Saturday, January 5, 2013

Food From My Yard - Using What You Have

I am very interested in where what I eat comes from. I also hate waste.
The season for my garden has ended but my old tomato plants continue to make the occasional fruit. I can't bear to let them rot.

This is four recent picks from the sad remnants of the summer garden. They are perched on a pretty piece of Lenox china from the Butterfly Meadow pattern that I found at Ross for a serious discount:)
I'd prefer red tomatoes but leaving the tomatoes to ripen leads to rot/predation so I pick them while they are hard, green little nuggets:)

Since we are eating low-carb I can't flour and fry them so I've been doing different things with them.
Since they can be quite bitter I reccomend you do as I do when you experiment by thinly slicing your 'greenatoes' and adding until you get a taste that suits you.
I like harvesting the things my yard grows - from the cultivated garden, from my grapefruit and calamondin and fig trees. I don't make enough to really do much more than add interest to our diet. It is nice to look at a plate and know something from your yard made it possible:)
There is also a very virtuous feeling to using what I have to make running my home a happy and fulfilling thing.
So - these hard green things. My favorite use so far is in omelets.

Green Tomato Omelets (ingredients per serving)

3 eggs, whisked with the water
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp water
1/2 small green tomato, thinly sliced
tbl of meat of choice - cooked sausage, ham or bacon
*optional - tbl sauteed red onion
tsp butter

Whisk the eggs with the water, add a littl salt and pepper. Heat the butter until melted in a small (6-8") pan. When the butter sizzles a bit (have the burner on med) pour in the eggs. Lift the eggs to allow the raw to get under the cooked and rock the pan to keep lifting the cooked egg up and shifting more raw to the cooking surface. When the eggs on the top are glistening and semi-firm, sprinkle the cheese and meat over the surface and spread the thin tomato slices - try to stay at least 3/4 inch from the edges of the pan. After about 20 seconds start the process of rolling the omelet. Lift one edge of the omelet and gently begin rolling it to the other edge. I like to use a spatula and a turner. You don't have to be all fancy in your own kitchen, do what it takes to get a neat outcome:)

If I'm feeling ambitious I'll broil a couple of thick slices of the tomatoes with cheese on top as a nice little side garnish.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Back on Track

I took a week off from the Atkins routine while I was in Orlando last week, starting with a mango smoothie from Smoothie King and ending with french fries from Burger King. I wonder if eating like royalty is an American desire and one that leads to obesity?

We needed to get back into our Atkins eating pattern so tonight I roasted an organically raised, free-range chicken and served that with mustard greens and my take on achichuk salad.
A quick word on free-range chicken. I prefer chicken and eggs that are free range because I think that chickens deserve to be humanely raised and that the meat and eggs from those chickens tastes better. I also feel better about eating meat and eggs from chickens who got to scratch the earth and chase bugs and breathe clean air under an open sky. 
What is achichuk salad, you ask?
It is something delightful we encountered at a little Uzbek restaurant in Panama City. Made of thinly sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and onion, achichuk salad is topped with fragrant herbs that I had to guess at since recipes on line were next door to non-existent.
When we are in phase one our carbs are very restricted and food can become very boring. I wanted our return to the diet to be as pleasant as possible, hence something more interesting than sliced cucumbers or a green salad.

Achichuk Salad

1 ripe tomato, sliced thinly
2 pickling cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp red wine vinegar

salt, pepper to taste
1/4 tsp each of dill and cumin

Layer the sliced vegetables with salt and pepper in a glass dish. Sprinkle with red wine vinegar, then dill and cumin. Adjust the seasonings to your liking; I like up to a half teaspoon of each dill and cumin.
Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve and be ready for applause.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bye, bye, Lolo. We love you

Over a year ago I brought home a sniffly-nosed, skinny kitten with diarrhea from my mom's farm. Her vet had prescribed a liquid antibiotic that wasn't clearing up his illness and was making him have the trots.
He was orange and white and so sweet natured that cleaning up the occasional poop spot from the bed spread wasn't a big deal. Bed spreads need to be washed on a regular basis anyway.
We named him Loki - Little Orange KItty.

