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Tetrazini 3 comments

My mother had to feed 12 people three meals a day on a rather skimpy budget. When I think back on it, this was really quite a feat. Although I learned a lot from being in the kitchen with her, I wish I’d paid a little more attention to her creative resourcefulness in stretching her food budget, keeping food interesting/healthy, and not being wasteful.

It was a big deal for me, last Christmas, to feed eight people in my small abode. That one meal took a lot of planning, and I got a lot of it wrong. I had enough food for an army, as it turns out. An army considerably larger than eight. There were leftovers.

Mom was creative with leftovers, or whatever was at hand. Part of the trick was, of course, making sure that the right basic stuff was on hand. And, honestly, when feeding 12 people, casseroles made from opening a tin or two of this or that never did generate complaints. Therefore, one of the “must have” cooking ingredients was a supply of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.

Food snobs poo-poo recipes that include the instruction “Open a tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup” as being well below acceptable standards of cuisine. On most days, I consider myself a bit of a food snob.* Except today. And, wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup on hand, just when I needed it.

Usually, Sunday dinner involved a large, roasted dead creature. My father, a Brit and a butcher/farmer by trade, would call any roasted dead creature “a joint” and I, for the life of me, couldn’t figure out why. Most popular beef roasts do not involve a part of the anatomy anywhere close to a joint. When the “joint” was not beef or pork, there would be poultry – either chicken (several) or a turkey, which was my favourite.

Turkey was my favourite primarily because turkey leftover options involved a few of my all time leftover favourites, all of which also involved Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Something heavenly happens when you combine leftover turkey gravy with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. These favourites included:

– turkey a la king (creamed turkey with veggies, served on toast)
– turkey pot pie (my all time, bar none, favourite leftover meal – essentially, turkey a la king in pastry)
– turkey tetrazini (somehow different than creamed turkey on toast and I’m not sure why)

So, tonight, staring at a fridge filled with well-enjoyed, but nearly about to go off meat and veg, I embarked on a slightly more health conscious version of tetrazini, which I dubbed “Three Pork Tetrazini” or by its Swedish name “Pork Pork Pork!!”

First, I had to go to the general store to fetch the requisite tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. I spotted a coyote on the way back from the store. I am, truly, where the wild things are.

But, I digress … the rest went as follows:

1. Boil water for whole wheat pasta of choice. Prepare to desired doneness. Drain.

2. While the pasta is doing its thing, chop four slices of bacon into one inch squares and toss in fry pan @ medium-high. Follow this with:
– garlic
– chopped onion
– chopped peppers
– mushrooms (lotsa mushrooms)

3. Stir the fry pan mixture around a lot. If bacon isn’t providing enough grease, add oil of choice – either butter or olive oil will do.

4. Pour glass of wine. 🙂

5. When the bacon is looking almost done, add chopped leftover pork loin and chopped lean ham. Keep stir frying.

6. For heaven’s sake, don’t over cook the pasta!!!

7. Add several handfuls of baby spinach carefully picked over for mushy leaves and those weird skinny non-spinach leaves that always seem to sneak in. Keep stirring this up.

8. When the spinach has “melted” and incorporated into the mixture, add the tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Stir to blend in and let heat through.

9. This recipe has both BACON and tinned pseudo-food. DO NOT add more salt at any time. That is just silly.

10. While the soup heats through and blends in, grate some old cheddar. Sprinkle that on top and stir until incorporated. The whole mix may take on a brownish tinge. This is desireable.

11. Add the drained pasta (hope you started with a big enough pan!) and keep folding until the pasta is fully covered in the sauce.

12. Pour another glass of wine. Serve.

The observant amongst my readers will note that this recipe does not have to be made with pork or, indeed, any dead creatures at all. Any combination of stuff stir-fried in garlic and oil, coated in Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup and glued together with old cheddar and served over pasta is going to be pretty yummy.

And it was. 🙂 AND … if you serve it with enough wine and call it “tetrazini”, your guests may just believe you!

