Hi, again, Dear Readers!
Bet you’re surprised to hear from me again this soon. Me too. But I had an adventure, and you know me, I gotta write about it. I didn’t plan on going to Trader Joe’s today, but I did. I was supposed to be going for a job interview with a major hospital system here, for a job in Baytown. Guess what? Ten minutes into the interview, the guy said, “Oh, no! Who told you that? Oh, really? Oh, sorry.” After one curt comment without swear words, I picked up my stuff and left as fast as I could. Had I not done that, I would have let the entire floor know I was not happy with wasting my time going into town for no reason. In a suit.
If you believe in angels, I think they’re pointing me somewhere. But that’s all I’ll say about that for now.
Yes, I’m still in a bad mood. But I’m getting there.
I had been thinking about a post-interview stop at Trader Joe’s on the way to town, since it was just a couple of miles away from the building I was in. I even brought a change of clothes so I’d blend in a little. Turns out I don’t blend in at the store in the Montrose area at all, that’s probably the main reason I prefer the store in The Woodlands. There’s nobody in The Woodlands with nearly floor-length red dreadlocks over the age of 65, not that I’ve ever seen. (It was a female.) But if you’re not in Houston, you might not understand that going to The Woodlands from the center of town would make for a very long trip home.
Oh, wait–I could have gotten a gluten free cupcake at Frost. AAAAHHH!! See? I told you I was in a bad mood. But I made it home safely, and didn’t have any crashes or “road rage” incidents, since I didn’t want to talk to anyone anyway.
Since I knew I was going to be hungry on the way home, I went next door to Whole Earth Provisions so I could get a couple of the delicious Epic bars. I can’t get them down in Clear Lake anymore, not that I can find, so this was just a one time thing. Guess what I found? New Lamb bar with currants and mint, no foolin’:
Yes, it was quite tasty. Both the lamb and bison were fresh, since they were slightly moist, much like a Larabar would be. However, unlike Larabars, these have less than 10 grams of sugar, mostly from the dried fruit. Larabars, and Energetica’s other product, Thunderbird bars, are all dried fruit with nuts, so they have much more sugar in them, and fat from the nuts. However, I know that some folks are not wild about mint, so if you’re one of those, avoid the delicious new lamb bar.
I stashed those on the front seat, then went to Trader Joe’s next door. I got some of this fancier bottled water, it’s right across the aisle from the olive oil, which is less expensive than HEB’s and comes in glass, not plastic bottles
.See? It was fancier than the standard stuff:
Their regular bottled water is 17 cents a bottle. However, this was a bigger bottle at 99 cents, and since I was going to have two Epic bars, I needed plenty of water.
I may have shown you this before, but I have a shelf hung by the stove, with a knife bar underneath, to make the heavy-duty cooking easier. I refilled that little bottle with olive oil so that I can just use that instead of going to the pantry to get a bigger bottle and mess with that. Also, that’s a sugar shaker from IKEA with kosher salt in it. Easier than going for the square box, too.
As you can see, I have been coping with this morning’s disaster with some, ah, creature comforts. Now, if you’re not familiar with Trader Joe’s, one of the things they’re famous for is their cheap wine. Those bottles are $3 each; they used to be $2, and they’re well loved by TJ devotees. I got another can of those New Mexico hatch green chiles; I used one can recently, which is will be in a future blog post (like maybe this afternoon if I’m in the mood.) Delicious cannellini beans, and tasty little tomatoes to go with the rest of the lettuce sealed up in the fridge:
Yum. Now, that can of cat food on top the beans is a treat for the cat beast, and not included as part of any human food created or consumed in the HeatCageKitchen–despite the jokes I may make about doing such a thing on occasion.
Take a closer look at the tomatoes:
More comfort food, Trader Joe’s style:
Admittedly, those went into the freezer, because I could eat both the entire package of sausage and that 4 ounce round of cheese at once. OK, maybe half the cheese and two sausages today, the rest tomorrow. I found some of the sausages recently in the freezer and enjoyed them; this is just a replacement. Still, it’s really good, and both are the same price, $2.99. If you haven’t had goat milk brie, try it sometime–you’re in for a treat.
I was going to buy some tahini, that sesame paste you make hummus with. Guess what? That little refrigerated container had. . .WHEAT! No joke. I thanked the man for finding it for me; he didn’t think twice when he said, ‘Oh, you’re looking for gluten free?” Yes. That’s the one thing nobody seemed to blink at.
From the toiletries section, some lavender soap for my nighttime shower, and some tea tree oil soap just because it was cheaper and smells nice. That’s actually a package of two bars of tea tree oil soap, and all of their stuff is cruelty free, that is, not tested on animals. To me, looking at the cat beast sitting by the patio door, and thinking about all the little furry animals in the world, I appreciate that a lot.
OK, so I took it by the toaster oven. I ran out of room by the microwave.
I have been a fan of Chocolate Cherry Kind bars for a while, and they are the only ones I want. However, while I had two in my hand, I passed on them in favor of something less expensive:
I don’t know why the picture loaded up sideways. But I will tell you that there are two servings in that bag, and they were both delicious. Still,one serving has 13 grams of sugar, which is not bad for candy. Ice cream can vary from 19 to 30 grams of sugar, but you have to read the label. Yogurt with fruit on the bottom can run 40 grams of sugar for the little cup, all while being touted as “healthy.” Which would YOU rather have?
