While I was largely successful with sticking to my meal plan for the last two days I did learn two things. The first thing is that a meal plan, while useful, is more use as a list to choose from than a strict list to follow. The second is that things can go oh so terribly, terribly wrong. To see just how long just run your eyes over my dirty word nuggets (you should be ashamed of yourself!).
Day 05 – Monday 29/11
I went with pineapple again this morning, along with some splenda. Though this time I added a little of the pineapple juice to the porridge and I have to say it was awesome.
Dinner: Hash Browns and Quaterpounders
Notes / Directions
1. Give potatoes a good scrub and clean out any blemishes
2. Grate potatoes and onions
3. Drain potatoes by compressing or microwaving.
4. Form into patties and grill on George
This, this was my Waterloo. I went into the kitchen to turn off the heating. While there I thought, “Hey I might as well prepare my smoothie and the ingredients for dinner now”. If I could go back in time I’d kick my own arse. Somehow, even though I’ve made one a day for the last two days, I forgot how to use my liquidiser. So that delayed the smoothie as I had to dig out the instructions and read how to do it properly. But eventually I got it done and then it was on to the hash browns. As one can see from the instructions above, it looks deceptively simple, and it certainly deceived me.
I’d been reading up on Hash Brown recipes and the one thing that they all agreed on was that for the best hash browns the potatoes had to be as dry as possible. Where they diverged however was on how to achieve this dryness. Some suggested using fresh potatoes and then using a potato ricer to drain the liquid from them, some suggested compressing them using kitchen cloths and other suggested grating and then microwaving them. Others insisted that the potatoes must be boiled, left for a day and then grated. Not owning a potato ricer (or a clean kitchen cloth) and not wanting to wait till tomorrow to eat them I opted on squeezing the shredded potatoes with my hands and then microwaving them for a bit. Now maybe I didn’t squeeze them hard enough (though I did manage to cover my hoodie in potato juice) or microwave them long enough. But I simply didn’t get them dry enough.
Anyhow once I had my potatoes scrubbed and cleaned and blemished and my onion peeled I was ready to get grating. As we don’t have a grater I had no real choice here; but even if we did I would have went with the food processor (need to get my money’s worth). Unfortunately the basic instructions for the food processor (also known as the only ones I looked over) don’t tell you what kind of way to cut your vegetables to place them in the feeder. I opted for cutting them horizontally, this was a mistake. A mistake which meant I had to run them through the food processor three times. Had I cut them into horizontal “sticks” I could have packed them in properly, grated them properly and been done in one go. Oh and even though I did them three times I forgot to add seasoning every time.
At this point I was pissed off with it and would have left it, but unfortunately my industry had left me hungry so I decided to forge on and make my dinner. I squeezed the mixture of grated potatoes and onions once or twice (and the amount of juice in potatoes is mental), seasoned them (another lesson learned, don’t add oregano) and threw them into the microwave for a few minutes. I took that time to clean the George Foreman grill which is perennially dirty it seems.
I only microwaved the mixture for three minutes; I probably should have given it six and let it cool completely before grilling it. I didn’t. Another mistake. I formed the mixture into a large rectangle and pressed it down on the grill. I threw on my two quaterpounders and gave it six minutes at max heat. At this point I seperated the large mass of hash brown into four portions and formed them up into rectangles, gave them a flip (and a spray with the low fat oil spray) and gave them another six minutes. At this point the burgers were done but the hash browns looked a little “squishy”. So I gave them another three minutes while I toasted some weight watchers bread to serve as “buns” for my burgers.
At this point I tried to open my jar of pickles, and failed (as did Adam and Sarah in turn). However at that point I just wanted to be done cooking so I gave up on the pickles and as my hash browns looked done I threw them and my burgers on the plate.
The burgers were delicious (as Big Al’s or any 100% beef burger generally is), even if I did miss the pickles. The Hash Browns? Not so much. The outside was fine but the inside was too squishy and felt vaguely undercooked. Of for fuck sake, are these hash browns cursed? My computer just went tits up and reset itself. Thank fuck I have autosave enabled on this. So yeah, burgers = awesome, hash browns = failure. But I’ll get them right yet.
