"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: avocado

macro-bowl supper redux . . .

macro-bowl-2-tempuraOur first macro-bowl dinner was such a hit the other night that I thought I’d make another one today. I defrosted 6 extra-large shrimp from the freezer, shelled them and placed them back in the fridge ready to go when it’s time to make shrimp tempura tonight.

Found some fresh small Chinese cabbages in the pantry too – will cut up the leafy parts and saute with garlic and a little lemon juice.

If the avocado ripening in the kitchen window isn’t ready yet, I’ll briefly heat up a few fresh edamame beans and season with a little soy.

So tonight’s macro(biotic) bowl will contain:

fresh-cooked brown and sweet rice (in a little dashi and soy sauce)

sauteed Chinese cabbage leaves with garlic and lemon

warmed edamame beans

tempura shrimp in panko crumbs

Tempura shrimp: The shrimp takes a few steps to prepare: a) defrost, shell and devein the shrimp; b) dry them off; c) cut tiny slits in the curved end of the shrimp and devein as well (the shrimp will now lie flat on the cutting board; d) insert a bamboo skewer or toothpick in the shrimp to keep it straight while frying. Make some tempura batter (boxed or with a little flour and ice water); Dip the dry prepared shrimp into the tempura batter, shake off excess and roll immediately in plain, dry panko crumbs. Deep-fry in a small skillet or small saucepan to conserve how much oil is used for the 6 shrimp. Cook and turn until golden brown – drain on paper towels and remove toothpicks.

Serve with a some hoisin sauce mixed with a drop of soy, sesame oil and a little sweetener (I use stevia.) I just put a small dish of this on the table.

The process change for making macro bowl dinners is that once I’ve settled on what will go into the macro bowls, I scale down the amount of vegetable and protein sides to the size of the servings that will go on top of the brown rice melange. This reduces the amount of food prepared and cooked. And there’s no leftovers either! YAY!

Some other macro bowl side dishes that might be appealing are:

  1. teriyaki broiled chicken thigh pieces (yakitori)
  2. pan grilled salmon in teriyaki
  3. cucumber and wakame salad
  4. instead of rice, cooked cellophane noodles with ground pork & green onions, e.g., “ants crawling up a tree” – a yummy Chinese classic
  5. soba noodles in soy-ginger sauce
  6. teriyaki flank steak slices
  7. beets, sliced and dressed with a little vinegar/lemon juice
  8. broccoli florets

etc. etc. etc. . . .





“macro” bowl for dinner. . .

macro bowl of brown rice, avocado, yellow squash and salmon poke

macro bowl of brown rice, avocado, yellow squash and salmon poke

Now that the holidays are over with all that rich food (I’m guilty!) I’m feeling like simplifying our food intake and making them appetizing at the same time. I studied macrobiotic cooking a long time ago when I had a viral condition for which Western medicine wasn’t helpful (they said you can’t treat viruses.) However, in Chinese traditional medicine, there’s a concept that parasites (viruses and bacteria) grow and thrive in “damp” conditions in the body. And so, if your diet is prepared to “dry out” the damp, then, there’s no place for them to hide. At least, that’s what I like about Eastern approaches to health and the body. That’s not to say that when I fractured my ankle a few years ago, that the orthopedic care I received in the Emergency Room was of the highest degree possible – the two orthopedic residents were so professional!)

Anyhow, I digress. The real reason for this post is that I’ve come across a way to prepare meals that might simplify the preparation time, but also offer us a nice way to eat healthy prepared meals without feeling deprived in any way. In fact, I think the presentation of macrobiotic foods (grains, vegetables and a little fish) in one-bowl will be fun. It also serves to customize the amount of food prepared so that there’s less chance for leftovers left in the fridge.

So tonight’s menu includes making salmon poke (pronounced “po-keh”) a Hawaiian version of sliced raw fish with soy sauce, a little wasabi and sesame seeds. The one-bowl presentation will include warm brown rice, cooked yellow squash with onions, sliced avocado and the salmon poke. The fish needs to be “sashimi-grade” for which I rely on my fishmonger’s advice. She cut a center piece and skinned it for me.

One unexpected benefit of the freshly cooked warm brown rice is that it gently heats the raw salmon without cooking it, making it even more tender and tasty.

a sushi handroll feast! . . .

fullsizerenderOur family gathered yesterday for a sushi handroll meal. I cooked up a batch of brown and black rice, added vinegar/sugar while it was still warm and stored it in a wooden bowl with a damp kitchen towel on it before we used it to make sushi maki and handrolls. Other ingredients included: fresh tuna, salmon, beautifully ripe avocado, watercress, wasabi mayonnaise, shrimp tempura, and toasted nori sheets.

Made an eel sauce that we dipped some of the fish in before wrapping up with the avocado and other goodies. The shopping and pre-prep were time-consuming but the results were extraordinarily delicious! My favorite was a toasted sheet of nori cut in half, spread with brown/black sushi rice, crisp tempura shrimp, avocado and wasabi mayonnaise rolled up. It was crunchy, crispy, unctuous – the crisp contrasting with the unami flavor combo of shrimp, avocado and wasabi mayo. SCRUMPTIOUS!!

