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It's very scary. I bought, or rather Phillip did, about 100 dollars worth of tea. He was not pleased-- naturally, as anyone would, he did not think this was possible. I felt too guilty to return it, and everyone felt bad. But this tea has been all I've been drinking. A white tea, low caffeine, but still an actual "tea" in that is it made out of tea leaves and not some sort of hibiscus nonsense. Both ARE flavored, but with reasonable things such as candied violets or roses or lavender or orange peels, not those overpowering things in Celestial Seasonings to mask the horrible taste of any true teas they have or make your mouth explode with the herbal potions.

But enough about my tea arrogance. I was quite happy as a child to drink Twinnings Earl Grey and sleepytime tea. Anyone who enjoys drinking these things will be just as healthy, just as happy, and have far more money in their pockets.

Worcester had terrible water, and so our cheap tea was the only way I could stomach it. I would drink many cups a day, even though we didn't have the money for me to do that. I would sneak tea out of restaurants and put it in a box, just for me, that no one else could have or know about except for my best friends. But now we have a water filter and I can drink water. I grew up dehydrated because of my picky tastebuds, one reason many people found me very unattractive in school, along with sleeping 4 hours a night, yet others couldn't believe how pretty I was when I was healthy.

The tea is my only way to fight the terrible uphill battle against medication. Combined with age and serotonin-altering drugs, my reliable metabolism has gone. Without panic driving me to skip school and walk for 3 miles on the 7 hills of Worcester, I have also lost a lot of my strength, my muscle, which fights fat and increases metabolism. Tea is well known for giving your tastebuds a complicated treat that feels more significant than water and also makes you less hungry, I don't know why. White tea is supposedly the best for you, but I drink it because I need low caffeine. Sadly, it is also the most expensive tea. It does have some, and the caffeine helps you burn calories, as it gives you energy and you can't help but move around. Even fidgeting helps a person lose weight (I would not recommend it at work if people are watching).

Tea alone... I have been so worried. I eat one meal a day now without trying due to my bad sleeping schedule. If you don't want to gain weight, you can't eat after 8. It's not a hard and fast rule-- a kinder one is don't have dinner less than 2-3 hours before bed and if you must eat to sleep, a carb is OK, but you needn't eat much for it to help. I used to sleep on an empty stomach many days, and it's hard to do again. As when I was a child, here I am, sipping tea at 2 because I can't sleep. Seems counter-productive I guess, but... well, here I am.

My hard work "payed off"-- a month ago this time I was 145, sometimes 148, sometimes if I was weighing myself after not eating all day, 143.

I am currently, as of this moment, 133. I've lost 10 pounds. However, I did not do it the way I would have ever, ever advised on this community. I simply have not been eating enough. My desire is to eat everything in front of me, eat every 2 hours, but instead I drink tea and eat 1000 calories a day, often only once a day. I hardly exercise.

Perfect, right? Great self control. Well, no. I'm not anorexic. Eventually I'm going to break and start eating as normal. If I'm lucky, normal. If I'm not, back to eating everything in sight. If I even eat normally, my metabolism will be so beyond shot that I'd be shocked if I can ever see 140 again without starving myself again. I'm too scared to stop. I'll try my best to slowly go back to eating proper amounts.

And yet... I refuse to eat foods without proper health benefits, that have white puffy bread, that are sugary, that are fried. The power I feel when the Mii jumps up and down and flowers burst when I have managed to remain, after another week, 133, to be able to record that I have a 22 waist, to fit high-end fashion clothing... I can't tell myself it's worth the risk. I'd rather always be hungry.

I am meaty. I will never be less than 120. I will likely never be less than 125. Even like this, I am losing weight at what is considered a healthy pace. Why am I scared?
Current Mood: worriedworried
Although I am allowed to eat solid food, I have decided this week to have food that is as soft as possible. As well, when Phillip had his out, the doctor told him not to eat milk because it had bacteria. I was told no such thing and am taking something like penicillin 3 times a day, but decided to challenge myself by making food without any dairy.

So as not to deprive myself valuable vitamins and fiber, I've made some creative choices in food. One of them didn't work very well-- I made Tom Kha Gai soup in the form of a broth. I filled teabags with lemongrass and galangal, and used chicken broth, coconut milk and fish sauce. I couldn't get the balance right and it didn't taste as it should, and while a close approximation it was not satisfying.

I just had a lovely meal, and it requires no chewing. It is low in fat and high in vitamins and would be wonderful even if I wasn't trying to allow my wound to heal.

