excerpted from caro's journal: topic: recipes

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2008_05_27:12: Roast Beef

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Roast Beef

My mother's 9-child family owned a grocery store during the Depression. Unlike the rest of the staggering community in Baltimore, they always had plenty of food, and they could take their pick of the cuts of meat.

My mother's primary choice was beef chuck or shoulder blade. My own nuclear family was quite poor, and chuck happens to be among the cheapest cuts of beef. Isn't that a happy coincidence? I grew up believing that roast beef simply was roast chuck, period. It was hard for me to get used to other cuts of beef, which were always tougher. Likewise, when people eat roast beef at my home, they generally concur that it's the, or close to the, best roast beef they've ever had. This roast literally melts in your mouth. It amuses me to provide butter knives (rather than steak knives) or only forks to my guests--it's that tender. Here's how it's done, precooking preparation time approximately 1 minute, not counting shopping:

Buy a piece of beef clearly labeled as chuck, shoulder, or blade roast, preferably without strings tied around it.

Place the meat in your enamel roaster. Wash your hands.

Liberally apply black pepper powder and salt or Vegesal to the top.

Cover the roaster with its own cover, or tightly with aluminum foil.

Blast for 15 minutes at 500F.

Lower heat to 350, add one cup of water to the bottom of the roaster, and roast for 1.5 hours for a very small roast, 2 hours for a larger roast.

Optional: In the last hour of cooking, add large, raw chunks of your favorite root vegetables, such as:


If you are a gravy person, make Cornstarch or Flour gravy (see Roast Chicken entry).

Observe the conspicuous lack of garlic and onions. If you simply cannot conceive of cooking without these offensively odoriferous bulbs, by all means add them. But do yourself and all the people you'll breathe on for the next three days a favor, and try it once without.

Note about cuts: London Broil is often quite cheap as well. But avoid London Broil like the plague, if you are not an experienced beef cook! I have never succeeded in making London Broil tender enough to eat, except by boiling it for hours in stew. I hear tell of people who beat the roast with a mallet, or marinate the heck out of it while raw. That's a LOT of trouble! I don't even cut up raw meat, let alone let it sit in a bowl of vinegar in the fridge or bang on it with a hammer splashing blood around the kitchen! Ick! It's trouble I am not willing to go to, especially when there is a most miraculously delicious cut that I can buy instead.

Note about vegetables: Observe that the vegetables that I have listed for the last three recipes have some recurring members. I love these vegetables. Carrots and celery especially are highly aromatic and they infuse meats and gravies with their flavors. But, importantly for people who would like to eat well without shopping every day, all of them store well in the refrigerator, sometimes for months, always ready for when you have a notion to pick up a roast. In terms of basic kitchen necessities, for me they are the perishable analogs to flour and sugar. Buy sizeable quantitites of them for your convenience. It is convenience as much as anything that will revive the precious science of daily cooking.

Be happy! Eat well!
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2008_05_30:14: Thai Spring Rolls

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Thai Chicken Springrolls with Peanut Sauce, Carolyn-Style(*)

For this meal, you will need:

spring roll wrappers (go see the Asians, as they are not in the supermarket)
chicken (see "Leftovers: Sauteeing Method")
Thai seasoning (or some approximation that you won't like as much)
fresh basil leaves
fresh peppermint leaves
fresh sprouts (or some other crunchy vegetable you favor)
peanut sauce (my recipe, or packaged if you don't mind garlic/onions)

Peanut Sauce For One, Carolyn-Style

To a small pot, add:

1 tablespoon powdered chicken boullion
2 tablespoons frozen grapefruit juice concentrate (lemon juice or wine also ok)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or chili pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
3/4 cup water
sugar (optional, 1-2 tablespoons or to taste)

Simmer the mixture gently, stirring occasionally, until thickened (maybe 5 minutes). If the mixture seems too thick to spread or stir, add more water. Taste occasionally (don't lick the tasting implement if serving guests--that's rude). Turn off the heat.

