look ma, no pork!
If you're the chief cook and bottle washer around your house you know how it is: your family expects three squares each and every day and it's up to you to come up with something different to break the "Oh no, not again, we just had this last week!" cycle.
I have never been a menu planner. Planning ahead (and not just in regards to food!) would make my life a whole lot easier, but I just can't seem to do it. I'm a spontaneous cook. I do try to make varied meals and have been trying to steer certain people away from wanting to eat pork day in day out. You know who you are. Be quiet and eat your vegetables.
Speaking of delicious, nutritious vegetables, this week our local supermarket had, oh wonder of wonders, fresh organic shiitake mushrooms on offer. Last night I decided to make a pseudo-Japanese meal using the mushrooms as a starting point. The original recipe found in one of my cookbooks involved stir-frying the sliced mushrooms and snow peas with soy sauce, rice wine and a bit of brown sugar. I really like those crunchy little pea pods, but the rest of the gourmands around here don't care for them so I substited green beans which were just as good, I thought. Along with marinated sesame-lime chicken and some noodles this made a light but satisfying meal.
Since I've been suffering from a severe lack of energy lately, I've also been trying to concentrate on eating healthful foods for breakfast and lunch instead of just eating whatever, whenever throughout the day. Grazing is not a good idea for someone like me. Again, the lack of planning takes its toll on my waistline and my energy levels. Bad, bad Mausi.
One recipe that I had kind of forgotten about but that I like very much is a simple spinach pie which is sort of a cross between a quiche and a spanakopita.
Spinach - you either love it or hate it. I love it any way it's served up. It's really hard to get fresh spinach, at least where I shop. Frozen spinach abounds, however, and is very popular. Germans often make a meal of creamed spinach with a fried egg on the top. I'm afraid that fried eggs give me the creeps so I put my eggs IN the spinach pie instead of on top.
This time around I made the recipe in a flan pan and was not all that happy with the results - a bit too thick for my liking. Next time I'll use the recommended pie plate again to get a thinner pie. A wedge of it with a salad and a whole grain bun makes a filling lunch. The pie can also be cut into smaller wedges (or sqares if you bake it in a square pan), and served slightly warm or at room temperature as an appetizer.
Vitamins! Minerals! Protein! Calcium!
(contributed by Joan Palmer to The Maplewood Farm Compendium of Down-Home Cooking)
1 10 oz. (300g) package frozen spinach or 1 bunch fresh
1 cup cottage cheese
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp butter or margerine
Cook and drain frozen spinach well, squeezing out excess water. If using fresh spinach, just wash and dry well and chop coarsely. Combine all ingredients except parmesan and butter and turn into a greased pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese, dot with butter and bake at 325°F (160°C) for 30 minutes. Serve with a tossed salad and crusty rolls. Serves 2.
We're having friends over for a casual dinner tonight. What am I serving? Bratwurst. Bratwurst made with...pork.