Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quickie for lunch

Now that I have your attention, let's talk lunch!

I usually talk about the 100 mile diet dinners I make so I thought I’d talk about lunch today. I work from home and most folks assume that would mean I have all this extra time to make lunch. Well, some days I do but even so, I don’t really want to be messing about in the kitchen for an hour making a lunch everyday. Unlike the Barefoot Contessa, I don’t have a wonderful country estate with lovely country estate friends that visit me for lunch so it is a solo affair. It is one that I delight in. Just because I don't want to spend much time making it, doesn't mean I can't spend time enjoying it. It's often the only chance I get to take a break during the day. I hate eating lunch on the run. I need to sit and enjoy. Even if I'm out and about I will chill out and enjoy a packed lunch. I have found that if I do spend 20-30 minutes mindfully lunching that I don't have all those crazy snack urges a few hours later.

Lunch is dinner leftovers most days. Sometimes I only have leftovers of a side dish like roasted veggies or sautéed greens. These can easily be turned into a quick meal by tossing in some diced tofu or bits of leftover meat, reheating it and topping it all off with some nuts and a few drops of flavor powerhouse like a good balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of lime, a hit of ponzu sauce or fish sauce and a few drops of sesame seed oil or some grated hard cheese. A piece of bread or other starch rounds off the meal.

If I have leftover stir fry I’ll usually use that as a base for a noodle soup. Nothing more than heating up some stock, dropping in some a package of udon noodles and the leftover stirfry. A bit of soy sauce, oyster sauce, black bean sauce, miso or fish sauce will punch it up.

I always make extra portions of dinner for lunch the next day. Of course, the best laid plans get eaten up by unannounced dinner guests or my own never-ending appetite at the end of a day of play. But with a few BC mushrooms, a scrap of salami or smoked bacon, a bit of cheese and couple of local free-ranged eggs, I can have a yummy frittata or a really fancy scrambled eggs.

At times I make a big batch of soup that carries me through my lunches for most of the week. That’s what I did this week.

After returning from my top secret super hero business, I have not been in the mood for spending much time cooking since I was resident cook in the super hero clubhouse. Let me tell you, super heroes can be super picky eaters. I wanted to putter in the garden, knit and read in my corner, take walks around the lake, hang out with my DH and generally enjoying having my own space again. After building a fortress of solitude around the house to keep the riff raff at bay, I managed to get around to all those wonderful activities. Though some tried to knock down my fortress of solitude, I managed to keep it pretty intact. Heck, a girl’s gotta be able to put her feet up and relax in peace ‘n quiet between super hero gigs.

Most of our meals have been pulled out of the freezer and the garden this week since I didn’t feel like dealing with the grocery store. Looking for something for lunch this past Tuesday, I excavated down through the strata of frozen homemade dinners and found a couple of packages of frozen roasted pumpkin that I put away last fall. It was like finding treasure!

After a quick thaw in the microwave, I dumped the contents (6 cups of roasted pumpkin in total) into a pot with a cup of water, a couple tablespoons organic peanut butter, a ½ teaspoon of sambal oelek and some roasted garlic leftover from the night before. With my trusty hand blender, I whizzed the whole concoction into a creamy soup and brought to a slow boil while stirring regularly.

A drizzle of Auld Alliance farm’s pear balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of local hazelnuts and we have a great lunch soup. If you don’t like vinegar and nuts, a dollop of yogurt or crème fraiche would also be great. Along with it, I’ve been nibbling my way through some smoked local salmon (also excavated from the freezer) and slices of English cucumber, BC grown of course. Lunch ends usually with a either a square of good, dark chocolate or a sliver of local cheese depending on my mood. A civilized and thoroughly satisfying way to end any meal!

You could just whip up a big batch of plain pumpkin soup and dress it a bit differently each day. A spoonful of pesto for Monday, shaving of parma and some torn proscuitto and a drizzle of walnut or hazelnut oil for Tuesday , a drizzle of Thai It Up sauce for Wednesday, a dollop of tapendade on Thursday and for Friday, a sprinkle of curry powder and some chutney. Roasted veggies and even bits of meat also work well in this soup base. Treat it as you would a butternut squash soup. There are so many possibilities

Tonight I’m cracking open the fortress and have invited a few friends over for dinner. In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day I’m planning an Irish stew with local lamb and Irish soda bread. Not quite sure what dessert will be. Perhaps a fruit galette or simply a fruit crisp.

Have a great day and happy eating!


100 Mile Diet Nanaimo

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