Have a dinner plate as big as your wrapper ready.

Get out one spring roll wrapper and wet both sides of it under running water and do not drain excess water. Allow it to drip onto the dinner plate, and lay it out. If the wrapper doesn't immediately adhere to the plate, add a few more drops of water and press the wrapper to the plate.

Add, in a line near the edge, chicken, leaves, and crunchy vegetables. Your filling line should form an untidy cylindrical solid about 1 inch to 1.5 inches in diameter.

Gently lift the edge of the wrapper and begin rolling immediately--your wrapper should have become pliable in the 30 seconds while you were filling your roll, and it will stick to itself. No need to stretch it or try to make it very neat. If it is so stuck to the plate that you can't lift the edge, you took too long; consider it a learning experience and start over with a new plate.

Once you have rolled up your wrapper like a lumpy little carpet, you're ready to eat. Add spoonfuls of peanut sauce to the end you are about to bite off.

Repeat this process until you are full and happy.

If you have any peanut sauce left, you can store it for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. If you need to store it longer, put it in the freezer because otherwise it will get moldy.

(*) Note: 'Carolyn-Style' in these recipes means that there is some essential modification that I have made to what is probably a fairly common dish. Sometimes I found the recipe in a book and modified it. Sometimes I made it up myself after eating in a restaurant (this recipe is one of the latter). I'm not claiming responsibility for the dish. I'm merely being open about the fact that I have added something or taken away something, or both. With rare exception, I take away garlic and onions wherever they appear. I usually take away complexity and stupid amounts of preparation time and dirty dishes; and always, I add flavor that wasn't there in the original recipe. I am desperately trying to get across to you that you are basically living an Orwellian 1984 existence with respect to food, most probably because someone told you once that cooking is too hard (for you, or for them and hence by implication for you), and that restaurants somehow deserve to charge you money for the crap they are serving you. Lies, all lies. Listen to me. Eat well! Cook your own food once in a while, I beg you!
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2008_05_25:15: Roast Chicken

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Garlic-Free and Onion-Free Recipes!

Cooking is a dying art, and I would like to help keep it alive. Cooking extremely delicious food is really not hard at all, and need never involve any member of the Allium genus. I am going to prove this to you, one recipe at a time.

Why is there garlic and onions in everything? Why does it seem that as time goes by, there is an increasing amount of these rank odors in prepared foods, whether from restaurants or from boxes? Why, when I use Google to search on "I hate garlic and onions", do I get hundreds of results that say things like, "Even if you believe that you hate garlic, you'll love these Garlic Brownies!"

Garlic brownies!? What is wrong with you people?

It's bad enough when people put garlic in meat or vegetable dishes. But dessert too, now?

My hypothesis is that most people have really poor senses of taste and smell, while most people also can't cook food so that it tastes or smells good. Ramping up the garlic and onions is an attempt to make people with dull senses think that your prepared food is more interesting than those of other packaged-food manufacturers or restaurants. Unfortunately for me, in a way, this is right. Because these foods usually don't contain other flavorings or are prepared in the least flavor-inducing way possible, the garlic does make the food smellier and the onions do make it both smellier and tastier.

But there are other ways to make food delicious. Use good cooking methods and use adequate spices and flavorings. In my opinion, garlic doesn't add anything to food other than stench and bad memories for the next few days. Onions do add taste, and I actually like the taste, but I find it isn't worth the smell of onions in the house, on my clothes and skin, and in my body for days after eating them. And none of my rude, outspoken friends have ever eaten at my home and then told me that my dish could have been alot better if it had had onions or garlic in it. No one even notices that they aren't present in my food. That's because they aren't nearly as important as you might think, after eating in several restaurants or scanning recipes online.

For the few people out there who cook at least some of their own meals, and most especially for the ones who also hate garlic or onions or both, here are some tricks.

