Sunday, January 30, 2011

Long day tomorrow... Lunch and Dinner!

Tomorrow is one of those days. We have a client in the theater from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm. No breaks. On days like this, we require client to feed the crew at least once. It usually ends up being a pizza run. Not that I'm complaining. Pizza is a great food. Pizza makes me happy. Pizza makes my stomach not so happy. So I'm going in prepared tomorrow...

I haven't decided yet what to eat for lunch and what to eat for dinner... depends on what kind of mood I'm in. And if I think I'll have time to run to the microwave right before the performance. Which I rather doubt. Which means this will end up being lunch.

I've got fresh asparagus, sauteed with salt and pepper, pork tenderloin kabob-ettes, and wild rice. On the bottom there's my new favorite sliced thin dill pickle in a cute cup, slices of sweet mini peppers, three little grape tomatoes, baby carrots, and a cup of pistachios. As always, I need to work on cutey-fying my microwave layer. Better ways to arrange it, or little cute edible things I can add to it... I dunno.

I love this box. It's big though. It feels much too big to do my regular warm and cold layers. So it usually ends up holding salad. And since I'm not on speaking terms with most leafy greens, it usually ends up holding pasta salad. Whole wheat rotini with pastrami, grape tomatoes, and sweet mini pepper slices. The little blue baseball cap in the corner (do strawberries have corners?) is a sour grape container filled with ff italian dressing.

The bottom holds a beautimous fruit salad. Pineapple, pomello, apple, orange, and strawberries. I'm quite proud of that salad. Not because it's anything special as far as fruit salads go... No. It was something else entirely.

The pineapple, for instance. I do love pineapple. Out of a can. I have seen them fresh. I have eaten them fresh. I know what they look like. And for some reason cutting up a fresh pineapple was intimidating. Maybe because they sell a gadget designed specifically for cutting it up. If they had to invent one of those, then if follows that cutting up pineapple must be difficult, yes? I learned my lesson. If I'm the one holding the knife, there's no reason to be intimidated...

The pomello was a completely new thing to me. It came in my produce co-op yesterday, as did everything else in the salad. I had to google it to see what it was. And how to peel it. It's really good! Some people were comparing it to grapefruit, but aside from the fact that they are both citrus... I don't see it. The rind is nearly 3/4 of an inch thick. And the membranes are really tough so you have to go through the fruit and peel out each section. It took me 20 minutes to do the one fruit. But the taste is worth it.

Are you all jealous of my co-op yet? This week's take included a cantaloupe, two pomellos, strawberries, apples, oranges, asparagus, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and ... I dunno. I usually forget something. (The pineapple was last week...) I gave the lettuce to my mom. Because ew. And am trying to work my way through everything else. I still have grapefruit and lemons from last week. And tomatoes. I never know what to do with them. I need a really good recipe for tomato basil soup.

On a side note, having nothing to do with food... I drove my 1949 Dodge Coronet for the first time today. It was an experience... I had to google how to drive it. It shifts on the column, but is a mix between a manual and an automatic. I had my hands glued to the wheel and my eyes on the road, but my friend who was following me said every person we passed stopped to watch until we were out of sight. It IS a pretty cool looking car. And how often do you see a 62 year old car out on the road? I intend to get it all running nicely and purtied up so I can just drive it everywhere. After all. What's the point of having a car you aren't going to drive?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bento in a hurry. Finally.

Today I decided to give myself a time limit on my bento. So I did. 15 minutes. And I actually did it!

I had made some stuffed mushrooms. Really really good stuffed mushrooms. Which I feel the need to share the recipe for. At the end.

Anyway. The top layer involved some of the stuffed mushrooms on a bed of a wild rice mix. The zucchini was diced, steamed, and then stir-fried in a bit of canola oil. And yes. I managed to do this in my 15 minutes.

The bottom included the mini sweet peppers, a thinly sliced dill pickle, a string cheese, and some apple slices dipped in lemon juice to keep them from browning. And in the gaps you'll find some sweet and low hard candies. Which I didn't actually eat. I just don't have any good little gap fillers. I'm off to buy grapes tomorrow. Most likely.

