Friday, April 13, 2012

Well, One Month Later . . .

I'm about to go shopping again. Not that I haven't been shopping in the interim;  with Easter and so on, there's been a great deal of food-shopping going on here, but no time to write about it, and anyway, I figured that everyone else was busy, too.

But now here we are. Let's begin with a quick rundown of meals which have been both easy and successful of late:

1. Chinese stir-fry hot plate. This is a consistent hit. The exact contents change -- this past week, the meat was ground turkey, sauteed with onion, julienned carrot, shredded cabbage, very finely diced kale (because I was sneaking it in), and snow peas. I sauteed all of the above in a generous dollop of coconut oil, and seasoned it (also generously) with garlic and ground ginger, with a very sparing dash of tamari. I know that in the paleo-food world soy is out, but I haven't tracked down coconut aminoes as a substitute, and I don't ever use that much anyway. One of the things that had always been wrong with my stir-fry attempts before was that I tried to make stir-fry sauce, with lots of sesame oil, tamari, etc, which my husband has confessed to having hated. I find that just adding ginger is enough to give it the right taste -- Chinese-y, but not heavy-handed.

As an accompaniment, I made cauliflower rice:  chop cauliflower to the consistency of rice (or couscous, which is really what it reminds me of) and saute in coconut oil. To this I added a dash of ginger as well, plus a beaten egg towards the end, for extra protein and to give it that fried-rice taste.

2. Ground-pork French-style hot plate over fashionably wilted baby spinach. This was ground pork cooked with finely diced onion and garlic, plus tarragon, cinnamon, and allspice and a handful of very finely chopped kale, then served over the baby spinach, which the heat of the meat wilted to a lovely bright green translucency.

3. North-African-style chicken. I began with raw boneless skinless chicken thighs (my cookups have been a little slipshod lately), frying them in coconut oil with a spice mix of garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, and ginger. For a vegetable side, I did cumin-roasted carrots from Well Fed:  you melt coconut oil, add cumin and cinnamon, and toss sliced carrots in this spice-oil mix, then roast. I also did an okra-onion-bell-pepper saute in spices similar to those I used on the chicken. I've really had a taste for these spices  -- don't know if it's the warm weather or the relative novelty or what, but we've eaten a lot of North-African/Moroccan/Middle-Eastern-themed meals lately.

Even the paschal chicken for our Seder on Holy Thursday was not Greek-flavored as in years past, but more cuminy-cinnamony-coriandery.

Our Easter meal was quite Greek-flavored, however:
small leg of lamb (I found a miraculous deal, under $50 -- I'd been planning to do something with ground lamb, then couldn't find any).

eggplant strata -- this was an adaptation of an more Italian-themed Well-Fed dish. I baked two sliced eggplant for about 20 minutes in the oven, then in a baking dish did alternating layers of eggplant and a tomato filling which included a can of tomato paste, a big can of crushed tomatoes, garlic, cinnamon and allspice, and four beaten eggs. You finish with a layer of filling on top, so that it bakes up beautifully pillowy and substantial, with the eggplant in between . . . It was a very nice and filling accompaniment to the lamb.

green beans sauteed with caramelized onions and almonds

Then I effected a total departure from the universe of no-sugar eating, and made a chocolate-fudge pie as follows:

Break 6 large eggs, unseparated, into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 2/3 cup sugar and two to four tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, depending on how dark you like your chocolate. Beat all this together, then begin dribbling in 2 cups of hot milk, beating constantly so the egg doesn't get cooked. Stir in two tablespoons of coconut oil for added richness (this was because I hadn't used cream, but whole milk. When it chills, the coconut oil solidifies, which helps set the chocolate custard). Pour into a pie dish and bake for 15 minutes on 400, then turn the oven off and let the pie sit until nearly firm. Remove from oven, cool, and then chill in fridge. Serve with strawberries and chilled, whipped coconut milk.

OK, so now all the sweet stuff is gone, and we're back on board. I don't have specific meal plans for the week, beyond the following:

one ground-pork meal
two ground-turkey meals
two chicken meals
two beef meals (including tonight, since it's the Octave of Easter!)

vegetable options will include spaghetti squash, zucchini, cabbage, kale, and sweet potatoes, plus the frozen green beans and asparagus I have on hand.

breakfasts:  oatmeal with frozen raspberries and/or blueberries for the kids/eggs for adults (everyone like leftover stir-fry for breakfast, too, when it's available . . . )


In other news, I put in my garden this week. I have:

*in a row along the side of the house, four tomato plants
*flanking the tomatoes on either side, two eggplants
*just in front of the tomatoes, an acorn squash (hoping to find some spaghetti squash to put in, too)
*at the front of the garden, parallel to the house, two zucchini
*in two short rows perpendicular to the house, six peppers
*five new plants for my corner strawberry patch
*lemon thyme, mint, orange mint, "boxwood basil," tarragon, and sage in the herb section
*zinnias and cosmos seeded between the rows of peppers (we'll see if they come up)
*sunflowers behind the tomatoes

We'll see how it does this year . . .

