Monday, March 31, 2008

Almost Classic Japanese.

Konban wa. Good evening in Japanese. Yes we ate Japanese style tonight. It seems like five dishes is the right amount of dishes to serve in Japan. I do not know the rationale. Maybe it has something to do with getting a well balanced meal. In any case, this is an attemp at "Go hin ryori" of five dish cooking. You may be wondering as there are only four dishes in the picture. No, the fifth dish did not run away with the spoon. And it wasn't dessert. Although there was some majoring pleading going on after dinner for ice-cream. (ed. heartless parents = no dessert) The first and second dish are combined in the big bowl. Originally the tofu was going to be deep fried but we ended up putting the tofu in with the "nimono" or boiled stuff. Doesn't it sound so much nicer in Japanese. The black stuff is called "hijiki" and has some soybeans, kelp and something else, I never got a solid answer. I am aquiring a taste for it as time moves on. This was all rounded out with some miso soup and rice. As I sit here snacking on crackers and cheese I have to admit that we blew the tofu portion of tonights dinner. The daughter gobbled it up but I was decidedly undecided. Need to keep looking for that tofu inspiration.

Tomorrow: Pork stir fry with salad.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spaghetti with Garlic Sticks

Well finishing off the first week we have spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread sticks, broccolli and cauliflower with cheese and apple crumble with ice-cream. The timing with this dinner was important. Basically, I had to get home in time to make the dough otherwise we end up eating at eight. I made it just under the wire, 4:32. Lots of basil and oregano in the dough from the outset and then a crushed garlic and olive oil brush on after the sticks had been rolled and let to rise again. The meat sauce wasn't very saucy and the gallery was calling for my head. They wanted to dip their bread sticks in a nice thick sauce and I did not come through. A very simple steamed broccoli with cauliflower. Sliced cheese had to make do as I ran out of enthusiasm for the cheese sauce. I kind of top out at 2 dishes, so between sauce, pasta and bread sticks I was running on empty. Fortunately, the good ole wife came through with a lovely apple crumble and the healthy vegetable side. Gotta love it when plan comes together. We are sitting down now to see what is on sale this week and decide what the menu will be. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday: Broken Plans.

Well we managed to make dinner as you can see from the picture. However, this is not what was originally planned. The lemon chicken/Chinese Cabbage dish was discarded when it turned out to be a Dad dinner. Instead we had oven roasted chicken, beans and rice, and an assortment of fresh veggies with dip. For the men in the family it was quite a success. Neither of the ladies had much of an appetite so there will definitely be leftovers for lunch. Well ,I am currently not abiding by the 8:00 lights off. I want to get this post done and make an early night of it. School starts in two days.

Tomorrow: Spaghetti and meat sauce, Garlic bread sticks, Broccolli and Cheese sauce.

Roots of the Ocean

On a personal note, I am always a little surprised by how well I feel the day after having fish or eating vegetarian food. Although I invariably have a larger appetite the next day I feel more energetic and less heavy. (the scale likes it too) Last night we had pan fried salmon and spinach with garlic and an almost whipped potato salad. It was refreshing and light. The garlic spinach was out of this world. I think there may have been some soy sauce in the mix. The Salmon was relatively expensive for a single meal but as long as we only have it once a week it should be doable. As we ate dinner I commented that we should move to the West coast of Vancouver Island. We could fish and farm and be truly self sufficient. The wife said she would be the fisherperson until I mentioned that she always gets sea sick. So I will fish and she will garden. I wonder, can you grow watermelon in Tofino. My guess would be no. So that leaves us here in the GF. It could be much worse.

Friday: At least we have our hands.

Friday is bread day. It is an all day affair. After mixing and kneeding the big ball of dough is left to rise for three hours, although it is punched down every hour. After this it is split up, rolled and placed in the individual pans. After rising for another two hours it is ready to go in the oven. It is truly a labour of love. Mom does the labour and we give her the love. Nothing like homemade bread. I sometimes think of offering to get a bread machine for christmas but at this point I am worried that would be sacrilegious.

Thursday: The return of Cabbage.

