Kitchen Delights

Heart of the home is the kitchen,
delight of tempting aromas,
dishes eliciting stomach growls

appealed infinitely increased
when shared with others.

(For Cee’s Black & White challenge: things found in a kitchen.)

What’s For Dinner?

Okay, maybe not that chicken, but every time I remember to photograph what we’re having, it’s too late. You get the idea. Other ingredients include, but are not limited to:

Lettuce from the garden, and fresh mint:

For Nancy’s Merrill’s Photo a Week challenge: What’s for dinner?

CB&WC: Circles

Must have been hungry when thinking of this prompt, because my mind went to bowls, brimming with vegetable curry – so yummy.

Or that marvellous Mediterranean gluten free pizza I had at the Mill Street Pub in Ottawa.

gf mediterranean pizza bw

Now, I’ve made you hungry, for which I apologize.  Maybe this circle of trees, taken at our campsite on Vancouver Island, will help distract you.

circleoftrees bw

Happy Weekend all!

(Cee’s Black & White challenge is circles and curves.)

 

 

RV-Able: Into Arizona

Arizona.pngIt was a five hour drive from Las Cruces to Tucson, and I was still feeling the disappointment of a too-short stay in New Mexico, so when we pulled into the Crazy Horse RV Park, I was none too pleased.

Located at the end of a narrow row of RVs, the office was backed up with new registrants causing us to park our rig in everyone’s way.  As it was evident we would have trouble maneuvering through this tight park, we unhooked the truck and I followed around to the site, where we barely fit.

“Good thing it’s only overnight.” Ric reminded me.  “I won’t tell you how much it costs.”

Apparently, complete with our scenic view of the dumpsters, this was the most expensive park so far.  Tut tut, Tucson!

AZviewWe did manage to have a superb dinner in an old-fashioned steak house:  The Silver Saddle.  Ric’s steak was cooked to perfection and my (gluten-free) BBQ chicken was amazing.

Stopping in Tucson helped cut our journey to Apache Junction down to two hours, so we arrived at our next destination around noon.  Finally, we have caught up with warm weather and clear, blue skies.  This park sits at the base of Superstition Mountain, and has many activities to keep us busy.

 

Handlebar'sOn the advice of the office staff, we found a sweet outdoor patio with great food to celebrate Ric’s birthday.  The Handlebar Pub and Grill has many gluten-free options and no deep-fried foods.  Heaven!  I had a Chicken Panini with kale slaw, and Ric had a mushroom and swiss burger he says is to die for.

Need to clean the travel dust off the bus and get unpacked before we can do anymore adventuring.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Memorable Meals

“I still think that Dover sole I had on the last cruise was the best I’ve had yet, how he prepared it in front of me in the lemon and oil sauce.  It was to die for; I was hoping my fish the other night was going to be the same.”

“That was on the Celebrity.”

“Yes.  I can’t remember fish tasting that delicious. It was in the French dining room, I think.”

Ric and I are having a late lunch at the Olive Garden.  No longer available in Canada, the Olive Garden is a bit of a legend at home.  We love their garden salads, but other than that, I am limited in what I can eat due to food allergies.  Ric can partake of most menu items and today is having a seafood ravioli in a rich cream sauce.

“What are your memorable meals?” I ask him.

“Not this,” he says, indicating his plate.

th-2“No! I’m talking about the ones that stay with you the food is so good.  Like those tacos I had in St. Augustine’s.”

“Where was that?”

“Cantino Louis.  Maybe what you had wasn’t memorable?”  I don’t recall what he had, but I had Surfer Chick tacos, with chicken, pineapple and Sirachi sauce.  So good.

“The steak I had in Edmonton at a place called Oliver’s,” Ric moans.  “Now that was to die for.  I had a pretty good meal in Vancouver at the Boathouse when I was out there too.”

“Then there was that place in Seattle.  Ginger something.”

“Wild Ginger! Oh my God that was good.”  We went there twice in our short visit.