The first is high in vitamin A with good amounts of Vitamin C. It is a butternut squash soup, inexpensive as it is by V8, and I added organic carrot juice to it to make it less thick. A pinch of ginger and turmeric is added for flavor, and consuming turmeric is good for you (although difficult to eat in large enough quantities to make the most of its anti-carcinogen effects, so I guess it's mostly psychological).

I put it in a mug for ease in drinking, and the added juice makes it pour much more easily. There are a few squishy pieces of squash to make it seem more substantial.

The second was surprisingly good. I use a lot of organics, by the way, not because I fear growing methods but because they tend to taste better-- Local tastes even better than organic, and it's actually more beneficial to everyone, so I'd recommend when possible you support local farms, especially going directly to them.

So the next was a low-fat take on re-fried beans. I took organic, low sodium canned black beans and drained them. In a pan, I heated a bit of salt and an organic, low sodium chicken broth-- I prefer to salt my own food because much of the sodium in canned foods is just ridiculous, and I wind up salting it anyway. I don't know what's up. Maybe it's not normal salt? Anyway. If you've ever made your own chili you might notice that if you heat the beans too long they become a mush and your chili does not resemble anything good. This time I wanted that, so I heated the black beans until the broth was reduced, occasionally mashing them with a fork. Black beans actually have 0 fat and the calories are low, fiber and protein high, the best beans for anyone on any sort of diet.

I put the mash into a bowl and had both together and found they complimented each other well and I didn't feel deprived in any way. I had a glass of chilled green tea with it and feel very comfortable. And with black beans and carrots I should get a good amount of fiber.

For sweet snacks, I take non-dairy popsicles made out of real fruit, cut it up and put it into a blender. With a small spoon I was able to eat this on the first day. It had plenty of vitamin C and tasted as good as an expensive sorbet. One popsicle is enough for a proper serving of sorbet, which you aren't meant to eat much of at one time.

I had already lost weight from not eating the first day and so I became afraid for my health. This solution is great, and I hope it'll become a habit after I heal.
Current Mood: happysatiated
21 November 2009 @ 02:59 pm
I wound up eating a lot of comfort foods for a month and a half and YIKES did it do a number on me.

This has given me a fun sort of challenge. How do I craft a diet for someone who has become addicted to butter and cheese and cream?

Well, naturally cheese can't completely be omitted. If you want a diet to fail, a sure thing to do is omit things the dieter enjoys entirely. So I have in my house a bit of sour cream for potatoes and some not fat free cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is pretty good for you and it doesn't taste diet-y if you don't take out all the fat.

I went on a diet shopping spree and just got everything that would be good without counting the price. I took 100 out and asked Phillip to cover the rest. At first he refused, but when he saw the bill he quietly accepted it.

The house is now full of veggies, meat substitutes and organic bullshit. I do like meat but it's a good idea to have fake beef rather than real beef during a diet because the fats in beef are totally worthless. The only animal meat I have in the house right now is fish, and fish have awesome good fats. To make up for meaty recipies I have mushrooms and black beans all over the place. Phillip didn't complain at all about the "cheeseburger mac n cheese" that I made with organic maccaroni n cheese and "smart choice" non-meat crumbles.

I'm already feeling less pitiful. I don't feel as though I'm eating less at all nor do I crave fats, since I'm eating plenty of olive oil and avacados, but I'm consuming about a 4th of the calories I was previously. Even with a full stomach I'd want to eat more and whenever I wasn't stuffed full I'd feel like I needed to be. With this diet, so far it seems like that feeling has gone away.

Now if only I could stick to it... I'm always so happy when I'm on a diet. I feel like I forget that it's good to eat like this and mistakenly think I will be happier if I eat loads of garbage.
Current Mood: shockedshocked
18 November 2009 @ 06:15 pm
One of the most useful appliances to own is a rice cooker, and a cheap but healthy thing to buy in bulk is rice. With brown rice being all the rage, as well as "gourmet" blends, there's even more reason to buy yourself pounds of it in all sorts of varieties. The question becomes, "what do I do with it?" Well, plenty!

First of all, what sorts of rice should you buy? The enormous long-grain white rice bags you can buy are tempting, but I usually prefer short grain given my two favorite styles to cook in-- Japanese and Italian. Any kind you like are fine. Though brown rice is fashionable, if you prefer the taste of white rice, the health benefits aren't THAT far apart. As well, you can buy hybrid rice either at specialty stores or online that taste the same as white rice, well, in my opinion better, but are about as healthy as brown. Here are some brands of rice that are really great.

Nishiki White or Brown rice: A good, cheap short grain rice with a variety of uses. These days you can find it in most Asian Foods sections. Best of all, they also have cooked varieties for both types! 30 seconds in the microwave and you have enough for any single meal. I buy it right from our local grocery store (stop n shop) and it's a good rice.

