thistlechaser: (Bright fruits)
I ate the other half of the batch this morning, and it was just as good as yesterday. So sitting made in the fridge for 24 hours extra doesn't hurt it at all. In fact, I liked the walnuts better this time, they seemed more a part of the oatmeal than something just tossed on top.

This is good news, as I can make a larger batch (using a whole banana at once) and then divide it out each day.

Sure do wish I had saved more of it yesterday. I hope I can reproduce this and make it this well again. Mmmm.
thistlechaser: (Cat shrimp (hungry now?))
Usually I eat the same breakfast every day: A Quest protein bar. They're very yummy, but quite expensive, and as I like to also have one in the evening after dinner, I somehow got up to eating two of them in a day. So I was poking around, looking for other (cheap, low calorie) breakfast options. The fact that I don't like eggs much restricts things further.

I subscribe to The Hungry Girl's diet newsletters. And while I don't often have much success with her recipes, when I saw the no cook oatmeal idea, I was interested to try it. A GIANT helping of oatmeal for 300 calories? Especially when the oatmeal has fruit, nuts, yogurt, milk and other stuff in it? I was willing to give it a try!

Then I made it, and I started to have serious second thoughts. Who wants to eat oatmeal straight from the fridge? Cold and probably wallpaper paste-like? But I had made it, so I brought it to work -- worse comes to worst, I could toss it out and eat one of my Quest bars.

But know what? This is absolutely delicious! (Except when I get a bite where I didn't mix the yogurt in enough, those are kind of icky.)

Somehow that it's cold doesn't matter, it almost seems like it works better cold. Even though I had no maple extract, it still tastes pretty darned close to banana bread. Yummy!

Recipe and notes back here. )
thistlechaser: (Hammer time)
It's very very rare to have your customer service experience exceed even your hopes. I have a growing number of issues with Amazon, but their customer service is not one of them.

I bought a new cooling pad/fan setup for my laptop through them, same one as my previous now-dying one. By happy chance, there was a $10 rebate on it... but only on the version with "fustration-free" packaging, not traditional packaging. Odd, but I like fustration-free packaging better anyway, so that was fine. I suspected that might become a problem when it came to the rebate, and it turned out I was right.

The rebate required the UPC code from the packaging. Fustration-free packaging = no packaging.

Last thing before bed last night, I emailed Amazon asking them if they could send me a replacement code. I suspected they wouldn't/couldn't do that and I'd have to ask firmly for a $10 refund on the price instead.

This morning I woke up to an email saying they issued me a $10 refund and apologized for the trouble. I know $10 is nothing to Amazon, but a lot of companies would dig in their heels and at least make me jump through hoops/demand the refund. It was a nice surprise that they just gave it to me.

--

Pork bellies, on the other hand, are NOT a nice surprise. I was in Trader Joe the other day, looking for food I could make during the week. Wandering the meat section, I saw a box of pork belly. The only thing I knew about it previously was that it's something they talk about on those morning farm reports in the midwest -- I was kind of surprised that it was not only a real thing, but that I was encountering it here in California.

The box made it look just like loin of pork -- mostly white (cooked) pork meat with just a tiny layer of golden fat at the top. Precooked, all you needed to do was "brown and eat". Seemed perfect, so I bought it.

When I got it home, I opened the box. Any appetite I had vanished. It was covered in a thick layer of... goo. I have no idea what it was. The more detailed version of the instructions said you had to wash that goo off. Whatever the hell it was, it stuck to my hands like nothing else. Greasy, slimy, seriously gross.

The meat under the goo looked no better. I know pictures on boxes lie, but this was like putting a picture of a roasted turkey on it when the box really contains a rock. The meat was more than 90% fat. Not just fat, it had a really gross texture? to look at. Just so disgusting.

However, it had been semi-expensive (what at Trader Joe's isn't?) so I figured I should at least try it. I cut off the least fatty part I could find (still more than 50% fat) and fried it up.

Fat is flavor, and bacon is wonderful, so how in the world did this stuff have no flavor? Gross, gross, gross. I threw most of it out, but what little I ate made me feel sick for the rest of the day.

So the lesson for today: Unless you're trading in them, avoid pork bellies.
thistlechaser: (Cat sushi)
Because I confused the movie Spaceballs with Meatballs, there's a Spaceballs quote for a post about cooking meatballs. Please join the line to the left if you'd like to file a complaint.

