Thursday Thoughts: Food Obsession

I sometimes feel like I’ve obsessed about food my whole life. I have a tendency to enjoy eating. I love flavors. Textures. Food. Even as a child, I read cookbooks, looking for recipes to make. I’ve always enjoyed cooking.

Here’s the thing. I tend to be overweight. I’ve tried cutting calories, I’ve done Weight Watchers and became a lifetime member. And yet I’m still overweight.

I. Like. To. Eat. So I’ve changed my relationship with food.

I’m through apologizing for being hungry. If eating a bowl of ice cream makes me happy, then I’m going to be happy.

I know people who talk about good food and bad food. “Oh, I was bad and ate a crumb of fudge, so now I can’t eat anything except lettuce for a week.” Did the fudge make you happy? Does lettuce make you happy?

My categories are different. Do I like it? Then it’s a good food. Do I hate it? Then it’s a bad food.

 

The Man Fridge

Years ago, Parade magazine interviewed a female private detective, who maintained women make better detectives than men because if a man opens the refrigerator door to look for something, unless it’s right in front of him, he won’t find it because he won’t “move the mustard.”

That phrase has stayed with me.  The truth of it rings in my head at least once a week.

I once hid a bottle of champagne on the bottom shelf, in back of my refrigerator, for six months. No one noticed. Why? Because that would involve moving the mustard.

I have decided my path to riches will be the invention of The Man Fridge. The shelves will be only as deep as a gallon of milk. Initially I thought of using baseball’s “strike zone” as the height, but I’ve concluded that won’t work, because the bottom shelf would be too low. The ideal height would be waist to eye level on a six-foot man.  Even then, the lower shelves might be invisible.

The inevitable problem with The Man Fridge would be the width. It would need to be a minimum of three times wider than an average refrigerator in 2020.  Man Fridges could conceivably take up entire walls in kitchens.  And that creates the problem of doors. How many doors would be sensible? If a man won’t move the mustard, why would he open multiple doors? The doors, I’ve decided would have to be a deep as the shelves. That way, perhaps only twice the width of current refrigerators would work. Many refrigerators do have double doors.

Maybe this could work.

 

 

 

MJ’s Monday-Meals: Mexican Lasagna & Mexican Slaw

This meal started with this recipe for Mexican Slaw. A friend had made it on retreat and I loved it. I had made it for something–I can’t remember what now, but there were leftovers, so I decided to invent something to go with it.

Over the years, I have read and tried many recipes for “Mexican Lasagna.” I’ve even liked some. But on this night, I had to work with what I had on hand.

  • Chicken  (a pound or so)
  • 1 14-15 oz can corn, drained
  • 1 14-15 oz can diced tomatoes with chili seasoning
  • 1  14-15 oz can seasoned chili beans, drained BUT NOT RINSED
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 2 8″tortillas
  • 8 oz shredded Mexican Cheese blend

The first thing I did was preheat my oven to 350F.

Then I sprinkled the chicken with about a tablespoon and a half of the taco seasoning and cooked it in a frying pan.

While the chicken cooked, I drained the can of corn. I mixed the corn with the can of chili-seasoned diced tomatoes (something my supermarket sells). Then I drained the can chili-seasoned beans–I think they’re pinto beans with chili seasoning. The key here is to drain BUT DO NOT RINSE. I almost always rinse canned beans, but not in this case. I added the beans to the corn and tomatoes, then added the rest of the taco seasoning packet.

Once the chicken was done, I shredded it with two forks and added it to the vegetable mixture.

I sprayed a square glass baking dish with cooking spray, then laid in an 8″ toritilla.

I topped the tortilla with half the veggie-chicken mixture, then covered with half of the shredded cheese, then repeated the process.

Bake in the 350F oven for thirty minutes or until heated through and the cheese has melted. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then cut into 9 squares (I have a large pizza cutter I use for this).

Serve with the slaw.

Size Matters

I like to cook. I like new recipes. Sometimes, though, the recipes I newly discover are older recipes, and call for things I can no longer find. Particularly when it comes to sizes.

Whatever happened to four-ounce packages of cream cheese? I distinctly remember peeling back the foil on a small block of Philly. Perfectly sized for a recipe. Now I have to hope I can cut an eight-ounce block exactly in half. And what do I do with the other half? Bagels?

Remember when sour cream came in one cup (eight-ounce) containers? Maybe it still does somewhere, but not at my supermarket. A recipe calls for one cup. Yes, I can measure it out, but then what do I do with the remaining eight ounces? Tacos? Baked potatoes?

My husband would prefer I purchase milk a gallon at a time. But it goes bad. And it takes up too much space in the refrigerator. So I buy half-gallons. If the store carried quarts, as they did in my younger days, that’s what he would get.

Dairy, like produce, tends to go bad after a while. Smaller sizes would be helpful.

 

 

MJ Monday-Meals: Leftover Tacos/Quesadillas/Wraps

I have an unusual way of dealing with leftovers.

I turn them into tacos. Wraps. Quesadillas.  Actually I’m not sure what to call them, but my husband is always amazed at what a good idea these concoctions are.

I take a tortilla. I spoon the leftovers onto the tortilla, sprinkle with an appropriate cheese, then microwave for a minutes. Roll it all up and voila!

Example 1: my extended family served meatballs over the holidays, with plenty of leftovers for everyone to take home. We ate traditional meatball subs one night. Then I ran out of rolls. So I halved the meatballs and plopped them on a tortilla:

Then I smothered them with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Voila! Meatball quesadillas.

Example 2: With only two of us at home these days, I usually have leftover chili. So one night, I did the tortilla thing, but used shredded Mexican cheese (Mexican cheese is what my local supermarket changes calls a four-cheese blend of cheddar, Monterrey Jack, asadero, and quesadilla cheese–that’s what the package says.)

If I’m feeling particularly domestic, I’ll cook these in a cast iron frying pan to make them more quesadilla-like. My husband likes them just fine heated in the microwave. And there is no extra cookware to clean.

Various kinds of shredded cheese and a package of tortillas are “pantry” staples at my house. Cheese freezes beautifully.  Leftovers don’t get boring if you switch up how they’re served.