Kagayaki Haiga Rice: Harder to find! But it's really good. Slightly sweet and almost the same health benefits as plain brown rice. So delicious!

Royal Basmati Rice: Not expensive and has a delicious flavor! It's one of the best long grain rices you can find. For any basmati rice, look for it in a cool bag like this. Not only is it more authentic and likely to have a better flavor, it's also great for recycling around the house. I always used them for art supplies, and they're big enough to hold sketchbooks. The bags are substancial enough to use for just about any purpose. A must is to cook it with with a bit of salt and extra virgin olive oil.

ABOUT OLIVE OIL: Don't waste your time buying any other type of olive oil. All of the brands taste different, but whatever you buy, don't bother with the "light" olive oil. It isn't any better no matter how it's advertised and the health benefits are significantly worse, plus it has next to no flavor and you end up using more of it with less effect. If you dislike the strong flavor, add vegetable oil to it and save yourself some money. This way you can use it in your cooking and also have a stronger type so you can add flavor to pasta sauces without adding loads of it.

Other Varieties: I haven't ever had a "bad" rice. Don't worry about taking a risk trying other types. Just buy it in small batches if you've never used it before. Some exotic brown rices are very hard to cook and not very practical for anything other than a side dish, so keep that in mind if you're having company and want to impress them. Also, keep in mind its color. Having a brown curry with red rice is a plate full of the same color and it isn't as appealing as serving it over white or yellow rice. Eating attractive food is always a good idea, since you'll be less hungry and psychologically feel like you had a better meal in pretty much every way.

Arborio rice? --You can only make risotto with this. Don't even try to use it for other things. Also, don't cook it in the rice maker. It may say you can, but don't waste your time. Use another sort of short grain rice to cook like that. Some people might argue with me, but you're reading my livejournal so you should listen to me.


So you have your rice. How do you cook it? For any of the sushi rice I advised buying, cook it with water, no oil, no salt. Most rice tastes better rinsed, but you may not want to rinse brown rice as it is healthier that way, even if the texture is more gritty.

There is no magic, secret way to add the right amount of water, salt or oil to cook your rice. Follow the directions on the package to the letter. If it has none for rice cookers, look it up through google. It doesn't matter the brand, the type should be close enough, especially if they don't bother to tell you how to cook it that way. If you think you can add the right amount of water without measuring, go ahead and try. Making larger batches is harder to cook than smaller batches and may require slight adjustment, but it shouldn't matter that much.

Another good idea is to have things to color food around the house. One of my favorite food colors is Golden Yellow (yellow-orange), and you can usually find it around thanksgiving time for people who want to make fall color sort of cookies or cakes. Wilton is the standard and buy icing colors. They aren't flavored and they last longer-- to add color, use a toothpick and dip it in the color, then swirl it in your food. The secret to making yellow rice without saffron that doesn't taste so much like turmeric that it overpowers the natural flavor of your rice is to add a pinch of it and then use a yellow orange food coloring.

To cook rice for sushi, don't add anything to it. You're supposed to transfer it to another bowl, prefferably wooden, and while it's still warm add sushi vinegar in whatever amount specified or to taste. I generally do not add anything to it, even if I'm using it for sushi. The most important thing for sushi rice is that it must be rinsed carefully or it will not have the right texture. It's very hard (for me) to use brown rice for normal maki rolls, but it's fine for a hand roll.


Once it's cooked, a fine way to store it is to use small bags that are good for freezing in convenient amounts and microwave them. It's also fine to put the rice cooker in the fridge if it is easilly removed from the electric base. This is another reason i rarely add vinegar to my short grain rice. It's much easier to use rice that doesn't taste strongly for other purposes.

It's suitable to eat rice with every meal and in many countries is eaten all day no matter if it's breakfast, lunch or dinner. One way to do it is to have plain white rice in a little bowl that you don't mix with your main dish and season minimally. Pick the bowl up and eat it with whatever you prefer to use as a utencil. As a kid, I liked to eat rice with a spoon.

But if you want to leave your rice to get drier and drier in the fridge and want to eat it before it goes totally stale without just eating plain rice every day, you have a lot of options.

The more dry rice is, the better it is for frying. Though fried rice is a coveted chineese resturaunt dish in america, it would be insulting to serve guests fried rice if they came to your home since it's a way of using crappy rice and random leftovers in your fridge.

Also: Without everything as it is in the resturaunt, it is unlikely you could make fried rice taste exactly like your favorite place for take-out, but you shouldn't at all aspire to make that. If you could see what goes into it, you probably wouldn't want to eat it anymore anyway.