Stock a variety of spices and critical enhancing ingredients in your kitchen as soon as may be! This is an emergency! Spices in bottles can be ridiculously expensive ($4-$7 per bottle is not unexpected), but if flavor in your food is important to you, it's worth it. And if you are lucky enough to have a neighborhood store where spices are sold bulk, the price drops dramatically--you can get 2 bulk ounces of a spice for a tenth of the price it would cost in a 2 ounce bottle. You can also occasionally find large plastic bottles of spices on sale in odd places, such as the drug store; and the "foreign foods" aisle in some grocery stores have racks of spices in celophane bags.

An awful way to cook, for a busy person like me, is to take a recipe to the store and buy all the ingredients on the list. I want to walk into the kitchen any time and be able to make something excellent from scratch. Here are some essential ingredients that I always need on hand.

Plain Dry Spices:

ginger powder
cayenne pepper
black pepper powder
clove powder
cocoa powder

Dry Spice Mixes:

Poultry Seasoning (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme!)
Thai Seasoning (probably has a little garlic--what doesn't?)
Vegesal (has a tiny amount of onion, just so they can say it does)
Old Bay (by McCormick)
Chicken bullion powder

Other Critical Consumables

soy or tamari Sauce
corn starch
baking soda
baking powder
lemon juice, vinegar, or dry wine
asian cooking wine or dry sherry
olive oil

Other important ingredients for a dish or whole meal tend to be purchased fresh, on a monthly or several-monthly basis. I usually buy meats in bulk (chicken breasts, ground beef, fish pieces, shrimp, squid), divide them into raw individual servings (one pre-seasoned hamburger or chicken piece per foldover sandwich baggie), and freeze them all. I buy whole chickens and roast them, take them apart, and immediately freeze the cut-up meat in Ziplock freezer bags.

Important Equipment

stainless steel frying pan and metal spatula
large, lightweight enamel roaster with a lid
sturdy aluminum foil (Reynolds Wrap)

Too many people rely solely on nonstick pans these days. These are fine for some applications, and almost indispensible for things like omlettes and scrambled eggs. But there is a problem with them: they don't brown most foods in the tastiest way, and they don't allow proper "glazing" of the pan. Glazing is when the juices of a food leak out and stick to the pan. This stuck-on juice is extremely useful because it is concentrated deliciousness. You can sautee vegetables in it; coat cooked noodles or rice with it; make a sauce or gravy with it; flavor tomato sauce with it; or even make soup out of it if you have enough of it, as you would get from roasting a chicken or turkey. Glazing is one of my most basic techniques, one that I employ almost every time I cook dinner. I simply can't make most of my best dishes with a nonstick pan.

The roaster is on this very basic list because it is so versatile. Obviously, you can roast a turkey or a chicken or two or three in it. But you can also use it to: season and mix 10 pounds of hamburger and make it into patties; simmer several quarts of soup or jambalaya; bake lasagna or other casseroles; mix cake batter; and if you are really living a minimalist kitchen life, make cakes, brownies, or pie in it. Because of its size and shape, it's also useful for collecting greens from the garden, washing vegetables, doing handwash, dyeing clothing, and washing dishes. You get the picture. It's a good investment for less than $20.

So without further ado, here's one of my favorite and easiest recipes for the tastiest, tenderest roast chicken you've ever had, no basting whatsoever and not a garlic clove or an onion ring in sight. Pre-cooking preparation time approximately 2 to 5 minutes:

Roast Chicken, Carolyn-Style

1 whole chicken
poultry seasoning
Vegesal (or plain salt)
black pepper powder (finely ground)
cayenne pepper (optional)
root vegetables, celery (optional)

In your cleaned sink, open the plastic bag. Dump the organs out, rinse them in cold water, and put them in the bottom of the roaster. Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water, just in case there were any bacteria hanging around. Put the chicken in the roaster, breast-side up (the ends of the legs will be sticking up). WASH YOUR HANDS AND THE SINK with hot water and soap. Now apply seasonings. You can tilt the pan to reach the sides of the chicken. Don't worry about the bottom, and try not to dump spices in the pan itself. Sprinkle on salt or Vegesal, more than you would use on your plate; you can always add more at the table. Do a fine dusting of cayenne pepper if you're using it. Do a heavier dusting of black pepper. Finally, lay on a coating of about 1/16th of an inch of poultry seasoning. Put the lid on the roaster. Put the roaster in the oven. Super-simple method: Set oven to 350F, and ignore for the next hour and 15 minutes. Much better method: Blast the oven at 500F for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 and bake for 1 hour. Super-wonderful method: after about 1/2 hour of baking, add large chunks of potatoes, carrots, celery, beets, rutabaga.