Related: Reading quotes from Meatballs when you were thinking you were reading about Spaceballs leads to much confusion. Quite a different tone to the movies!

Anyway, meatballs. After being unable to make them with the Blue Apron stuff, I was determined to do them on my own. How hard could it be? Meat. Balls. I can do both!

Dangerously, I worked without a recipe. The Blue Apron one had been so easy (meat + bread crumbs + spice, then fry), I figured I could do it myself just fine.

And for once I was right!

Hamburger meat + some Panko breadcrumbs (only kind I had) + salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian spices, then into what was probably a too hot pan. On one hand, it smoked worryingly, on the other, my meatballs were nice and crisp on all sides.

Because I was making them myself, I could make them how I like them. I hate big meatballs. And the giant ones? Ugh! To me, the crisp outside is the best and the inside is blah, so why not make them basically all outside? So I did! Nice and small little meatballs, crisp and good.

My only mistake was that I ate them all in one sitting. I had had two small hamburgers worth of meat, so it wasn't terribly excessive, but I had intended to save some for later. I'll probably make them again this coming weekend to use up the last of the (currently frozen) meat.

On an unrelated note, I hope I'm not getting sick. I haven't slept more than 3-4 hours a night since Saturday (bad sinuses, noisy neighbors all night and at 4 AM, and the damned birds chirp nonstop from 4:45 on). Now my throat hurts and my eyes burn. I hope it's just allergies. Knowing my medical record so far in 2014, if I get sick it'll likely be the Plague or Smallpox or Anthrax or something.
thistlechaser: (Bright fruits)
Recipe here.
Time: About 30 minutes (goal!)
New foods: Whole wheat spaghetti (though had whole wheat pasta before in other forms)

This was the recipe I was least looking forward to. I've never had any success with whole wheat pasta, it always ended up tasting too heavy and thick and just ruining anything I put with it. I don't recall ever having zucchini and it's not really high on my list of things to try. I've had pesto before (and liked it), but never with spinach.

Add onto that list that I've spent major time and effort cooking in the last couple days, and a MAJOR craving for pizza, and I almost tossed this whole thing out instead of trying it.

I decided to just make the pesto, then I could save it for some other time. Then I decided to cook half of the pasta just to see what it was like. I was going to combine the two, but that ended up not happening. After the pasta was cooked, I added a little butter to it and tried it. It hadn't tasted anything like it had previously, it tasted "normal", so I decided to just eat it that way.

I'm starting to question how healthy these meals are. Even without the zucchini, less than half of the pasta was a big heap of it on a normal sized dinner plate -- probably three to four times as much pasta as one should have in a meal.

So, even though I ate some of it, I have to call this one a fail. Bad track record for this week! Next week should be better.

I forgot to post the pictures with my first Blue Apron post, so belatedly here they are:

Everything sent for the week:

Those brown bags contain all the little things, like cheeses, spice mixes, little bottle of vinegar, etc. These are the fixings for three meals for two people, cost of $60. The box it was sent in was amazing, so strong! I'm going to keep as many as I can, to use in future movings. The cold packs were great, too -- wish I had a bigger freezer so I could keep them. All in all, the packaging of this stuff is really high quality and well done.

You get a nice recipe card for each one, laminated to protect it from kitchen messes:
thistlechaser: (2 cats 1 cup)
Recipe here.
Cooking time: 45 minutes (Blue Apron claims all can be made in 30 minutes, but I'm cooking challenged, so.)
Fire alarms set off: Almost one!
New foods tried: pistachios, wheat berries, shallot?

While I've never had wheat berries before, I wasn't worried about trying them -- I was actually looking forward to it. Turns out they're harmless, seemingly no different than steel-cut oatmeal.

I was kind of worried about trying pistachios; I've never had them before, but they're a green nut and that just didn't seem right. Turns out they're good!

I've seen shallots used on cooking shows, but as far as I know, I've never held one or eaten one.

Everything came out fine. My oven smoked like heck (maybe I used too much olive oil? I wish they'd say "drizzle a tablespoon..." instead of just "drizzle").