To make fried rice, add a bit of oil in a pan and take cold rice that is at least a day old. Before putting it in the pan, break it up so it's indivisual pieces and not a big lump. Add salt and brown the rice. Once brown, add whatever the hell you want to the side. Chopped sausage, onions, peppers, pineapple and especially fried egg are good choices. Cube leftovers if it suits the flavor. You can scramble the fried egg right in the same pan if you move your browned rice to one side and then whip the two together once it's cooked. I often make it by frying bacon until no part is squishy, wiping the pan down so there's less than a teaspoon but more than a film left over, adding my rice and then crumbles of bacon. Pineapple tastes great with this.

For traditional fried rice you do not add soy sauce, but you may add it afterwords as a condiment once it's cooked, the same way you'd salt food if it isn't as salty as you'd like. You may be shocked how good it tastes without it.

But don't worry about just making asian dishes! Although risotto is made in a specific way, by browning it in oil uncooked and adding broth, you can eat it like pasta. Here's my favorite way:

chop garlic. Fresh garlic is so cheap and it keeps a long time like onions or potatoes, which you should also have plenty of sitting around. No need to mince it until it's been reduced to atoms. It need only be small enough to flavor the food. Heat olive oil in a pan on high. The pan should in no way be smoking. When you add the garlic, the frying noise should not be able to wake the dead and the garlic should not instantly char to black. I know I'm instructing people who don't typically cook, but be reasonable! It should, however, clearly be cooking the garlic and you should see a reaction in the pan. Meaning the garlic shouldn't just be sitting there waiting in vain for something to happen. If it is, do not fret. Simply wait until it is obviously cooking, stirring often, and then that's when you can add your rice. If it is cooking, add the rice at once, crumbled as you can as for fried rice.

The rice should also be cold and old. If it isn't, I'll explain how you can cook it afterwards. So right, fold it over in the pan and add salt to it as you do this. Taste it during this process to see if it's salted enough and uniformly warm.

Take a spoonful of sour cream and fold that into the rice until it's coated in it. The rice should be fine to eat now! But I don't stop there.

I cube cheddar cheese (White! I'm cheese-racist, I have an aversion to yellow cheese.) and add a store-bought marinara sauce. Even though they have loads of preservative salt, I find they're never salted enough, so if it was salty enough for you in cream stage it should be good when you add the pasta sauce. It shouldn't be a soup, but it should be sort of thick, enough so you can just pour it right out of the pan into your bowl. You stir it until the cheese melts. The sauce should end up a beautiful pink. Mind you, if it's not actually the color pink, you did no wrong. A pink sauce refers to a cross between a white, or cream sauce and a red, or marinara sauce. Therefore it is "pink", but the actual color is closer to orange. Once it's done, pour it into a bowl and eat with a fork or spoon. Delicious! I also add oregano of an italian seasoning before the cheese is melted but it's fine without. it may not be risotto but it's a delicious dish.

You can use this logic to make many great rice dishes. If it mixes with other things in another recipie, it's probably pretty good with a simpler one that can be made with plain cooked rice.

Have you ever heard of congee? It's rice porridge and it's another good way to eat rice. It's considered a comfort food in many asian countries and many people eat it when they're sick. it is eaten in so many countries that honestly? You can add just about anything to it.

To be honest I've never done this but if I did, I wouldn't go for chinese style because it's so gooey and frightens me. I'd probably do a sort of fusion style of things that are essencial to it being rice porridge without being EXACTLY congee.

Take your cooked rice. I'd reccomend freshy cooked rice, before it has time to sit. I'd want to save some of it, so I'd keep it sitting in the cooker and spoon however much I prefer into a pot just big enough to expand by about a 4th or so from the amount of cooked rice I add.

Water, Milk or Coconut Milk can be added. Simmer the rice and fluid at the same time, stir frequently to avoid it burning on the bottom, until it looks less like rice and more consistant, like an oatmeal or well, a porridge!

It should be fairly bland, but feel free to add as much salt to it as you like. Green onions or bamboo shoots would sound good to me, maybe even some straw mushrooms, and add a bit of fish sauce to it. Oo, and grated ginger! I'd probably make it the consistancy of Filipino congee. Since it's such a universal dish, any grain of rice will do, long or short.

In many countries it's eaten with an egg in it. That totally freaks me out, but if you like it, do it. If you have a lot of japanese stuff in your house, sprinkling some bonito flakes would be good, seasoning it as you might plain tofu. So a small amount of soy sauce on the top, seseme seeds, rice flavoring, chopped green onions, scallion, mayo, bonito flakes, whatever. if you can find some farm fresh eggs you could stir in a raw egg too, but that might also freak you out as it does me, but I bet it would be good if you're into that. Quail eggs wouldn't for some reason. You could also hard-boil, scramble or poach an egg for it. Adding salty meats would also be nice, like chopped up chinese cooked pork or like bacon or sausage something. Oh! And chicken would be great, a chicken broth base too. Just keep it simple.

