Archive for the ‘Living Alone’ Category

Back Again!

September 5, 2015

Well it is sort of official. I am 3 pounds more than when I had my stroke six years ago. Yes, I am still fifty-five pounds lighter than I was at my peak but I once again am officially obese. I live alone with a four burner gas stove and a 36 inch oven. It is far easier to cook three meals at a time than to cook one small meal. Unfortunately, since I lack will power, three meals of 2000 calories only last a day and 1/2. Even worse, when I get into manual labor, I believe I deserve the extra calories and a few beers to wash it down.

The only way I know to break this trend is Coffee Pot Cooking so here I am recycling this blog for the third to fifth time with a twist. I will prepare one portioned controlled meal a day by any means necessary. Tomorrow, I will post on cooking sauteed spicy potatoes and tilapia using my microwave and coffee pot.

I saw Don Bailey from the University tilapia program and swore I was going to get serious about aqua phonics while growing my own fish and greens. Oh well, good intentions pave the way to hell but I did have coffeepot tilapia and sauteed spicy potatoes tonight so the recipe should follow tomorrow. I got lazy and used both my microwave and coffeepot but it was definitely portioned controlled which is my real issue. I have also cooked the same meal in my electric fondue pot set at 275 degrees in a portioned controlled manner but you have to use what you have available.

BTW, I tend to prepare full flavored meals with flexible cooking times that would serve college students, myself as a writer. and other dingy people who are temporally challenged.  The joy of this meal from the coffee pot is you don’t have to watch it as closely as an electric fondue pot.

Also my starting and perhaps final weight if I do not succeed is now 212.

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Friendship, Flowers and Food.

February 25, 2012

Flowers and Food

Gloria Powell (www.antilleslilies.com) is a event florist on St, Croix heavily involved in working with tourists who want to get married in a St. Croix celebration. This means she has to make the wedding couple, the wedding planner, the hotel and all of the guests happy. Well Gloria loves people and she loves making them happy. She also loves flowers and loves to work with them. This makes her great at what she does.

She always brings extra of everything and that’s where this story of the flowers begins. Seems as she was taking the extras back to her car, I told her if she had any that would go to waste, she could dump them on me. She said OK and kept walking to her car and when she returned she had that spectacular bouquet pictured above. I asked her what I owed her and she said nothing. I told her she could pick all the flowers in my yard that she wanted because most of mine go to waste, I consider her random act of kindness fantastic.

Now the meal has one unique part but in essence we are talking beach food and you would most likely see the combination on a plastic plate as it includes, Grilled chicken, Coleslaw and Green Banana Salad which is usually served cold. I had planned this meal a few days earlier when I prepared the Goya Pollo de Escabeche. And after finishing all the chicken and vegetables decided the marinade was too good to throw out so I rebuilt the entirely different yet traditional Banana Salad with capers, Spanish olives, thin sliced Onions, minced garlic and the cooked green banana.

Wedding Flowers

I derided to serve it on our Lennox China because the Wedding Bouquet deserved to be in good company. I even got out a Table cloth but drew the line at real silverware. Well Gloria, your flowers turned my ordinary dinner into a memorable event.

Mea Culpa. I have failed the Coffeepot Cult.

September 10, 2011

Back to Coffeepot Cooking

Over the past eight months, I have not posted anything new and in fact my last eight posts had more to do with portion controlled meals than they did with coffeepot cooking. It’s not that I gave up on portion controlled meals or even coffeepot cooking; I just went through a phase where I stopped feeling creative about what I eat. I also stopped worrying too much about my weight which is still around 176 plus or minus four pounds.

I am also starting a new hiking/tour business which took an incredible amount of my time and creative energy so I stopped being creative with what I ate. Instead of searching the Net for new recipes which could be adapted to my coffeepot or creating a unique meal from my knowledge of food and flavors that work together, I reverted to those recipes already published by me. Even when I created a new meal, I still didn’t publish because most were simply not as good as the ones I originally published or I failed to write the recipe down and skipped taking pictures.

