Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's one food you'll never eat again?

I agree with @andrewzimmern: I'll eat bugs and sea weed and all kinds of nasties (when not otherwise playing an Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian) but keep that Durian fruit ( http://j.mp/hgNj ) away from me!! Okay, maybe I should never say never...?

Ask me anything

Where would you like to spend your retirement?

Oh, come on! Aren't you people getting sick of hearing me say 'Summers in New Zealand and Summers in Scotland and Springs and Autumns in dear old Montréal'??

Ask me anything

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chicken Soup — or is it a Casserole?

As I run down the list of ingredients I wish to consume before the clock runs out, I struck upon the idea of taking that piece of chicken sitting in my freezer and the quart of chick stock sitting in my fridge and combining them to make a pot of chicken soup.  So I set about collecting some vegetables for the soup yesterday: Celery, Baby-Cut Carrots, Green Onions, Mushrooms, Thyme and Paprika.

I poured the chicken stock into the 2 gallon pot and then chopped the celery and scallions and rinsed them with the baby-cut carrots and sliced button mushrooms.  I added another 3 pints of water an brought the mixture to a boil.  While I did this, I defrosted and chopped the chicken into thin slices.  I washed the chicken as I added the spices and finally once everything was stewing nicely I added the pieces of chicken.

As I didn't know how long the chicken had been in the freezer, I cooked the soup for a good long time to make sure everything was well integrated and there was no risk of bacteria.  We then tried the soup.  The Mrs. said it tasted like canned soup, which given that the vegetables were fresh, is no doubt a compliment to soup canners!  So I had a couple of large bowls of the soup and my wife had some and although it wasn't the best soup I've ever had — that is doubtless a properly piquant bowl of Tom Kha Gai — it does have its virtues.  The biggest drawbacks are:
  1. all those vegetables produced too much soup, and
  2. all that cooking reduced the broth into something more resembling a casserole!
In any case, with only 4 days left to consume all this meat, I'm afraid I won't get it all down before time runs out!

So tonight, we're planning to go to Chima.  This is my last chance to enjoy the delicacy of a Brazilian Barbecue and I need to keep my stomach empty to prepare my palette to sample the savory, sweet, juicy, delectable delights of this delicious restaurant's offerings!  Clearly, I'm excited.

But by the same token, I am very disheartened.  I have so much left to eat between quarts of soup, a microwave mini Lasagna, 2 Buttered Chickens, 2 small bowls of Wan Tan soup, 1 Beef Udon, a Chicken Tikka Marsala, some Salmon Quesadillas, a box of Chicken Shu Mai and 2 Burger King large Triple Whoppers with Bacon and all to be consumed in the next 4 days!  Incredible!

And that doesn't even include the Thai Fish Sauce or Worcestershire Sauce, which has anchovies

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Something Fishy

Happy Boxing Day everyone! Oh, and sorry it's a bit late but Merry Christmas, y'all! I know I'd not had the chance to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season as yet but better late than never, I always say!

So yesterday I met my pa and his wife for Christmas lunch a McCormick and Schmick's.  The Mrs. had the Sea Bass — she loves Sea Bass — and I had the Rainbow Trout off the daily menu. All in all a good meal and we easily ate all the delicious fish.  I shall miss Sea Bass.

Ironically, the fish came with mashed potatoes when the previous night's lamb also had done.  As i was, I had those bacon bits sitting in my fridge and though, why not turn Outback's mashed potatoes into bacon mashed potatoes.  So I had eaten that for Christmas breakfast — why not — only to have more mashed potatoes at lunch.  Well, as mashed potatoes typically are vegetarian — as long as bacon isn't involved — I suppose that's not the last I'll be eating that dish.

As it was, I didn't eat much on Christmas and saved the defrosting cod fish filets for today.  The thing was, I baked the encrusted cod for the prescribed 17 minutes and then went to run sum errands.  When I finally got back and tried the cod I was grossly disappointed!  The Mrs. said the fish had leaked and run all over the oven because I neglected to use a casserole dish.  As it was, the cod was dry and rubbery.  Far from having a tangy garlic flavor as indicated on the packaging, the flavor of spinach pervaded it.  Now, normally I love a properly prepared spinach dish.  But on this fish, it just tasted wrong.

Either way, I finished the last fish of 2009 today and thus the last fish for the next 12 months at least.  I do like fish, so I shall miss it.  I guess I'm saddest most that I shan't again savor the delicious Toro Sushi.  Certainly there's no time to partake in that delicacy before next Friday.  For that matter, no Kibbeh Nayyeh either.  Sigh.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Last Meals

As I count down the days until I say my final farewell to the tender, succulent and alluring products of animal flesh, I find myself taking note of the ultimate consumption of certain delicacies.