You can also add rice to just about any soups you make! I love to add it to chicken soup, especially wild rice! Mmmm... Don't forget beans and rice! Or curry! Or you can mix it with cheese and add broccoli!

Oh! I said I'd tell you how to make my fake risotto with freshyly cooked rice. No big secret! Just plop it into a bowl while it's hot and add pasta sauce to it! Since it's also a starch, it's fine to eat as you would pasta. Since it's warm, if you mix it it should sort of heat the pasta sauce for a simply made dish. Not bad, eh?
Current Mood: hungryhungry
06 November 2009 @ 02:08 pm
Most grocers have an "asian" section, and in that asian section most now sell udon-packets for cheap.
At my grocery store they also have veggies that have expired, and since it's fall, lots of squash. I dislike squash, but I bought it anyway because you can't beat the price. Japanese one-pot cooking is a great way to cook veggies without having to think too much or have a boring sidedish.

I had:

Summer Squash, Zucchini, Red Potatoes, Scallions, turnip, carrots... think that was it. Mushrooms are ideal to have in your nabe but I had none. Any kind at all is good, except for canned. Everything should be fresh.

First you make a soup base, your dashi. It should be slightly sweet and a light color. I made my dashi with hon-dashi, a dashi powder. A typical dashi is:

  • 3 1/2 cup dashi soup
  • 4 Tbsp sake
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp salt
But it doesn't have to be something like that. You could just use the soup base your udon came with, a tiny dash of soy sauce and sugar. Mirin is best, but sugar works in a pinch. Get it to boiling and add Potatoes and Turnips, chopped neatly so it can be easilly picked up with chopsticks. It takes a good amount of boiling to get those done the whole way through, and it entirely depends on size, so I'd say you're done when the turnip is still hard but you can bite through it without it being crunchy. Then you add the rest, boil it for about 15 minutes, long enough to get the dashi in it without losing all color. Pull it all out with a slotted spoon and set aside, and then add the udon. I first rinse the noodles after getting it out of the package because I find the packaging gices it a weird, bitter taste. You should add it and not boil it, but simmer, and the noodles should still be a little hard. Strain them out as well and you serve them both together. You can have it with or without the broth poured over it. If you don't want just vegetables, you can also add a hardboiled egg, clams, fish filets, fish cakes, tofu, or things like that. After it's done cooking the broth tastes very good, so even if you have it brothless I reccomend saving it and using it for other things or just having it as a clear soup  with a few chopped scallions and thinnly sliced mushrooms!

16 October 2009 @ 05:23 pm
This is a fine, inexpensive, basic recipe. It tastes much better than canned and both white beans, and saltpork are very inexpensive. You can also add catsup to taste and forget the salt. Brown mustard also works, though it isn't traditional. The rest you absolutely need.

Baked Beans

1 pound dried white pea beans
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound lean salt pork, diced

Pick over beans and rinse. Place in a large bowl; add water to cover. Let stand overnight; drain. Combine beans and onions in a large saucepan; add water to cover; heat to boiling; cover. Simmer 45 minutes, or until skins of beans burst when you blow on several in a spoon. Drain liquid into a small bowl. Measure 1 cup of the bean liquid and combine with molasses, mustard, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Layer half of the salt pork and all of the beans into an 8 cup bean pot. Pour molasses mixture overtop; add just enough more saved liquid to cover beans. Top with remaining salt pork, pressing down into liquid; cover. Bake at 300 degrees farenheit for 4 hours; uncover. Bake 1 hour longer, or until beans are deep brown, tender, and as dry as you like them. (After 2 hours baking, check beans, and if they seem dry, add more saved bean liquid to keep them moist.

Current Mood: anxiousanxious
26 September 2009 @ 11:42 pm
Curry is quite easy to make. Once you understand what is IN curry, it's just about as easy as throwing together a pasta sauce.

To many people, this is the biggest mystery. What IS in Curry? Well, for a curry that's yellow, brown or red it's pretty straightforward.

Curry has tomato in it. That's its base. Curry has turmeric in it. That's what makes it yellow. Curry has cumin in it. That's what that curry taste you always taste is. Cilantro makes anything better.