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bento box lunch prep ideas . . .

found on google bento box photos. . .

found on google bento box photos. . .

So here we are on Labor Day, the Monday before a full week of school for a lot of folks. One of the ideas I had for my daughter’s lunches (she teaches high school French) was to give her an insulated bento box that I found on Amazon (where else?) Along with it was a very cute recipe book to make rice cakes (onigiri) wrapped in nori and such. Very appealing but might be too much effort for busy people getting ready for school!

Today, I woke up thinking about (really) quick and easy ways to do a master prep to provide lunch food ahead of time, drawing from ready made dishes from Whole Foods or one’s local Chinese take-out or Trader Joe’s. So, here’s some ideas to simplify as well as to expand one’s way of thinking about making bento box lunches to take to work or school. The secret is that you don’t have to do everything yourself! YAY!

The idea is to make or buy a batch of something and divide it into serving sizes on your work table. Then, package a lunch up in a heavy duty Glad freezer bag and freeze them. Take them out in the morning, pop them into your bento box and by the time you’re ready to eat lunch (unless it’s at 10:30 in the morning because school starts so early,) it should be ready to go. Might have to nuke it a little to bring to room temp though I’m not sure about that. So here goes my imaginary lunch sous chef prep ideas:

  1. BUY from Whole Foods in small portions for the week: 1. salad bar yummy fare: edamame salad, pickled beets, cherry tomato salad, chick peas, etc. 2. barbecued chicken wings; 3. piece of cooked salmon; 4. avocado to ripen, cherry tomatoes, eggs
  2. BUY from your favorite Chinese carryout: fried rice, veggie lo mien, moo shu without the pancakes
  3. COOK: 1. boil up some frozen shrimp (16-25 size) or skillet cook with a little teriyaki sauce; 2. Trader Joe’s Thai shrimp dumplings; 3. hard boiled eggs; 4. cucumber/wakame salad (dress with Japanese vinegar, soy, sesame oil

With these ready-made, carry-out and home-cooked ingredients, then apportion combinations that will be appetizing and also avoid monotony. Pack up in freezer sandwich bags. Seal and you’re good to go. At least for a couple of weeks – then you can get pad thai from the Thai restaurant, chicken nuggets, and slaw or other veggies from Whole Foods.

And maybe somewhere along the line, try your hand at making rice balls. It seems labor intensive to me because the secret to delicious rice balls is the filling or condiments you add to it. There’s a little Japanese tea sandwich place in Brookline that makes a delicious rice ball. I have no idea what’s in it but the tastes are so subtle, I don’t think you just get it out of a jar.

In the meantime, here is a photoarray of bento box photos that might inspire you with new combinations – I find it useful to see visuals for ideas. And adding a couple of cherry tomatoes, some hard-boiled egg, avocado slices and a little fresh fruit goes a long way.

Hope these ideas are convenient enough to pull off.  The idea of bento box lunches is to provide a concept for healthy and fun lunches – not to slave over how to prepare food for them all week, right?


bento box post 2

Footnote: Here are directions from the Food Network for boiling eggs:

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add your eggs and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add your eggs and cook 7 to 8 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
Place your eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and set aside 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.



a winter supper . . .

flowers and candlesGjelina, a restaurant in Venice Beach, California, serves simple vegetable dishes and has recently come out with a cookbook. It arrived on Sunday and the dishes looked appetizing, promising flavors that might be more complex than usual.

Since we are wanting to pare down on all the things that we should be eating less of (red meat, potatoes, sugar and bread) I thought we’d try changing our mindset so that we would share a vegetable dish as our our dinner, rather than as a side dish to add to a heavier meal.

Michael Pollan, in his little paperback called “Food Rules” says basically that we should eat primarily what grows above the ground (greens) and eat less, stopping when we feel 70% full. Thus, I thought it might be a novel idea to shift our expectations and cut down by sharing a vegetable side dish that preserved flavor and that also retained foodie cooking flair that I would miss terribly if all we ate was steamed green vegetables! I took macrobiotic cooking lessons years ago and while it might be healthy, it wasn’t long on flavor or culinary interest, at least not to me.

So tonight, I roasted orange beets, marinated them in a sherry vinegar, orange juice, olive oil dressing to which I added avocado and fresh segments of mineola oranges, topped with toasted, crushed hazelnuts. It was satisfying and tasty too. Next time, we thought we’d put this dish on a bed of arugula and watercress greens.

vegetable dinner

Other dishes in the line-up for supper this week are cooked coarse corn grits (polenta) topped with a fresh mushroom melange and a poached egg on top; roasted acorn squash with brown butter and fresh rosemary and caramelized Japanese sweet potato wedges served with yogurt and fresh lime sprinkled with sliced scallions. A bountiful green salad of arugula, baby spinach, watercress with a sharp soy-ginger-lime vinaigrette might be tasty alongside. Or add some garlicky shrimp scampi to the aforementioned green salad.

To break the monotony, I did come home with a Bell & Evans organic chicken that I’ll brine on Wednesday and roast with potatoes for dinner with an old friend on Thursday night. AND, since fresh crabmeat from Maine is still available, I might make a crabmeat quiche as a treat for the weekend!

And so it goes.