“I remember the first time I had Thai food in a tiny, hole-in-the-wall place in Toronto.  It was so good, those flavours lingered on in my memory for a long time.”

th-3We reminisce over fresh feta and olives in Greece, a mushroom linguine I had in Rome (pre-gluten-free era), and a wonderful lunch on a cliff top overlooking the ocean in Dubrovnik.

Ric and I eat out a lot.  It is a solution, albeit naughty, to the chasm that is our differing palates.  He likes red meat and seafood, I can eat neither of those.  I like curries and vegetarian dishes, preferring Mexican or Thai.  It’s not often that both our tastes are met by a single restaurant and typically we eat in Vegan or vegetarian restaurants only about once a year, so mostly, I take what I can get – usually food that lacks imagination.

Maybe that is why I hang onto those memorable dining experiences.

In the upcoming months we are headed to New Mexico, Arizona, and the west coast on up to Vancouver Island.  I wonder what delights await us.

Tell me about your best experiences dining out, and if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

Salmon Intentions or Battle of the Can

A single onion, its papery crisp coating still intact, sits on a small cutting board, signalling intent.  Beside it, a sharp-edged knife, and an unopened can of salmon.

thIt is the salmon can that has turned this scenario from an action shot to a still-life.

I had planned to have it for dinner last night – a plan that started early in the day, when energy and clarity of thought of was still available.  I even thawed a gluten-free English muffin with the intention of spreading the salmon salad on the freshly toasted halves.  It felt like such a simple, yet healthy, option.

But then I went to the hospital, visited my now-on-the-mend husband, had my driver stop for a Starbuck’s on the way home, and ended up curled in a fetal position on the bed, feeling like I’d been thrust into a sudden-onset flu.

They must have put milk in my tea, was the only explanation I could come up with.  A couple of hours of close contact with the toilet, and I faced the ever-present dilemma of what to eat.  Could my stomach still handle the salmon?  I set it on the countertop while contemplating, selecting a small-sized onion and, well you know the rest of this picture. I considered the salmon over the next couple of hours, even picking the can up in my hands and trying desperately to will myself to continue.

In the end, I boiled an egg and ate that with muffin.

I’ll have it for lunch instead, I decided this morning, realizing that dinnertime is too late in the day for such momentous adventures.

It takes three attempts.
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At 11:30 am, feeling somewhat energized (always a relative term with ME/CFS), I look at the onion, and the can, think about the effort it will take to open the can and then sort through the bones and skin – which I detest – and decide to rest instead.

12:12 am.  It’s not going to make itself, I realize, and I do need to eat, so I add a small glass bowl and the can opener to the setup, but still cannot see my way through to completing the action.  I lie down again. I could just nuke a cup of chicken broth.

1:38 pm.  This is ridiculous! The salmon is not going to make itself!  By now I can taste the salty fishiness of the desired repast, know it will be a gift of nutrients to my body, have convinced myself of the need.  I start with the onion, cut through the outer shell, discarding the unusable bits and finely chop half, placing it in the bowl.  That’s enough, screams my body, but I push on, opening the salmon, draining the water, and with a fork, begin to pick through the contents.  I just need to get enough meat to make this meal, I tell myself, discarding probably more than I should have.  Mashing the salmon and onion together, I add a dash of salt and pepper and a squeeze of mayonnaise (something I know I will regret later).  Done!

I sit to eat this masterpiece, afraid that I will not be able to manage it in bed, where I usually dine.

I spread the salad on thin rice cakes, savour the deliciousness with each bite, can no longer determine how hungry I am, or if I’ve eaten enough, settle on saving half of the mixture for tomorrow, and return to bed.

“What did you eat today?”  a well-meaning friend asks later.

“Salmon salad.”

“That sounds good – an easy meal.”

“Yes,” I respond, stifling my impulse to laugh at the irony of it all.

Who would believe that just contemplating a can of salmon could be such a battle?

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Could Menu Planning Save Us?

