Monthly Archives: May 2011

Yummy Turnips??

One of my vows as a new vegetarian is to try some of these newfangled vegetables. I’ve mentioned the wonderful Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone (yes that Alicia Silverstone, of Clueless) but I find that a lot of her recipes include a lot of Japanese vegetables that I can’t easily put my hands on. This makes me wonder if I really should be eating them in large quantities if they aren’t readily available with the whole idea that you should eat what is indigenous to your area.

And I’m also happily supporting the Clemson Student Organic Farm which started up about three weeks ago. Everything I’ve bought is delicious. They harvest Wednesday morning and sell it that afternoon. So far, I’ve had radishes, carrots, broccoli, arugula and butter lettuce. But this week, I decided to be daring and I bought two turnips and a batch of kale. I mentioned this to my manager, who just could not quit saying “I hate turnips” so I was kind of nervous they would be terrible. (My director was a little more excited for me but he eats just about anything.)

So, for the turnips, I made the cider-roasted turnips from Whole Foods. The kid liked them so much, she had seconds and ate them all. She even suggested they might make a good snack for Sunday school. (Don’t worry kids, I’m not going to do that.)

And the greens, I followed the direction from The Balanced Plate. This was a book I got at McClure’s bookstore, which sells mostly used books. I bought it because it looked like it had great herb advice and then promptly shelved it. I came across it and wow, another great vegetarian resource for me. So, based loosely on her instructions, here’s what I did:

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on medium. Add 3 minced garlic cloves and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice and saute until the garlic is soft, but not brown. Add one batch of cut up kale (I did cut the thick stem that runs up the middle of the leaf off.) Saute until well mixed and as it starts to wilt, add about a teaspoon or two of red wine vinegar (I just shook it on so I’m guessing.) And add about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Stir until they are wilted and still fairly bright green.

The kid and I both liked these, go figure. My husband will be stunned. He forces me to eat greens every New Year’s so that we will have good luck. (For those of you that aren’t Southern, it’s a Southern tradition that we didn’t practice growing up because my parents are from Connecticut. You are also supposed to have pork and black eyed peas. All of this is supposed to represent money.)

Add a catfish cooked for about 15 minutes (because it’s not really on broil if you’re making the turnips) that I put on a sheet of parchment, sprinkled with paprika and Applewood smoked salt and you got a meal fit for a pescatarian.

The Dude, the right color

The bottom of the back of the sweaterWorking up this pattern in the right colors and this is sooooo much better that I’ve used a ton of “o’s” to let you know that it’s right right right.

So that is the happy news.

The bad news is that I live in the middle of nowhere which means I had to order the yarn (which is why I ended up with a white instead of an off-white) and so now I’m nearly to the point where I need to wait for the rest of the yarn to arrive. Oh, and also for husband to go back out on the road. But I’d rather have him home anyway! And I’ve got months to put this thing together.

Anyway, here is the bottom of the back of the sweater. I need the third color to arrive so I can start on the first pattern.

Food History, Childhood Part 2

I remembered a few other things, and got some reaction that got me to think, so I thought I’d continue my childhood food memories.

1. Sugar. I have a massive sweet tooth. I always have had it. My mother tells me I used to steal maraschino cherries out of the fridge when I was 2. For a snack (and yeah I know this is gross), I might take some powdered sugar, pour it in a bowl, add water and eat it. THAT’S a sweet tooth. (No, I do not do this anymore. Really. I could, but I don’t.)

2. Spaghettios. I am not certain, but it is possible we were introduced to Spaghettios by my paternal grandmother when we visited her once in Connecticut. We LOVED Spaghettios and it was something we could make ourselves for lunch, so that was permitted. We ate a lot of that and Chef Boyardee. In fact, I ate that through college and perhaps a bit beyond that. So did my husband. DYK? There’s a book about him and his real recipes, before they sold out and did the canned food thing.

3. More cereal. I think at some point, my mother gave up and let us get some of the cereals we craved. My sister used to eat the heck out of some Lucky Charms. Well, actually, mostly she picked out the marshmallows. Maybe she knew what she was doing. She truly is gluten intolerant.

4. Little Debbies. Like I said, Nutter Butters were the cookie of choice, but for some reason, those Zebra Stripe cakes were OK. I’d eat the heck out of those too. (But not those nasty oatmeal pies. OK, only when I really needed my sugar fix.)

5. School lunch. Oh big fail for me here. My mother had me eat the school lunch, until someone ratted me out in second grade that I only ate the roll. So she started to pack my lunch until someone ratted me out that I was throwing it away. (Hey, what can I say, wasn’t a fan of the granola bars back then) So I had to pack my own lunch at a very early age. I guess I did this, but somewhere down the line, I gave up taking lunch all together. I must imagine I was quite hungry when I got home. I did always eat breakfast though!