Monday, March 12, 2012

Week of March 12

In the fridge now:
1 head cabbage
about 4 large carrots
a bowl of cauliflower pilaf made today (Monday)
about a dozen farm eggs from a friend

In the freezer:
Italian-style green beans


Hot Plates:  French, Greek, Thai, Moroccan??
Little meatzas (pizza topping on beef patties)
Cottage Pie with mashed-cauliflower topping
something fishy or veggie for Friday

Shopping List (Aldi):
3 packs frozen boneless skinless chic breasts
wound up buying 2 packs breasts, 1 pack leg quarters
4 frozen ground turkey
1 ground beef
bought a pack of frozen beef patties
3 heads cauliflower
cauliflower looked gross, but I still had one head left anyway, so didn't buy any
2 bags spinach
other produce??
I bought two little packs of grape tomatoes to have on the side one night
frozen veg??
Aldi has some really good thin green beans;  got two bags
4 cans tuna
4 c tomato paste
2 bags sliced almonds
3 gal milk
3 doz eggs

Thanks to car repairs run amok and a couple of other unexpected expenses, this has been another one of those low-point-in-the-budget weeks;  hence the rather abbreviated shopping list. I ended up feeding us this week on about $80, rather less than my usual grocery expenditure. Here's what we actually ate, to the best of my decaffeinated recollection:


Brunch after Mass:  sausage patties and scrambled eggs

I forget now how we ended up with beef patties before I went to the grocery store on Monday.  For Sunday's supper I used them to make mini-meatzas:  really just burgers that I first baked in the oven, then topped with herbs, garlic powder, tomato paste, and a pepper-and-onion mix, before running them in the oven again for about 15 minutes.


breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  I had eggs again, while the kids had little cakes made of the leftover oatmeal and wheat flour (ok, the kids aren't too paleo) with peanutbutter and apples. This is essentially the lunch they ate all week. In fact, this is how lunch went in general all week. Dinner leftovers and tuna went with the work/college dudes.

How I make those little oat cakes:  It's very simple. I take whatever's left in the big bowl of oatmeal, add a scoop of wheat flour (thanks to our general quasi-paleo-ness, the ten pounds in my big glass cannister have been just sitting there waiting for me to have a low-budget week), and pour on milk to make a batter. I add one egg, stir it all up, and drop the batter in rather flat, cookie-like dollops on a greased cookie sheet. They cook up, in fact, just like cookies, with a nice crispy bottom, only they don't have sugar, and the kids don't seem to notice. This is where I'm starting with my kids:  weaning off sugar (as if). Anyway, it was a way to use up the leftover oatmeal, reassure my kids that the house can still smell like baked goodness, and provide something for them to snack on, in a week when I had to trim our usual snacks off the list.

dinner: We had been missing chicken on the bone, and leg quarters are cheap. I rubbed ours with a sort of North African spice rub of cumin, ground coriander seed, cinnamon, garlic powder, and black pepper and baked them. As a side dish I made a big bowl of cauliflower pilaf with raisins and some dried cranberries and blueberries left over from hot-cross-buns making with the American Heritage Girls on Saturday, plus sliced almonds. I made it at lunchtime and chilled it, so we had it cold for dinner, and it was very good with the chicken. We also had roasted green beans. In fact, green beans were the side vegetable of choice pretty much all week.


breakfast and lunch as above

dinner: ground turkey browned with Italian-sausage spices & mixed with a can of tomato paste and a large can of stewed tomatoes, then layered in a baking dish with cabbage leaves to form a kind of "lasagne." Fast and pretty tasty. Green beans and grape tomatoes on the side.


breakfast and lunch as above

dinner: beef patties liberally dusted with garlic powder, basil, oregano, and sage, baked with onion and the other can of stewed tomatoes. I don't know what you'd call this, other than "I had to cook something before Mass and choir." Not really cookbook-worthy, but the family raved.


dinner: chicken rogan josh and baked whole sweet potatoes


Breakfast and lunch as usual for this week. Dinner was off the rails:  I had to take the two younger kids with me to drive my 8th-grader and numerous of his friends to the diocesan Confirmation retreat for the weekend. In the morning I threw out the paleo taboo on legumes and put together a crockpot navy-bean soup for my husband to have when he came home:  beans, 1 onion and 2 carrots finely diced, a can of tomato paste, water to cover, and garlic powder, basil, and oregano for seasoning. It was smelling delicious by the time the kids and I had to leave in the afternoon.

For dinner on the road, the whole confirmation group  had -- pizza. Father's choice. Oh, well, it was meatless, and it was good. No wonder I feel tired this morning, though. That, plus four hours of driving.


