Tag Archives: spices

Holy Guacamole: My Weekly Weigh-In, and Eating The SAG Awards- a Movie Buff’s Super Bowl Sunday

Is this where I address my WEEK LONG absence? Is this where I beg forgiveness? Is this where I scold myself for letting the mundane details of my life consume me?

I certainly hope not. Because here’s what happened: I was busy. Very busy. And sick. Fairly ill, in fact. Many things happened during this week long sabbatical from blogging. I’m going to start talking about several of those things in just a moment.

But I’ve already done enough emotional flogging related to my blogging break. I think that in order for me to  successfully maintain this journal, I need to stop giving myself such a hard time about the way I communicate with others. I’m actually quite upset with myself because not only was I too busy to write, I was too busy to read my 21093041787 favorite blogs. Therefore, my google reader is about to hemorrhage from too many exciting blog entries.

However, that’s neither here nor there, and yelling at myself on the internet will not turn back the hands of time.

First thing’s first: in spite of my tumultuous week (which involved a GIRLTALK CONCERT, sinus related illness, and breaking my Couch to 5k Personal records), I managed to LOSE WEIGHT this week. Now, while I’m obviously unbelievably stoked to have had this happen, I think there’s an actual Weight Watchers related lesson embedded in this experience:

ALWAYS WEIGH-IN. I didn’t want to weigh-in today- I was convinced I’d gained weight, and I didn’t feel like dealing with the consequences of my actions. I was in a very low place. However, I told myself that I needed to calm down because how could I change my actions if I refused to even see the results? So I stepped on the scale, totally prepared to see a gain. And I lost. I lost over a pound. But the point is that I was PREPARED FOR THE GAIN. I was ready to take responsibility for my bad choices (yes, super salty cheese enchilada that was SO not worth the ww pointsplus….I’m looking at you).No matter what kind of ridiculous roller coaster week I’m facing, I need to always remember that the proper way to start over is by getting all the facts.

ANYWAY, like I said, this week was very congested (and so was my nose- HAHAHAHA). I made a lot of really interesting food (most of which I didn’t photograph- boo hiss), and I increased my standard pace during week 2 of the Couch to 5k Challenge.

In particular, Sunday night was particularly exciting because it was the live broadcast of the 17th Annual Screen Actor’s Guild Awards.

sag awards

Anyone who knows me is well aware that Awards Season is the Jessamyn Equivalent of March Madness. In other words, Sunday night was essentially my own personal Super Bowl Sunday (yeah, that’s right, I just combined sports metaphors).

In honor of the occasion, I decided to make a lot of party related food for one person (one person because, aside from my mother, I’m the only person I know who is obsessed with awards shows).

I decided to make guacamole, hummus, and a pizza.

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This probably sounds stupid, but I’m 99.9% sure I  had never opened an avocado before Sunday. Yes, I’ve eaten avocado- I love avocado. But for some reason, the preparation of fresh avocado is not a very large part of my life.

The guacamole turned out pretty delicious:

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I used a very generic guacamole recipe, i.e throw avocado, onions, salt, and lime juice into a food processor, but there are a few changes I might make. For starters, while using a food processor is time efficient, it creates a fairly smooth consistency. I prefer chunky guacamole, so I might just use a fork to mash up the fruit next time. Also, using ripe tomatoes is usually tastier than using recently picked tomatoes- as a result, I had unnecessarily large chunks of tomatoes (and I hate tomatoes- ok, that’s an overstatement but you get the picture).

In addition to the guacamole, I made a batch of hummus using canned garbanzo beans. It turned out ok, but the flavor is a teensy bit off to me. This was my first time making hummus from scratch, and for that reason I’m cutting myself a little bit of slack. Maybe it tasted off because the beans were canned and not fresh- the recipe I used said to use some of the water drained off the beans. In all honesty, I think this added to the weird flavor. In general, canning juices are not know for having the most palatable taste. Whatever, the hummus tastes pretty good in wraps and with homemade corn chips. I just need to futz with the recipe a little.