I say most likely because tomorrow is Saturday, and as you may or may not know, Saturday is the day I pick up my co-op produce. And I never know what I'm going to get. I'm a bit behind in the eating of my fruit. I have a drawer full of citrus and tomatoes. And a bag of apples. And a pineapple and some bananas. I can usually keep up with the veggies, but I need to work on getting more fruit into my lunches. I think I'll cut up the pineapple tonight and broil it with some Splenda. Supposedly that's also good with grapefruit... Breakfast tomorrow, I think.

It was a yummy bento, but I think that because I packed it all together while the zucchini and rice were still warm, it caused the juice from the pickles to condensate and then get all over my peppers and apples. Lesson learned. Wait for it to cool down, or don't pack pickles. ...Actually. I know that for food safety reasons, you aren't supposed to pack warm food at all. Condensation can cause bacteria growth and such things. Which is, of course, no good. But I've never been much of a rule follower. And I figure that if all the bugs, floor candy, and been-in-the-fridge-too-long-leftovers didn't kill me when I was a kid, this likely won't either. I could be wrong.

Anywho. Stuffed mushrooms. My way.

1 package mushrooms
1/4 cup diced onion
1 TBS olive oil
pepper to taste
savory blend Mrs Dash to taste
salt to taste
2 TBS flour
2 TBS white cooking wine
1/4 c water
1/2 c some sort of cooked pork, cut into little tiny pieces. I used leftover pork tenderloin
1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated.
1/4 c snipped parsley

1. Wash the mushrooms. Oh. And preheat the oven to 300.
2. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Cut the stems into cute little pieces.
3. In oil, saute the onion and the mushroom stem bits until just soft.
4. Add pepper, Mrs. Dash, salt, and flour. Stir until all the flour is moistened.
5. Add wine and water. Stir until it gets all thick and bubbly.
6. Mix in pork, cheese, and parsley.
7. Taste the mix. Ok... you don't actually have to do this, but it is yummy. And you can check your seasoning and adjust if you need to.
8. Spoon mixture into mushroom caps. Pile it on there. Place mushroom caps onto a greased baking sheet.
9. Back mushrooms 10-15 minutes.
10. Eat mushrooms.

If you have leftover filling, it's really yummy mixed into rice.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shocked and Dead bento

Can I name a bento for the two picks I used in it? I dunno. But I did.

See? It took me forever to make, because I have yet to figure out speed bentoing. I look at the amazing bentos made by the ladies on some of the blogs I follow. And I marvel. That they look so good. And so balanced. And that they didn't spend two hours making them. I WILL get the hang of this. I will. I will. I will.

So. I had to use up the rest of asparagus and savoy from my bountiful basket. There's the top tier. I just steamed them with some salt and pepper. Easy peasy. It would have been easier and peasier if I had steamed them in the same pan at the same time. I'll learn.

I think my favorite meat to prepare at home is pork tenderloin. Followed closely by pork loin. And maybe country style pork ribs. ...If it came from a pig, I like to cook it. Except bacon. I hate cooking bacon. Go figure. Anyway. This is pork tenderloin. I cut it into little pieces that I figured would look good on cute food pics and tossed them into a pan. Salt, pepper, and garlic herb Mrs. Dash. That's all it took. And those little things are SO GOOD! Also. They reheat well and without drying out. And next to the little pork is a small potato that I diced and ... wait for it... I cooked it in the same pan at the same time as the pork. See? Learning! The potato turned out really yummy.

Bottom layer contains three mini sweet peppers, a loverly chocolate, some Provolone cheese strips, and a little cup of pickles. The pickle was a baby dill that I just sliced thin with my mini mandoline.

I ended up sharing my bento with a coworker who didn't have lunch and wasn't hungry enough to make a sandwich with the supplies I keep in the fridge at work now. I wasn't all that hungry either, which worked out well. The good news? I have changed this coworker's views on asparagus. From 'It's a vile weed straight from the pits of hell' to 'Hey. That's pretty good stuff.'

