Schizophrenic Weather and Two-Way Suppers

November 4, 2010 at 11:20 pm Leave a comment


There is something about this time of year that confuses both my body and my mind. Maybe it’s the split-personality weather, which can’t decide whether it wants to March through October like a roaring lion or gambol into November like a frolicking lamb. This back-and-forth leaves me with contrasting urges to either skip down the street in the autumn sunlight or retreat to a cave in the early evening darkness. Today, the temptation to hibernate beckons like a siren song. 

But as the ancient Greeks and Romans warned, succumbing to such lures can yield disastrous results. For me that would translate to a non-productive day in my tightly scheduled later-life attempt to make up for a wasted youth. I resist the urge to slump into a corner by seeking out ways to make a contribution; to create something worthwhile. And that’s when the “aha” light goes off in my cranium, illuminating an almost forgotten theme I came up with a few weeks before the shortening days messed with my hormonal balance and the brain fog settled in. 

So, before the urge for a mid-afternoon nap can hurl my good intentions up against the craggy shoreline of Lethargy Land, I turn to a subject I feel passionate about to revive my enthusiasm: good health vis-a-vis good food. Within my house divided, we often have more than one main dish on the table at dinnertime. But that’s a bit of extra effort that no busy cook needs to take on, so the idea of dual-appeal entrees seems tailor-made for other households with diabetic diners to be considered. 

If that doesn’t describe your situation, just go with the full-out version of Chicken Meatballs in Sweet and Sour Sauce (a slimmed-down version of Aunt Dorothy’s ‘circa 1958 Ham Balls, which called for 1-1/2 cups – yes, cups – of brown sugar) or Hamburger Casserole (revised from cousin Susan’s 1966 cream of celery soup hot dish) or the thoroughly modern Inside-Out Reuben.  The Reuben is loosely based on a recipe I came across last spring which has been percolating in my head for all those months.  Say, maybe that explains what’s going on in there. It’s not cerebral smog clouding my thinking, it’s creative steam…

For the New Millennium take on saucy meatballs reminiscent of that gooey 20th century favorite, ham balls: 

2.5# ground lean chicken                               ½ C finely ground bran crackers*

2 TB evaporated skim milk                             salt and pepper to taste

¼ C finely chopped shallots                           2 eggs, beaten

 (*GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbreads are ultra low carb and ultra low cal, with a nice fiber punch.)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, form into meatball-sized orbs, lay on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake at 350° for one hour. You’ll have about 18 meatballs.

Meanwhile, blend together in a large skillet and bring to a simmer: 

½ C honey                                                             1 tsp dry mustard

½ C cider vinegar                                               ½ C water 

Add fully cooked meatballs to skillet and keep warm until serving time. For the non-carb-conscious, serve sauced meatballs over freshly cooked basmati rice – a nice, light complement to this nice, light departure from tradition. For everyone, some crisp-steamed green beans with a few chopped, toasted almonds are a fitting accompaniment. 

Or if you prefer another classic favorite, perhaps the super-simple Two-Way Hamburger Hot Dish: 

½ C chopped white onion                                3 large stalks celery, chopped

1 lrge yellow pepper, chopped                       1 # lean ground beef

1 TB soy sauce                                                        1 can sliced water chestnuts

2 C fresh bean sprouts 

Saute onion, celery, and pepper in a nonstick skillet sprayed with canola oil for two-three minutes, or until onion begins to soften. Add the lean ground beef and cook, stirring, until meat is no longer pink. Add soy sauce,water chestnuts, and bean sprouts and toss often, continuing to cook over medium until sprouts have softened. (This should serve three-to-four people, depending on protein requirements.) 

Cook until grains are “cracked” and tender as many servings of wild rice as you have carb eaters, and pass it in a separate serving dish. Then you might want to slice up a few crisp, juicy Asian pears to offer as a post-meal palate refresher. 

And for a slightly more whimsical approach to lunch or dinner, the corned beef roll-ups will require: 

One loaf of Rye Quick Bread made from a recipe on the package of Bob’s Red Mill Dark 100% Stone Dark Rye Flour: 

3 C dark rye flour                                                  1 TB baking powder

1 tsp salt                                                                    2 C milk

1 egg, well beaten                                                  2 TB melted butter

2 tsp caraway seeds

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl combine milk, egg, melted butter, and caraway seeds. Pour into dry mixture and blend until well combined. Spoon into a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350°. Cool loaf in pan on a wire rack then slice off two 1” slices and cut each slice into four vertical strips. 

For eight beef rolls, you’ll need: 

16 oz cooked corned beef                                 4 oz Swiss cheese

3 TB Russian or 1,000 Is. dressing               8 tender cabbage leaves 

Slice corned beef as thin as possible; ditto for Swiss cheese. Wash and trim cabbage leaves. For each roll, spread a cabbage leaf with a generous two teaspoons of dressing, then layer on two ounces of corned beef slices and ½ ounce of cheese slices. Lay one of the rye bread strips vertically down the center and roll cabbage leaf left to right to form a large cigar shape. If necessary, use toothpicks to secure. 

For a lower carbohydrate alternative, leave out the rye bread, increase the meat and cheese, and serve with carrots sticks on the side for additional crunch. Additional crunch for carbohydrate seekers could come in the form of a basket of taro or sweet potato chips. actually has a fairly simple recipe for making homemade vegetable chips. Now there’s a project that would satisfy the itch to create something worthwhile.

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

On Viewing Life in Technicolor: You learn something every day, it is said. Sometimes it’s a bit of trivia; sometimes it’s a philosophy-altering revelation. Mainstreaming the “F Word” or How Not to Promote a Civil Society

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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