The main event of my SAG Awards Viewing party was the homemade pizza. I’ve been craving pizza for weeks, and I finally had enough time to make a crust from scratch. However, before I started the pizza making process, I decided to fulfill one of my goals: Making turkey sausage from scratch.

Now you’re probably wondering: Jessamyn, what does one put in turkey sausage? Well, for someone who follows directions well and reads recipes thoroughly, the ability to rattle off an exact ingredient list is probably second nature. However, if you’re like me and have the natural urge to do things the hard way, then you probably just eyeballed every spice in your kitchen until you came up with something resembling sausage. I mean, making sausage is basically just handmixing a bunch of spices into a mass of raw beast right?

(my great-grandmothers are probably rolling in their graves).

Anyway, I started with a pound of lean ground turkey. From that point, the sky was the limit. Here’s a sampling of ingredients that made their way into Jessamyn’s turkey sausage:

–cumin seeds

–thyme

–rosemary

–cayenne pepper

–oregano

–onion powder

–garlic powder

–nutmeg

–fresh ground black peppercorns

WAIT A MINUTE. Let’s pause here a moment, and I’ll give you a process shot of my beloved turkey sausage:

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I bet you’re wondering why I just inserted a photo of chocolate chip cookie dough into a blog of sausage making. That’s because it’s NOT cookie dough- do those look like chocolate chips to you? Let’s turn the flash on this baby:

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Yeah, that’s right- my gorgeous turkey sausage was marred by accidently dumping half a canister of WHOLE BLACK PEPPERCORNS into the mixing bowl.

I wish there was a photo of my face as the pepper fell into the bowl. I’m sure it was priceless.

Needless to say, I spent the next 15 minutes individually picking the black peppercorns out of the raw sausage. Yes, I washed my hands often. Yes, I was BEYOND pissed off. But I’m not made of money- there was no way in HELL that I was going to toss out a pound of meat because of a few hundred black peppercorns.

Anyway, after much trial, tribulation, and peppercorn picking, this finally went into my oven:

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And then, miracle of miracles, the crust rose properly! And it was both soft and crunchy. AND I DIDN’T EAT IT ALL AT ONCE (probably the greatest miracle of all).

By the way, the crust recipe I used was my own personal spin on a WW recipe- instead of using 4 1/4 cup ( s ) all purpose flour, I subbed in 2 1/4 cup ( s ) whole wheat flour- partially because of the health factor and partially because of the ‘I ran out of all-purpose flour’ factor. A lot of people are afraid of whole wheat flour, but I think it’s perfectly delicious.

Original WW Recipe:

1 1/2 cup(s) water, warm (105-115°F)

1 tsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp yeast, or 1 package

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp table salt

Jessamyn’s Adaptation:

1 1/2 cup(s) water, warm (105-115°F)

1 tsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp yeast, or 1 package

1 Tbsp olive oil

2  cup(s) all-purpose flour

2 1/4 cup(s) whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp table salt

  • Combine the water and sugar in a measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until foamy and lagoon-ish, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oil.
  • Combine the flour and salt in a food processor, stand mixer, or with your bare hands (like in olden times- just pretend you are someone’s Italian grandmother). With the machine running (if you don’t feel like busting it out with your hands), scrape the yeast mixture into the bowl; pulse until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. If necessary, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth and elastic.
  • Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray; put the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
  • Punch down the dough, then cut in half. Refrigerate or freeze in floured zip-close freezer bags at this point or use as directed in the recipe. Yields 1⁄12 of dough per serving.

I only used 1/5 of this recipe to create my Sunday night pizza. The dough can be used in a lot of different recipes, and I have big plans for homemade calzones later this week.

ANYWAY,

How was your week? If you watched the SAG Awards, were you shocked by any of the wins and snubs (for example, are the various critics associations just pretending Inception never happened? Actually, maybe it was all just a dream…)

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Filed under couch to 5k challenge, food, recipes, verba abuse, weigh-in, Weight Watchers

Oats and Quinoa and Grocery Stores: OH MY!