Well, my business, Hikestcroix.com is starting next month and I’m beginning to feel creative about food again. I don’t know if this will continue as I start walking 20 miles a week with temperatures around 88 and humidity above 85% but I know I am still committed to eating healthy portion controlled meals.

I have also started growing my own fresh vegetables including microgreens which I never heard of until a couple of months ago. I like the concept that I can grow my own greens from seeds and water that are fresh and delicious. However, after 66 years, I am more accustomed to the texture of traditional lettuce, spinach, cucumbers and seasonal tomatoes.

I am going to try to adapt some of these greens to the things I like such as soup and coffeepot meals in addition to salads. I will publish the salads and coffeepot meals here in the near future.

A Beautiful Flower for a Beautiful Meal!

December 21, 2010

Leftovers for an Early Lunch

I learned to love flowers as I helped my mother in her flower beds. I extended that love to wild flowers when I had to collect them for a high school science project. Unfortunately, because of the time constraints created by marriage, jobs, raising children and education, I ignored the wild flowers of St. Croix. It also didn’t help that I had my youthful image as a jock and a party animal to maintain and that was more than a little inconsistent with being a man who loves flowers.

Over the past year, I have adapted to living alone. I am preparing better meals and because of my interactions in the food blogging community, serving them more attractively. I am also walking for fitness around the community. In these walks, I get my daily exercise and talk to neighbors. I have also started to notice the wonderful variety or wild flowers, weeds and vines we have on our small island.
Antigonon Leptopus is show above with the pink flowers. More commonly it is called coral bells or coral vine. On the negative side, it is a smothering vine that invades disturbed areas and forest edges. It produces many seeds, which are spreads by water currents. It has become Invasive in some countries including the southern US.

The plant is native to Mexico and commonly found in tropical regions around the world, and is one of the medicinal plants used in Jamaica. The hot tea prepared from the above ground portion of this plant is used in that country for the prevention and treatment of cough and flu-related pain. Studies have also shown that plant extracts exhibited analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and other beneficial activities. The plant contains phenolic compounds which can reduce the risk of chronic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

It adorns the meal above which also started life as nothing special. I had the leftover sauce from the Puerto Rican Turkey Stew and I hate to see anything go to waste even though I had eaten all the meat and only had the sauce left. I also hate to have the same meal twice or keep leftovers in my freezer or refrigerator until they cant be recognized. This sauce was really not much different than a creole type sauce used with seafood and since seafood is the stronger flavor, I decided why not something different.

Searved with Parmesan

I added a half package of Goya Sazon Spice blend, 4 ounces of defrosted mixed seafood and served it over noodles. I also sprinkled Parmesan on it prior to eating. This is completely different in character and flavor from the stewed turkey over rice which I had the day before.

I ended up with a beautiful meal adorned by a beautiful flower and it became a special event rather than leftovers for my early lunch.

Mom’s Simple Cottage Cheese and Noodles

December 17, 2010

Mom's Simple Cottage Cheese and Noodles

My mom was a secret snacker but with 3 teenage boys around the house she didn’t have much chance of setting aside anything for her personal indulgence except perhaps beets and cottage cheese which none of her young sons would eat no matter how healthy they are for you. This side dish was one of her afternoon snacks which she prepared in a total cooking time of less than 15 minutes.

My wife also made a variant of this where she added Worcestershire Sauce and served it as a side dish when she got tired of Pasta, Rice and Potatoes which was almost never because she could eat Italian food every night. The only reason I left the Worcestershire Sauce out was because I don’t like the brown color which it creates but it does add a nice flavor for those who are not really fond of cottage cheese.

Ingredients:

½ cup cottage cheese

1-2 Tablespoons Sour Cream

2 green onions (scallions) sliced in short pieces

1 cup noodles

Salt to Taste

Directions:

  1. Put water to boil and prepare the noodles as directed on the package
  2. Mix the Cottage Cheese, sour cream, and green onions in a bowl.