This is a recent photo of Loki curled up with Randy, one of the senior members of of our fur baby family. Loki liked to hang around with the other cats. His best friend was Fang, our youngest black cat, who is just a little older than Loki.

Loki grew up to become a beautiful boy with a sweet temperament and loving disposition. It is so funny to me that as loving as he always was, he didn't take crap from anyone or anything.
When he first came home I was very worried about the big cats hurting him. He was still kind of scrawny with leaky, poopy butt and a bad upper respiratory infection; disadvantaged in a match against far larger and healthier felines.
The others came to sniff and investigate. Loki, as a farm cat, has lots of cousins and brothers and sisters and was unfazed by the inspection. I suppose he thought they were playing so he chased them, running alongside until he had the right angle to tackle. He'd jump up with his forepaws out to wrap around the big cat's neck and bring him down.
When we brought home our robo-vacuum the other cats gave it a wide berth. Loki was a curious kitty, a brave fellow who wanted to challenge the intruder and insure it knew that cats were supreme in this household. He confronted the monster and showed the others that it was no threat.

Loki threw up last night, the usual chunks of kibble, then vomited more - foam this time. That isn't an ordinary cat reaction in my experience. Monday is surgery day at my Vet's office but they took Loki in and Doc checked him between operations.
Doc said that Loki had kidney disease and was in renal failure. My poor baby needed to go to sleep since he was only going to be in pain. There was no magic to bring my purry Lolo home, no tears that would make him better, no money to get a cure. No choice.

I have cried, sobbed, for Loki today. My head still hurts from crying. I will miss this precious darling.
Mama and Daddy love you, Lolo. Your sleeping place will let you watch birds and your kitty friends as they chase them.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Driving and seeing and working...October 2012

We've had a big problem in the Apalachicola Bay (AB) lately and oysters are mighty scarce, as are other seafoods harvested from the normally bountiful AB.
This puts a lot of people who are self-employed out of work and me and my group into work over-drive to try to ameliorate the situation. We work with other groups to corral resources for survival (food, shelter, power) and to help the affected people make the step to "what's next." We set up training programs to help them make the bridge and to have some money in pockets in the meantime.
It is stressful as hell for all concerned.

I take a deep satisfaction in living where I do, I love the way it looks and smells and the way the ground feels under my feet. When I am as stressed as I am now, I look for the extra pieces of joy to be had from more close observation.
Butterflies are everywhere now, mostly Monarchs, and there are areas planted in Apalach designed to provide sustenance for them on their trip. If you look carefull above, you'll see an orange and black Monarch having a snack in a clump of lantana.

 I spend about 40 minutes of my drive to Franklin County running parallel to the Gulf Of Mexico. This is what it looks like on a pretty October day.

This is the front entrance to the Coombs House Inn B&B, the place I stay when I am in Apalach overnight. The picture is sideways because the computer hates me.

Stair case at Coombs House. Also fucking sideways. The wood is black cyprus and used throughout the house.
The groundfloor is dark and cool - large windows shaded by large trees. The upstairs has a wrap-around veranda and all of the rooms have doors leading out.

This is a very small town in a low-population county -- around 11,000 souls total in the county. After I process this experience a little more I'll write about it. I just wanted thes pictures up.
The butterfly photo is reminiscent of particular moments of heart-lifting. There is a very long bridge connecting Apalachicola and Eastpoint. I had to cross this bridge at least six times last week and every time there were clouds of butterflies clipping their way around the few cars crossing.
Even though Apalach sits right on the Gulf and the Apalachcicola River, I never smelled the things that say "healthy coast" to me - no salt, no fish, no crabby corpses.
There is something wrong.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It Is Working for Us!