After 1.5 hours, take the pan out of the oven and set it on the stove. Don't you throw that rich juice and glazing away! If your health or your religion require it, ladle out the fat and put it in an empty tin can that you keep in your fridge (more environmentally friendly than pouring it down the sink). Move the chicken (and vegetables) to a plate. Then make soup, or gravy in one of two ways:

Cornstarch Gravy (method 1)

Add 2 cups of water and powdered creamer, or milk, to the roaster. Heat to boiling. Meanwhile, n a small cup, mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and half a cup of water. With a metal spoon, quickly stir cornstarch mixture into roaster, scraping the bottom.

Flour Gravy (method 2)

Add 2 tablespoons of flour directly to the roast. With a metal fork, mash the flour into the juice until you no longer see white powder. Add two cups of water and powdered creamer, or milk, and simmer until thickened.

After your meal, cut all the meat off the bones and store it in the freezer; you will need it for future recipes such as chicken pot pie or fettucine alfredo. If you have opted for soup instead of gravy, save the bones in the roaster in the fridge until tomorrow, when you will boil the bones and then add vegetables. But that's another recipe....
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2010_07_30:15: flax sesame wheat germ Zone bread

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Deliciously nutty flax-sesame-wheatgerm bread.

Approximately in the Zone.

(NB: When consuming high wheat gluten foods expressly for protein content, always supplement l-lysine to complete the amino acid profile. Remember the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park! :)

The dough was mixed and allowed to rise in a bread machine. Then it was briefly hand-kneaded and left to rise another half hour on top of an oven in which was roasting a chicken at 350. It was baked in a floured (but not greased) single loaf pan at 350 for 35-40 minutes and allowed to cool in its pan on top of the cooling oven.

1.5 cup water
3 Tbl honey
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp yeast (2 tsp if it's weak)
1 cup ground flax seed
1 cup ground hulled sesame seeds
1.25 cup wheat germ
1 cup vital wheat gluten

0.5 cup whole wheat flour (perhaps optional?)
3.5 Tbl butter (perhaps optional?)

It is possible that this loaf does not require any traditional flour or fat. So why are they on the list?

The "perhaps optional" ingredients were included in this first loaf, but may not be necessary. My original recipe for high protein bread included 3.5 Tbl butter, and I put that in the mix without thinking. But if I had thought about it I might have decided to skip it, since the seeds and germ supply the fat and tastiness that butter normally supplies. As the bread machine mixed my ingredients, I realized that a dough ball was never going to form and surmised that it was probably because the already-fatty ingredients didn't leave room for butter absorption. I fixed the problem by added small amounts of whole wheat flour until a ball formed, and the amount needed was 0.5 cup. Or maybe the flour is needed, but the butter isn't, or maybe the butter and some of the water could be left out instead of adding the flour. If you experiment, let me know what happened!

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2010_08_10:16: Lentil, vegetable, and cheese casserole

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Lentil, vegetable, and cheese casserole, approximately Zone-balanced

10 oz cooked chickpeas
6 oz cooked black beluga lentils
1 very large tomato, cubed
1 cup mixed vegetables
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1/4 cup smoked gouda cheese
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup dry nutritional yeast flakes
2 large eggs
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground red chili
1 tsp VegeSal
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp parsley

Mash the legumes, leaving them a little lumpy. Lightly beat in eggs. Mix in vegetables, yeast, cheeses, and spices. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes in an 8-inch pan. Generously serves about 4, excellent leftover and reheated.
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2008_05_26:21: Soup and Stock

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Chicken Soup and Chicken Stock

Yesterday, you roasted a chicken, removed the meat from the bones, stored the meat in the freezer for convenient snacks, and stored the bones in the glazed and juicy roaster inside the refrigerator. So get the roaster out now. Leave everything in there--bones, organs, skin, bits of meat, juice, fat.