    Mix the Cottage Cheese, sour cream, and green onions

  3. Add the noodles to the bowl and gently fold it all together.

    Add the noodles

  4. Serve room temperature or chilled.

I like cottage cheese alone but somehow this little extra effort seems to make my meal special, especially when I am  eating alone. The meal is no longer a necessity, it’s a special event.

Melt in Your Mouth Eggplant Parmesan

December 14, 2010

Melt in Your Mouth Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is one of those family traditions we just do – There is no such thing called a recipe. All that is involved is making the fried eggplant which as discussed previously is a critical but messy job, placing it in a pan, spreading sauce to cover each piece and placing fresh, whole milk, mozzarella cheese on top. If you start with great fried eggplant, you will make great Eggplant Parmesan, Depending on on your preference, you can sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on prior to cooking or as I prefer after cooking. For sauce we use whatever is in the refrigerator. If it was good enough to serve with pasta it’s good for Eggplant Parmesan.

The tradition method in out family is to layer it in a pan and if the pan is to be frozen we use a disposable aluminum pan. The following photo is a completely frozen pan of Eggplant Parmesan prepared at the same time I fried the eggplant as a side dish which I am saving for my niece at the end of December. Of course in the freezer it is covered with aluminum foil.

Frozen pan of Eggplant Parmesan

When I cook it, I will leave it out on the counter for about an hour or two to defrost and then the covered pan will be placed in the oven at 350 for ½ hour. After that the foil cover will be removed to cook as needed for 15 to 20 more minutes to develop a golden brown cheese on top.

Consideration in cooking meals for one.

When I scale down a recipe for myself, I don’t want excessive leftovers, I want it easy to clean my mess, and I hate to turn on the oven and heat up the kitchen for a single meal for me. These criteria make the fondue pot the ideal choice for this meal. My pot is Teflon coated for ease of cleaning, has a precision temperature control, and is the right size to cook a meal for one.

The steps are almost the same except, as will be shown below, you do not get the golden brown color that my wife shrived for but in my mind you get a fresher tasting melted cheese.

  1. Place the friend eggplant in the cold electric skillet (fondue pot) and cover with tomato sauce.

    Fried Eggplant Covered with Tomato Sauce.

  2. Slice the cheese and place a slice or part of a slice on each piece of eggplant.

    A slice on each piece of eggplant

  3. Cover the pot and turn the temperature on the dial to 300 Fahrenheit

    Cover the pot

  4. Cook for about 10 minutes until you hear the sauce and melted cheese sizzling in the pan.

    Cook for about 10 minutes

  5. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan.

Since I love eggplant fried and fresh mozzarella, I like this version just as well as the golden brown one and when making meals for one it is just the right amount. Don’t worry, when you come to dinner I’ll put the pan in the oven and make yours that beautiful golden brown but in the meantime I can cook great tasting traditional meals without excessive leftovers.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this great meal is vegetarian.

Indian Curried Shrimp

August 23, 2010

Lemon Grass

Yeah, I know all curry is Indian except when it’s American or Caribbean and the difference is the richness of the spice blends. The Europeans knew what they were doing when the set out to discover a shorter route to India to get spices. I am just surprised that as bad as English and German food is they didn’t get there first.

The biggest difference is that so called Curry powder from the Western Hemisphere has coriander and cumin as the principle ingredients with lesser amounts of garlic and turmeric in the blend whereas the Indian blend of garam masala is built around cumin, black pepper, and coriander and you are expected to add your own garlic and turmeric. In the Caribbean or American version you are expected to add either hot pepper or black pepper respectively.

Now many people would think I am nuts to make a spicy Indian Curry for my Granddaughters, but I was just dying to try Indian Recipes with all the spices I found in the DC area so I could see the real difference between eastern and western curry. I chose three curry recipes from Monica at spicediary.com, curried pinto beans, curried garbanzos and curried king prawn. Then I let my older granddaughter choose the one she wanted to eat. And she chose curried shrimp which is more readily available and cheaper than King Prawns. I also made a back-up dinner in my coffeepot of Chicken and red beans to be served over white rice which is the way I also chose to serve the curried shrimp.