Breakfast as usual. We'll have the bean-soup leftovers for lunch. For dinner we'll be at a potluck and ceili at church;  got to think of something to take . . . I didn't do a big cookup this week, so find myself thrown back on my usual by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach, which I really dislike . . . I might do up another big pilaf, if I can get to the store for some decent-looking cauliflower. That's something we can eat a lot of, and if I don't say anything, nobody will know that the "grain" is cauliflower. They'll just assume it's something like couscous.

And that takes us to the end of our week . . .

Friday, March 2, 2012

Week of March 4

Okay, we're not there yet, but I'm making up my shopping/cooking plans for the coming week. We are there. Forward! Forward! 

But first, maybe you're asking, Why would I want to cook and eat this way?

And to tell you the truth, I don't have the researched, scientific answers at my fingertips. It seems to me that lots of people, whatever their eating paradigm (and how First-World is that, to think in terms of "eating paradigms" that don't just equal "survival"), have researched, scientific answers at their fingertips, which makes me skeptical about any researched, scientific diet claim. And anyway, that's not really why I'm here, doing this now. What I'm seeing, as I cook my way through these paleo recipes and let them inform my food choices, is

*we all stay full a lot longer

*I have more energy

*I've lost, at this writing, about 12 pounds since I started this blog, which was not that long ago

*the food tastes really great, and I don't feel deprived, which is what you're supposed to say about what you're eating. If it tastes rotten and you feel that life is ripping you off at mealtime, then you're not eating right. Or, rather, what you're eating isn't right for you.

*I'm more organized, which means that meals are better and more complete, AND people who leave the house for the day have a really good lunch made for them and don't have to spend money out. I know that most of you out there are probably already organized and sending people with homemade lunches, but at my house this was not happening before.

Things We Might Want This Week:

*Cauliflower rice. Lots of cauliflower rice. I'd like to try a pilaf, maybe for next Friday.

*Zucchini noodles, with maybe some garlicky grilled chicken and drizzled with olive oil

*Pork chops. I think I'll substitute one big econo-pack of pork chops for one package of chicken. We're about to die of poultry around here.

*Hot Plates:  Chinese would be good. I keep putting it on the list and then doing other things. Pork chops with cabbage and apples would be nice, too. We didn't have curry this past week, so maybe that should go on the menu for the coming week.

*Pork fried cauliflower "rice"?

*Leftover soups. In the freezer I have small amounts of cabbage soup and sweet-potato/chicken soup, plus a dab of chocolate chili. All good for a smorgasbord lunch, or lunch at work.

*Chicken salad

*Tuna salad

*Hardboiled eggs

*Veggie/fish food for Friday. Rice pilaf? Eggplant strata? Noodles with seafood? Salmon muffins?

Shopping List: 

coconut oil (2 jars)
coconut milk  (3 cans)
tomato paste (4 cans)
stewed/diced/crushed tomatoes (4 cans)
garlic powder (1)
dried oregano (1)

4 packs boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
1 large pack pork chops
6 lbs frozen ground turkey
tuna (6 cans)
5 dozen eggs

4  heads cauliflower
10 zucchini
10 sweet potatoes
1 large spaghetti squash
1 eggplant
2 bunches kale
1 bag carrots
1 bag sweet onions
1 bag salad mix or spinach
2 bags apples
1 large bunch bananas

milk (3 gal)
raisins (for cauliflower pilaf)
pine nuts (splurge -- for cauliflower pilaf)
dried apricots (for cauliflower pilaf)
sushi seaweed wraps (snacks)

Saturday Night Dinner
*pork chops marinated in a mix of Moroccan spices melted in coconut oil (I simmered the chops slowly in my big cast-iron skillet)

*cauliflower pilaf:  riced cauliflower (really more like couscous, which was perfect) sauteed in coconut oil with cinnamon and cumin, and tossed with sauteed onion, sliced almonds, minced dried apricots, and raisins. Really, really good. I just had cold leftovers for an early pre-Mass-get-through-Faith-Formation breakfast.

*roasted sweet potatoes

*brunch after Mass:  homemade turkey sausage/egg scramble. Sausage is already browned;  all I have to do when I get home is throw it in the skillet with coconut oil and eggs.

*dinner:  leftover pilaf if there is any left by dinner time. baked chicken breasts (garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, coconut oil), zucchini noodles with almond-flour bread crumbs (olive oil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes), and kale chips (olive oil, sea salt). Mm-mm-mm. Followed by old episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies on YouTube. "Possum innards is just as good the second day . . . "

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs. One kid had seaweed
lunch:  various leftovers;
possibly a frittata using the sausage scramble and zucchini noodles from yesterday
dinner: Chinese pork-and-veggie stir-fry over cauliflower rice

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  chicken breasts to go;  hardboiled eggs;  fruit (we're going to Old Salem for the day!)
dinner:  Eastern European hot plate with ground turkey, cabbage, apple, caraway seed, etc.

