My grocery store recently changed its layout, causing me to wander up and down the aisles searching for familiar items in unfamiliar places. Thankfully, “Applesauce” now appears on the marquee above the aisle, so I didn’t waste too many steps searching for it.
THURSDAY – First Week – THURSDAY – First Week – THUR
I was surprised a weekly menu included not only a roast, but also a side dish that is fairly time-consuming. Oh wait! these recipes are for college students. They don’t deal with the mundanity of 9-5. Or 8-6 in some cases. Or 7-7 in my last case.
Is, as the saying goes, third time a charm? Let’s find out.
WEDNESDAY – First Week – WEDNESDAY – First Week –
Since I finally found the first 42 pages of the Campus Survival Cookbook (yay), I no longer need to rely on my memory (although it was surprisingly accurate). The menu for Wednesday is:
McCrystal’s Survival Casserole
Tossed Green Salad with Sliced Cucumber
Traditional French Dressing
McCrystal’s Survival Casserole: No, I don’t know who McCrystal is. It doesn’t matter because the dish is basically goulash. I didn’t like goulash growing up, but I remember trying this recipe and actually eating it. It was okay, but not something I’d cook on a regular basis. Or any basis, actually.
I’m stuck on finding a good, easy substitute for McCrystal’s Survival Casserole. It’s a fancy name for what I grew up knowing as goulash, that hodge-podge of hamburger, tomatoes, macaroni and cheese.
Lazy Day Beef Casserole, from the American Heart Association Cookbook (5th edition) was a combination of chuck steak, tomato paste, mushrooms and onions. It sounded pretty good, but I overcooked it. The beef was dry, tough, and not very flavorful. In fact, it was so awful I couldn’t even finish one serving.
Round 2 was Eggplant Zucchini Casserole, from the same AHA cookbook. It includes eggplant, zucchini (duh!), chopped celery, onion, and green pepper, tomato sauce, spaghetti (broken in bits), and mozzarella cheese. It was quite tasty, but was a bitch to prepare: peel and slice the eggplant (peeling eggplant is not as easy as it sounds), slice the zucchini, chop the celery, onion and pepper, and slice the cheese (since I couldn’t find any sliced mozzarella cheese in the dairy section).
Neither of the above two recipes called for ground beef, so I decided to take a different track. I continued searching for a reasonable ground beef-tomato-pasta mash up, and I think I may have found it. I’m preparing it for tonight’s dinner, so look for a review some time next week.
They say third time’s a charm. That’s what I’m hoping. Another good omen? Yesterday I found the first 42 pages of the Campus Survival Cookbook! Hot diggity!
Happy (almost) New Year! The new year brings with it the chance to reboot ourselves, however mundane or all-encompassing that might be. It’s filled with hope, a time to start afresh, to look at our lives and figure out what needs improving. It’s not just the standard “eat less, exercise more” routine. It encompasses all aspects of our lives.
I stopped making resolutions years ago, but it hasn’t prevented me from trying to establish or reestablish good habits. It’s an on-going process which lasts throughout the year. That doesn’t mean I’m always successful or that I don’t backslide, but it’s a constant attempt to improve my life. And it avoids that dreadful “all or nothing” thinking.
This year I’m hoping to remodel my kitchen. It’s an intimidating task because I have a massive amount of preparation to do. I started a blog called Ms Pack Brat about five years ago to chronicle my attempts to get my home and life in order, but it was more “miss” than “hit.” Perhaps it was one blog too many. Hell, it may have been two blogs too many, what with SciFi Chicks (where I spent most of last year).
This new year presents itself with an opportunity to renew and revitalize The New Stream of Conscience. I certainly have plenty to write about. Why not make this daunting kitchen remodel (and its prerequisite cleaning and clearing) a focus? Why not write about how I adapt FlyLady’s principles to my own life? And let’s not forget about exploring cookbooks in an effort to eat better.
My how time flies. I made Tuesday’s First Week menu last week and have already eaten it. How did things turn out? Pretty darned terrific.
TUESDAY – First Week – TUESDAY – First Week – TUESD
I’m still working from memory since this is also among the 42 missing pages. Nonetheless, the menu for “today” is:
Broiled Chuck Steak Superstar
Tomatoes with Mayonnaise
Broiled Chuck Steak: The recipe was to broil a steak, and taught how to season it. The substitution was a no-brainer. The New Weight Watcher’s Complete Cookbook (c. 1998) has a recipe for Grilled T-Bone Steak that I’ve made a few times and love. It’s grilled rather than broiled, which is better for hot weather since it doesn’t heat up the kitchen. (Yes, it’s October. Heating the kitchen shouldn’t be a concern, but it’s 90 stinkin’ degrees today!) I bought a 1 pound bone-in steak (maybe rib eye?). Because of the bone, I got only three servings out of it, but each was delicious.