The salsa (can you call it that if I left out the jalapeno?) tasted outstanding in the bowl but too vinegary on the wheat berries. It was interesting having all that citrus mixed in with the berries, though I only ate about half the serving.

All in all, it was an okay meal. Not great, not horrible. I'm glad I got to try wheat berries, and I'm happy to discover I like pistachios.
thistlechaser: (Cat sushi)
3-Chile Beef Chili recipe.

As I posted about before, Blue Apron is a service that sends you everything you need to cook. Alas they don't send chopped garlic, instead sending you a head. Pain to do all the chopping yourself! Three meals a week, you get no choice in the meals.

Unfortunately this first week was a bad week for me meal-wise. I don't like spicy stuff, and all three had peppers in them. Also, they looked hard! But Blue Apron claims it takes 30 minutes to make, so we'll see.

The chili took me almost an hour to make, though 12 minutes of that was letting it simmer, which gave me a chance to clean the kitchen up.

Seeing how even Taco Bell's plastic cheese is too spicy for me (and anything else on their menu is spicy to the point where I can't eat it at all), I left out one of the three chiles (the one for "medium heat") and used only half of the other two. I used a very very small fraction of the spice blend. (If my recipe card had had a list of what was in those spices like the online version does, I might have used more.)

Turns out the flavor is actually quite nice. However, one reason I wanted to start with this one is that I've never had beans before (I know, I know) and I really wanted to try them. The texture is odd, but I could sort of handle that. The issue was the size/shape of them and how they could move around whole in my mouth. It was freaky and weird and I didn't like it at all. It doesn't for a moment help that I'm currently marathoning Hannibal and he eats the organs of people (and feeds them to others) and these look like little organs. Ugh!

I also tried avocado for the first time (horrible Californian that I am), I think I liked it? I didn't try it straight, just as part of the chili. There was very little I could use from the one they sent though (I think). I think it must be supposed to be green, but this one was mostly brown inside. I should have tried it straight, but I was having both beans and chili for the first time ever, and I couldn't bring myself to try another new thing.

If they send this again, I'll leave out the beans. The flavor is nice (I can't believe I'm saying that about something I made!), but I can't cope with the beans. :/ I think I might save some to try as lunch tomorrow, maybe sitting in the fridge overnight will change the texture. Or maybe mashing them up would work...
thistlechaser: (Cat with bandaid)
Happily I didn't freeze last night, though I can't say as much for Ellie New Cat. Poor girl kept trying to sleep on my bed, but I kicked her each time (not on purpose!). She bat-bat-batted my foot each time, then fled the bed.

I darned well hope I get heat back today. My apartment is really, really cold.

Sleep study is tonight! Eeek! But VERY HAPPILY I get to do it at home instead of sleeping there. I have an appointment today to pick up the equipment and learn how to use it, then use it tonight and drop it back tomorrow morning. Will take pictures if it's at all interesting! (This is my new icon for all things bariatric surgery-related. :D )

Also, I got my first Blue Apron box yesterday. (One of those services that sends you all the things you need to cook and directions on how.) The recipes are very long and I suspect I might not like any of them, but if not then hopefully next week will be better! I took pictures of all the stuff yesterday, but was so grumpy couldn't deal with editing them and writing up a post. When I cook the first meal, I will!

Happy Thing #13: I'm so behind on these! Alas it's not been a happy time this last, well, year. :P Anyway! The fanfic I'm reading makes me sooooo happy. Not only is it very well written, it does one of the things I really like: It doesn't rush! I'm about a book's worth into it (chapter 24 of 70-something), and the two main characters are barely friendly with each other. (In the canon one tried to kill the other, and the other tried to frame the first for a different murder -- total enemies!) I love it when enemies aren't in love by chapter two.

Happy Thing #14: They seem to have removed the candy bowls at work. They've been gone for a week now, so I kind of hope it's forever. On one hand, of course I love candy! Free and unlimited amounts! On the other, free and unlimited candy is hell on one's diet. I questioned adding this one as a happy thing, because it's sort of not happy too, but in the end I think I'm happier about it than unhappy. Yay not having to use my (very much lacking) willpower to resist free chocolate!
thistlechaser: (2 cats 1 cup)
Okay, so this pot roast is officially called Mississippi Pot Roast, but it should be named Paula Deen Pot Roast. Who in their right mind (other than obviously clueless me) puts a whole stick of butter into a pot roast?! Why did I not question that BEFORE making it?

