Let’s Go Shopping with the Inner Child

The end of the Thanksgiving leftovers brought in the beginning of a new shopping cycle. So be it.

I stopped at Aldi after acupuncture on Tuesday. Fruit (limited but lovely organic selections), some veggies, a pizza, some pumpkin for Oakley. OK.

At this time of year, Aldi brings in holiday goodies from Germany. Fancy chocolates; cookies; specialty cheeses; cakes and breads; crackers hum a chorus of temptation.

My adult self can tune out all but the the deep vibrato of the most celebratory chocolate. My inner child, however, needs noise canceling headphones.

I stood there with a bag of dark chocolate almonds in my hand. My early elementary self whispered,  Can we get these, please? 

Not a good idea.

Why? Almonds are good for you. So is dark chocolate.

True in theory, but what happened last time we bought a bag?

Shrug.

How long did the bag last?

Uhh… But they’re good for you. Look, they have dark chocolate and sea salt and they’re almonds!

If we eat it all in one shot, they’re not so good for you. I think we’d better put the bag down.

But–but..

PUT. THE. BAG. DOWN.

Sigh. 

The bag went back on the shelf.

Similar inner dialogs occurred in the seasonal isle with the sea salt caramels, truffles, and some crackers as well as the cheese section. We were able to compromise on some regular dark chocolate, a little extra fruit. That placated her.

We were able to get out unscathed, on budget, and with a minimum of bruised feelings. I made pasta for dinner (which makes her smile) and we went on to have a bit of chocolate for dessert, leaving us both at peace.

 

Foods That Just Don’t Do It For Me

I’ll try almost anything foodwise once. I loved clams and spinach in my early elementary years; one of the most memorable meals I had in adulthood was on a trip to Chinatown with a coworker of Hubby’s who was from Taiwan. Within our parameters, she did the ordering. I have no clue what we ate, but oh, my, was it good.

However, there are some foods that I just do not care for at all. I just don’t like them. Period. I will take a bite or two for politeness’ sake, but please do not try to feed me the following:

  • Kale. I really don’t care for kale very much. I have tried it in salads, braised in ginger, garlic, and soy, and in green drinks. I don’t hate it; I just don’t care for it for some reason. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be the best thing since the last big trendy veggie, but I just don’t like it. In chips (de-stem, spread on baking sheet, sprinkle with melted coconut oil and garlic, and bake at 350 for 10 min. or until crunchy), yes, but otherwise, no, thank you.
  • Bananas. Between the dizzying amount of sugar, the pasty texture, and the trigger for memories of mashing them up for Orion his last days, spare me these. I like banana baked goods and in green drinks where the protein powder and berries or cherries mask their presence, but sweet Baby Jesus, keep them away from me. 
  • Most pork products. Yuck. Bacon on occasion, but ham and the rest? YUCK. Especially on pizza. YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK! If I had a dollar for every piece I gagged down when I was in college to keep peace with roommates or while trying to impress a date, I could make a significant donation to some worthy cause.
  • White wine. Even when sipping mindfully, the only notes I detect are rubbing alcohol and lighter fluid.  
  • Raw mushrooms and cauliflower. No. 
  • Donuts. The combo of the fat and sugar and the texture repel me. Except for the one’s from Freddy’s, the long-demised donut shop of my childhood that cranked out perfect cake-like glazed cherry ones.

 Other than that, I’m pretty easy to feed. Nothing hip and trendy, please, and make it nicely seasoned. And I will be a happy WolfMama, indeed

Peore es Nada

That’s a Spanish phrase that has two translations: “anything is better” or “nothing is worse.” I don’t know if I spelled it correctly and apologies if I didn’t. 

In this case, let us contemplate the implications pertaining to low carb/low glycemic diets and gluten free products. Perhaps in those cases, the question is one of “better than nothing.” There is a lot of “nothing is worse.” 

I’ve tried several breads that were dry and crumbly. Right now, I’m avoiding desserts just to remove the stress of living with temptation. The rice pastas have been pretty good, but one fell apart when I cooked it according to the package directions. The good news is that a Parmesan covers a lot of errors. 

One gluten-free bread that I found at Costco was pretty good. It has sunflower seeds on top, toasts pretty well, and doesn’t crumble if you look at it sideways. I also made almond bread from nut butter.( http://www.elanaspantry.com/rochels-cashew-bread/ only subbing almond butter for the cashew butter.)  The recipe sounded as if there was no way in this world or the next that it was going to work, but I thought, “what the heck?” and tried it.  It was a wee bit on the dry side, but fine for sweet or savory applications.

Pizza I can’t live without. Many of the low carb and or gluten free crusts are impossible to handle, taste like cardboard, or both. I found a good one here: http://detoxinista.com/2012/01/the-secret-to-perfect-cauliflower-pizza-crust/. It tastes nothing like cauliflower. I promise. I throw in some chopped garlic cloves with the cauliflower while cooking and mix the whole schmeer in the food processor. It is good. I could see making this as smaller flatbreads and using for wraps, even. 

The other issue with gluten free food is cost. The rice pasta isn’t bad, but some of the others such as an almond-flour one that I saw the other day are through the roof ($9 for nine ounces; REALLY?). I’d rather do a plate of wheat pasta once a week or so than pay that kind of money. 