Staging The Spices

I read the recipe carefully and recognized that this was a fast moving recipe using spices I simply wasn’t familiar with so I staged the spices in bowls and scaled it down at the same time. This way I would be sure I wouldn’t make any mistakes while exploring food in unfamiliar territory. I was so excited after making and sampling my first masala (spice blend) that I had a mental meltdown and stopped taking pictures.

The meal came out fantastic. My oldest granddaughter loved it and ate up plenty of shrimp while saving room for some chicken. The youngest ate a couple but as expected preferred the chicken and I ate only the curried shrimp.

Unless you make it yourself from fresh spices, it’s difficult to describe how delicious this meal is and how different it is from what the Western world refers to as curry. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t take pictures of this meal you can go to Monica’s site and check out her original recipe as I altered a couple of ingredient and also scaled it down to being a little more than enough for one big eater.

Curried Shrimp Ingredients

First spice blend

1 small Onion

5 small garlic cloves

2 inches of ginger root peeled

bunch fresh chopped coriander (cilantro) (2 Tablespoons)

Blend all together in food processor or blender, you may have to add a little olive oil.

In my fondue pot at medium heat, add;

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 dried black cardamom crushed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 stalk lemon grass cut in 2 inch pieces.

Once the pot starts to sizzle, add the First spice blend which is a paste. After everything was uniform, I added the bowl that had

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Tumeric powder

¼ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon garam masala

I stirred on high for 10 minutes and added a can of diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)

After 5 minute,I added

½ pound shrimp

After cooking for 10 minutes

2 ounces of water was added and the heat tuned to low and

I tablespoon of sour cream added.

The heat was turned of and the food let sit in a covered pot, while I put out the white rice and chicken on the table and everything was served together.

This sounds like a lot of work but everything moves extremely quickly which is why I pre-measured the spices and put the spice portions in their separate bowls.

I think this was definitely worth the effort and will probably cook this with my daughter when she comes down next week.

A note on the spices:

There is absolutely no substitute for black cardamon, fresh ginger or fresh coriander (cilantro). You could make a simple garam masala or simply use West Indian Curry with a substantial portion of black pepper. You could probably get away with lemon zest instead of lemon grass. However, if the goal is to taste the difference between east and west , than take the time to find the real ingredients. For me Lemon Grass was the easiest as I had just replanted my lemon grass bed in order to rejuvenate it so I had some fresh young sprouts.

Lamb Curry or Curried Lamb?

August 20, 2010

Curried Lamb or Lamb Currry?

When it comes to curry, the choices and combinations are infinite. Do we serve it with rice or in a shell like roti? Should you use chicken, lamb, shrimp, beef or pork or vegetarian with pinto beans or garbanzos? Should potatoes be included or not? Then there is question of bones in or boneless meat. Do we use difficult to find Indian spices or just use the West Indian spice blends called curry powder.

Now I pretty much make curry from either chicken or lamb and include garbanzos and potatoes. My normal spice blend is West Indian Chief’s brand which I find superior to big name American Spice blends and with chicken I will do ether bones or boneless but with lamb I leave the bones out. The only problem I have left is to decide whether to call it Lamb Curry or Curried Lamb.

Clean the Lamb

The only major precautions I make are to keep my curry in the refrigerator so it stays as fresh as possible and to try to cut the fat from the meat. I saved all the bones with meat on it separately so I can make Lamb Buco.

Lamb Curry or Curried Lamb

Ingredients:

1 potato cubed and blanched

½ stick butter

1 clove garlic minced

½ onion chunked

1 thin slice scotch bonnet pepper

6 oz lamb cooked or leftover

1 Tablespoon Curry Powder

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon thyme

2 oz rum.

