Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Mondays are Caro's day off, and she spends several hours in her bright, cheery upstairs kitchen, cooking dishes which can be stashed in the fridge for quick meals for most of the week. This Monday, she did several salads, and several things to be re-heated for her dinners (very early in the morning) and breakfasts (when she wakes late in the evening to get ready for work).

Most of the Things in Dishes were Asian this week---Caro has accumulated a lovely spice and herb collection, with all sorts of wonderful powders and seeds and flavors from all over the world. She also has a whole arsenal of wonderful utensils and knives and graters and planes and choppers, and makes the most beautiful salads and stir-fries and curries and soups and stews.

She invited us all to dinner on Monday, and we sat up in the little sitting room, chatting with her while she cooked. The scents were absolutely tantalizing, as she stirred and added herbs and readied all the hot dishes. She'd made up several flavorful salads and relishes earlier in the day.

She stashes all her food in Tupperwares, for easy storage and ease of getting out a serving quickly when she's getting ready to leave.

So, when she said everything was ready, we each grabbed a couple of containers---I headed down with four stacked under my chin---and trooped downstairs, where we had sorta scatter-set the table and poured our tea. And I don't think the meal could have been any better if we'd got out the best china.

And every single recipe on the table was "made up" by Caro, and they're all within her Weight Watchers points system. She can quote points like she says the alphabet.

A crisp pencil-asparagus salad with rice vinegar/Splenda dressing.

Blue Slaw: Shredded Purple cabbage, julienned radishes, green onions in rice vinegar/Splenda dressing.

My only contribution---a pot of little sticky pearls of Calrose rice:

Blanched-and-shocked sugar-snap peas with shredded carrots and green onions in the rice-vinegar/Splenda dressing. A few drops of sesame oil are also a great addition.

Tabbouleh: 1 bunch curly parsley, 1 flat-leaf, 1bunch mint, 1 bunch green onions, all minced together; diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, bulgur wheat, fresh black pepper/sea salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil.

Honey-mustard chicken---she did a little experimenting with a lot of new powdered flavors, and this one was the best dish of the whole night---even our Baby Girl asked for "more chicken, please." Boneless skinless thighs dressed with a sauce of powdered soy sauce, powdered honey, powdered Worcestershire, onion powder, garlic powder, Sugar-Free honey and plain ol' yellow mustard. Coat and bake---baste a couple of times if you like. I can't wait to serve this at a party, cut into bite-size, and baked, then speared on picks.

BS thighs in "red gravy" is an old recipe from my Aunt's kitchen---she'd make it now and then when we went up to Memphis for a Sunday visit. It was called "Arabian Chicken" at the time, though there are no spices to speak of. It's simply chicken in a non-stick pan (brown if you like, or not), covered with a layer of sliced onion, pepper rings, and sliced tomatoes. In Winter we just dump on a can of diced tomatoes. A little salt and pepper, and perhaps a sprinkle of sugar if the tomatoes are really tart, and simmer for 20/30 minutes til the chicken is very tender.
If the sauce is watery, thicken with a little cornstarch/water slurry. Serve over rice.

Vegetable stir fry w/ tofu: Pam-spray a non-stick pan and stir-cook minced ginger and garlic, with carrots, onions, celery, green peppers, cabbage, sugar snap peas, and tofu with chicken stock until just crisp/tender. Thicken with slurry of soy sauce, sugar, water and cornstarch.

Vegetable Lo Mein: Pam-spray nonstick pan and stir-fry onions, celery, shiitake mushrooms, and a handful of broccoli slaw, add udon noodles right from the package, or use cooked soba ones. Toss with powdered garlic and a bit of soy sauce.
This is almost exactly the recipe for our Pad Thai---you just add a bit of sesame oil, then scatter toasted sesame seeds and finely chopped roasted peanuts on top with some fresh bean sprouts.

We had a lovely dinner together---the kind of crowded, homey relaxing meal that's so enjoyable (especially when someone else COOKS). And the total informality of eating dinner from Tupperware made it even more fun. Our Baby Girl already served herself to rice and ate some, and was helping herself to the chicken even before we sat down and had the Blessing.

There was also a scrumptious dish of Mushroom stir fry: fresh sliced shiitakes and white 'shrooms along w/water chestnuts and bamboo shoots with same stock and slurry as above.
And in the kitchen: Baked Oatmeal Squares made with oats, applesauce, mashed bananas, blueberries, eggs (in this case 'Beaters), milk (skim) and cinnamon.

About midnight, that honey-mustard chicken just called to me, and I did my best Nigella up to the fridge, cut off half a piece, and brought it down to munch right out of a paper towel, while watching the rest of Project Runway. Don't you DARE laugh.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Rachel, please post the recipes for these! They all sound delicious!

Anonymous said...

I agree - especially the asparagus - have some and would like to make that salad. Thanks for the once again enviable peek into your home and family.

racheld said...

I'll get Caro to chime in with recipes---she cooks mostly like me, and it's whatever she puts in.

The Asparagus one was just what I'd said---a bit of rice vinegar and a bit of Splenda---tossed with asparagus which was lightly poached in water with a little salt. These were very thin and slightly crisp---just perfect.

She shocked them, then put them right into the container with the dressing. You can use any kind of clear-ish dressing you like.

It's really pretty with a minced tomato scattered over at the last minute.

I hope you two will soon introduce yourselves---I really appreciate hearing from you.

Jeanne said...

Hello Rachel, I did see you email but it is so late I didn't respond. No worries I will do my thing when you are ready. I am actually relieved because I am still tired from my long trip to FL. It is good to be home.
This post is absolutely delicious!!! What fun and it all looks fabulous. Mmmmmmm. We just had a potluck supper with my family here tonight. Since I JUST arrived home it was nice to be surrounded by my family. Our food was also delightful. I didn't take a single photo. sigh!

I must go to bed. My pillow is calling my name. I have missed it terribly. HA!
Hugs, Jeanne

Bev said...

I love that little hand helping herself to chicken..too cute!

Southern Lady said...

Wow, what a wonderful smorgasbord, Rachel. Everything looks and sounds delicious, especially the chicken and tomatoes dish.

I, too, love your sweet Baby Girl's little hand reaching for the chicken. How adorable!

racheld said...

it's lovely to hear from all of you this morning!! Our Girl is learning nice manners, with lots of please and thank you and wait for the Blessing, but we'd been upstairs smelling all those enticing scents for a long time, and I think she was REALLY ready for supper.

Besides, we don't usually have so many dishes on the table, and they're pushed back out of her way, to avoid just that temptation. She just climbed up and helped herself. And pretty neatly, too.

Yesterday, we were holding hands while Chris said the blessing, and I had put her muffin on her plate to cool. I felt her moving a little bit, and looked down to see her bobbing forward, taking neat little bites out of the rim, like one of those little dippy birds from my childhood.

Anonymous said...

This post is priceless. How can I find out more?

My homepage ... pukimak