Experiment; use coupons; ask. It’s the only way that you’ll find out if nothing is worse of if anything is better.

 

 

A Trieste on Music

A person could be deceived into thinking Midwestern winters are not that bad today. The sky is a cloudless, cliche-ridden blue. The ground is another story, however. The stiff wind bringing tonight’s anticipated storm and arctic cold from the northwest sculpts the snow already on the ground like Martha Stewart trying to get just the right ripple effect on a cake’s frosting. 

A pleasant distraction is in order. This evening’s entertainment will be “A Prairie Home Companion,” just as it has been most Saturdays since I was in high school. As I create the cauliflower-crusted pizza (http://detoxinista.com/2012/01/the-secret-to-perfect-cauliflower-pizza-crust/ and it works just as well with plain ol’ mozz in the crust instead of goat cheese–oh, and you can mix the cooked drained and dried cauliflower, egg, cheese, and herbs in the food processor), I will be listening to performers who do what they do out of love and a deep desire to keep traditional music genres alive and well.

 

I need to have music as I cook. Sometimes it’s jazz, others classical, and there’s something about folk music and Saturdays that mesh just right. Classic rock (from the Police on back) is mostly for driving. But whatever I’m listening to and whatever I’m creating, the ingredients and the tunes have to be real.

Tonight, I need a serious palate clearing. The Grammys are on tomorrow night; the last two days have been filled to the brim with coverage of Justin Bieber’s latest act of stupidity. I am left unimpressed by the artists featured in the clips promoting the former and disturbed that the mainstream media has lost its collective mind over a marketable but questionably talented teenager who’s on the fast track to be a victim of his his own excesses.  

I’ve been spoiled since college by friends who are musicians, and who by rights (extreme prejudice warning here) should have been on “Prairie Home Companion,” but some things just don’t work out they way they ought to in a perfect world. I’ve also dabbled in singing lessons here and there, and been in recitals, and I will tell you, Dear Readers, there is a lot more to the preparation and execution of a performance than looking pretty and enticing fans. 

My own performance experiences have made me quite the demanding critic, just as my cooking has made me quite the pain in the butt over restaurants. I don’t want technotronics, fancy lighting effects, or plates arranged like tableaux from art museums. Just give me the best of either, and plenty of it,  and I will be a happy girl. 

And if we can send Justin back to Canada and get Gordon Lightfoot in exchange, I will swoon in ecstacy.

Confessions

Not THAT kind. What do you think this is, Penthouse Forum? No, the confessions are related to food, dear.

Bless me, Gentle Readers, for occasionally your WolfMama eats frozen meals and canned soup. Not just any, mind you. They have to pass some pretty strict tests. Minimal ingredients, preferably organic, and nothing in them that sounds like it came from a chemical lab instead of a kitchen.  Amy’s Organics (no, I’m not getting paid for this) is my favorite brand. They fit my criteria. Archer Farms, one of the house brands at Target, has some pretty good pizza that comes from Italy with high quality ingredients.

I have a Costco membership. It can be good for a two-person-one-dog household. They frequently have good deals on canned organic foods and alternative milks. And cheese from Europe. And books. Must…have…books……

My favorite chocolate is Ghiradelli. Not just because of the flavor, but because each square has ridged edges, making it possible to enjoy a schmeer of almond butter or peanut butter on them. Sometimes I wonder what my excuse will be for this sort of behavior after I get on the other side of menopause.

Proponent of locally grown food that I am, I have never been able to find bananas or citrus grown in the midwest. I don’t get it. Or tea or coffee.    

I prefer storefront ethnic restaurants. Pointing and crossing fingers while hoping for the best usually works. 

Another confession of PMS-related foods: the peanut butter-potato chip sandwich. Not to be done often, just when you need the carby blast to kickstart your serotonin production. Works best without jam or jelly. Not bad with bananas.

So…what are your food-related confessions?

 

 

 

 

ISO Grain Free Pizza Crust and Wraps, or Learn to Make Socca

My first try involved flaxseeds, an egg, and a little water. It came out an odd shade of purple with a sponge-like taste and texture. No. I am too fond of people who read this blog to tell them where I found it.

Some of the other recipes involved making what amounts to an omelet. No. 

And then came The Revelation: socca. It’s a flatbread from southern France traditionally served as an appetizer or a snack. It’s made with chickpea flour, a little salt, water, and olive oil in its purest form. Some recipes call for a little rosemary, too. Try this one: http://newgrainrecipes.com/the-incredible-socca

If you were to close your eyes, click your heels, and wish to find yourself in Nice, and it worked, then this might be offered to you when you landed. It would have been baked in a wood oven and drizzled with really, really good olive oil.  Depending on your manifestation skills, you might even have Alain Delon serving you. However, for the rest of us, a frying pan will do the trick, especially in a week of near tropical humidity.

I made pizza topped with goat cheese (which my tummy approves of), sauteed leeks, and kalamata olives. I liked and Hubby liked.

I started thinking that one of these lovely wraps might be good with tuna or mahi mahi, some lettuce, tomato, and onions, and drizzled with vinegrette, or perhaps with salsa and avocado and a sprinkle of goat cheese.

I don’t think I can go wrong.