Sunday, March 30, 2014

A spot up there with kefir and green smoothies

Mostly I have to eat food my children are willing to eat, so unfortunately I've had to tone down the spice considerably otherwise I tend to have to make multiple meals  Who has time for that?  This past month however I've found myself incredibly enchanted with Kimchi since my mother made me some after some gentle inquiry.  I've literally found myself eating it with anything and everything.  I think it's a delight but my husband won't touch it.  It totally reeks, but it's fermented spicy cabbage, of course it smells funky.  And on the bright side, the active live cultures in it are good for you and since it's meatless I don't need to concern myself with cholesterol issues.  I'm on a mission to make kimchi cool.  Those folks who really pushed Greek Yogurt were pretty successful, right?  Maybe if we talk kimchi up enough it'll be pushed up the cool kids list with pomegranate juice and acai berries.  

Since I'm tired of buttered pasta, mac & cheese, breakfast for dinner, grilled salmon and rice...I've had a renewed interest in cooking, if only on the weekends.  (And yes, my 3 year old loves fish and lobster. I'm 140% sure we didn't leave the hospital with the wrong baby.)

I know, I know....crock pot cooking is an option but seriously?  I can't look at another pot roast or mushy pile of (insert protein) now that it's springtime.  Chilli and beans and pot roast and pulled's been done and now I'd like some other foods, please.

Today's venture was Hainanese chicken rice, which is about as basic as Chinese food gets in terms of ingredients.  My kitchen is a disaster zone because I have spices, condiments and various seasonings of a world's worth of cuisine.  From the Thai green chili paste, the jerk seasoning when I feel like some seriously crazy spicy chicken, several bottles of cooking wine, sirancha, a half dozen hot sauces including tabasco, garam masala when I feel like Indian curry, and various kinds of rice noodles and pasta noodles I can't live without (we love carbs here) I probably won't starve for a year.

Hainanese Chicken is essentially poached chicken served with chicken broth enriched rice. It's no beauty queen but it's comfort food jam packed with lots of spicy, sweet, sour flavor from the dipping sauces.  I don't think I've ever seen it at a Chinese restaurant since the irony about Chinese restaurants in America is that they don't tend to serve many entrees that normal Chinese people would eat.  I prepared a salty sweet lime sirancha sauce for Trev and a fish based sauce for myself since that's what my mom has always tended to serve.  I won't bother posting a recipe because I did not actually measure anything and I would be remiss to lead you into a path of oversalting or overcooking, which is very easy to do. My only tip is to NOT overcook it because chalky chicken breast is my enemy and slice up a big pile of cucumbers or other crunchy veg since everything else is cooked so thoroughly. 

Before this venture I had several packages of cream cheese in the fridge that were bothering me, so I made crab rangoons.  And yes, ingredients in my refrigerator do indeed bother me, if they sit around long enough without any inspiration to move me forward.  Before that, I was enraptured by the thought of picked daikon radish, and since a person cannot just eat the Vietnamese equivalent of sliced dill pickle slices as a whole meal I made banh mi (sandwiches) with super thin beef filling topped with cilantro, picked daikon and carrot, scallion oil and a bit of mayo.  I have a hard time finding bread that works well for banh mi as it needs to be super crusty without being too thick and doughy. Clearly I need to venture out of the suburbs, but I have strict time restrictions before Deuce turns into a pumpkin and starts screeching like someone is ripping his baby toes out with pliers.  The kid's got some lungs.

The baby eats anything.  Charlie ate everything when he was a baby too.  Fish, chicken, duck, noodles, rice, corn on the cob...but once you hit 3 everything slides backwards.  Saying no is a very powerful powertrip for someone who cannot successfully wipe their own bottom clean.  Charlie says no to a LOT of stuff I know he likes.  On the bright side, if it can be considered that, he loves eating out so almost anything that strangers put in front of him gets gobbled up.  Kind of makes me feel like chopped liver slaving over a meal for him after a long day at work and racing home...but I guess as long as he has a few balanced meals mixed in with the less than healthy ones I will consider it an overall success.  Making meal time too dramatic only sets us up later for someone defiantly opposed to trying anything new at all. 

Easter is coming up, so I like making a big roasted leg of lamb.  I know an Easter Ham is ridiculously easy as all you do is throw it in and let it warm up then add some kind of sweet glaze but it's fairly common, and I almost never get to have lamb so I get excited about the indulgence.  When we have ham I tend to have leftovers for a week and you get tired of ham salad sandwiches, split pea soup, eggs benedict...even if they are all good meals, something about that one consistent salty note makes it feel less special. I don't bake as much anymore because when I bake my kids want to eat it, and the mean mommy in me doesn't like sugaring them up everyday.  If it's a treat, sure great.  But if you have something everyday it loses that "treat" status and becomes more of a "well, don't I just deserve to have this because it's Tuesday?" entitled attitude. And that's why everyone complains about being fat, there's always an excuse to make for why we deserve that big slice of cake.

I know...I make excuses all the time.  Trust me, I work in an office.  Every other day it's someone's birthday, anniversary, baby shower, bridal shower, holiday food party...etc. and thus every other day there's cake.  And let's not even talk about the peer pressure. I'm probably one of the youngest people on the entire floor and as a result everyone feels it's their right to act like my mom and shovel food down my mouth. Can we please celebrate with something that doesn't taste like chalk with shortening on top?