Ugh.

On the plus side, at least it came out tasting somewhere in the fine-good-interesting range -- flavor varied bite by bite, so it's hard to pin it down closer than that. I'll finish it (over the next many meals), but I won't be making it again as-is (and likely not a variation of it).

The so-called "gravy" was about 50% grease/melted butter. I skimmed off as much as I could and stuck the rest in the fridge. Tomorrow hopefully I can remove the rest and maybe make real gravy out of it (I've seen it done tons of times, never did it myself).

I keep forgetting I'm really not much of a beef fan (other than in burger form). Don't ask me how I keep forgetting that, but every time I cook beef I remember.

I need to use my crock pot more. Cleanup is so easy!

Interestingly, the onions basically disappeared. A whole big onion's worth of them!
thistlechaser: (Hmmm (catboy))
Listen up, brain. I know DST kicked our ass this year, but that should be responsible for ONE hour of lost sleep, not FIVE. Two nights of two hours of broken sleep after a night of four hours sleep is unacceptable. Straighten up and sleep at night or I'll replace you with a sack full of kittens.

No love,
Thistle

I have to stop buying kitchen toys. None of them work out for me and it's just a waste of money.

Soda Stream: Used a few times, bought some flavors, then stopped using it. I should try using up more of the flavors, but nothing I make tastes right (and it's not like it's a complex recipe or something -- carbonate the water and squirt a measure of flavor liquid in). If someone were a fan of knock-off, store brand sodas, I suppose they'd love Soda Stream.

Panini Maker: Okay, the failing with you was totally my fault. I should have realized that the reason "professional" paninis taste so good is that they're dripping with oil, thus they get a really crunchy, fried exterior. Not wanting to make food dripping in oil, you are nothing more than an annoying-to-clean toaster. I take that back, sandwiches I make on toast come out better than sandwiches I make in you. Plus did I mention you're really annoying to clean?

Crock pot: Okay, I like you, this is a request and not a complaint. It makes me nervous leaving things running while I'm off at work. Please don't burn my apartment down. Also, if you'd make my pot roast yummy, I'd appreciate it. The ingredients were expensive ($15, though I have enough white wine vinegar to last me the rest of my life), so I'd like to get a few good meals out of it.

I changed my mind about reading another Michael Grant book next. The thing is, whatever I read after a great series I'll enjoy less, because it's not that great series. I didn't want to unfairly dislike a book that I might otherwise like, so I took something from the bottom of my To Read pile. The third oldest book there, Enclave. A banner on the Amazon page tells me I bought it on July 6, 2011.

I was surprised that I'm actually liking it. Often things sink to the bottom of the pile for a reason, though sometimes not. (The Chaos Walking series was near the bottom, and that turned out to be the best thing I read in 2013.)

I was kind of looking to read something lighter after the darkness that was Gone, but Enclave turns out to not be all light and roses. It's set after the end of the world(?? after another world war?) and people are trying to survive underground.
thistlechaser: (Girl with flowers)
Long story short: New infection. Doctor had to make new holes in my toe to help drain things. Hurts like heck, but that's fine so long as I don't have to go back to the hospital. It's still MRSA, but it's the "good" (weaker) form of it. On new antibiotic.

In tastier news, I'm going to make this pot roast tomorrow. Looks easy to make, and in my limited use, I've had good success with envelopes of powder. It's all put together in the fridge now, ready to plug in tomorrow morning. I'm a tad worried what the vinegar might do sitting with the onions for 12 hours (I poured it down the side instead of on the meat), but I forgot to hold it off to the side, so we'll see. Hopefully it won't transmute the onions into some form of toxic sludge or something. Cooking, so challenging. (But seriously, how do people learn about things like that? I doubt many people say hey, let's pour vinegar on various vegetables for 12 hours and see what happens!. How does one learn what's a horrible mistake and what's only minorly bad or what's okay? Vinegar is an acid and onions are strong in something harsh, I'd think mixing the two for long periods of time might be bad. Or maybe I'll get pickled onions! Seriously, cooking, so challenging.)