We have been following the Atkins Diet since May 1 with a few cheat days along the way and have lost pounds.
My Darling Charlie has lost 30+ pounds ( he only weighs at the doctor's office) and I have lost 20 +/- 4 pounds that keep coming and going. We need to start some exercise the keep the loss going but in the meantime, what we have dropped has helped us.
Charlie's doctor is very happy with his weightloss as it affects his blood sugar levels in a positive way.
I am happy that I look better and that when he wraps his arms around me they go alllll the way around me and my arms can hug him close to me.
It's good to look in the mirror and see the face I expect instead of that face plus two chins:)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rainy Spring Day and Atkins - Soup? How???

It has rained for the past two days. Sometimes hard, sometimes soft drops that just frizz your hair.
The cats have been confused. In? Out? Both, rapidly?
We are Soup People when it rains. For the past few years, our Rainy Day soup has been Spanish Bean soup (see archives) but with Dr. Atkins ruling our lives, beans are out.
My first thought was that as long as I have Limestone Country sausage and chicken broth I can do anything.
Rooting around in the refrigerator turned up half a head of cabbage and about 1/8 of a purple onion.
Onions are high carb items but this little chunk wouldn't yield more than 2 carbs and still be enough to give flavor to the soup. Cabbage, for one medium head, is about 51 net carbs.  Waaaay too many for our stage of Atkins.  But half a head is around 25 and when added to this recipe the average serving contains a lot less. A 32 ounce container of Organic chicken broth has 4 carbs and the sausage and spices have zero carbs. Here's how it worked:

Rainy Day Soup
1 lb link sausage, sliced. Preferably country smokehouse style; otherwise, add sage, crushed red pepper, celery salt, cumin and oregano to taste.
1/2 head of a medium cabbage, chopped
1 ounce minced red onion
1 32 ounce container organic chicken broth
salt, pepper, paprika to taste

Put the sausage and onion in a soup pot over medium heat and stir occasionally while you chop the cabbage. When the onion bits are translucent, add the cabbage. Stir and toss a few minutes until cabbage wilts a bit, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil for two minutes or so then reduce to a simmer.
Simmer for fifteen minutes (or more, if you like). Taste and season, add a little olive oil if you think the mouth-feel is too watery. Add a cup or two of water if needed.
This is actually four servings but we ate it all ourselves!

Carbs per cup: approx. 8.5
As we ate it, 17 carbs for the meal, below our daily allowance of 20-25.

I made it extra dense as far as solid ingredients to reduce the longing for crackers or bread.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Through Thick and Thin

That should have been in our wedding vows, just like the "for richer, for poorer" thing. For almost 18 years now, my darling has told me that I am beautiful, that I am not fat - regardless of what mad thing I have done to my hair or whether I was a size six or a size, er, XL.
I have managed to creep too close to XXL for comfort and my handsome Charlie has also grown expansive across the middle. Since he has more potential complications based on health as far as diets go I told him to ask his doctor what she recommended. She promoted Atkins, so carbs have nearly disappeared from my life. His too, for that matter!

Luckily, we like meat. Especially BEEFS! Grilled steaks make me happy, and if he has over-cooked them I mix up my version of Tzatzki sauce or chimichurri sauce for a minor carb flavor boost. Today began our 8th day of Atkins Induction and we have been good except for Friday and Saturday night and our failings then were small. Charlie's 45th class reunion was this past weekend and we had decided we were going to drink, but cautiously.
I took a couple of flavors of Mio with me with which to flavor Vodka and water and Charlie was going to stick with Crown Royal and diet Coke.
But it was Cinco de Mayo. And he had to have a margarita! Or three...and since he was going off the reservation I followed, opting for grapefruit juice in my vodka after my first Mio and V.  Saturday night I poured a glass of my favorite jug wine and thought for a second that I had gotten a bad jug. It tasted like kerosene smells.
I hadn't had a glass of wine in a week and my tastebuds had developed a dislike for what I used to drink every day.
That is good. Even though low in carbs, wine has calories enough to slow weight loss and my body has to burn through the booze carbs before it heads for fat stores.
This is just to get my hands used to channeling thoughts onto a screen again and will face some heavy re-writing soon:)