As my 4 Filet Mignon steaks weren't fully defrosted last night, I waited until this afternoon to cook them.  Not being one to leave things simple, I didn't leave it at simple bacon-wrapped steaks.  I knew I had some farmer's market butter and fresh garlic I could add to the steaks.  The steaks were wrapped in bacon, after all, so there was no way I was going to prepare them under Kashrut no matter how I tried!  I decided to sauté the meat by first preparing a butter and pressed garlic sauce.  This melted quickly at which point I added the steaks, cooking fully 7 minutes on each side.

As could be expected, the steaks were greasy when first removed from the fire as much of the butter remained.  I removed the steaks from the heat and let them cool for a few minutes in the sauce before removing them to a dry plate and consuming one.  Then 2.  Then 3…

I can't believe I ate all 4!  Wow!  I guess that grueling 4-hour work day on Christmas Eve really got to me!

Having consumed all my steaks, I took the cod fish out of the freezer and was going to prepare it for the evening supper but misread that it could not be prepared from frozen.  So I set it defrosting and decided to save it for Friday.  Don't Catholics only eat fish on Friday, at least during lent?

The thing is, I was home late because (*^*($&^ FedEx refused to deliver my computer in a timely fashion so I had to retrieve it from their dingy office myself.  Lazy FedEx bastards!  They were supposed to deliver it Tuesday so that I could set it up and work on it Wednesday when I had the day off.  Instead, they were likely going to wait until the following Monday to deliver anything.  They even had the audacity to leave a sticker instead of ringing the bell when someone was home on Tuesday and then I was sitting outside all day Wednesday from 2am with a signed note and they never came by once!  I nearly got frost bite because of those monsters!  What's more, because I needed to contact the manufacturer about some support issues but didn't get the machine until Thursday by the time I had the machine the support center was closed.  Had I received the machine on-time I could have asked my support questions immediately instead of having to wait this entire long weekend.  Warning: Do not use the Chantilly, Virginia FedEx office for any of your delivery needs!  They are the laziest sack of lollygaggers you business will ever have the misfortune of dealing with!  Trust only the USPS! (No, I do not work for the USPS.)

In any case, I was pretty sated after no less than 4 (FOUR) Filet Mignon steaks even after the days struggles!  So when my Mrs. came home and demanded I prepare food for her, she insisted we order carry-out from Outback Steakhouse and get her some Baby Back Ribs.  As it's been ages since I've had lamb and didn't think I'd be having any before Friday next, I decided to have the New Zealand Rack of Lamb in a delectable Cabernet brown sauce.  Man, that was delicious but I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

Alas, that be my last taste of lamb…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Freezer Burn

With less than 10 days to spare, it's time to take stock.  The fridge looks mostly meat-free save for some bacon bits, some chicken stock and some Thai Fish Sauce, the last 2 of which I usually use for cooking Tom Kha Gai.  Of course, if I do make Tom Kha again, it won't be Gai (Chicken) or use Fish Sauce or Chicken Stock while I'm a Vegetarian.   With Mushrooms (Tom Kha Het) or Tofu (Tom Kha Tofu) though and a bit of Vegetable Stock I certainly don't have to give that beloved soup up completely!

The Freezer still has a lot of meat though.  Looks like I'll be cleaning that out over the next few days as fast as I can!  Right now, my list includes:
  • 1 box of Chicken Shu Mai
  • 1 box of Scallops wrapped in Bacon
  • One frozen Chicken Breast in a ziplock bag
  • 1 Stouffer's Meat Lasagna
  • Half a box of Salmon Quesadillas
  • 2 Bowls of Wan Tan soup
  • 1 Box of Trader Joe's Buttered Chicken — plus another at work; man, I'll miss Buttered Chicken!
  • 1 Bowl of Thai Style Chicken Marsala
  • 1 Packet of Beef Udon
  • Some Garlic-Seasoned Cod
  • 4 Filet Mignon Steaks wrapped in Bacon
  • A bag of boil-in Pastrami
Now, as you learned previously, I'm a sucker for Viande Fumée!  That's why I was so keen to go to A Taste of Montréal with Dr. Joe last month.  Of course, the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley!  Or, put more plainly: do not confuse the Fairfax Connector Bus 980 city line for the one that goes straight to the metro!