Curry may have any of these spices, too: Cinnamon, Coriander seeds (that's cilantro in seed form), Cardamom, cloves, fancy peppercorns, bayleaves... those are things in a garam masala, but it's not limited to that. If you can powder it or crush it, it'll work well. Another common curry spice is oregano, which may surprise you. I've seen fennel seeds as well. There's also cream, for your tikka masala, and a host of other things.

Typical things in curry that you see floating around are carrots, onions, potatoes, and a meat. Other good things are fresh garlic, ginger, chillies, and bits of cilantro. In fact, just plain old stewed tomatoes might be in it.

If you aren't sure if it goes in curry, google it. It probably goes in curry.

Now here's a few other kinds of curry aside from the basic meat sort. Most involve beans.
LENTILS. Lentils are fair game. So are red and black beans, black-eye beans. (Yes, kidney bean curry is real. It's called Rajma, and the others are quite popular as too.)
GROUND BEEF. I'm dead serious. Masala Kheema calls for ground beef. Looks like you don't do much of a sauce for it, you just add the garam masala and a few other basic things and you've got it.

Now I'm not mentioning recipies aside from names because you can look them up easy. However if you aren't looking them up and didn't plan for it and just want to make a curry for no reason, it's likely you don't have all of the things they reccomend. That's fine. There's a lot of great things you can have around the house, too, that make for great curry but that can also make great not-curry.

One thing you should have is a concentrated curry mix from the ethnic foods isle of your supermarket, should you have one. I don't reccomend the sauces. They are always dissapointing, so go with a paste. The best I've seen is Patak's Mild Curry Paste. Another thing to have on hand is tomato paste. It'll thicken up a pasta sauce in an instant. Stewed tomatoes make a great pasta sauce (and curry), too, but it's too thin, so you may want to add your paste to that if you're not making curry with it!

Just now, I was hungry. I wanted something with a strong taste. I took a can of lentil soup, and threw together a fake version of a Dal curry, which is usually yellow, but whatever. I mixed in about a half a small can of tomato paste to make it not a soup. I took a big spoonful of the curry paste, stirred it in, added a bit of tiger-tiger masala sauce just to be sure (I had some left, it wasn't that good but whatever) and didn't need to add a single thing else. I brought it to bubbling, put in a microwave rice bowl, I had dinner in less than 10 minutes.

Soups is the ultimate secret to making a simple curry out of something with a thousand other uses. In fact, with most of these simple soups you can add a spoonful of the curry paste and have a sort of curry soup. I like a golden-colored curry and so I choose either a butternut squash soup or a carrot soup. Linked are my favorites. You can find them in the fancy organic isle usually. Adding them to anything makes food a little richer, and since carrots are one of the things curry have in them, it's a great thing to add. The squash has the same effect, but more subtle and harder to identify, as the carrot you can absolutely taste at once. Instead of tomato, I will sometimes just use one of those as the base and add flavoring to it.

There's a few secret tricks I use. One thing that's awesome to always have around is Beet Juice Powder. It seems so silly but I honestly use it for everything other than making a juice. You add it to anything that looks a little pallid and it'll perk it up in seconds. It makes cute pink rice, adds a bit of color to a tea without using hibiscus (just take care not to use too much or you'll have beet juice tea) and of course it works wonders in curry-- or a red sauce you added so many things into it looks more like a brown sauce. It barely changes the taste if you don't add too much while dramatically changing the color.

You may also want to make something yellow without turmeric (bitter) or saffron (expensive, sometimes requires preparation.) What I keep is a little bit of yellow-orange frosting coloring. I add a pinch of turmeric and then mix in the desired amount of golden hue and things will often look much more appetising. The turmeric can usually be tasted, even at a pinch, but the gold color is as strong as if you'd used much more, making it too bitter.

The final invisible fix is the strangest of mine. I use cooking oils. Not just olive or seseme, essencial oils of spices. If I want my curry to taste stronger, I'll add a toothpick's amount of cumin and/or oregano oil. It makes something very aromatic without troubling with adding loads of powder. It makes the sauce taste of cumin without changing its texture, so it can remain creamy and not gritty. You have to get ones specifically made to be cooked with, even if they're essencial. Usually they take the prettiest smelling ones for aromatherapy, but cooking oils of the same herb, and which are also 'essencial' tend to smell a little funky if you sniff the bottle. In food, they smell and taste exactly like any ordinary spice, but a dab'll do ya. I have cumin oil from 10 years back, and unlike 10 year old cumin powder it's strong and fresh as can be. (Right, and always keep in mind... spices age)

Once you know the logic behind curry you know what should and shouldn't be in something and, especially after you do a few proper recipies, you'll figure out how it should look. You may find that with my advice your curry comes out better than any online recipie or anything below the finest Indian resturaunts!