Fill the roaster with enough water to just cover the bones. If the carcass is intact, you can just squash it to make it more compact.

Bring the liquid to a boil, boil for about 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to about half or a little lower. The goal is to keep the liquid churning just a little bit, but prevent it from boiling over the sides of the roaster.

Now you can decide between making soup today, or making stock that you will freeze for later use (in soup, potpie, gravy, jambalaya, whatever).

Soup (choice 1)

Simmer the bones for at least an hour, until the meat and gristle are mostly detached. If you simmer them longer, you'll probably need to add more water.

Meanwhile, cut up a nice pile of your favorite chicken soup vegetables, in whatever size you would like to see in your bowl. My favorites, in quantities appropriate for a one-chicken soup, are:

carrots (5)
celery (5 stalks)
potatoes(3 large russet)

Also very nice in this soup is:

black pepper

Using tongs, a ladle, or a fork, remove most of the larger bones and anything that offends your sensibilities. This is a personal choice.

Think about whether there is enough meat left in the pot for you. Usually I find that what is left on the bones is plenty, especially given that the soup base is infused with liquid protein. But you're not me, so feel free to get those baggies back out of the freezer and add more.

Add vegetables. Raise the heat to about 3/4 full power and keep at a rolling boil for about 45 minutes or until samples of the vegetables are all tender enough for you.

Soup freezes really well. An individual portion of soup-ice is a very happy sight when you suddenly come down sick and your grandmother isn't there to rescue you. And this is the kind of soup that actually makes you better, because it's more than just a salty hot liquid. It's liquid amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, and only as much salt as you choose to add.

Stock (choice 2)

Stock is all the stuff that has been boiled out of the carcass before the vegetables are added to make soup. It is useful for all sorts of fancier recipes. Space in the freezer is at a premium, and I want to get every bit of food out of the bones that I can. Therefore, I simmer the carcass much longer than I do for soup, and I don't add more water. I just simmer for two or three hours and let the water evaporate. What remains will chill to form a stiff gelatin. If the gelatin sets before you can get it into freezer containers, reheat it a little to melt it.


Be sure to let the soup or the stock cool to room temperature before distributing it into containers to freeze. Use SMALL containers, preferably 1 pint for soup, half pint for stock--and preferable square rather than round, as round things are awkward and take up more space. You will NOT be happy, if you dump all your product into a 2-quart round bowl and stick it in your freezer. Not happy at all.
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2008_06_08:14: learning, intelligence, wrongness

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Poultry Seasoning

In several entries I talk about using poultry seasoning for every poultry dish, no matter what the nationality of the dish. I made an allusion to the Simon and Garfunkel song, "Scarborough Fair", but maybe you didn't get it:
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

I've been shopping for spices a few times in the last couple of weeks. Poultry seasoning was on my list. It's been harder to find than usual. I like to buy it bulk, but I'll settle for large bottles at a good price. Instead I've had to settle for tiny boxes for big prices.

Anyway, that's all beside the point. I bring it up only because I noticed several other items called "poultry seasoning" or "chicken rub" or "grilling spices" or whatever. They are lumpy and red, usually.

Since I recommend using my kind of poultry seasoning for every dish, I thought I'd better clarify what I mean by it.

First, if you can see into the bottle, the mixture should be green. If it isn't green, it isn't what I'm talking about, so continue to look. Also, you will not see leaves or chunks of anything. It should look like a very fine powder. This is important, because the bigger the lumps of stuff, (1) the less likely the mixture is to adhere to the chicken, and (2) the harder it is to get the flavor out of the mixture and into the chicken.

