Friday, January 26, 2007

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!

Spinach Pie

(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
pinch nutmeg
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.

Oh well.


At January 26, 2007 6:05 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pork, oh God, my Mom's favourite food. Kind of conflicts with my husbands favourite, lamb. See Mom's German, Hubby is Greek, life is touch at chez rositta...ciao

At January 26, 2007 7:58 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must admit, we were in a pork rut, which was followed by chicken. Last year it was beef... but my husband never complains. He'll eat anything, so I am the one saying "oh no, not again!"

As always, your presentation is amazing!

At January 26, 2007 8:19 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Christina, you reminded me of this!

At January 26, 2007 10:01 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever since I noticed that most of the pictures at the smiling animals in butcher shop ads group at Flickr were of smiling pigs, I've never felt the same about eating pork. Actually, most of the pigs advertising German butcher shops seem to be simultaneously running and smiling. I don't know what to think about that...

At January 27, 2007 12:32 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank goodness I've been able to steer my guy away from eating so much pork. If I could only get him to eat more fish. And spinach.

At January 27, 2007 4:28 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

How nice you are making such a great effort to eat well.
It sounds like you have a challenge in your hands with grocery stores not carrying fresh spinach (!) and shiitake mushrooms being available on and off.
Yikes, I wish you the best of luck there! Any chance of moving soon?

At January 27, 2007 11:04 a.m., Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Mmmmm. That chicken looks like something I could do sometime this week. And spinach pie. Luckily, O-X will eat just about anything :)

At January 27, 2007 12:01 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank and I made an Eintopf yesterday..with heaps of veggies and stripes of chicken.

We also got some fresh spinach, too (from Aldi).

At January 27, 2007 6:11 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...


At January 28, 2007 7:08 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your spinach pie is rather like the spinach/feta/green onion/tomato frittata I ate the other night. Good stuff. Yay spinach.

At January 28, 2007 4:31 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

OMG, Christina. When you think of all of us who comment about your food posts, we'd whip your household into appreciation sense real fast, wouldn't we! :)

I just read the ingredients of the spinach pie to Donica and she said, "Yes!" So, maybe that's actually something I'll try in Hannover next week. :) Thanks for the idea.

At January 30, 2007 2:33 a.m., Blogger susan d said...

Bon apetite. So you Germans invented Aldi's? We have one in our town. The best in cheap food goods. Spinach, too.

At January 30, 2007 8:40 a.m., Anonymous Cyn said...

The chicken looks really good! Is it easy to make?


At January 30, 2007 2:09 p.m., Blogger EuroTrippen said...

Oh my god... your japanese meal looks divine! If it were up to me I'd eat nothing but foods from the orient.

At January 30, 2007 5:44 p.m., Blogger Angie said...

I need to remember not to surf over here before lunch. My ham sandwich just lost its appeal. It can't compare!

At January 31, 2007 1:52 a.m., Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

keep the recipes coming..:) then i don't have to plan meals, i can just copy yours:) make sure you include the pictures, as that really helps to inspire me:) (and yes, I know, it's not all about me;)

my energy levels are kicking my butt, i need sun!!! i cannot stand it anymore!
take care!

At January 31, 2007 9:50 p.m., Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Hello Christina:

My mother would like me to inform you that she made your spinach pie recipe last night, and it was fabulous.

Now, if she'll only make it for me during my next trip back.

You have a fan in Illinois.


At January 31, 2007 11:34 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Hmm, weird - Google made me switch to Beta last night and it looks like a whole bunch of people are now anonymous. I'll check my mail to see who left which comment.

rositta - We love lamb too, but pork is just SO popular here.

maria - Sometimes it's really hard to think of something to make 7 days a week, isn't it?

ms mac - I know! I thought of that the whole time I was writing. My kids loved that clip.

PapaScott - Pretty scary. It's enough to make one turn vegetarian, for a while at least.

Dixie - My kids love spinach but Mr M just hates it. At least he'll try other new things though when I make them.

anonymous - It can be hard to get certain things sometimes but we've learned to deal with it. I'll certainly let everyone know if we decide to move. :-)

CanSwiss - You're lucky. I have to limit myself sometimes because of the picky eaters around here.

elemm - I'm amazed that they had fresh spinach at Aldi. I wonder if it's an Aldi Sud thing?

Rachel - Thanks for visiting!

amy - your frittata sounds really good and it was probably quite similar. I love stuff like that.

Ginnie- I hope you like the pie. It's so easy to make.

susan - Thanks for stopping by! Well, yes, the Germans invented Aldi, but since I'm not one of them I can't take any credit. :-) The name comes from Albrecht Discounter and the Albrecht brothers are two of the richest men in Germany.

cyn - It's really easy. I'll send you the recipe.

Eurotrippen - I know. I love Asian food too. We kind of have to improvise here, but the supermarkets are getting better all the time.

Angie - Aww, sorry to spoil your lunch!

kim - I'm glad I inspired you! I love reading other people's food blogs and getting ideas.

Sal - And Big Momma, of course - Thanks for letting me know! I'm really glad the recipe worked out for you.

At February 02, 2007 1:08 a.m., Blogger Pam said...

We get faced with that weird spinach fried egg meal in Austria from time to time and I always just sort of "plate scramble" the egg in to the spinach. It's a meal I don't understand but don't totally object to - though, hello, as illustrated, it could be a WHOLE LOT better, no?

Aldi in Austria is the um, um, um, Hofer. That's it. Same thing, same frozen spinach.

At February 03, 2007 7:00 p.m., Anonymous kiwi-kath said...

Okay, girl, I want that chicken recipe too. That looks like a very yummy meal; I can practically smell it already.

Re: the spinach pie, how big a pie plate would you use that would make it thinner than the flan pan? And if it serves 2, how can it be in wedges (don't answer that :D )? My mom makes a spinach casserole that sounds very similar, but she puts bacon on top. Oh no, there's that pork again!

Flan pan Flan pan Flan pan Fun to say!


At February 04, 2007 11:19 a.m., Blogger christina said...

Pam - The last time I was faced with the fried egg/spinach combo was at my in-laws several hours before I gave birth for the first time (the hospital was right across the street) and I wasn't exactly feeling my best that day so you can imagine the associations.

kiwi - Will get the recipe to you ASAP. Maybe I'll just post it in the pasture for everyone. A 9 inch deep dish pie plate would probably do it. My flan pans make things come out weird, don't really know why I use them. Don't tell anyone, but I've been known to eat more than one wedge of that spinach pie. :-)

At February 07, 2007 1:17 p.m., Blogger kate said...

Wow, these all look delicious! I don't remember whose blog I followed you here from, but I copied the Spinach Pie recipe yesterday, and guess what-- it's in the oven right now! I'm sure it will be yummy. So, I thought the least I could do was to come and sy thanks!


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