I can be more specific about directions if you are very unfamiliar with cooking, but I assure you it couldn't be easier.

07 September 2009 @ 09:02 am
Today's experimental breakfast was a surprising success. The meal used these things:

1 locally grown tomato
1 local duck egg
Pear Vinegar
Haiga rice, going slightly stale
fully cooked bacon pieces, stored in the freezer with sauteed red onions
red wine
toothpick's amount of golden yellow food coloring (from little jar)
low sodium butternut squash soup
cinnamon powder
mustard seed
salt and pepper

ITEM ONE -- Bacon fried rice

Bacon and onions combined should be about one cup, give or take. Since the bacon has natural oil, there is no need to oil the pan, just throw the frozen lump into a pan that has been pre-heated to about medium and add about a tea to a tablespoon of wine on top. Turn the heat to max and keep stirring and jabbing at it until it's mostly separated. Take the rice, mine was about a cup and a half, and you break it apart. Fried rice CANNOT be made with fresh rice, not even cold fresh rice. The best fried rice comes from rice that feels hard and when broken apart will be several individual grains, not several lumps of half wet junk. This doesn't happen with all rice and, when/if it does, it has to be at least a half a week in the fridge. When the bacon and onions are sizzling, add the broken apart rice. Stir and stir until there's a good balance of rice, onions, and bacon all over the pan. Once mixed, turn the heat to a bit more than medium. Take a toothpick and dip it in some orange or yellow food coloring and stir it into your rice. This will not turn it yellow, but it should give it a more pleasing color than the grayish color it's likely to have before you do this. You should add a pinch or two of salt to taste and just a few, not even a full teaspoon, of mustard seed. A little quick sprinkle. Should you not have any, a few slivers of fresh ginger should give it that little kick. Keep stirring until the rice has been lightyly browned on all sides.

ITEM TWO -- Poached duck egg

In my opinion, the best way to serve a duck egg aside from using it in your favorite egg-containing pastry is to poach it. The whites contain a great deal of protien, so a sunny-side up egg or omelette may be too hard to those used to squishier chicken eggs. The yolk is rich as well, and to risk overcooking it by hardboiling is too frightening for me to imagine. Plus, a proper poached egg is heaven, so here is how to do it.

Simply bring water to a simmer (small bubbles at the bottom, distinctly not boiling but a few bubbles escaping to the top) with a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and the smallest amount of vinegar. Traditionally you use white vinegar, but a slightly sweeter vinegar is wonderful for a duck or any egg, so I will use my fancy pear-infused vinegar. The goal here is not to have an egg that tases like vinegar, but to make science happen quicker. You never boil a poached egg, but vinegar will cause the egg to turn white faster. You want this to happen, since the hardest part of a poached egg is keeping the darn thing together.

You may have heard any number of tricks to manage this feat, but I find the surest way if you're concerned is to use a serving spoon (a laddle is alright too) and crack the egg into that. Slowly lower it into the simmering water and tilt it in, taking care not to get it stuck to the bottom of the pan. If it does, just lightly stir it off, more like a nudge. I don't even use a spoon. If you're gentle and push it off the bottom, it usually stays together well enough. When it has solidified but you can see the yolk has not turned a light yellow (meaning the yolk is still deliciously raw) you pull it out with a slotted spoon.

To serve this meal, put the egg partially on the rice (they are meant to be eaten together so you can put it on top, but it looks classier at a jaunty angle) and slice the tomato into half-moons that you layer on the other side of the plate as garnish and deliciousness. In a small bowl or teacup without a handle, heat about a cup or so of soup in the microwave (or of course you can do it stovetop, but no need to make more dishes) and after two minutes, stir it and then add a pinch of cinnamon powder. This is to be drank with your meal and may have a spoon or not.

It's an easy meal and can be made with several substitutes! If you want to try this yourself, you can use normal onion, plain white rice, forgo the wine and coloring or mustard seed, poach an ordinary egg in white vinegar, and use whatever sides you enjoy to compliment the meal. Although I ate this as a breakfast, I envision this as a lunch. Ideally I would have used as my side white asparagus and green onion diced into the rice.
04 September 2009 @ 01:39 am
Well, I've been losing weight, but recently I have been sleeping and eating poorly, so I gained a few pounds back. Still, all in all I've still lost 5 since I started this goal, since I lost over 10 pounds then gained something like 5 more or less back. Here's what I hope to do.