Also. I'm a full time employee now. That means I have access to the secret gym under the city center. At all hours of the day and night. This makes me happy, as I like to run at night, but my neighborhood is kind of creepy. I get my keycard next week. And I'm still planning on running that 5k in May.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Goals. But not New Year's resolutions.

New Year's is past. And nobody keeps their New Year's resolutions anyway. These goals are in no way related to the beginning of 2011. Rather, they are related to me feeling like I need to be more responsible. And healthy. And maybe a bit less of a dork.

First goal. Run a 5k in May. Maybe two of them...

I started the Couch to 5k program last month. I'm still doing the first week. Time to move on? Probably. But running has never been my thing. And asthma has always kept me from the good cardio stuff. Except... I stopped having big issues with my asthma a couple of years ago. And I never changed my habits. So that's why I've been doing week 1 for the past 4 weeks. And I'm glad I did. I went running a couple of days ago and went a half mile further in the same amount of time than I did when I started. And I wasn't nearly as winded. So yes... I think this week I'll finally move on to week 2.

Second goal. Eat healthy.

Which kind of goes hand in hand with not eating out, and bento. Eating out... It's hard to not eat out when I don't work with a single person who brings lunch. I absolutely hate staying at work by myself for lunch. It's boring. And if I'm going to make this one work, I have to work on changing not only my habits, but maybe some coworkers' habits.

I did just find a wonderful resource for eating healthy on the cheap... Bountiful Baskets. It's a produce co-op that I stumbled on. They have pickup sites all over the west. I was a bit wary the first time I participated, but holy crap is it great! Every Monday I 'contribute' $15 to the co-op. And at the un-godly hour of 8am on Saturday morning, I pick up my basket. A laundry basket FULL of fresh produce. Good stuff too. This week included apples, bananas, pineapple, pears, grapefruit, tomatoes, purple savoy, lettuce, asparagus, red potatoes and broccoli. Last week there were avocados. A few weeks ago there were pomegranates... My challenge to myself is to eat everything before I get the next basket.

Third goal. Financial blah blah blah.

I have a budget. It used to be a very strict budget. It has become less so in the past few months. That needs to change.

I do now have a full time job. (Woot woot!) There is more money floating around my bank account. But. I just bought a newish truck. Which means I have a car payment. And I have a whole bunch of student loans. And a few credit cards from my 'wild' days. And if I keep paying them like I'm paying them, I will be in debt for at least the next 18 years. That's a long time!

This is where 'snowballing' comes in. I found an awesome snowball calculator here. It's free. And it has charts and graphs and a column for 'flake' payments. And if I keep with it and add an extra $100 to my bills every month, I can have EVERYTHING payed off in six years! Debt free! How would that be? ... I'd sure like to find out.

I'm almost considering getting a hobo job (i.e. donating plasma) so I can afford to pay more without feeling deprived... I think it would totally be worth it.

Fourth goal. Finish school.

18 credit hours. Or something like that. They changed up the requirements during the year I was gone. But dang it! I'm that close to my bachelor's degree. I need to get it. Especially if I want to get a Master's in Arts Management someday. Which I do. Luckily, my new full-time status comes with many perks. Like access to the secret gym. And health benefits. And auto insurance discounts... and tuition reimbursement. I don't even have to pay for it! I have no more excuses!

I'm taking just one class this semester. Ethics and Values. With the papers... That's always been my problem with school. The writing. I can do it. I'm even good at it. But I absolutely, positively despise it. I'm a math person. I like numbers and order and the one right answer. I hate writing. My first paper is due in three weeks. Wish me luck.

I don't want to promise anything. But I did finally unpack my bento things today. I even packed a bento for my lunch tomorrow. It's all sorts of fun colors. Too bad my camera batteries aren't charged. I'm going to try to be better about posting my bentos. After all. That is the whole reason for this sad neglected blog, right? Right.

So. Lunch tomorrow... A sun-dried tomato chicken sausage on black rice. Steamed purple savoy and asparagus. A pear. A bit of granola. And a chocolate. Because I still have junk left over from Christmas and I can't very well let it go to waste.

Anywho. Wish me luck in my many endeavors.