Foodie Tuesday: Are You Growing a Mustache, or Is That Chocolate on Your Lip Again?

Photo: Spiced Chocolate Power Pudding

With sprinkles. Because, Sprinkles. You have to ask?

If you’d told me years ago that I would become such a chocolate addict, I’d probably have snorted and chortled my way right onto the floor. I always found it okay, but if given a choice would undoubtedly have chosen any number of other flavors as my preference over chocolate. So I’m still occasionally a little bit surprised at myself and my evolution into a veritable chocolate fiend.

Be that as it may, practically every time I put up a dessert or sweet-related post on this blog, it seems to include chocolate in some form or other. Why resist, eh! There are worse compulsions to have.

Spiced Chocolate Power Pudding
Beat 4 eggs thoroughly and set aside. In another bowl, set
1 avocado
1 ripe banana
1 splash lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
Mash them together thoroughly! In a saucepan, pour
2 cups whole milk
Heat just until steaming.
Melt in 1/4 cup coconut oil and
5 ounces chocolate (I used Ibarra Mexican chocolate).
When it’s all melted together smoothly and
back to steaming (not scorching) temperature,
pour it in a thin stream and stir it carefully into the eggs.
Put this blend back in the saucepan and stir it constantly
over medium-high heat until it thickens.
Let it cool to room temp. Mix the egg blend and the
avocado mixture thoroughly and refrigerate the total until
well chilled and set. Overnight is good.
Deliciousness abounds.

Foodie Tuesday: Breakfast should be Brilliant

photoDespite my avowed resistance to the charms of morning [see yesterday’s post], I am far from immune to the delights of breakfast, no matter what time of day it is served and enjoyed. O brave (if perhaps gluten-free) toast soldiers, stand up and be counted! Your being bathed in butter before pan-browning is a gift that I would not willingly snub even when I’d rather sleep in and I’m trying to reduce my carbohydrate footprint anyway.

Of course, eating proper stuff to start the day is smart. I’ve heard that. I’ve even experienced the truth of it. If I get a fair dose of protein, a nice gloss of good fat and a dash of sweetness in my breakfast I tend to have a better day following it than when I’m under-fueled.

Also, I like yummy food.

So it’s pretty simple, then. Put together a tasty and reasonably balanced breakfast, gnash it all up happily to get the day underway, and be glad. Maybe even productive.

Eggs are very often on this kind of menu for me. Scrambled, poached, fried, baked. Plain or in a complicated dish. Hot or cold. I’m reasonably catholic in my tastes, yet contented and thrilled enough when presented with easily predictable but well-prepared classic combinations of breakfast-related goodness.

The Full English, as I’ve said here before, is never amiss, in my estimation; would I dream of saying no to a heap of eggs, streaky bacon, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and toast? Certainly not. A glorious Bauernpfanne loaded with sausages and potatoes and their friends, yes, that too is heavenly. I am dangerously fond of baked goods and quick breads, so I find waffles or pancakes or pain perdu or my particular favorite, crepes, a dream worth suffering for, but ultimately if left to choose, I’ll opt for something a little heavier on the protein side of the balance. The day finds me less lethargic and more useful on that diet. My aging body responds much more kindly to a cake-and-cookie-deficit than to shortchanging it of protein and fat.photoSo I enjoyed concocting this plateful on that particular plan. Bacon’s a fun place to start. Or end, or eat all the way through the meal. So there’s that. But for egg pleasure, here’s a quick way to get a little variant pizzazz into the cheese omelet kind of treat: fill one side of a small nonstick frying pan with shredded Gouda and cook it over medium-high heat until it’s beginning to crisp up and turn golden, drop a touch of butter, a few fresh sage leaves and then two whole eggs into the other half of the pan, let them fry up until the eggs are nearly set, and fold the crisped cheese side over onto that other layer to finish it all up. Slide it onto a plate with the crispy bacon and serve a nice sweet-and-juicy helping of fruit (a little Satsuma is a fine complement) alongside, and I am ready for a big day of Doing Things. If I don’t happen to get around to anything very significant in the way of accomplishment, at least I’ll have had a very enjoyable start to my latest day of Not Doing Things, and I won’t complain. If breakfast is brilliant enough, why should I need to be?

Foodie Tuesday: Ploughman’s Lunch & Cavegirl Quiche

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Ploughman’s-in-a-bowl.

I want to eat joyfully and intently and live a long, healthy life, then die and get recycled.

You know that although I respect veganism and the very solid reasons millions of people have for choosing not to eat animals and animal products, I am, like some other animals, an omnivore myself. Like these brother animals, I am okay with eating my fellow creatures. Hopefully people who respect animals’ right to be carnivores can respect a human’s wish to be a carnivorous animal as well. Yes, I want animals to be treated with great care and respect while they live, and yet I know that they’ll die; I expect no less on either count for myself. I would love to know that when I die it would be permitted, instead of my personal-leftovers having to be buried in a state-sanctioned impermeable box to take up prime real estate in perpetuity, for the aforementioned detritus to be left in the woods for some nice creatures to eat up, and what remains to fade into the grand recycling unit of the forest. Short of that, I have arranged with my loved ones to cremate what-was-me [after any possible organ farming is accomplished] and put my ashes into garden-feeding, where at least I will fertilize feed for ruminants and so serve as a smaller part in earth’s renewal. That’s what I think we’re all designed to do. Carbon to carbon. So whether I get eaten or make a less obvious contribution as a small pH balancing agent in the dirt, I plan to return the gifts that others, animal and plant alike, have given me in my life. This is not particularly meant to be a political or religious statement on my part, as I apply it only to myself, and I don’t begrudge anyone’s disagreement with it, it’s just a worldview that seems pragmatic to me. I am not saying this to court condemnation or controversy (you know I despise them) but simply to be honest with myself as much as with you.