* Aerobics for 5 or 10 minutes all throughout the day. (Easy enough to bust out into jumping jacks or something, and as anyone who knows me would agree I'd totally just do that) --At school, going quickly up and down the stairs would do.
* Morning Yoga! It always helps so much. I don't know why it's good but somehow I always feel less tired and less depressed.
* Build Muscle! If you want to lose weight and get the most out of your aerobics, building muscle mass is a must. I enjoy crunches and I can do it without harming my back. I also like lifting weights suitable to my size. I even have a set at Nadia's house!

That's lifestyle, but a diet is simple. I gained weight from eating food I dislike, plain and simple. it is a terrible way to gain weight and very shameful. In my class I learned that one can only adhere to a diet that includes things they enjoy, so it shouldn't be hard to craft a diet more tantalizing than fattening foods. After all, I find when I am hungry after eating a lot that there's a part of me that's upset I wasn't eating something nicer and it's like I'm looking for that good taste. If I recently had a very delicious meal, I tend to not want to eat as much because the food was great and I just want to meditate on it.

I love more than anything ethnic foods. I know it makes me a bit of an imperialist, but you can do so many nice things with it! I also very much enjoy peasant food and maritime faire. I love American food that Americans make, but not so much "American" resturaunts. They tend to barely count as resturaunts, much how American cheese barely counts as cheese.

Long-winded, but I have decided that the perfect diet, therefore, is combining my favorite foods. In order to make money, I shall be eating Japanese portions. A bento is the perfect size for a meal for one person, especially a lunch or dinner, which should be light for optimum health. I can eat anything I'd like provided it fits in a bento elegantly. Beans and rice, little mini sandwiches, japanese style hamburgers, omelette rice, soba or udon and tempura, japanese-style curry... there's many dishes I adore and would be about 50% of what I eat.

And when I need to eat when I'm on the go, I'll either stop at a grocery store or eat my favorite foods! Naturally the answer is sushi bars and sashimi dishes!

Here is a great resource.

According to most sources I can find, 6 peices of sashimi are actually quite light and it's become a trend to offer brown rice at many local places. (None are as nice as bluefin's haiga rice option.) To get enough vegetables won't be a problem, since many of my favorite foods have plenty! Also, no bento can really look elegant without vegetables, right? Meat and rice is just too depressing...

Deserts should be a small scoop of sorbet and a dainty chip of 70% organic dark chocolate! Why should I bother with anything else? With a cup of rooibos chai, wouldn't that be the ideal way to end a night?

If I focus on being elegant, I will lose weight quickly. It's time to become snooty once again and return to my small frame. As for if it will work? It already has, darling! I bounced back when I started eating garbage I didn't even like again. I'll update soon!

Currently! 136

19 May 2009 @ 05:09 pm
Today I wanted SALMON! But we have none! Buuuu... I don't have a lot of things I want, but I do have plenty to eat. I have fiber/calcium/protien enriched pasta as well as healthy haiga rice, a sort of whole wheat short grain hybrid rice. This kind of rice is best for Japanese recipies, but also for risotto or porridge.

Excuse my vague recipes. I like experimentation so I hope if anyone other than me uses them they have fun and try things.

Mushroom Over Rice

1 large Portobello Mushroom cap
1-2 cups cooked brown rice
a handfull of watercress
hon-dashi (any soup stock will work)
seseme oil (olive oil or butter is also good)
A clove of fresh garlic (optional)
Japanese pickes (optional)
Thinnly sliced carrots, petal-shaped (optional)

Dice a clove of garlic. In a pan, heat seseme oil to high heat (not smoking), and when hot add garlic cloves. Turn down heat to medium. Cube portobello mushroom cap and brown in the pan. Sprinkle less than a teaspoon hon-dashi (to taste) in pan and add hot water. Stir until hon-dashi dissolves. Simmer mushroom caps until you can taste the mushrooms in the broth and they are nice and juicy. Add watercress and lightly steam, cooking them to a bright green. With a fork, place watercress on one side of a bowl filled with rice in a crescent shape (I flatten it down so the food on top rests nicely) and cover the rest with mushrooms. Pour in broth. Garnish with Japanese pickles or carrots on the edge. This is best eaten with a spoon.

Vegetable Curry

2 cups of zucchini and eggplant combined, cubed
2 cloves of garlic
potatoes that will total to 2 cups
carrots, however many, cubed
carrot soup (I use carrot ginger)
concentrated curry base
cooked brown rice
olive oil

In a pan, heat enough olive oil to coat the pan. Dice garlic and brown in pan, followed by zucchini and eggplant, carrots. Microwave potatoes for 10 minutes and cube them as well, brown. Pour in carrot soup, mix with curry mix, reduce, and continue this pattern. When the soup is thick enough to make a proper curry sauce, it's done. Serve slightly on the side of the rice, overlapping it.