My point in all of this isn’t that we necessarily ate any worse than we do today. We just ate our junk in other ways. Sure, there are stories about mayo bacon sandwiches and the like, but the truth is that we didn’t eat out that much, we didn’t drink many sodas and we didn’t have high fructose corn syrup and soy in everything we ate. (Soy in moderation, and preferable unprocessed (including tofu) is fine.) Nor had we given into the whole “fat is bad” thing that I believed until recently. You need fat. It just has to be the right fat. For instance, did you know that if you eat spinach without some fat, you won’t get the nutritional benefits of the spinach? Those nutrients are fat soluble! And the eating out, oy, the eating out! Fast food is just … well it’s just not really food of any quality. As for a sit down restaurant, an adult might get a good meal but a kid? Their choices, at restaurants from fern bars to sushi bars tend to be: mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, hot dogs, pizzas. Comes with fries or a fruit cup (if you’re lucky) and their choice of drink. Which is usually a soda. Folks, these are not good choices for kids. Have you seen how chicken nuggets are made? And where are the veggies?

So as I look back on my childhood eating habits, there’s some bad, sure, but there’s a lot more good than we think.

And a recipe! This is from memory, and it’s my version, which is probably lazier than what my mother does:

  1. Boil half a box of elbow macaroni according to the directions.
  2. Cut a kielbasa into slices.
  3. Take a can of tomato sauce (small) and another of diced tomatoes (also small and can be eliminated, depending on how tomato-y you want it. Mix with some oregano, garlic salt and basil.
  4. In an 8″ round casserole dish (or even a 9 x 12), put a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a third of the noodles, a third of the kielbasa, some more sauce and sprinkle cheddar cheese. Keep layering until you are out of noodles and kielbasa. The top layer should be more tomato sauce and cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

OK, next food chapter, Christine goes to college. :-)

Starting Over

I looked up the sweater again, the original sweater, and concluded that white was just WRONG WRONG WRONG. And all of you were way too nice to say anything, so I ordered more yarn. This post was the final straw. As for having 6 skeins of white yarn, I’m sure I will find a use! If I’m going to do it … I best do it right!

The Dude, the beginning

The back, the first nightTonight, I started real knitting on the sweater. And the entire sweater is in 1 x 1 ribbing. So, it’s a good thing that I have until November to secretly knit this thing, because I find knitting in 1 x 1 rib to be really slow. In fact, I have a seed stitch sweater that sits unfinished in my basket, my one remaining UFO. (Last year I made a vow to finish my UFOs.)

Now the pattern by Andrea Rangel is incredibly detailed. It’s 13 pages long! I will totally make a donation when I’m done. I’m waiting to see how it all goes together to decide how much it’s worth.

The other kind of strange thing was I ordered a new set of #10 circulars and turns out … they are square. Different! But I’ll see how they go. “Easy on your hands, more uniform stitches.” Uniform stitches haven’t really been an issue, but I could certainly go with easy on your hands (and your elbow) with the ribbing for an entire sweater.

I should get to the first contrasting color tomorrow. Last time he was gone for a while, I painted dry erase paint downstairs and he was not happy with me. This, well, this should be OK, even if it’s secret for a long time.

The Dude Sweater

Yarn selection for The DUDEI have enjoyed the Coen brothers‘ movies for a while now, and Big Lebowsky is certainly one of their most fun. So a couple of weeks ago, I saw that someone had gone to the trouble to recreate the pattern. I knew I would have to make it! While I was at it, I thought I’d also blog about the progress.

I’m making this for my husband, for his birthday, which is in November. It’s a total surprise. Actually, he’d be far more happy if I made him a Tron sweater, but he likes Jeff Bridges, thinks this movie is funny and so he’ll be happy with it.

Now I live in South Carolina so unless he plans to wear the sweater for two months out of the year, I would have to make it out of something besides wool. So I’ve gone with the Berroco Weekend, which is a 75% acrylic/25% cotton mix. The base color isn’t quite as off white as I wanted, but I really like the yarn, so it will be a slight variation in color.

Last night, I started by merely winding a few balls of yarn. It was one of those moments where I thought “man, I could really use a yarn winder.” The first ball was a wadded up mess and took me more than an hour to get into a ball of yarn! I’ve got four winded up now, and I’ve got my swatch done. Tomorrow, I’ll start knitting for reals.

Am I wrong to go with a white? Should I keep looking?

My Food History, part 1

Now that we (me and the kid) have gone vegetarian, I’ve been doing a ton of reading on what we need to know to be successful with this. And so this, naturally, has led me to reflect on how I’ve eaten in the past. It’s been a varied past. Some good, lots bad (not because of you Mom, I promise,) and lots learned. Seems lately I’ve been shaking up the ol’ eating about every three years, with what I hope is an increasing knowledge about food and nutrition and the best way to fuel our bodies.

Add to seeing this old gem of a commercial (anyone else remember the Big Fig Newton?) and I got to thinking about my dietary habits growing up. So, I thought I’d make this  series of blog posts, talking about how I used to eat and where I’m headed next.

Now, a disclaimer. My mother may disagree with some of my memories and she could be right. That said, this is how I remember food growing up in Clemson in the late 60s and early 70s.