If there is an award for lazy and unorganized my husband and I would be in the running.  Especially when it comes to meal planning.  Typically, we begin to plan our evening meal well after our day’s energy has been spent, about twenty minutes before we are ready to eat, and so we end up finger cooking. th-1

The trouble with takeout is that the food is usually high in fat, and the portions much larger than either of us needs.  If we are honest with ourselves, our weight and health issues will not be resolved if we continue this habit.

So, I have taken it upon myself to change the pattern, by attempting to meal plan in advance.  I’ve spent the past few days going through my cookbooks – many of which I purchased with a healthy regime in mind, but have never opened.  Using coloured tabs –  green for breakfasts, pink for lunch, red for dinners, and purple for healthy snacks – I went through and marked any recipes that I determined to be doable and appealing to both our palates.

Two of my favourite cookbooks:
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Since we already have two meals a week sorted out thanks to Chef’s Plate, I just needed to come up with a few extra dinner ideas.  Amazingly, it is not that difficult when you put your mind to it.

To make it easier, I typed up and printed out any necessary recipes for the week, so that the student we have hired to help us can do any prep work, or cook for us.

Planning ahead also made creating a grocery list much easier.  I have a feeling we have a lot less waste this week, and hopefully, that our grocery costs are less.

If this goes well, we may not qualify for that award after all.

Here’s a sneak peek of some of what is on the menu:

Spicy Tomato Chickpea Soup (Vegan Yum-Yum)th-4

Rigatoni with Grape Tomato Sauce
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Brown Rice and Coconut Rice Pudding (The Gluten-Free Vegan)
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(Note:  While I have never been a practicing Vegan, I do need recipes that are dairy-free, and both of the above mentioned cookbooks deliver with delicious, easy to make meal ideas.)

 

 

Meal Planning Mayhem Managed

We have a food dilemma.  My body is so sensitive to what I put in it that  every time I make poor choices, I suffer.  While the solution may look simple from the outside, it is not.  These are the challenges we’ve been facing:

I prefer a vegetable based diet, with legumes or beans as my protein.  I love international dishes and go for a satisfied palate rather than a full stomach.  Dairy, gluten, and shellfish are no-no’s for me.

My husband is a meat-lover, despises beans, thinks of vegetables as a side (after starch) and is adverse to curry.   Apart from bell peppers he has no food intolerances, and likes high fat, high sugar food. He’d eat hamburgers daily.

th-1           th
He does all the shopping, and most of the cooking, due to my current state of health.  Did I mention that he is also mobility challenged, and apart from looking after me, runs a full-time business?  Meeting both our needs has been a problem.

Our former solution was to order out most nights, usually with leftovers the next day – not recommended!

Over time, we are learning to cope by implementing a few changes:

  1.  thWe’ve hired a teenager, who comes to the house two afternoons and chops vegetables, and other basic prep.  Some days, with my supervision, she will make soups, or simple meals, which has been very helpful.  Otherwise, she leaves chopped up produce in small bags in the fridge so that we can use them for smoothies, or cooking. This works if there are groceries in the house, and I have planned ahead.
  2.  th-1Loblaws, we have discovered, now offers online shopping.  For a $5 fee, we can select our purchases from the comfort of home, and pick up the filled order at a location and time we specify.  This has been a great help for my husband and allows me to participate in the process.  (Ontario, Canada)
  3. 1455205163_Vietnamese_Noodle_Bowl_WEBChef’s Plate is a food service that delivers meal kits (up to three per week).  The meals come packaged with all that you need to cook your own dinner along with a step-by-step recipe card.  Meals are selected a week in advance, and there are choices that accommodate food sensitivities, which is very helpful for me.  We usually choose one for his palate, one for mine, and an agreed upon meal.  The meals are healthy, tasty, and always satisfying.

Meal planning can be difficult at any stage of life, whether single, juggling parenthood and work, catering to different food needs/tastes, or aging.  Add disability and dependence on others to the mix, and it becomes an all-consuming (pun intended) problem.

Happy to say, we are making headway.