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  leftovers, hardboiled eggs, tuna salad?
dinner:  Rogan Josh, cauliflower rice chocolate chili in the crockpot

breakfast:  omelettes
lunch:  leftover chili and soups
dinner:  chicken Rogan Josh w/cauliflower rice

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  tuna salad
dinner:  sweet potato casserole or soup

Monday, February 27, 2012

Week of February 26

 Should anyone outside my immediate family happen to drop by here, you'll want to know that I'm referencing Melissa Joulwan's cookbook Well Fed in all my meal plans. My aim is to cook my way through all the recipes in this book this semseter, to make this way of cooking and eating a way of life. Not a Rule, mind you. That's St. Benedict, and can't nobody improve on St. Benedict. But a lower-case little way . 

It's already Monday, and I've shopped and cooked-up and done a bit of planning. And eating . . .

Sunday night's dinner:

After cooking up 9 pounds of boneless, skinless chicky breasts and three pounds of ground turkey for use this week, I made what I guess amounted to paleo Italian-style Hamburger Helper for our Sunday-night supper. Here's what I did:

* Brown 3 lbs ground beef with 1 diced onion, a lot of garlic powder, and Italian spices (basil, sage, oregano, etc) also liberally applied

*Add 1 can tomato paste, mushrooms, and a shake of frozen chopped spinach (just enough so that there's really spinach in the "sauce," but you don't exactly taste it. Let the meat sauce/mixture simmer and fill the house with its delicious aroma.

*Make cauliflower "rice" by dicing it to a rice-like consistency in the food processor (a Well-Fed invention -- cauliflower "rice," that is, not the food processor). Add to the meat mixture and cook until tender (about 5-10 minutes -- I wanted it gently al dente, but not raw-cauliflower crunchy).

On the side:  carrot sticks and kale chips (see Melanie's recipe in Snacks)

I had enough beef/cauli stuff to send with my husband to work for his lunch today.

What we have left to work with for the rest of the week: 


The aforementioned chicken breasts and ground turkey (plus more uncooked in the freezer)

Tuna (about 4 cans)

Salmon (2 cans)

eggs (4 dozen left of the 5 dozen I bought, including one dozen hard-boiled)


1 more cauliflower head
2 heads cabbage
8 sweet potatoes

Freezer (non-meat)

bell peppers & onions
a little chopped spinach
leftover cabbage soup from last week

In cans

tomato paste
stewed whole tomatoes

The usual complement of fats, condiments, and spices


very fresh new tiny dandelion greens


seaweed sushi wraps, ie snacks for the 8- and 9-year-olds who love seaweed

Meal Possibilities: 

Mexican, Chinese, Indian hot plates
crockpot chicken/vegetable stew (probably on Thursday)
sausage-egg scramble
tuna salad
salmon-egg muffins for Friday
cabbage soup for Friday

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  tuna salad (husband took Sunday supper leftovers to work)
dinner:  Mexican-style chicken breasts with peppers and onions, with sides of cumin-roasted carrots and cauliflower "rice" -- recipe below! (UPDATE: and now in the recipe file)

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  dudes took Mexican chicken leftovers to work. The three of us at home had plain chicken breasts (I put some fresh cilantro on mine) and apples
dinner:  Greek Cabbage Rolls 

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs (we're boring, but it gets the job done)
lunch:  Thai-Style Totally Paleo Chicken Salad 
dinner:  crockpot meal:  Well Fed's "Velvety Butternut Squash" recipe made us as soup, using sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash, with shredded chicken breasts to make it a complete veg-and-protein meal

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  chicken breasts, leftovers
dinner:  ground-turkey chili (using Well Fed's "Chocolate Chili" recipe)

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  salmon muffins
dinner:  First Friday Dinner at Belmont Abbey (which will be pasta and not paleo, but we'll go with it) 

Mexican-Style Paleo Chicken Breast Dinner

I had all these chicken breasts which I'd cooked up on Sunday, plus a bag of frozen peppers and onions, plus carrots and a head of cauliflower. Here's what I did with them: 

*Sauteed peppers and onions in a knob of coconut oil. They were frozen, so I wanted not only to thaw them but to cook down the water in them so they wouldn't be runny. I turned the heat down on the big iron skillet and let them simmer away while I worked on other parts of the meal.

*While those were cooking, I put chicken breasts (about 8 -- they're kind of small) in a bowl, then in a microwaveable cup I melted another big spoonful of coconut oil (about 2 T, I would guess) with chili powder and unsweetened cocoa powder. Not quite sure how much:  "to taste," anyway. I stirred this all up together and poured it over the chicken, tossing to coat. Then I let that sit.  

*I had the kids peel five carrots, which I then cut into carrot sticks. As I'd done with the chicken, I melted some cumin and cinnamon with a knob of coconut oil in the microwave and then tossed the carrots in that and put them in the oven on 375 to roast for about half an hour (this is a Well Fed recipe, and actually in the cookbook it's more detailed, and they're even more delicious than what I'm describing here. This was my quickie corner-cutting version).