1. No white bread. My mother was an anomaly among my friends as she refused to serve us white bread. “The bread is brown, the milk is white, she would say.” So we grew up being forced to eat wheat bread. Maybe if we were lucky, we’d get to eat lunch at a friend’s house and we’d get to eat that precious Sunbeam bread. The end result is … I don’t like white bread! I remember seeing Sleeper years later when I was in college. The doctors are thawing Woody Allen, who had been frozen after a botched sinus surger. He apparently woke up and asked for alfalfa sprouts and granola or the like, something healthy. The doctors, who are all also smoking, are shocked. One says to the other “Doesn’t he know that steak and potatoes are the best thing you can eat??” This really made me laugh. It makes me laugh for sad reasons now, with Atkins and all.

2. No fun cereal. I had to put my foot down with the Shredded Wheat (this is before they figured out that “frosting” it made it palatable to younger mouths.) What we REALLY wanted was Cap’n Crunch. What we loved most of all was the Cap’n Crunch with the berries, which had some sort of freaky spotted monster on the front. Once, she finally relented and we got a box of the magical stuff, but alas, we argued over opening it and it went all over the floor. We ate it off the floor anyway, we loved it so. We knew we’d never get another box any time soon. My sister’s favorite was the Freakies. Hey, we watched a lot of Saturday morning cartoons, what I can say. We weren’t immune to the marketing machine! I can STILL sing the jingle. But Mom was resolute. Heck, the woman even sprinkled wheat germ on my cereal. We’d put the milk down for the cats to drink it and on the side of the bowl, there’d be a clump of wheat bran. Even the cats wouldn’t eat that stuff. Finally, we settled on Golden Grahams and I ate that for years. Now, of course, I don’t eat Cap’n Crunch nor do I let the kid eat it either. Actually, when she was young and was being sucked in by the marketing, I told her that those kinds of cereals were not good for her belly. She bought it. (Yeah for me!) That said, her dad introduced her to the magic of Pop Tarts. (Boo for Dad!)

3. Not a lot of fruit. I don’t remember there being a ton of fruit in the house, but then again, we were probably not eating it either, so she gave up. My father loves fruit, so there had to be some fruit in the house. But we didn’t eat it and she didn’t push it. Mom isn’t a huge fruit consumer herself. She’s more of a vegetable gal.

4. Meat. The centerpiece of every meal back in the 70s. Neither my sister nor I were big on eating meat. We were also fairly small kids, so we never ate a whole lot. I do remember liking ham hash and spaghetti. She also made a mean macaroni tomato cheese casserole that had kielbasa in it that everyone always ate. I was not crazy about beef stew night. Otherwise … I don’t remember a lot of meals! (Sorry Mom!)

5. Eating out. It didn’t happen a lot. First, my parents didn’t have a lot of money when we were young. Second, we grew up in Clemson. Sure, we’d eat at Hardee’s here and there. But that was it. And that was it because that was it. We didn’t get a McDonald’s until 1976 and I think Wendy’s was next, in 1981. (No I didn’t have to look up the dates. It was that momentous that they came to our town.) So, if we were going to eat fast food, well, it was going to have to be Hardee’s. When we did eat out, we would eat at Capri’s. There are still a few of those around, but the one in Clemson is long gone. They made a very fat noodle with a rich meaty tomato sauce that was always a favorite. The only other “restaurant” (besides pizza and burgers) in town was KFC. That was a bucket of chicken and a couple of sides, usually cole slaw. I avoid both like it’s laced with arsenic. (I know, I’m southern and I should love fried chicken. I DON’T. I also don’t drink sweet tea. Sorry.)

6. No sodas. We just didn’t have sodas in the house. We did, however, have lots and lots of Kool Aid. I guess it was cheaper! We’d buy the packets and mix the sugar. A pitcher was usually in the fridge. There was milk and OJ too. Oh, and High C Punch too. (Yuck! We drank that stuff?)

7. Cookies. There were usually some cookies around in an actual cookie jar. Mom did teach us to bake, but not so much cook. She usually preferred to cook alone. (She would also cook while reading a magazine, but I digress.) Her mother was not a particularly good cook (ok she was a terrible cook) so Mom was more or less self-taught, so I guess she was used to cooking alone and it stuck. The cookie I remember the most were Nutter Butters. Again, I suspect this was for two reasons: first, possibly the more nutritional among the choices and second, I didn’t really like Nutter Butters so I wouldn’t eat the entire pack and they would last the whole week. I would eat them, because I had/have a huge sweet tooth, just not quite as eagerly.

8. Salad. My parents idea of salad consisted of: iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes and maybe green peppers. For years, I thought that was what salads were and thus I didn’t like salad. It took me years to figure out, because I am slow that way, that salads could be made up of different veggies. Or heck, even fruit.

So, those are my earliest memories of food. Next time, Christine goes to college.

Anyone else remember these foods or have a different experience growing up?