Getting on the wrong bus that day was truly a calamity.  Instead of being early by a good half-hour, I was an hour late, missed the entire meet and greet and a good chunk of the good Doctor's lecture!  On the up side, I did get a scenic night tour of the historic Virginian town of Herndon.  Not that I don't already know Herndon like the back of my hand — wait, I've not seen that freckle before!

Now why, you may ask, was I so keen to go to Dr. Joe's lecture on nutritional science?  Well, I like Dr. Joe, to be sure, but I have to admit nothing can bring me out like an offer of Smoked Meat!  But, having missed the initial introductions I was too late to partake in les hors d'œuvres des viandes fumées.  I panicked any time one of the staff seemed to pack up what few Montréal delights remained during the lecture.  None the less, Dr. Joe is a wonderful speaker and a very insightful researcher and I found his lecture riveting because it is soundly based in Scientific study rather than dietetic fad.  In fact, that lecture both in content and in nearly missing my opportunity for Viande Fumée is a small past of the reason I've decided to become a Vegetarian for the next 12 months.

After the lecture was over, I had the opportunity to make a single Smoked Meat sandwich.  Oh my, was it delicious!  There's nothing like Smoked Meat, I tell you!  And Dr. Joe agrees!  Sure, Pastrami is a form of smoked meat, but it's not Montréal-Spiced Smoked Meat and there's only one place in the world you can get that!

So in my list of freezer items, you can see I had some left over Pastrami.  I made that today and I can surely say delectable though that was, it cannot remotely compare to authentic Montréal Smoked Meat!  It's a good think I don't live in Montréal anymore, or there'd be no way I could maintain Vegetarianism!

Tonight, I think I'll try to tackle some of the Filet Mignon.  So many meaty products, so little time!  Not to mention the free Burger King breakfast and 2 free Burger King lunches I have saved!  Mmmm, Large Triple Whopper with Bacon and Cheese…

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wurst und Spätzle

For some reason, I often find myself attracted to the German Culinary delights.  Perhaps it goes back to my days in West Hartford, CT when my mother used to make an occasion of taking me to the Edelweiss Restaurant in the town centre.  Of course, German cuisine isn't know for its vegetarian elements, though it does contribute some lovely pastries.  But, for the full German flavour, you really do need a carnivorous spirit.

Now, as you may have heard over the various news sources we had a bit of a snow flurry down here on the Potomac.  So whatever was in your house on that Friday better had sustain you until Monday at the earliest; we weren't going anywhere under those conditions and with those roads.  When it finally was (barely) acceptable to travel (and maybe this spring when the flowers bloom we'll finally have the public streets of our community clear of ice and slush!  Thank you, Fairfax Co., VA!), I had to get out.  Yes, there was still food in the larder but one grows weary of the same old pre-prepared food stuffs day in and day out.

Of course, escape from my snowy encapsulation also meant it was time to restock the pantry.  But, with the day of Vegetarian reckoning fast approaching, I knew I had to choose my groceries with an eye toward the transition.  Thus I have officially entered the phase where I shall not buy any store items for eating that contain any element of meat.  Of course, that doesn't include restaurants, and I still had a hankering for German cuisine…

So where do you go when you want German Food in North-Western Fairfax Co.?  Why, Euro Bistro, of course!  Now, Euro Bistro isn't the kind of restaurant for which you drive 50 miles or go out of your way.  But it does have decent food and is loyal to its traditional Austrian cuisine.  I can't say it's food is culinary perfection, but it warms the palette and give comfort to an appetite seeking proper German fare.  Personally, I am quite a sucker for Spätzle and fortunately that's something I can continue to enjoy as a Vegetarian.  But, what I can't enjoy less than a fortnight from now is typical German Wurst and Sauerkraut (though the later is also happily Vegetarian). Since the Wurst is typically Fleisch and most assuredly not Vegetarian, I decided for my first foray into the snowy realm I should seek this out as one of my last acts of pre-Vegetarianism.  Mmmmmmm;  or in the inimitable words of Café World: "Nom!  Nom!  Nom!"

Alas, no more German Wurst or Fleisch for me until at least 2011.  Not that there isn't a lot of German food that is still Vegetarian. After all, there are many millions of Germans already practicing Vegetarianism at the moment, even if the traditional main dishes of Germany tend none the less to contain some form of meat.

In fact, we have a standing invitation to dinner with a lovely couple and neighbour of ours.  Even though one of these neighbours was born in Germany, I know she won't have any problem serving something Vegetarian when we visit.  In fact, she's not even a fan of traditional German cooking!  Heck, even the old Edelweiss Restaurant in good old West Hartford isn't interested in cooking German anymore; now it's serving Mexican!  Mmmm, Vegetarian Mexican food…