I hate finishing good books. I've been sad all day, knowing there was no more of the Gone series to read. Luckily he's written a crapton of other books, so I'm going to check some of them out. He and his wife are the authors of all the Animorphs books, as well as some Sweet Valley series (not High, a sidebranch of it) -- those aren't going to be the ones I check out, but just evidence of how prolific the two of them are. Though, hmm, I've never read any of the Animorphs book, so maybe I'll check one out?
thistlechaser: (Cat in wine)
I see a nutritionist once a month. Not totally by choice, but I need to, so. One of the goals we set was me cooking twice a week. With my mother here (and cooking nightly) there was no chance or reason to, so this week is my first week of trying it. I had intended to cook last night, but I had leftover Chinese food so it got pushed off until tonight.

I poked around online for an easy recipe, perhaps one in the crock pot. I decided on:

Pork chops
Packet of ranch dressing
Can of cream of chicken soup
Stick in the crock pot on low for four hours or so.

In an effort to be healthier, I got "heart healthy" (low sodium) soup. The regular stuff has a whole day's worth of sodium in one can.

Once I was putting those things together I paused, wondering how in the world it was going to taste. Turned out it was pretty okay. It tasted neither like ranch nor like chicken/soup, it just tasted sort of okay. A tiny tiny bit tangy (which surprised me, the recipe was for 6 pork chops, I used 2, so I worried it would be too strong). I wouldn't make it again, but I ate it tonight and I'll eat the other one tomorrow night. (Edit: Must remember to remove all fat from pork chops before putting them into the crock pot.)

Must shop and find something to cook for the weekend. Also, must find things like side dishes or something (my dinner was a pork chop, period). Also, no more 'cream of...' things.

Toe/medical: I'm trying not to be too depressed or distressed, though I feel like jumping out a window. I have an infection in my toe (ingrown toenail), same side as my bad leg. I went to the doctor yesterday and got antibiotics, but she has no idea which one (if any) will work, since I had basically all of them in my system within the last month. (Isn't that a scary thought? I had every single antibiotic that exists in me, except one.)

The doctor wasn't worried, so I'm trying not to be, but all I can think about is it getting really bad and spreading up to my leg, causing that to flare up again. I swear to god, I cannot go back to the hospital. My leg has to finish getting better, not worse. It still looks like I have the plague, all the skin is in the process of replacing itself, it's really dark/grey/red blotchy. Even if I had the energy I couldn't go swimming -- rightfully people would not want me in the pool with them, I look contagious with some horrible thing.

I try to be chipper and happy, especially at work, but I just can't deal with more medical stuff. It's only been 24 hours of taking antibiotics (3 pills total). While the net has no exact figure on how long it takes antibiotics to work, every site I looked at listed something more than a day. I will not panic yet that it's not looking any better.

(I don't know why the doctor only gave me pills instead of cutting the nail like they had last time I had an infected ingrown one. I'm assuming because of the issues with my body and antibiotics, she didn't want to expose me to more potential infection than necessary.)
thistlechaser: (Moon)
Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

One of my big problems with food/diets is that I can't cook. I've solo-cooked only a small handful of successful meals in my adult life. Now and again, in an attempt to change that, I buy a new cookbook.

I love watching The Chew (a talkshow hosted by chefs), and so when one of the put out a cookbook that seemed like it would work for me, I gave it a try. Michael Symon's 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners. I was especially hopeful since it got so many good reviews.

I made my first meal from it tonight, and quite unsurprisingly, it didn't work out. Cause was a lack of knowledge on my part more than the book or the recipe.

Also, amusingly, it took me more than five minutes just to deal with the garlic (was supposed to slice it, I ended up chopping it), let alone make the whole meal. Took me nearly a half-hour to make a five minute meal.

Anyway, it was pasta with sauce. Sauce called for a tablespoon of crushed red peppers. I don't like spicy things, so I cut it down to a teaspoon. (I didn't think I could totally leave it out, I didn't want it to be flavorless.) Turned out it was too spicy for me to eat. Whole big pan of sauce had to be tossed out, blah. I didn't even have a jar of sauce backup, so dinner was pasta with a little butter and some parmesan cheese. Rather tasteless and blah. Wish I had bought a second can of tomatoes, so I could try it again tomorrow without the pepper.

Lesson learned, I guess. Just wish it hadn't cost me my dinner.