All in all, I spent about what I’d get at HEB, although I just realized that my checker, “Matty,” neglected to ring up the 4 tins of Vanilla Mynts I put with my order, although I’m not sure why. I have some for now, I’ll just get more another time, I guess.
Well, anyway, I’ve got that out of my system, and I’ll have a couple of gluten free stories coming soon. And a cookbook review if I think about it.
Afternoon, Dear Readers:
Here in Houston, the weather has warmed up, the clouds are gone and it’s a lovely day. I say that not to make anyone jealous, but to remind you that winter always turns to spring. Eventually.
Y’all, it just dawned on me that I didn’t recommend anything for Valentine’s Day dinner. DUH.
Sure, you could go out to dinner. Have you ever tried to get a reservation for Valentine’s Day? No, I don’t mean Golden Corral. . . Jack In The Box is usually open. So is Carl’s Jr., if you have one in your area–they have sweet potato fries!
Or just go out and find a place to eat. You’ll be elbow-to-elbow with all the other star-crossed lovers. Forget that! Make dinner for your sweetie–but don’t go overboard. You need something easy that won’t take long. So here you go.
One of my newest favorite foods is cannellini beans. You know, the white kidney beans, usually from Italy. They are SOOOO good. I have a number of recipes calling for them, but my absolute favorite is, once again, from Nigella Lawson. It’s a simple white bean mash that can take the place of mashed potatoes and tastes so much better.
Thing is, you have to do it exactly as the recipe states. However, I’ve fiddled with it a bit to make it just for lunch. I’ll explain that in a minute.
Tonight, if you can get some nice little steaks and three cans of cannellini beans, (don’t forget olive oil, lemon and garlic) you’re all set–just make sure dessert is delicious, too. (It does not have to be chocolate, OK?) You make the beans first, then cook up the steaks and squeeze the lemon into the hot pan to deglaze it. The most time it takes is for making the bean mash. You can find the entire recipe here.
A steak dinner on Valentine’s Day? Of course!
Now, I have, on a couple of occasions, accidentally bought those little great white beans, or whatever they are called, because I simply grabbed the wrong can. This is easy when you buy Goya, because the cans all look alike. Darnit. They work, but are not as tasty as the cannellini.
Since my job ended on January 31, I’ve been eating white bean mash nearly every day. Why? I love it! With turkey, meatloaf, or whatever I feel like cooking up, it’s simple. And I also figured out how to make it in the microwave.
Rinse one can of beans and dump it in a microwave safe bowl; preferably one like a Grab-It with rounded sides and wide. Add to it a goodly amount of olive oil (maybe 1/8 cup, just eyeball it), and grate in a clove of garlic and some lemon zest (one small or half a large.) Microwave it until it’s hot. Take it out (put it on something heat-safe) and get a wide, flat spoon (a round wooden one works great) and mash to your heart’s content. Taste, and dd a bit of salt if you think you need it (mine always do) and mash until you get the same nubbly consistency, or it’s good enough for one person to devour.
I took that to work many times. Now that I’m not working, I just need to make sure I keep cannellini beans in the pantry.
That’s all for now.
Happy Valentine’s Day, and Enjoy!
OK, I found something else to pass along–dinner. I had another “light” dish from the Everyday Food Light cookbook. This one is on page 329, Sausages with Kale and White Beans. (You can find the recipe online here.) I’ve never had kale before, but I have to say, cooked as long as it did, it’s not bad. I’ll try using kale again one day. At 99 cents for a large bunch, it’s certainly affordable.
I decided to pull two packets of sausages out of the freezer (the stuff I bought on sale recently), but they weren’t the same thing. One was turkey brats, the other was some chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and asiago, I think–the Market Pantry brand from Target. So when I finished, I split them up–each serving had one of each in it.
And, this is what it looks like when it’s done:
Pretty simple, just broiling the sausages in the countertop oven (you do have one, right?) and then cooking the kale on top the stove with garlic and a half cup of water until it’s wilted all the way down. Then toss in two tablespoons of white wine vinegar and a can of rinsed cannellini beans. It’s not haute cuisine, but it’s a pretty good dinner done in a half hour or so. Not bad.
I should also mention that I just LOVE cannellini beans. If you’re not familiar with them–and I wasn’t until a few years ago–they’re white kidney beans, frequently imported from Italy. One of my favorite ways to use them is in this amazingly delicious white bean mash. I’ve also used Great Northern or White Navy beans, but that’s only because I grabbed them by mistake. Those beans are OK, and they’ll work in this recipe, but. . .just not as good as cannellini.
A few years ago when I evacuated to New Orleans for Hurricane Ike, I brought two or three cans of cannellini beans with me so I could make another Everyday Food recipe for my friends. Why? Because you can’t *get* cannellini beans in New Orleans, at least, not that I could find. Then again, I didn’t do lots of grocery shopping, and didn’t feel like explaining myself to a demo lady who got mad at me because I know how to properly pronounce “gelato.”
This too, is an Everyday Food recipe that appeared in the Houston Chronicle on April 16, 2008. How do I know this? I kept the paper–because it’s never been in the magazine or on their website, darnit. But it’s SOOOOO good. This is the *salad* of enlightenment:
White-Bean and Olive Salad
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (Creole mustard is also really good in this)
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Add beans, onion and olives; toss to combine.