Baked Potato: Duh! I could have cooked it in the microwave, but I do like a nice baked potato, so into the oven it went. I think potatoes get a bad rap, what with all the carbohydrate paranoia. Their glycemic index may be high, but they do provide some benefits. For portion control, I eat 1/2 (russet) potato per serving, since the darned things are so large.
Tomatoes with Mayonnaise: I substituted Greek Tomatoes from Weight Watchers’ Five Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes cookbook (summer 2009). It’s similar to Insalata Caprese, which I fell in love with when I lived in Italy, but uses feta cheese instead of mozzarella di bufala.
A word about the New Weight Watcher’s Complete Cookbook
I love this cookbook! Not only does it provide great recipes, basic and otherwise, it also gives food preparation principles. I’ve had many Weight Watcher’s cookbooks over the years, but I consider this the granddaddy of them all. Perhaps I love it so much because my version is hard-sided with rings, having bought it in 1998. It reminds me of those cookbooks we grew up with and taught us how to cook. You know, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, the Joy of Cooking, or the Better Homes and Gardens one.
It’s a good thing I know the beginning of The Campus Survival Cookbook so well because the first 42 pages are missing. When scanning the cover, I brought only the cover and its attached pages to the computer. They’re around here somewhere, but it’s not essential I find them—yet.
The initial pages talk about stocking your kitchen, the importance of breakfast, and where cuts of meat come from. Only then does it get into the recipes. So even though it’s 42 pages, I’m missing only the first two and one-half recipes. (The one-half will be explained at a later date.)
The week’s start with Monday, and Monday is always chicken. So here is the menu for:
MONDAY – First Week – MONDAY – First Week – MONDAY –
(That’s how it appears, more or less, in the book.)
My sister-in-law, Marjorie Forsythe Overholt (not to be confused with my mother, Marjorie Carter Overholt), was a terrific cook. She claimed, however, all one needed was to follow the recipe. I’m sure she was being overly modest; lots of people follow recipes without great success. (raises hand)
Margie had the most amazingly organized brain. Being a math major and high school math teacher probably had something to do with it (or vice versa). Once I opened a cupboard door in her kitchen to find a hand-printed calendar of evening meals planned out for the month.
My nephew Ted (top left) wasn’t quite so impressed, though. He said she may have been a good cook, but they had the same thing again and again. That may be true, but that’s how the majority of us live. We have 20 or so recipes we use in a somewhat cyclical fashion.
For example, growing up, our Sunday dinner alternated between pot roast and fried chicken. Then there were the standard meals in between. The ones I remember most fondly are pork chops with rice and onions (possibly my favorite—besides my mother’s pigs in blankets 😉 ) and liver and onions (probably because I liked it, whereas my dad and brother did not).
Yesterday I made—for the very first time—what is possibly my ultimate favorite family dish, my mother’s famous Pigs in a Blanket Famous because the recipe was published in Good Housekeeping magazine many years ago. I’m not sure why I’d never made them before. Probably because I hadn’t discovered Bob Evans mashed potatoes, and am too lazy to make them from scratch.
Mashed potatoes!?! For Pigs in a Blanket?!? Yep. Mom’s famous recipe called for mashed potatoes and not crescent rolls.
I made them not because I’d planned it, but because it’s what I had and didn’t have on hand. Had: two hot dogs left over from Memorial Day; a package of Bob Evans mashed potatoes I hadn’t cooked heated yet; and some single-sliced, individually wrapped processed cheese-like product. Had not: any buns or bread to make a sandwich.
Since I never paid attention when Mom made hem, I had to wing it. Here’s what I did:
Heat up Bob Evans mashed potatoes in the microwave.
Partially cook hot dogs also in the microwave. (As a hot dog connoisseur, I prefer Nathan’s).
Slice cheese (or cheese food) into thinnish strips.
Slit the hot dogs lengthwise down the middle.
Stuff the mashed potatoes into the slit.
Top with cheese strips.
Broil the entire concoction on a broiler pan. (I placed the pan as close to the heating element as possible).
Cook until the cheese melts. Or if you’re like me, until the cheese is burned.
They tasted pretty darned good! So good, I wish I’d had more than two hot dogs. And taken a picture of them.