1 can garbanzo beans with liquid.

Gather the Ingredients

The potatoes were blanched and all the ingredients gathered together. Everything was added to the pot except the can of beans and was sauteed covered with occasional stirring until the onion was glazed and the lamb was browned. The can of garbanzo beans and the liquid was then added to the pot. The aluminum foil was removed and cooked uncovered.

I am sensitive to the flavors in curry and a bad blend makes for a bad meal. I intent to try some real Indian Style Curry with Indian spices so I an pick out the flavor which offends me – if any and eliminate it. Meanwhile I’ll stick with the brand that I know I enjoy.

BTW Google says it’s Curried Lamb about 4 to 3 over Lamb Curry.

Vegetarian Carrot Soup or Potage Crecey

August 19, 2010

Potage Crecey - Purred Carrot Soup

Potage Crecey is one of those old fashioned soups that I first started cooking when 30 years ago or the first time I was chronically unemployed in the Virgin Islands. The recipe is from the Larousse Gastronomique and I would not recommend the new edition because it is a $75 dumbed down version of the hurricane damaged copy I still use.

This is one of those messy old fashioned soups that was pureed using a sieve, then I used my food processor and now that I discovered my blender does an easier to cleanup version with a slightly different texture, I may make it more often.

I made this soup twice this year, once with my mini food processor which made a mess of my kitchen and once using my blender. The big difference, in addition to texture, is the quantity you can make. A professional chef could use a food processor to make soup for hundreds whereas the blender is superior in ease of use when making meals for one. I actually prefer the texture of a totally pureed soup so I am lucky to be able to make my soup for one or two.

Vegetarian Carrot Soup or Potage Crecey

Ingredients

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons Butter

1 Onion diced

1 clove garlic minced

2 stalks celery

1 thin slice scotch bonnet hot pepper or equivalent (optional)

4 carrots either food processed or coined.

1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley (½ dried)

½ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 oz sherry

1 can vegetable broth 14.5 oz

Prepare everything on the list up to the carrots and put into the coffeepot and start to saute.(remove the slice of hot pepper before the carrots are added.)

Shredding the Carrots

If using the food processor, shred the carrots and add to the pot or else coin the carrots and add to the pot. Add all the rest of the spices and sherry and continue to simmer for ½ hour stirring occasionally.

Simmering the Carrots and Onions

Add the broth and let cook all day.

All in the Pot and Cooking

If you used the food processor to shred the carrots you are done. This is show below served with grilled tomato and cheese sandwiches.

Carrot Soup with Grilled Cheese and Tomato

If you coined the carrots, pore the pot into the blender, liquify and serve. Either way I love my carrot soup, the blender is just easier to clean and not as messy.

Italian Flag Salad

August 18, 2010

Italian Flag Salad

I like playing with my food so made this salad with ingredients traditionally used in Italy and made it in the style of the Italian Flag. I made a Polish flag salad which had balanced flavors of a cottage cheese salad with pickled beets which was pleasant. While this might be another clever idea for a salad, it is defiantly not for wimps.

Recipe:

Green Section:

sliced Romaine and Iceberg lettuce.

White section:

1 cup cottage cheese with 1 small diced onion and celery stalk

Three marinated artichoke hearts on top of the salad

crumbled Gorgonzola sprinkled on top

Red Section

Tuna Salad

3 oz tuna fish

½ teaspoon horseradish

½ teaspoon crushed garlic

½ Tablespoon soy sauce

Mix all ingredients until well blended

Overlay with red pimento

I loved the flavor of this bold tuna salad so I expect you will see more of that as a protein source with vegetarian soups for dinner. I served the red and green parts of the salad with marinated artichoke hearts and black olives to some of our family friends at my daughter’s house and was worried about overdoing it with bold flavors. Everybody loved it and several asked for recipes.

My daughter and I cook bold for ourselves, our families and our friends and they keep coming back for more so I guess we are doing OK.