Even though I complained above about how long the smoothie took to make it actually ended up being the nicest one so far. I’m not sure if it was the order in which I blended the fruit (to test the liquidiser I ended up blending the orange by itself first, forming something of a “base”) or the fact that I left it to settle in the fridge for a while. But whatever it was it turned out awesome.
Day 06 – Tuesday 30/11
I went a little overboard with the water this morning so my porridge was a little runnier than usual, though it did cool faster so that may be something to keep in mind.
Dinner: Sushi Roll
Nori (Two Sheets)
250 g Sushi Rice
One pack Smoked Salmon (~150g)
Notes / Directions
1. Prepare sushi rice. Put a sheet of nori on top of a bamboo mat. Spread sushi rice on top of the nori sheet (leave small space at end of nori furthest away).
2. Place fillings/line of wasabi horizontally on sheet (about 1/3 of the way up)
3. Roll up the bamboo mat, pressing forward to shape the sushi into a cylinder.
4. Press the bamboo mat gently, shaping the sushi roll. Remove the bamboo mat.
5. Wipe a knife with a wet cloth before slicing sushi. Cut the sushi roll into bite-sized pieces.
Well I’d originally planned to do some pork chops. But I forget to take them out to defrost and as well as that my salmon is best before today so I figured I’d go with some sushi rolls. Though upon reflection I’m not even sure how that even made it onto my list. Because as a rule Japanese food isn’t exactly super quick or convenient to make and sushi is no exception. So now I’m sitting here wondering will I break my rule and make sushi rolls or will I just fire the salmon on some crackers? I’ll go the kitchen and decide then.
I decided to go with sushi, which was in retrospect a mistake. I’m just sitting down to eat it now so well see how it tastes, my moneys on “not right” and “not worth the effort” as its been about seventy five minutes since I wrote the line above. Well quarter of the way through and two things are apparent, as I expected the rice is a bit too sticky and I forgot to add the spring onion. Not much I can do about the first and I rectified the second by quickly chopping a scallion and adding it as a garnish.
Finished, though I couldn’t finish all of it, 250g of rice is a bit too much and that’s even taking into account how hungry I was. Still it was pretty nice. So what went wrong?
Well the first thing that went wrong was in a way deciding to make it. Just to clean and cook the sushi rice takes thirty minutes, so that’s my limit hit straight away. However, the majority of the cooking time consists of letting the rice simmer and then steam cook. So I used that time to make my smoothie. As such the cooking time doesn’t really count towards its “limit”. The second thing that went wrong was the fact that having to hand wash rice in cold water in the middle of winter is less than fun, even more so when you realise you don’t have a colander to drain the fucking thing. The third thing that went wrong was half way through cooking the rice when I realised I had actually brought in two different varieties of rice vinegar as opposed to rice vinegar and mirin. This meant that I was only able to make pseudo sushi vinegar.
The fourth thing that went wrong wasn’t my fault at least; an overly curious Sarah opened the pot in which I was steam cooking the rice, the one thing every single recipe warns you stringently against. At that point I was tempted to just throw together some onigiri (rice balls) and call it a day. But I pushed on. The fifth thing that went wrong was that when you’ve added the rice vinegar to the rice you are supposed to spend time folding and fanning it until it reaches room temperature. Which I frankly wasn’t arsed doing. So I just fired the rice onto the nori sheet and set to with my rolling mat (the wrong rolling mat in fact). The sixth and final mistake was forgetting to add the spring onions before making the rolls.
Considering how many errors there were it actually turned out to be surprisingly tasty. However it is quite an intensive process and I’m not sure if I’ll be keeping it on my meal plan. If I do make it again I plan to pick up a colander, keep Sarah away from my pot, get smoked as opposed to peppered salmon (while the recipe says smoked I could only get peppered while shopping) and possibly toast and grind the sesame seeds as opposed to using them “raw”. However I’m more likely to simply remove it from the menu.
I sort of wish I’d just gone with the crackers.
Awesome, doing them the slow way is definitely the way to go. An increase in the level of blueberries certainly didnt hurt.
Listening to: The National - Terrible Love