*I was called a “coffee snob” the other day. I can’t imagine why. 😉

No-Carb Tuesday 1 comment

If this diet adventure has taught me anything, it is that I sure do like my carbs. As I review my food diary over the months, it is clear that I have the hardest time sticking to the extremely low carb amounts that are recommended.

I should be more specific as "carbs" are found, of course, in fruits and vegetables too – but that isn't what I'm talking about. If I were as addicted to fruits and veggies as I am to Ace Bakery Baguettes, then I wouldn't be so overweight, now, would I? No – what I'm talking about is the fabulous four of bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. BRPP for those of us who are fond of acronyms. Turns straight into sugar and gets applied directly to the thighs.

Carbs also mean alcohol and sugary baked goods, but I don't have so much of an issue avoiding these, except for the carrot cake at the downtown Y. I indulge here about once every two weeks. It calls to me after my workout, as it sits there in its little hand-wrapped portions with the yummy cream cheese icing. I picture that it is made by some little old lady who uses only organic ingredients and donates her baked goods to the Y. It is probably made by some multi-national conglomerate and I'm just trying to rationalize my diet deviance.

The occasional glass of wine hasn't been an issue. Neither, surprisingly, was the over-consumption of rum and tequila a few weeks ago. I have studiously avoided beer, much to the amusement of my hockey buds, since June 2007. Again, not so much of an issue as I've found beer to be an acquired taste anyway. Popcorn, which forms an entire food group for me, also hasn't held me back and I still make popcorn, with oil, and butter, two or three times a week. Admittedly, I'm making half as much as I used to, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Nope – for me, it is BRPP. Potatoes have been the easiest to take off this list. I don't make them much at home, and the double issue of fats + carbs presented by french fries really does take them right off the list of possibilities when I'm eating out. Although, when a basket of fries presents itself after hockey, I have been known to indulge.

Rice is a mystery to me. How is it that a staple eaten by so many cultures in such quantities can give a white chick like me such trouble? I'm told it has something to do with genetics and metabolism. I do believe this, but I wonder why it doesn't work out that, given my British/German DNA, I can't drink all the beer I can handle without packing on the poundage. In any case, I love rice. The thing is, I love rice because it does such a good job at soaking up things like, oh, butter chicken sauce. Fried rice cake is the foundation of sushi pizza and soaks up gallons of soya sauce, which is SO good and SO out of bounds for me. Bad rice. The rice of temptation. Wicked.

Pasta is something I would eat daily if I could get away with it. I make the BEST meat sauce and there is nothing like pasta (usually spaghettini or linguine) and my sauce with a dollop of cottage cheese and a sprinkle of romano. Oh, and a drizzle of olive oil. I have managed to work this in occasionally, through the magic of portion control, and I'm not doing too badly here. I go through phases with pasta. We are arm's length friends at the moment.

Bread is the biggie.  Where I'd eat pasta daily and happily, I'd have bread every meal if I could. WITH pasta. Some people do this … cereal or english muffin or toast for breakfast … sandwich for lunch … bread at dinner. Assorted muffins and croissants for snacks. I simply can't eat like that anymore, ever again. The treat I miss the most, and I whine about this to my friends so regularly, is the Ace Bakery Baguette and crumbly old cheese. A few (high fat) olives perhaps. And, of course, a glass of wine. Civilized, yes. Supportive of weight loss, no.

Bread sneaks in where it shouldn't. An English muffin here, an 10" wrap there … and suddenly I look at my food diary and I've tripled my daily bread allotment without even thinking.

So here is my experiment for the day. I'm going to try "No Carb Tuesday". I had my breakfast without bread or cereal of any kind and I survived, and I've now managed lunch without carbs of any description. I can't do this every day, but I wonder if I could do it, say, twice a week?

Could you?

Addendum: According to my weigh-in last week, and again Monday, I maintained the 52 lbs lost (yay)!  Not only that, I'm the first client of the location that I go to who has lost 50+ lbs. They want to put my picture on the wall. I've said I'll think about it. I'd refer that my picture go on the wall when I hit my target loss of 90 lbs. So … we'll see. 🙂

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