It's time to finally let you see some of the projects that I've been working on lately.
I'm still dealing with the lack of interest in food. I don't watch food network as much as before, nor do I surf the food blogs as much. If something strikes my fancy in the little perusing I actually do, I'll throw myself into it with zeal. However, nothing has really struck my fancy for a couple of weeks now. Most evenings I eat a quick sandwich or a microwaved convenience meal of some sort.
However, this week was my mum's birthday. Normally, I plan for this for weeks and weeks. Actually, last march, when I first had shrimp and grits, I thought that'd be a lovely birthday meal for mum. Then I used that recipe for christmas, when I went over and cooked them dinner. She loved it and wouldn't have complained about the repeat, but it takes a bit too much effort for a tuesday night after working all day. Especially with the sort of days that I've been having.
I solicited my livejournal pals for advice, but then the wonderful boyfriend called me up with the idea that sparked a darn good dinner - why not grill some shrimp or chicken? Mum loves the shrimp, but only if it's deep fried, so I tossed that out and went with the chicken.
Last week was pop's birthday, and we'd gone out for his dinner - to Outback Steakhouse. The first thing that jumped out at me from their menu was the "grillers", beef and veggie kabob served with rice and grilled pineapple. The grilled pineapple was wonderful. I loved it so and was dying to use some myself. So, I tossed that into the menu for mum's dinner.
We wound up marinating boneless chicken breasts in pineapple juice all day, then placing them and pieces of fresh pineapple on the barbecue grill. While that started cooking, I threw together a simple salad with bagged greens, diced mango, and toasted almonds. Then I whipped up a fruity vinagrette with mango pulp, lime juice, pineapple juice, chardonnay, white wine vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.
I went out to check on the chicken and they were cold! Oh no! Out of gas! We swapped out the tank for a fresh one and were back in business. But we weren't really. Something was wrong with the burner and the flame kept going out. So, I moved the chicken breasts (which did have a little color and grill markage on them) and pineapple to a pan and put them in the oven. 20 minutes later, the chicken still seemed incredibly underdone and the pineapple were juicing all over them. I extracted the pineapple and moved the chicken to the stovetop. In the time that it took for the pineapple juice to be absorbed/evaporated, the chicken finished cooking and actually carmelized slightly in the juice (only about 5 more minutes). I then sliced the chicken into small bits and put it atop the salad, with the pineapple on the side.
It turned out to be a lovely, healthy meal. Not at all the sort of fare that I usually make for mum (heavy and cheese filled), but we all enjoyed it greatly. I was thankful for my flexible nature, I've known folks who would've thrown the whole thing out when the grill died.
Next, we moved into dessert. My version of bananas foster. I had a recipe once, but over the years that I've made this, I've made it my own. As you may know, I rarely measure anything, a trait that I find endearing in myself and infuriating in others. I melted maybe half a stick of margarine in a pan (mum never has actual butter) and added what looked like way too much brown sugar (but really wasn't). When it came to a simmer, I added banana slices and stirred it around gently until the bananas started breaking up, telling me that they were done. At that point I added a small splash of vanilla extract and a goodly splash of dark rum (myers). Let the alcohol cook off and spooned it over vanilla ice cream.
In good keeping with my diet, I only ate a very small amount. My stepdad, who really isn't that much of a sweet eater, paid me the greatest compliment by having to have two large servings! I also found out that night that bananas foster is one of mum's favorite desserts. Perhaps sad that I didn't know that, but it has just become so in the last 5 years, in which time I haven't lived with her.
One very nice thing about the lack of interest in food is all of the free time that I find myself with in the evenings. No longer do I come home from work, cook something, clean up, and fall in a heap on the couch. Instead, I've been crafting like a mad woman. This week, I finished the organizational drawers that I've been painting, knitted a scarf, and knitted a sock. I will follow up later with pictures of some of my finished projects.
I've not had near the interest in food that I previously did. I do still occasionally get excited enough to cook, maybe once a week. Early this week I tried out a recipe from Paula Dean for an italianish chicken cordon bleu. It was ok, but caused the reflux to kick up and has thus been banned.
I'm more about the crafts lately. Last weekend, Mimi and I had "sock sunday", where she came over for the day and taught me to knit a sock. I finished the first one that day and started the second. I didn't finish the second one until friday, but it was a busy week.
I've also been painting up these cutesy crates with drawers that I found at Michaels. I'm trying to get my craft supplies organized, and this is helping greatly. Probably with two more crates I'll have enough drawers for all of the interests.
I found a new project which interests me greatly, but the more I think about it, the more I think it'll take quite a bit of time to make. I'd like to make it very special.
My abstinence from the gawd nectar (pepsi) is not going quite as well. I haven't had one in 19 days now, but I WANT ONE! Probably a hormonal craving. I've done so well though that I hate to give in now. I'm just trying to hold out a bit longer. I never said I'd give them up for life, but not drinking them is surely helping with the weight loss.
I had planned to spend weekends in January learning to bake bread from scratch and to do it well. I've done it a few times and it turns out ok, but nothing to praise. But, like most plans, it had to change.
Sometime just after christmas, I developed a pain in my back. As the days went on it got worse and began to extend all the way down my right leg, making every step painful. I finally went to the doctor on tuesday of this week, mainly just to get a referral to my chiropractor (so that the blasted insurance would pay for my chiropractic visit). The doctor declared that it was most likely sciatica and started talking about surgery for my back and weight loss surgery. I let him know that I was nowhere near ready to consider gastric bypass. I like sugar, thanks, and don't want to be poisoned by it everytime I slip up and eat a little.
So, he loaded me up with drugs (including an appetite suppressant), a diet plan (1600 calories a day), and sent me off for x-rays and chiropractor visit. The chiropractor says that my hip was just out of joint, but even after he put it back the pain has stuck around. It does seem to be getting a bit better though. Follow up to that, my xrays looked fine, but I still need to lose some weight. That was sort of a duh anyway.
The point to all that rambling is that experimentation with bread has been thrown right out. Instead, I'm searching for healthier meals. I just read Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat and it has me all fired up to look toward an asian inspired diet plan. So, tonight, I whipped up an asian feast, then only ate a small amount of it.
It was absolutely lovely, but my camera batteries are dead, so I can not share it with you. Teeny homemade spring rolls, about as big as a finger; a beefy broth with bean threads; garlic stir fried green beans; brown rice; and a chicken and veggie stir fry that was mostly veggie.
I'm looking forward to more fun with asian cuisine. I'm hoping to overcome my fear of bonito flakes. Actually, it's not fear so much as disgust, but maybe I can beat that too.