TV: Now's the time of year for Top Ten lists. Top Ten TV shows, movies, whatever. A couple lists mentioned ABC's Scandal, and Netflix has it, so today I checked it out.

At first I was in love with it, but by the end of the first ep I was meh on it. I enjoyed the powerful female main character and the seriously fast pace, but then that same woman crumpled into tears because an ex-lover backed her into a corner and forced a kiss onto her. This was a woman who had all of Washington DC wrapped around her finger. I disliked the other female main character (the new girl), she was way too much like that Skye character in Agents of SHIELD that I hated.

I'm semi-watching the second ep, but I don't think I'll watch further than that. I like the idea of the show, but not what they're doing with it.

And a New Year's gift for everyone! Or, well, everyone who likes breasts. Can't have too many breasts, right?

Last wacky image of 2013! (NWS) )

It's like some strange kind of exotic fruit!
thistlechaser: (Smiling Big Ham Burger)
A while back, when I gave up meat, I still had hamburgers ("hamburgers") -- I'd order it with everything I wanted on it, just hold the meat. At the time I said I didn't miss it, that I hardly noticed the change in flavor at all. People scoffed at me, but it was true.

So it shouldn't have surprised me that, when I tried my first turkey burger today, I enjoyed it. Shouldn't have surprised me, but did. Not only did I enjoy it, it was probably the best burger I've had all year. I would never have guessed it was turkey. I'm trying to cut my consumption of red meat down to 1-2 times a week, so that I like turkey burgers is a great discovery.

Because cutting back on red meat isn't fun enough, I'm trying to cut back on sodium, too. (And add to that that I need to be low carb as well, and it becomes a great puzzle on what in the world I CAN eat.) So tonight I cooked. And, mind bogglingly, it came out well. Simple as pie, too!

Marinate a chicken breast in the juice of a lime, some olive oil (I used EVOO, if it matters), and garlic. (You were supposed to use black pepper as well, but somehow I forgot that. Clearly a recipe with five ingredients is just too challenging for me!) Leave it marinating in the fridge for a couple hours, then cook however you want (I baked it). Amazing. Not a single grain of salt on it, and it tasted really good. Somehow the lime took the place of salt and made it interesting. I used to salt everything, and I didn't miss it at all here.

I'm not aiming for 100% perfect all the time (for me, that's a recipe for failure), and there is a lot of give-and-take (turkey burgers are likely high in sodium), but there are lots of little changes that are easy enough to make. Little steps all add up.

PS: French fries with no salt aren't too bad if they're very hot out of the fryer. It breaks my heart that ketchup is very high in sodium, because I swear I could drink it straight from the bottle. Those things together mean it's easier to get fries and eat only a couple.
thistlechaser: (Cat in wine)
I haven't been trying to cook much. Failing means the loss of time and more money than eating out would cost me, so I've been taking the easy route lately. However, when I heard of Saute Express, I thought that might be what I needed.


(Not my image.)

The package comes with six foil-wrapped surprisingly large squares that have everything you need in them (just add meat). I had originally thought I might have to salt and pepper my chicken, but I forgot to do that (and turns out I didn't need to).

Unwrap one of the squares, toss it into a pan and let it melt, toss the chicken in, and that's it (other than turning it once, of course).

I used the garlic and herb one tonight (and have the Italian herb one on hand as well). While cooking, it smelled amazing, just like garlic bread. Unfortunately my chicken didn't get very brown, but know what? That didn't matter. It tasted as good as it smelled. It might have been the best non-fried chicken I ever had (and a lot better than most fried, too).

Seriously, I made enough for two meals, I was hoping to bring some for lunch tomorrow, but I couldn't stop eating it. I wanted to lick the plate.

The calories are low (70 per serving, two servings per square) and the carbs are tiny (2 per serving). It can be used for fish and pork as well as chicken. (I feel the need to add "This is not a paid advertisement" to this post!)

I'm almost sorry I bought the Italian herb kind as well, because the garlic was so so so good. If you can't cook, if you can cook, if you're in a hurry and need an easy meal, then you should try this out. It's silly, I'm full, but I want to go make more right now.
thistlechaser: (Moon)
Cooking success! I made apple cinnamon steel-cut oatmeal in the crock pot and it came out REALLY well. I used this recipe almost to the letter. When it was done, I added some raisins and a small drizzle of real maple syrup that had been gifted to me over Christmas and I was saving for something special. It tasted amazing. Easily the best oatmeal I ever had (which is damning with faint praise, I know). It tasted more like a dessert, like apple pie in a bowl. Not only did I finish my serving, I would have licked the bowl if I could have.