As I write this entry, I’m sitting in the deli/mini grocery/coffeeshop my girlfriend works in, and I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have a store so close to my apartment which sells bulk spices and grains.

Wait a minute, let me back up and give a little free publicity: the store of which I’m speaking is called Washington Perk , and it’s fulfilling a serious grocery shortage in the Winston-Salem, NC area.

Ok, I’ll be more specific- yes, there are tons of grocery stores in W-S. Harris Teeter and Food Lion pretty much dominate the grocery options, though many people also utilize other big name chains (Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.) In my immediate neighborhood, we have a very substantial Spanish-speaking population and are lucky enough to have a Compare Foods Supermarket. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Compare Foods specializes in items which are specific to Latin cuisine. There’s a great Spanish bakery, vast crates of bulk beans, as well as an extensive butcher and deli. There’s also a multitude of options in food categories which are typically sparse or bare in your typical “American” grocer- where else can you find ten different kinds of Mexican hot chocolate? Also, on the scale of “expensive grocery stores”, CF ranks on the very low end of the spectrum.

However, Compare Foods is not a great source for organic produce (or any other organic item), and it can be cost in-effective to shop for items which are not prominent ingredients in Latin food culture. For example, though cheese is used in different types of dishes, traditional cheese (cheddar, etc.) produced “for” American cookery is EXTREMELY expensive. This is very similar to Super G Mart, a store in my hometown of Greensboro, NC, which specializes in Asian cookery. Super G Mart’s produce and meat selections are an unbeatable price/quality equation. However, I’ve seen packages of cheese costing nearly $7.

Of the available stores, there are very few which are locally owned. There are also very few which offer a large selection of local and/or organic products. And in my actual neighborhood, there are absolutely no coffee shops, and very few restaurants. This is where Washington Perk comes in. The Perk is locally owned, and features fair trade coffee, a small (but growing!) selection of locally produced dairy and produce, as well as a number of organic grocery options. There’s also a fairly inexpensive deli, and the aforementioned bulk spices and grains.

These are all very important features because one of the only other organic grocers in town is Whole Foods Market, and it’s not near my apartment AT ALL (though, for the record, I’m a fan of Whole Foods and everything for which they stand.)

Wow. Um, ok. Shall we get back to the point of this entry? 🙂

Anyway, there are a number of foods which I want to endeavor to make part of my regular diet during the next few months. Several of these foods hold nutrients and vitamins which I’m definitely not getting enough of, and I think they will help provoke my urge to create new recipes and meal ideas. Here are three with which I can’t wait to get more familiar:

(Photo Credit: Stacey Boyer)

Steel cut oats

My father has sworn by steel cut oats for a number of years, but I’ve always been turned off by how long it takes for them to become soft and chewy, as opposed to tough chunks which get stuck in your teeth leading to a morning of being called ‘oatmeal mouth’. I’m also turned off by the price, but most foods which are actually good for the human body tend to fall outside of my budget. I’m coming to the conclusion that instead of choosing unhealthy options because of the price, I need to re-work my entire food budget.

Danica of Danica’s Daily has a great recipe featuring steel cut oats which I am extremely psyched to try.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie of Noshtopia)

Quinoa

Quinoa is the new love of my epicureal life. I can’t believe I’ve let my food discrimination keep me away from this delicious delicacy for so long! The texture is an excellent substitute for rice or couscous, and it is unbelievably versatile. It can be savory, sweet, salty, or all three and more!

(All these exclamation points are making me feel like Billy Mays. (!))

(Photo Credit: Benefits of Spirulina)

Spirulina

I’ve been reading a lot about the positive health benefits of adding spirulina into one’s diet. Spirulina is a complete protein, and contains all essential amino acids. It’s stronger than the average plant protein, and it’s rich in a host of vitamins and minerals. Of course, the color and flavor can both be rather off-putting, but I get the impression that spirulina powder can be painlessly added to food and drinks.

What about you? What foods/recipes are you excited to try out this year?

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Filed under food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, shopping