11 January 2014

I hate food waste #2: Leftover lunch, salmon & pasta


My wife and I typically have salmon once a week. I usually grill it. And she usually buys a piece big enough so that there’s some left over for me to eat for lunch later in the week.

My usual practice is to simply warm it in the microwave along with leftover risotto or couscous (served with the salmon when I made it originally. Here’s our favorite risotto recipe, click here.)

This week, however, we had some leftover bowtie pasta. We’d made it for our grandkids when they were over for dinner, and there were a few bowties left.

So I put the pasta on a plate and flaked the salmon over it. Then I dressed it simply with olive oil, fresh-ground pepper, and a half teaspoon of capers. I also drizzled on a little red pepper sauce that I made from Serrano peppers that I grew in my garden last summer. Then I warmed the whole plate in the microwave. It was really good! I’d consider making this for dinner sometime.

10 January 2014

I hate food waste #1: Candied Grapefruit Peel


My wife and I each grew up in homes that eschewed food waste. It’s a trait we inherited honestly, and one that we practice in our own home to this day. We’re the type of people who put a tablespoon of hummus in a container and save it until “someday one of us might want just a bite of hummus on a cracker.” Then, periodically, we come across a container of some unrecognizable leftover and ask “what is this?” Then throw it away as inedible.

When my January Bon Appetit magazine arrived, there was a tempting photo and article on making candied grapefruit peel. (Click here to view it.) My wife had just bought a bag of grapefruit for my breakfast, and I had noticed that these grapefruit had nice, thick peels. It would be a shame to just throw away the peels after enjoying the fruit for breakfast.

So the next day, I tried the technique portrayed in the magazine. They actually turned out quite well. The photos here are of the ones I made. They look nice, but not quite as appealing as the Bon Appetit photos. The only trouble is, I now have a freezer bag full of candied grapefruit peel and I have to figure out a recipe to use them in. I make a biscotti for my wife that uses candied orange peel. (Now that I know the technique, I may make my own orange peel rather than buy them in the supermarket. They’re sometimes hard to find anyway.) I may try modifying the recipe and use grapefruit peel instead. GrapefruitPeel2

The technique calls for boiling the peels in simple syrup. After I was done with the recipe, I had a cup or so of citrus flavored syrup. I poured that into a jar and refrigerated it. It makes a nice sweetener for cocktails, like an Old-Fashioned.

09 January 2014

My Jaguar is not a snow cat

When I retired last summer, I allowed myself one indulgence. I bought a Jaguar XK. I knew it wasn’t the most practical choice. But I’d coveted a Jaguar since before I could (legally) drive. All through my working life, there was always something that took precedence over it – buying a house, remodeling the kitchen, saving for the kids’ college, saving for their weddings, saving for the grandkids’ college. So when I started to plan for retirement, I resolved that I would finally get one.
As I worked with the representative at the Jaguar dealership, he asked if I planned to drive the car in the winter. I said ‘yes.’ I only have a two car garage, and I certainly didn’t want to store the car for four or five months of the year. I figured as a retiree, if the weather ever was so bad that I didn’t feel comfortable taking my Jaguar, I’d either take my wife’s car (Honda CRV with all-wheel drive) or I’d just stay home.
I’m not so na├»ve that I’d expect a car salesman to say, “Well wait a minute, Steve. An XK is not really a winter car. Maybe you should consider something else.” And he didn’t. He said, “Put snow tires on it, and you won’t have any trouble.” SnowCat
It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I had my heart set on an XK.
I don’t think I’ve ever put snow tires on a car that I’ve owned. I think I’ve always just relied on all-season radials. But that’s what I did. I had a full set of snow tires mounted on the car in early December, just before we started getting significant snow in Minnesota. And technically, he was right. I’ve been able to get around during winter weather. I haven’t tried driving it in deep snow. The car is so low to the ground I’m afraid it would get hung up even with snow tires. But basically I can keep it from slipping and sliding, and I’ve been able to keep it moving when I need to.
Of course, it helps that I learned to drive in cars that had V-8 engines and rear wheel drive. It does take different techniques to handle winter road conditions. Some of them are actually kind of fun. I was doing a u-turn at an intersection when the road was just a little slippery. As I was turning, I remembered to flutter the throttle just a little. Sure enough, the rear end slipped around and we took off down the street, just as slick as you please.
But really, the car is not built to trudge along at 20 miles per hour in stop-and-go traffic. It’s just not as much fun to drive that way. It’s really made for driving 85 mph on a clear, dry road (someplace where that speed is legal) on a sunny spring, or summer, or autumn day.
Also, I really hate seeing the road spray and ice mess up the pretty paint job on the car. It seems disrespectful. Fortunately, the dealer offers free car washes. So I stop in as often as necessary, and then drive v-e-r-y carefully home to avoid getting a new coat of slush on the car right away.
During the ‘polar vortex’ that kept temps in Minnesota below 0 F for 80 hours, I kept the car mostly parked in my garage (attached to the house, but not heated. It got pretty cold in there as well.) But I did have a meeting in Buffalo, MN. I considered not going; I could have called in. The roads were clear and dry, it was just beastly cold, and I decided it would be good to run the car at highway speeds for a while. I worried a little about it freezing up. But we didn’t have any problems. It ran smooth and quiet the whole way out and back. No speeding on this drive.
Still, I can’t wait for spring.