Second, not every ingredient is required by law to be listed. But at a bare minimum, you should see listed:


May also contain:

black pepper

You might like the taste of other poultry blends. That's fine. Just keep in mind that, when I write a recipe, those are not what I have in mind.

Eric makes this blend from scratch, with mortar and pestle. That's too much work for me. But he likes more control over the exact ingredients and proportions than I seem to need. It's an option for you, but only if you aren't a lazy cook like me.

Finally, as a lazy cook, follow the lead of another lazy cook: Don't rub spices into your raw chicken. There's no point, and it's a gross process. Just sprinkle it on from a safe distance. If you find that your dinner doesn't have much flavor, it's because you didn't sprinkle enough on, not because you didn't massage the raw chicken. Next time, put the spices on thicker.
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2008_05_28:15: Leftovers

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Reviving Leftover Meat

An Indispensible Skill For Home Cooks Who Don'T Have Unlimited Time.

What most people call 'leftovers', I think of as essential supplies. Open my freezer door. You will see a tightly-packed, neatly-organized filing cabinet of "leftovers", including blocks of homemade tomato sauce, stock, and gravy; Ziplocs full of roasted chicken; and blocks of cooked pumpkin flesh ready for off-season pie. There are also sometimes chicken bones in there, being saved either for soup/stock preparation, or for chew toys for my rats. When the freezer is less than half full of leftovers, I begin a shopping expedition. To me, being without these leftovers is like having an empty gas tank.

But, I admit, leftover meats have some problems. They can have a very distinctive taste that I don't like if certain reheating methods, such as microwaving, are used. There is an even worse taste, if you have an unclean or garlic-scented refrigerator and store them cold rather than frozen. Usually, frozen meat can be defrosted and taste fine right out of its Ziplock; refrigerated meats also taste fine cold within a few days of cooking. Reheating is different. To eliminate the leftover tastes and odors in reheated meats, you have to do something to the meat before you can use it in your dish.

When I go into a restaurant(*) and I am served leftovers, I know it immediately and I am offended proportionately to the amount I spend on the meal. The famous Kansas City Barbeque had the unbelievable nerve to serve me dry, leftover pork, chicken, and beef with some barbeque sauce on them--as a topping, for $17.00. Though the restaurant was not crowded that day for lunch, it took them 1.5 hours to get this food to me after ordering. I thought they were back in the kitchen butchering whole animals and making bbq sauce from scratch. They weren't. They were microwaving my meal. All three meats clearly had the strong, stale taste of having been stored in the refrigerator for at least several days, perhaps a week or two. As I had come in after a 30 mile bike ride with a group, I was famished when the meal was served. You'd think that being that hungry would make the food taste better--ooo, scary thought! Maybe it did taste better to me than it would otherwise! Yikes. Anyway, I considered this an outrage. I didn't send the food back only because we still had another 10 miles to ride, and I didn't want to wait, fainting, another 1.5 hours for a replacement dish. Apparently, Kansas City Barbeque is famous for one and only one reason: parts of the movie Top Gun were filmed there. Yea for them. Don't eat there.

Eat your leftovers at home. Eat well. Here's how.

Reheating Frozen Chicken, Sauteeing Method

In a stainless steel frying pan or saucepan or in a nonstick frying pan (depending on the plan for the entire meal), place about 1 tablespoon of butter, and about one half to one cup of frozen cooked chicken (do not thaw).

Lightly sprinkle onto the meat the following:

poultry seasoning (highly recommended, for any nationality dish)
black pepper
salt or vegesal
monosodium glutamate (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)

If I am in a foreign mood, I also sprinkle one or more of these:

ginger powder
Thai seasoning
Chinese 5 spice

Cover the pot tightly, and sizzle lightly (at quarter power) until browned, maybe 5 to 10 minutes. If your chicken lands in a big lump, occasionally come back to the pot to poke it into smaller pieces with a fork.