So with the end of the coleslaw you may have been thankfully saying good by to the purple cabbage. And yet what is this before your eyes but more of the intensely coloured vegetable. My crafty wife used the rest of the head in a veggie stir fry. Quite delicious and oh so healthy. We also scored some cold tofu salad type thing, just a sec.... "hi ya yakko". Food for the daring. However, a perfect of example of give me a child and I will make you a zealot. I am always amazed by the power of suggestion that parents have over their children. Through constant repetition my wife has convinced my children that they love food which I consider marginal fare at best. So there you go. Your weird eating habits can be blamed on the whims of your mother. Oh yeah chicken soup is back again. The beans and pot barley are so much softer 24 hours later. Definitely need to do some pre-soaking for best first day results.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pizza for 3

In Japan the saying "mikka bozu" describes someone who starts something with vigor and then quickly gives up. The cut off is three days, mikka meaning 3 days and bozu meaning something like bozo [not an official translation]. So today was day three and we are still going strong. Fingers crossed for tomorrow. Lunch was not the most inspired affair. Mommy is sick and the kids all wanted different left overs. Still working on that coleslaw for those of you keeping track.

For dinner we did make chicken soup and pizza. Kind of timely making chicken vegetable soup for the sick among us. The pizza worked well too but I am not completely sold on mozzarella cheese. We are big cheddar people and I definitely prefer it topping my pizza. I managed to burn the last one while messing around on the computer. Lots of leftovers because only three of us were eating. Breakfast should be good.

The Third Coming

So as you will notice the coleslaw just keeps on coming. In any event we are more than half way through the bowl so with any luck it will be out of the way soon. The curry turned out really nicely, not to hot for the kids. I sure hope they learn to eat spicy food soon. We boiled the chicken first and that will be stock for tomorrows soup. The base of the curry was a package but we added extra tumeric, cumin and paprika. The wife commented that the slightly bitter taste of the green peppers works really well in curry. I have to agree.

Up tomorrow, left overs for lunch, home made pizza and chicken soup for dinner.

Not a Turkey

So for the Monday evening meal the day after easter we didn't have turkey. However, we did have the regularily scheduled meal which was pesto and bean pasta, purple cabbage coleslaw and roasted potatoes. We were going to do two topping baked potatoes but ran out of time. It was our first attempt a this particular pasta recipe. We took it from our vegetarian cookbook. Not bad, the kids weren't into the beans and I really should have used cream. I figured 2% milk would cut it. I figured wrong. However, everyone else enjoyed it.

This meal was also lunch the next day. You may see the coleslaw again as we made a huge, I mean immense bowl of it.

Meal one

So here is the first meal on the first day, and yes it happened to be yesterday. Man people can be so picky. We had grilled cheese sandwiches made in the second hand sandwich maker, miso soup courtesy of the daughter, a basic green salad and left over sushi from the easter egg hunt potluck we attended. Not a bad lunch and more than likely way over what should be expected on a regular basis.

The best part is that this meal was planned in the morning and came together quite nicely.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It has come to our attention that we do not like the daily stress of planning dinner. Some days it is great, you know, when that creative flair strikes and there is some dish just dieing to be whipped up (not necessarily potatoes but ... mmm whipped potatoes). However, the other six days of the week still need to be taken into consideration so this is our attempt at getting organized. The basic idea is to plan a weeks worth of lunches and dinners every sunday, get all of the shopping out of the way, and then stick to the plan during the week. Hopefully this fulfills two goals: One, cutting down on food costs and the crazy impulse spending; Two, freeing up much needed thinking time during the day to contemplate the relative strength of the yen and the pros and cons of getting a real tent trailer.

The money is not such a big issue but living within a budget and our means is always nice. The cutting down on the stress thing I believe will be huge. We have noticed that a lot of stress goes into trying to figure out what will be for dinner. This is not a new problem, way back in 1986 I can remember this being a huge problem for my mom. Often upon arrival home from school good old Ma would be in the kitchen with a mildly lost and distraught look on her face. She would say, "what would you like for dinner?" in an almost pleading tone. I would come back with barbecue chicken of spaghetti Bolognese and she would just light up. I guess after years of making stuff everyday it just gets to be too much. So this is our attempt to feed four with some wholesome food and a little panache. But not too much though, panache makes me gassy.