Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In my search for easy recipes, I ended up on quite a few emailing lists - Better Homes & Gardens, Food Network, Tastebook all have the privilege of spamming me. At work today, I was browsing through recipes for "Crisp Summer Salads" and I was shocked at what passed for a salad. The first "salad" - The Layered Spinach and Pot Sticker Salad - on the list included potstickers, strawberries and strawberry jam as ingredients. Then to add insult to injury, they tell you to whip up a recipe of "Spiced Chips". As is frozen chicken pot stickers weren't unhealthy enough. It isn't a salad just because it has spinach!

Next is the Southern Cobb Salad, and to it's credit, it looks like a salad. However, I don't even want to think about what constitutes the "cheese

I'm terribly confused by the Smoked Salmon and Melon Salad. I guess it counts as fruit salad, but why I would mix salmon with cantaloupe, honeydew and blueberries I don't know.

There is even a Steak and Potato Salad - it consists of steak and potatoes on top of some lettuce. I imagine most guys presented with this dish would consider the lettuce to be a garnish, an afterthought. What is wrong with this picture?

Why does every salad they produce contain blue cheese, bacon bits, croutons, chips, crispy wontons, noodles, rice or some other unnecessary addition? Meanwhile, some of their salads contain only 1 or 2 actual vegetables. I love salads because they are tasty and filling and are low in calories. If you want steak and potatoes, you should just eat steak and potatoes and not pretend that your "salad" is going to make up for a day's worth of poor food choices.

Honestly, I plan on making some of these recipes, but very few of them really deserve the name "salad".

Monday, August 17, 2009

I've been home for the summer for a few weeks now, and my dad being the health freak that he is, confronted me about the high salt content of some of the pre-prepared foods that I eat. One of my favorite is Near East Mediterranean Curry Couscous. It is so delicious and takes five minutes to cook! However, it does have 550 mg of sodium per serving. With three servings per box, that is a lot of salt (69% of your Daily Value).

My dad insisted it would be simple to replicate the combination of spices that I love so much - "Just had some curry and turmeric and it will taste the same!". But I am sure there must be more to it. The ingredients list includes "salt, peas, molasses, spices, carrots, garlic, turmeric spice, natural flavors, parsley, honey and onions."

This is where the research comes in. I have to figure out what those ambiguous "spices" are. Possibilities include:

- Cumin

- Curry powder (Duh, this probably should have been first in the list), which can include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, garlic, fennel seed, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, cardamom, mace, nutmeg, red pepper, tamarind, or saffron

- Garlic (Yummy!)

- Parsley seems pretty obvious too since it's on the box

- Onions are also on the box, but I would just use fresh onions, rather than the sketchy dried onions in the "Spice Sack"

It seems like the "spices" may just be curry powder. How dull. Most every recipe I have looked at just adds curry powder. And none of them add molasses or honey - it must be one of those sneaky things they add to make stuff taste better that is totally unecessary, just like adding more than a gram of salt.

Next time I make couscous, I will have to make my own "Spice Sack" filled with curry powder, turmeric, garlic and parsley.

Also check out this article from the Seattle Times about curry :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

One of my goals for the summer was to build shelves - shelves in the kitchen, shelves over my desk and book shelves for my bedroom....well, none of them were actually built. With just 8 days before I move in to my new apartment, and one roommate already moved in, I decided to just bite the bullet and buy a shelf for the kitchen. Without some kind of shelf, we would have small kitchen appliances all over the counter tops and pots and pans overflowing from their respective cabinet.

I guess I really just wasn't meant to have this shelf because before I could even get it out of the store, I had already forgotten to use my 20% off coupon. I could barely lift the box into my cart - a man who worked at bed, bath and beyond had to help me. At my apartment, my roommate and I spread out the pieces all over the floor.

Adjustable shelves are supposed to be a good thing, but the way they made these shelves adjustable made it painful to put them together. We attached the plastic clips where we wanted the shelves to rest, but they kept falling off. Of the few clips that would stay on, only one side of one of the shelves was able to slide on top of it and lock into place. After two hours of struggling with it, we moved on to other projects, and when I came over a week later, I returned it to the store in pieces. It may be a bad product, but at least customer service took it back with no complaints!

Now playing: Incubus - Love Hurts
via FoxyTunes

Friday, August 7, 2009

I was making macaroni and cheese for lunch today, and I thought maybe I could make up for the unhealthiness of it if I added some vegetables to it. When I looked online for recipes that other people had made, I found so many with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and peas - some of my least favorite vegetables. They brag that you can barely taste them! They tell you to chop up the broccoli nice and small so you can't hardly taste it. But I like vegetables, I don't want to hide the taste.

I did find one recipe from fitness magazine that was to my liking. It had zucchini, peppers and sweet onions, with a Parmesan and ricotta cheese sauce I believe. I wonder how it would go with my boxed white cheddar spirals...