So my protein preferences arrive as fatty and delicious nuts, eggs, seafood and, indeed, meats. I tend to be very old-fashioned in that way, following the path of my workman ancestors, and even their ancestors back in the hunter-gatherer days. I am enormously (no pun intended) grateful for the gifts of the earth that keep me not only alive but healthy and even well fed, and I don’t want to squander or be thoughtless about such magnanimity. Hence my determination to eat more deliberately and moderately as I grow older, and also my penchant for being ever more inventive in refusing to waste the goodness of any part of my personal food cycle. The recent posts about rescuing broth-making remnants are a tiny testament to this commitment. I’m a junk food junkie like everybody else, loving stuff that’s far from good for me, but I’m gradually learning to lean a bit further toward the less trashy ways to enjoy those elements that are the true reasons I like junk, not the addictive formats in which they’re presented to us by commercial producers and retailers so that we’ll just treat them–and our bodies–like garbage by over-consuming them thoughtlessly.

I want to eat joyfully and intently and live a long, healthy life, then die and get recycled.

A couple of the variant meals I based on my recent beef ginger mousse making fed both my frugal and my treat-hungry sides. Having the pre-made avocado mash around amped up both aspects as well, and the addition along the way of some other easy-to-keep ingredients made it all pretty much homemade fast food without the related regret.

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Another day, another ploughman’s.

Ploughman’s lunch, that great English enthusiasm for serving and eating what’s essentially deconstructed sandwiches–bread, cheese, chutney, pickled goodies, and so forth–are pretty common around our house. The differences in our tastes, multiplied by the number of friends sharing the meal, makes it easier to stick to assemble-it-yourself service for so many things that the logic of the operation is obvious. Since I’m generally weaning myself from wheat, that makes a hands-on, fork-in version of the Ploughman’s even more useful. Beef mousse and avocado mash make this easy. Hard boiled eggs are a grand addition, but a quick scramble or fry is fine as well. Chutney or jam alongside? Oh, yeah. Pickles of any sort are a plus. Add the crunchy pleasures (and instant utensils) of carrots, snap peas, celery, apples, jicama, radishes or any number of other good crudites and you’ve got all you can handle, short of a cold cider, iced tea, beer or lemonade. Filling, varied and delicious.

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Ploughman’s redux: beef mousse with pureed fresh tomatoes and mint, olives, pickled green beans, roast chicken, snow peas and apple.

For a cave-dweller-pleasing rearrangement of the same essential ingredients, I stacked it all up and sliced it into a semblance of a pie, first as a single layer and then as a double-decker version. Rather than baking it all up as an actual crustless quiche or omelet, which should be simple and tasty with the addition of some beaten eggs (and if I had some on hand, a bit of shredded cheese), I ate it cold and was not sorry to have the quicker version either. This one, given my previous pseudo-recipes on the topic, can be pretty easily illustrated in assembly by pictures only. What you choose to do with it is up to you! As long as you don’t disappoint me by wasting it. [Winking broadly.]

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The Cavegirl Quiche Assembly Line: sliced chicken or smoked turkey; mashed lemony avocado; sliced olives; pate or beef mousse; fried or scrambled eggs; tomato-mint puree; pickled green beans.

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A wedge of cavegirl quiche. Enough to take the edge off a day’s hunting and gathering.

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The double-decker version of cavegirl lunch: how to get ready for yet further mastodon chasing and saber-tooth battling.

Foodie Tuesday: I Think in Food

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Some of these things are not Food like the others . . . (sing along with me, now) . . .

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Don't cry, Darling, it's only an onion . . .

I think in food.

The synesthesiac is infinitely more poetic,

dreaming every waking thought into links

of lovely chain bridging the senses

in one graceful catenary arch of a deep synaptic sigh:

lemons taste triangular; music glows first purple,

then exquisite blue: radiant, gradient skies of blue.photo

I could change it all to solid gold, yet I? I Sigh.

Yes, I too, am given to magical flights, and yet

they all lead, every thought, each sense,

each memory and every moment of experience

is all, forever,

food.photoToday’s episode of Foodie Tuesday is brought to you by my new chia pet:

Mocha Chia “Tapioca

And yes, the quotes are intentional and not Air Quotes, because there’s no actual tapioca involved but this dish tastes remarkably like it, which in my book is an excellent thing, despite having more nutrients and fiber than its textural cousin. I started my recipe, of course, by stealing from a number of similar magazine and online recipes and monkeying around with it to the degree that I think I can safely say it’s all mine by now.

All I did was mix 2-1/2 cups of almond milk (store-bought), 1/2 cup of chia seeds, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of Splenda sweetened (“sugar-free”) vanilla syrup of the kind sold for coffee and soda sweeteners. I stirred it all together and put it in the refrigerator to soak overnight, stirring a couple of times to break up the clumping and keep the chia seeds suspended in the liquid so they could all get their nice little fattening-up chances. Before the final stirring, I heated up another 2 tablespoons of vanilla syrup in the microwave until good and hot and then melted about a tablespoon of instant coffee crystals (decaf–what I have on hand just for flavoring baking, really), plus four sections of a Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate bar (about two big chomps’ worth, if you’re like me!) into it, stirring until it was smooth. Lastly, that mocha soup got stirred into the Tapi-Chia, if I may coin a word, and dished up for serving. As you can see, it got a bit of candied orange peel and a sprinkling of freshly zipped orange zest to finish, and I must say those went down a treat with the mocha-licious chia pudding. Will I do this one again, you ask? Oh, yes I will. Too easy to both prepare and eat not to consider it a keeper.photo