*When the chicken had marinated for a while in the spice/oil mix, and the carrots were close to done in the oven, I added it to the sauteed peppers, scraping all the spice marinade into the skillet. I covered the skillet and let all that simmer together (but not too long -- just enough to warm the pre-cooked chicken)

*I stemmed, chopped, and "riced" the cauliflower in the food processor. In a separate skillet, I sauteed it for about five minutes in coconut oil, until it was tender but not mushy.

Kids liked their chicken and cauliflower rice to be separate on the plate. At least one grownup opted to have chicken, peppers, and the chili-chocolate-mole-tasting pan juices over the cauliflower rice. Carrots on the side.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Julienned zucchini

. . .  really does make amazingly good noodles. You have to toss them with salt, let them "sweat" for 20 minutes or so (to avoid wateriness), and pat dry with a paper towel or clean, smooth dishcloth before you saute them, but man! We had them in Pad-Thai-style shrimp last night, and they were so delicioso.

This is why God made vegetables with no taste.

Credit for zucchini noodles:  Melissa Joulwan, of course. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week of February 20; or, the Welcome to Lent Edition of the Mealblog

Should anyone outside my immediate family happen to drop by here, you'll want to know that I'm referencing Melissa Joulwan's cookbook Well Fed in all my meal plans. My aim is to cook my way through all the recipes in this book this semseter, to make this way of cooking and eating a way of life. Not a Rule, mind you. That's St. Benedict, and can't nobody improve on St. Benedict. But a lower-case little way . 

Two challenges this week:

1) A strangulated budget. Some funds should be hitting our account by the end of the week, but from Monday to Thursday-ish I need to make a fistful of dollars go a long way

2) The start of Lent.

Actually, the second challenge is a good thing, given the first challenge. The kids have to eat on Ash Wednesday, but the larger and more . . . appetitious . . . among us will eat only one simple meal with no meat. So that's one way to stretch the budget . . . fasting as gift.

To Aldi Wal-Mart and Bi-Lo, because Aldi didn't open till 9, and we needed milk, tomorrow to buy:

2 bags 1 bag frozen chicken thighs or breasts @ $5. 99 $10.98 each (for 5 lbs). Boneless skinless thighs and boneless skinless breasts cost the same;  I don't like to use frozen, particularly, because they're injected with saline solution, but you get more for your money in these big freezer bags than you do in the packs of fresh chicken, and in any event, Aldi never seems to have boneless skinless thighs fresh.

3 or 4 "bullets" of frozen ground turkey @ $1.99 each 3-lb pack of fresh ground turkey @ $7-ish.

whatever produce looks good:  certainly sweet potatoes, maybe broccoli? celery for soup?(bought sweet potatoes and a big spaghetti squash)

3 dozen eggs @ $1.29 a dozen $1 a dozen, on special at Bi-Lo. I'd been about to buy some more expensive eggs at Wal-Mart when an elderly lady sidled up to me and remarked that Bi-Lo was having this sale. I put down the expensive eggs at once, bought my milk and meat, and toddled on across the road to the Bi-Lo. I bought my spaghetti squash there, too, because Wal-Mart had been out of them. It was a big spaghetti squash, but still a bummer:  Wal-Mart's are 94 cents, and this one cost $1.29. Oh, well.

milk (I forget now what it cost last week -- $2.58 or something like that)

I still have a head of cabbage, plus about 5 big carrots, plus some fresh and frozen spinach.  I also have cans of diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Still have seaweed wraps to make snack "chips" -- the kids love to do this. Still have two cans of salmon.

Dinners We Want: 

Hot plates:  Everyone liked Chinese last week. I'd love to do something Moroccan (I still have some Ras el Hanout spice mix I made up a couple of weeks ago). Could make ground-turkey "falafel." Indian always a hit -- I have rogan josh spices and coconut milk in the cupboard. Everyone also likes sausage-egg scrambles.

Soup for Wednesday:  tomato-based vegetable. Possibly with lots of cabbage.

This is enough to be going on with, anyway. There's an awful lot to be done with chicken and ground turkey:  these are the new beans and rice in my life.

Things I've noticed in the few weeks we've been eating this way:

*I'm having far less trouble with fatigue than I had been having. Of course, I'm also taking my vitamin D religiously, and that helps. But eliminating grains and upping my protein has made a noticeable difference in my energy levels. I have the drive to blog again, for starters . . .

*My teenaged son's skin has cleared up dramatically. Of course, he's not eating a purely paleo kind of diet;  he goes out with friends, he eats what he feels like. But at home this is our regimen, and I think it's making a difference. Something is, anyway.