The chicken is now delicious again, won't taste leftover or reheated, and is spiced appropriately to the dish you are planning to make with it. For your first easy experiment, try cooling it and adding it to a big green salad. If this hasn't been too much for you already, stir in cut vegetables such as bell peppers, green beans, corn, summer squash, carrot slivers, and maybe some almonds or walnuts.

Reheating Frozen Chicken, Boiling Method

This method is strictly for soups and stews. Just use the amount of water you need, throw the frozen chicken in there, and boil it for 10 minutes. This is great for superquick lunches: don't eat plain ramen noodles, they will put you to sleep. Balance the carbs with chicken. Boil the chicken first, then add the noodles and cook as usual. If you have some frozen peas, throw them in too. Melt cheeze on top after turning off the heat.

You will see calls for pre-cooked meats in many forthcoming recipes. You can of course cook all your meat fresh for every snack and dinner you make, no matter how complicated. But I'm not gonna. I'm too busy for that. I have code to write and theories to concoct.

* Note about BBQ:

Myth: "That's what BBQ is! It's leftovers!"

Truth: No. No, it's not.

Proof: On the bike ride that day, we passed at least 3 pavillion vendors who were barbequing raw chicken and beef over open flames. The aroma was intoxicating. Enviable people were eating food that had just been raw 45 minutes before. This is barbeque. This is how I make it at home, and this is what it is honest and fair for someone to charge you money to eat. Don't let people lie to you. You are eating sub-standard food and paying 17 times as much for it as you should. Stop it.
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2010_09_15:14: seitan with gravy

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I love seitan! I'm so surprised. We haven't made our own yet. Instead we bought several cans of various flavors. So far the best is abalone, and the worst is mushroom. Chicken is OK. I think we can do better than this. We also bought an unflavored "gluten puff"; cooking and flavoring that will be the next step.

For lunch today, I wanted to experiment with using several very high protein ingredients to make gravy. Part of my motivation was to see if flax meal could be used as a gravy-thickener. It can, sort of, but I still needed white flour to really thicken the mixture.

I *really* enjoyed this meal. I had to have seconds, it was so good. I also feel really good after eating it, and that's always a good sign to me.

I'm currently working on a program to use the USDA nutrition databases to analyze recipes like this. For now I just have to estimate. The meal doesn't supply the minimum daily amounts of essential amino acids; however, it does supply them in a good balance, because all of the ingredients were chosen specifically for this quality. It is also protein-heavy as-is; to get a better Zone balance, add vegetables and fruit or a very small amount of bread or rice.

Seitan with Vegetarian or Vegan Gravy, serves two

1 cup water
1 Tablespoon spirulina
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon white flour
1 Tablespoon flax seed meal
1 Teaspoon miso paste
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric

Vegans can replace the cheese with an equal amount of nutritional yeast and a little more flax.

Fry seitan pieces in your favorite fat, sprinkling with poultry seasoning and red chili pepper, salt optional.

Meanwhile, boil water with miso paste, reduce to medium low heat. Stir in spirulina, yeast, parmesan, flour, turmeric, and flax meal. Simmer gently and stir until thick.

Serve hot with seitan.
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2010_08_26:13: Erics Zone-Balanced Vegan Lentil Patties

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Eric's Vegan Lentil Patties, Zone-balanced (actually a bit high in protein), amino acid balanced for a complete protein

2 cups dry green lentils, soaked, boiled, and drained
1 fresh fennel bulb, chopped finely and fried
0.5 cup wheat gluten
1.5 cup wheat germ
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp salt
1.5 tsp pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
0.5 tsp cayenne
.05 cup dry nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 carrots, finely grated

Mix well!

Form into patties, 0.25-0.5 inches thick. Fry in oil (you may need to add oil while cooking, because the patties will soak it up.
These yummy patties have two very lovely qualities: they fry to a tasty crisp on the outside, and have the consistency of mashed potatoes on the inside.

Serve with tamari sauce if desired. These patties are vegan as described above, but they are extra-delicious and nutritious with cheddar cheese melted on top.