). Tonight I made the imaginatively named Penne Pasta with Fresh Veggies from The Vegan Table. The yield was even huger than Isa's Seitanic Jambalaya - see for yourself!

That's the biggest pot I have and the food comes up to the handles! I got this recipe from the section of Colleen's book she intends for dinners with 4-6 people. I think she's assuming they will all have seconds (maybe thirds) and not eat any of the clever side dishes or appetizers also on the menu/table. I had 2 of those servings and Mister had 4 (he must have really liked it!) and we still had about 3.5 qts of leftovers. I got an idea of how much bigger this dish was than I thought it would be when I was prepping the vegetables and they filled a 2.5 qt bowl to the top.

Anyway, it was very tasty - the penne was only one ingredient, equal with the rest due to their abundance. This will probably be a good dish to bring to family dinners, potlucks, and any USO shows I do when I'm famous.

I constructed and shopped for this week's menu today - it was a gorgeous day for walking around my neighborhood.

1. Fusion Enchiladas from Clean Eating Magazine. This magazine is awesome, though admittedly "out there" sometimes. The basic principle is to fuel your body well by eating minimally processed, whole foods. I can dig. This recipe actually calls for beef sirloin, but I have some tricks up my sleeve.

2. Two-Bean Soup with Kale, with Cheese-Tomato Toasts
from Cooking Light Magazine. I don't have anything witty to say about this yet.

3. Pomegranate Saute on Cinnamon Bulghur - it's time to use up those last 5 peanuts. I might give it a tropical twist with some pineapple juice this time around, if I don't feel like hunting down apple juice. It's harder than it sounds!

4. Five-Spice Vegetables & Tofu with Green Tea Rice - and this time, if I actually use the 5-Spice powder instead of ground cloves, I'll actually post the recipe!

5. Brazilian Black Bean Stew from Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook. There's a story here, too. First of all, I think it's awesome that this soup recipe calls for chunks of mango. Second of all, mangos appear to be at the peak of ripeness right now. Finally, a friend of mine actually took a picture on his vacation with his wife that made me crave this soup. You know those little cards they stick up on posts next to soup tureens to let you know what kind of soup is inside and what's in the soup? He saw a Vegan Black Bean Soup card and thought it would be funny to send me a picture, so I thought, "I haven't made that incredible (and beautiful) black bean stew in a while..." Isn't that a heartwarming story?

I expect to post more frequently (really???) in October. I'm going to be taking part in Vegan Month of Food III, aka VeganMoFo 2009. I'm also considering going vegan for the month as an experiment, and as part of the detox effort I mentioned earlier. I guess that means I'll have to get the soup with cheese toasts out of the way before Thursday, as well as my cupcakes.
By the way - I am completely unimpressed with Gnu Food bars. They had them at the register at Whole Foods, so I figured I'd give them a try. Well, I've tried three and I didn't like any of them.
1. they don't taste very good
2. they have a gritty texture and hard bits that stick between my chewing teeth. I don't appreciate that.
3. they're twice as expensive as any of the bars I do like (PS I got another box of Nectar Cacao bars today)
4. not only do they not satisfy my hunger, they seem to enhance it!

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