*People are less hungry than they used to be. I notice a lot less snacking. We've never been a household full of snack foods -- here it's always been fruit or nothing -- but I notice far less continual rummaging for something to eat. Meals are a lot more satisfying, and when even lunch is something cooked rather than a pbj, it seems to satisfy people on multiple levels.

*I seem to have lost about eight pounds. This is really good news. I don't need to be thin-thin, but 160 pounds on my 5'4" frame was a bit much. 

Biggest complaint? We don't have dessert much any more. My 8- and 9-year-olds make cookies periodically (and they've become very competent, I have to say), but somehow my extra energy has not yet extended to making the fruit desserts in Well Fed. 

Oh, and -- 

We didn't give up coffee and alcohol as part of our paleo eating plan, just so that we can give them up for Lent. I've been a decaf drinker for months now, of necessity, but I'm still psychologically all wrapped around my cup of coffee in the morning, so ouch ouch ouch.

The Week in Food: 

Monday:  We had leftover turkey-jicama hash and turkey-cabbage-Eastern-European hot plate for lunch. In the afternoon I cooked the chicken breasts, browned the ground turkey, and roasted the spaghetti squash. For dinner I made a Moroccan hot plate by sauteeing two julienned carrots and the innards of the roasted spaghetti squash with most of the chicken breasts (I left four out for future meals) shredded, in coconut oil with a Ras el Hanout spice mix:  cumin, coriander, ginger, black pepper, allspice, clove, cinnamon . . . very fragrant and spicy. We had some sauteed spinach (coconut oil, garlic powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt & pepper) on the side. With two dishes we had a huge, filling, delicious dinner, with enough for lunch leftovers for Tuesday. (and yes, at least one younger child griped a little about the Moroccan spices, but everyone at least picked the chicken out and ate it).

Tuesday:  Oatmeal or eggs for breakfast, leftovers for lunch. For dinner, since it's Shrove Tuesday, I'm going to break the paleo regimen and make pancakes and bacon, with raw honey instead of syrup, because that's what we have. I may make scrambled eggs or omelettes on the side for those of us who'd prefer not to eat grains and sugars (though I know there's some sugar in the bacon, dagnabbit).

Wednesday:  fasting for adults. oatmeal for kid breakfast, chicken breasts and/or whatever leftovers there are  jacket sweet potatoes for kid lunches. Dinner:  still need to decide what kind of soup.(some adaptation of a peasant cabbage soup out of my old Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook. Mainly I just have to do away with the potatoes in it. More cabbage . . . )

Peasant/Provencal-ish Cabbage Soup 

Okay. Here's what I used:

two medium sweet onions, diced very finely
two large carrots, peeled and also diced very finely
three bay leaves
thyme, sage, and garlic to taste
knob of coconut oil
one can tomato paste
one medium head cabbage, shredded
one 1-lb can of crushed tomatoes (or diced, or stewed, whatever you have)
water to cover
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and carrot in coconut oil in the bottom of a stockpot. Add bay leaves and spices. Because my stockpot has a relatively thin bottom (it's just enamelware, nothing fancy), I added a little water at this point to keep things from burning to the bottom. Experience dictates these things.

When onion is transparent and carrot is starting to get soft and the whole thing is fragrant, add the can of tomato paste. Stir into the onion/carrot/spice mixture, then add the cabbage and toss to coat with the vegetable/spice/tomato paste. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, then water to cover. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until cabbage is wilted and transparent, and you're ready to serve.

If you do dairy, you could top this with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. If you do grains, a loaf of crusty bread would be nice. We do neither at the moment, so are having hard-boiled eggs, halved and dusted with paprika, as a protein side.

Vegetable broth would be better than water for this soup, but I didn't have any on hand.

Thursday:  thinking of doing a turkey sausage lasagne for dinner with cabbage leaves as lasagne noodles. The other possibility would be a sausage-egg scramble, but I think we might be tired of eggs by this point.

THURSDAY UPDATE:  Upon reconnoitering in the fridge and larder, I think I'm going to do a Cajun-inspired hot plate using pre-cooked ground turkey with okra I still had in the freezer from last summer, when the nice elderly security guard from the community college across the street brought me a big bag from his garden. So, with some crushed tomato, onion and garlic, and lightly sauteed julienned-and-chopped carrot bits for a "rice" texture (carrots being what we have left in the fresh-vegetable department at the moment), plus Cajun spices . . . it'll be dinner, baby!

(second update:  It was really good. I served it in crisp white restaurant-style bowls, like chili. Raves all around.)

Friday:  Anyway, we'll very likely have eggs for breakfast and lunch on this day. Something involving canned salmon for dinner before Stations of the Cross. Stay tuned . . . 

Well, I was right about the eggs for breakfast. But today the expected funds went ka-ching (very quietly, but still, ka-ching) in the ol' bank account, so that I was able to go grocery shopping. More on what I bought for the coming week later, but first:

Lunch:  southwestern-style tuna salad:  canned tuna + tiny-diced onion, fresh cilantro, chili powder, and lime juice.