The one change I made to the recipe was not using cooking spray (I was using a crock pot liner so I thought it would be okay). Bad decision. Instead of getting seven servings, I got four. That's how much was stuck to the side of the liner. (And I think I was never happier to use a liner, I'd never have gotten the pot clean...)

So now I have three breakfasts waiting for me for later this week. It's amazing how cheap this was to make, too. Using the bulk bins at Sprout, I got about a cup and a half of oats for 50 cents. A lot of raisins (4-5 handfuls?) for 50 cents, too. I used almond milk which I had on hand (originally cost maybe $2 for the whole container, and I used about a quarter of it). Butter, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon I had on hand. The ground flax seed I got for free (with a free eye-roll from the checkout person tossed in) -- buying only a tablespoon of it, the plastic bag weighed more than the flax, so they didn't charge me for it. So for four breakfasts, I paid about $1.50 total (or $3, if you count the entire container of milk -- I'll be using more of it to heat the oatmeal up later in the week).

Books: The [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge has no real rules, everyone makes up their own. (Which in some cases annoys me. Some people read 300+ books a year... because they count comic books.) Last year I had to decide how to handle books I don't finish. Seemed fair to say if I read more than half, it would count. Less and it would not.

The Dragon Done It is one of the first ebooks I ever bought, and tied for the oldest in my To Read pile. I bought it because some author I liked had a short story in it. Plus I like fantasy, so hey. I hadn't known how much I disliked mystery books... or at least this sort of mystery. Nearly every story started with a man in his run-down office, gun in his drawer, as a "dame" walked in. He was always broke. The "dame" was always jaw droppingly beautiful. It was almost always raining. The detective always drank and had a great love of coffee. The "dame" was always trouble... (It annoys me just writing all that out!) So I only reached 20% in, and most of that skimming, so this book won't count towards the yearly total. I still wanted to make record of it here though.

Not fail book! I started one of my Library Challenge books ("read a memoir by someone you've never heard of"). Letters of a Woman Homesteader is a collection of letters by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. Published back in 1913 (which by chance also meets the challenge point "read a book published in 1913", though I'm not counting it for both), it's an incredible look into what the west was like back then. She was a young widow and a mother, who went west on her own (with her young daughter) because she didn't want to spend her life in the east washing other peoples' laundry.

If that sounds interesting, click the link! The book is free if you have a Kindle or Kindle app (or free in other formats elsewhere on the net). It's amazingly dated, but in this case that's not a bad thing (other than brief mentions of "niggers"). I had a really odd moment when she mentioned Jack London's books (they were published only ten years before she wrote her letters). It was a really strange feeling of connection with her.
thistlechaser: (WoW: Thistle with carrot)
Using the rest of the chicken and a spoonful of last night's sauce, I tried to rescue my homemade version of chicken satay. No go.

Cooked up the chicken in a pan. It had been cut for stir fry, which I think translates into "bits and pieces we ended up with after making other cuts" in supermarket lingo... yet they charge more for it than whole pieces. Being lazy (and disliking touching raw chicken) I had bought it.

While it cooked, I made the sauce. Peanut butter, soy sauce, some brown sugar, and a spoonful of the original sauce from the jar. Sort of but not closely following this recipe.

When I tasted it, something was wrong with it (soy flavor was too strong?). I added another spoonful of sugar and that helped. Note that by this point the sauce had two tablespoons of brown sugar as well as peanut butter. That was a darned lot more carbs than I wanted.

The sauce ended up better with the sugar, but still not good. I had a couple bites of the chicken and tossed the rest out.

This morning driving to work there was a news story on NPR about how a third to a half of the food produced in the world is wasted/thrown out. Boy did I feel guilty. (It still kills me that I had to throw out a whole turkey breast. What a waste. It could have fed a hungry family for days.) Problem is, if I have any hope of eating healthy, I have to keep cooking.