Dinner:  kind of sort of the same idea, only more Thai-inspired. Ginger-lime shrimp like we had last week, but on a bed of julienned-zucchini noodles for a Pad-Thai-type treatment, spritzed with lime juice and garnished with fresh cilantro.

OK, what I bought for the coming week: 

from Aldi:
5 3-lb bags of frozen boneless skinless chicky breasts
6 1-lb "bullets" of frozen ground turkey
1 3-lb "bullet" of frozen ground beef
produce:  1 pack zucchini, 2 bags sweet onions, 1 bag carrots, 2 bags apples, 2 heads cabbage
6 cans tomato paste (stocking up the pantry while the sun shines)
4 big cans stewed whole tomatoes (ditto)
10 cans chunk light tuna in water (ditto ditto)
5 dozen eggs

from Wal-Mart:
2 cartons organic whole milk
2 jars refined coconut oil
1 bottle extra-virgin olive oil
2 packs seaweed wraps for snacks
1 large bag frozen tiny shrimp 
produce:  1 bunch kale, 1 bunch cilantro, 8 smallish sweet potatoes, 2 heads cauliflower

(I also bought bunny food, hay, and bedding, plus three new blueberry bushes which I need to get into the ground in a break between rains, plus pansies and violas for out front.)

I plan to do a big meat cookup sometime tomorrow. Stay tuned for another blog post with meal plans for next week!

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13-19

 Should anyone outside my immediate family happen to drop by here, you'll want to know that I'm referencing Melissa Joulwan's cookbook Well Fed in all my meal plans. My aim is to cook my way through all the recipes in this book this semseter, to make this way of cooking and eating a way of life. Not a Rule, mind you. That's St. Benedict, and can't nobody improve on St. Benedict. But a lower-case little way . . .

Back home. Fridge empty. What to eat? 

Dinners We'd Like
Cinnamon Beef Stew
Meatza Pie (with ground turkey this week)
Italian Sausage (turkey) and Eggplant Strata 
Indian, Chinese, Moroccan Hot Plates (chicken)
Friday:  omelettes with veggies (zucchini "noodles" would be good if I can find zucchini -- it's not exactly in season right now . . . )

spaghetti squash
diced butternut squash
stewed frozen peaches 
spinach salad
sweet potatoes in various forms (roasted, home-fried, julienned)
cauliflower "rice"
cocoa-toasted cauliflower
cumin-roasted carrots

Hot Plates
egg salad

oatmeal (kids)
eggs (adults)
sausage-egg scramble for weekend

hardboiled eggs
kale chips (thanks, Melanie!)
seaweed crisps

Shopping List
9 lbs ground turkey
4 packs boneless skinless chicky thighs
beef stew meat
2 spaghetti squash
6 large sweet potatoes
1 bag fresh spinach
2 heads cauliflower
1 large eggplant
1 bag carrots
2 little packs pre-diced butternut squash for the lazy
1 bunch kale
4 zucchini? 
2 bunches bananas
1 bag apples
2 packs frozen peaches
5 dozen eggs
1 pack seaweed wraps
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cans tomato paste
6 cans tuna
1 bottle olive oil
1 bottle sesame oil
1 jar refined coconut oil

MONDAY EVENING UPDATE:  Went to Aldi, for budgetary reasons. Bought about 7 lbs ground turkey;  the only skinless, boneless chicken thighs were frozen, so I bought four large packs of those, plus two equally large packs of frozen skinless boneless breasts. Found stew meat for what didn't seem that fantastic a price, but went ahead and bought it. Cauliflower didn't look good. No spaghetti squash, zucchini or eggplant, so I bought two heads of green cabbage instead. Otherwise, aside from oils, kale, and seaweed, I found everything on my list there. Will hit the regular grocery later in the week.

Came home and baked and put away all the chicken thighs, made ground-turkey meatzas (these are "pizzas" with a meat crust;  really you need beef, though. Turkey fell apart too much), and browned the rest of the ground turkey with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and diced onion. Put half away in the fridge for later in the week, and with the other half, I made the following for dinner: 

Greek Cabbage Rolls

I guess I was thinking, you know, dolmates or something. I had a couple of pounds of ground turkey already browned and flavored with salt, pepper, onion, and garlic;  to that I added a generous dose of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, plus one can of tomato paste. I also added in some leftover garlicky cooked spinach from last night's dinner.

While this meat mixture was keeping warm, I de-stemmed one of the heads of cabbage and pulled away the toughest outer leaves. Then I carefully removed about ten thinner inside leaves, filled each one with some of the meat mixture, rolled/folded it up into as neat a package as I could manage, and nestled the packages into a baking dish. When I'd used up all the meat and filled two not-so-large bakers, I covered them with foil and put them in to bake for 30-45 minutes, just enough for the cabbage to be tender. 