For my next attempt, I'm going to find a recipe and follow it exactly. I own quite a few cookbooks, I just need to pick something from one.
thistlechaser: (WoW: Thistle with carrot)
So sad! Last week I went to Thai food for the first time, and while I didn't hate it, I didn't like most of it... except one thing. The peanut sauce was amazingly yummy. Like crunchy peanut butter, just a little sweeter and a tiny tiny bit spicy. I couldn't stop thinking about it, so when in the supermarket, I grabbed a bottle. (I hadn't gone into this blind, I checked Amazon reviews first to find the best rated one.)

Today I bought some chicken so I could use it. Two things jump out at me:
1) It doesn't taste like peanuts at all. The heck? The sauce in the restaurant tasted just like peanut butter, only better.
2) It's way too spicy. It's not just spicy, it's tricky. When I first take a bite it seems fine, then a moment later my mouth is on fire.

As much as I hate wasting food, I find I have to throw mine out yet again. It's a wonder I even try cooking anymore!

That Thai restaurant wasn't too close to me, but I might have to go back just for the yummy sauce. :/
thistlechaser: (Cat shrimp (hungry now?))
Lasagna Cupcakes: Good food in need of a better name.

Today I made lasagna cupcakes, little mini personal lasagnas. They came out quite well!

Unfortunately I didn't follow the recipe closely, which I think is where the few problems came in. Instead of measuring things, I just put some in. Spoonful of this, sprinkle of that.

The other mistake I mad was not setting the timer. c.c Or rather, I set it, but forgot to push 'start'. Good thing my mental clock kept poking me to go check them, they were only a little darker on top than I would have liked.

Taste-wise they were good to me, but I suspect others would like more spice. (I made an addition to the recipe: I put some garlic powder on the burger meat while I was browning it.)

Alas mine didn't come out as solid as hers. Only once mine were cool could I pick them up at all, before that they were soupy. I suspect I put in too much sauce.

Comments on the recipe say they freeze and reheat well, which I hope is true. Not only do I have a lot of this batch left, I have most of the wrappers and lots of cheese and some meat left. I think I'm going to make another batch up tomorrow.

My supermarket was out of wonton wrappers, so I had to get egg roll wrappers, but they seemed to work just as well. Bonus: Both types were the same price, but from each egg roll wrapper I got FOUR circles, where the wonton wrappers made one each.

Carb-wise, these weren't bad at all. One eggroll wrapper has 18 grams of carbs, and you use two circles/less than half a wrapper per lasagna. You'd have to add in for the sauce too, (and of course carbs aren't the only thing one has to watch for), but all in all, this was a good way to have "pasta" in an easy portion control.

Unrelated to cooking: FedEx brought me a box from Amazon today. This was a surprise as I hadn't ordered anything lately. Turns out it wasn't my address. Wrong street address, wrong apartment number. c.c I was curious as heck as to what was in it, but did the responsible thing and called FedEx to come back and get it.
thistlechaser: (Bright fruits)
Two great tastes that taste great together... usually.

On the bacon I posted about last week: I looked at the package and instead of seeing the individual slices, it looked like it had melted and they had run together, so I tossed it out without opening to sniff it. I suspect I saved my nose.

On the turkey I made today. Positive things: I didn't burn my apartment down. I didn't even set off the smoke alarm. I didn't undercook it. It cooked mostly fine without a roasting pan (the skin it was resting on was pale and nasty, though that's no surprise). Negative: I overcooked it a little, so it was dry. It was also tasteless (which isn't surprising, as it only had spices on the skin).

Lessons learned: Why in the world did I buy a whole turkey breast? I don't like leftovers even when something's really good, and how rare is it for me to make something really good? I feel horrible for wasting food, but I know I won't touch this turkey again. I wish I at least had a dog to give it to or knew where a stray one was. First the whole chicken, now the turkey breast. I'm one person who doesn't like leftovers! Stop buying such big things, me!

Additional lesson: I can bake (roast? whatever) meat in the oven! I've always been really scared to do so, because it might not cook all the way through. Small cuts I was fine with, but things like a whole chicken I never wanted to do.

Ellie, who usually has no use at all for people food, actually ate two pieces of the turkey.

Next year I'm going to stick with the frozen dinners or going out or something. My mother is a firm believer that I should "cook something special" at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but not everyone can cook. If I do try again, I'm going to get a much, much, much more reasonable sized thing.

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