These were delicious. The younger kids peeled off their cabbage leaves and just ate the meat inside, but really, the cabbage with the meat worked very well. It was a filling dish, so unless the bottomless teenager on dish duty has finished it all off, there will be some leftovers for tomorrow.  

For a side dish I julienned two sweet potatoes and made shoestrings/noodles by sauteeing in coconut oil, with a little salt and cinnamon. This may be my new favorite side dish in all the world. We also had Italian-cut green beans (from a bag of frozen) sauteed in coconut oil with salt and pepper. 

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch: tuna salad (made it sans mayo:  just tuna, hard-boiled egg, & pickle relish)
dinner:  some kind of chicken hot plate;  probably Chinese with chopped stir-fried cabbage, or else Eastern European with cabbage and apples. 

UPDATE:   Chinese hot plate for Tuesday night dinner: 

shredded cabbage (about 1/3 head)
thin-sliced onion
2 large carrots julienned
a couple handfuls frozen green beans
garlic powder
grated fresh ginger
coconut oil
about six medium-sized boneless skinless chicken thighs, pre-cooked with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, and diced into 1-inch cuboids

I melted the coco oil in the skillet, sauteed the onions till they were soft, added the frozen green beans to give them time to thaw, then the cabbage and carrots, then the chicken. Dash of garlic powder and grated fresh ginger to taste. One-dish meal. Very filling for five people. I had enough left over for a single-serving take-to-work microwave lunch tomorrow.

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  chicken salad or some other chicken thing
dinner:  cinnamon beef stew w/cumin-roasted carrots

breakfast: oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  stew leftovers
dinner:  Indian-themed chicken hot plate

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  tuna salad
dinner:  omelettes? vegetable blue-plate special? 

breakfast:  oatmeal/eggs
lunch:  leftovers
dinner:  going to the Cub Scout Blue-and-Gold Banquet. Must take food.

 brunch after Mass:  sausage-egg scramble
dinner: whatever . . . 

UPDATE:  How the week played out

Dinners: We had cinnamon beef stew on Wednesday, with leftovers for Thursday lunch. Chicken Rogan Josh on Thursday, using already-cooked boneless breasts, a can of coconut milk from the cupboard, and spice mix I'd made up last time we had Rogan Josh. Carrots and green beans on the side. 

Friday dinner was ginger-lime shrimp -- I'd had to go back to the store, and they had pre-cooked frozen shrimp on sale, so dinner was a matter of marinating the shrimp as they thawed in garlic, ginger, and lime juice, then searing them in the cast-iron skillet. With them we had sweet potatoes. 

Saturday night dinner we had various Latin American food at the Cub Scout Blue-and-Gold Banquet. 

Tonight (Sunday) we had the remainder of the ground turkey I'd pre-cooked on Monday sauteed with cabbage, carrots, and onion chopped to coleslaw texture, plus two Gala apples, peeled and chopped. The vegetables were a good way to stretch the leftover meat without overpowering it -- I can see cabbage standing in in lots of recipes where I need something to provide either a noodle or a soft rice texture. At any rate, chopped finely it was a very good "filler" to extend my limited amount of meat. Seasonings were ground mustard and caraway seeds -- I was going for sort of an Eastern European flavor. Sweet potatoes and roasted sweet onions on the side (I did buy a lot of sweet potatoes last week . . . ). Anyway, this was a good "hot plate," and we have enough leftovers for my husband to take to work for lunch tomorrow. 

Lunches:  leftovers, omelettes, tuna salad, hardboiled eggs, scrambled eggs -- we eat a lot of eggs. Plus apples and bananas, toasted seaweed sheets, whatever veggies are left over, etc. 

Sunday Brunch:  I had had to go to the store for coconut oil, which Aldi didn't have, and there, in addition to the frozen shrimp, I bought some jicama. A jicama. A jicama root. One of however you designate a unit of jicama. 

Anyway, jicama. You can slice or julienne it raw for use in salads, which I've done, but you can also cook it. If you're going to use it in place of potatoes, in for instance a recipe for home fries or potato salad, you have to pre-cook it for a long time -- 12 to 24 hours, according to the cookbook -- to tenderize it enough for it to stand in for a cooked potato. I bought my jicama on Friday, peeled and diced it, and put it to cook in the crockpot covered with water for what turned out to be slightly more than 24 hours. It cooked all Friday evening, all day Saturday, and all morning Sunday, until I was ready to use it in a ground-turkey hash. 

I drained the jicama in a colander, then fried it in some coconut oil in my cast-iron skillet.  To the fried jicama I added about half a bag of frozen peppers and onions, which I'd thawed in the fridge and pressed the water out of. As all this was cooking, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and chili powder, and when the vegetables were looking done, I added . . .  half a pound, maybe? . . . of pre-cooked ground turkey. More chili powder to spice it up, and scrambled eggs on the side, and that was brunch after Mass. 

As always, I'm indebted to Well Fed for the bones of this meal.