Michaels Month of Meticulously Mandated Mastication – Sixth Bite

Well week two is off to an inauspicious start with last night’s chinese. But we’ll see how it goes. Weekends are always something of a diet minefield due to work. As I mentioned before, it throws off my meal schedule entirely. This weekend was a weird mix of up and down. In some ways it was better than last weekend (mainly due to lack of a hangover and better prepared lunch’s), in other ways worse (fell afoul of a few free and awesome muffins in work and twenty cent sandwiches in Tesco’s).

Day 09 – Friday 03/12

Breakfast: Smoothie

Well last nights chinese threw off my schedule as I had pre-made my smoothie earlier in the day. This meant that I had my smoothie for breakfast this morning. This was a change, though not an unpleasant one.

I was originally planning to have grilled teriyaki pork and rice bowl tonight. But to do that I would need to come home from work and wait the half hour or so for the rice to cook, which was something I really wasn’t looking forward to. So I decided that I’d go with fried rice and grilled teriyaki pork. Mainly because the fried rice will take about as long to cook as the meat will take to grill (both of them taking considerably less than ten minutes).

Of course to get good fried rice you need to use “old rice” i.e. rice that’s been cooked and left to sit for a few hours so the gluten’s broken down. On the plus side this also means that I can prepare the rice ahead of time and just bang it all together when I get home.

Dinner: Grilled Teriyaki Pork & Fried Rice

Ingredients
Ingredients

Ingredients

2 Pork Chop, Cut thin
250 g Rice
2 Green Onions
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 tsp Ginger, Ground
2 tsp. Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Rice Vinegar
1 clove Garlic, minced

Notes / Directions

1. Remove any visible fat and the bone from the chops.
2. Cut the pork into very thin slices and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, heat and blend the onions, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, vinegar and garlic to make the teriyaki sauce.
4. Coat the grill with cooking spray and preheat for 5 minutes.
5. Grill the pork slices for 3 minutes.
6. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of sauce over the pork.
7. Spoon the rice over the pork and pour the remaining sauce over the rice. (The teriyaki sauce may melt and run into the drip tray.)
8. Grill for 2-3 minutes.
9. Remove the pork and rice from the grill and serve in individual bowls, spooning any melted sauce over each.

So with that in mind I thought that it was time to make use of the rice cooker that mother had given me in lieu of throwing it out. Unfortunately in a week plagued with cooking mistakes both large and small today proved no exception. The instructions for the rice cooker had two different suggestions on how much water to use with your rice and the rice packaging had third. I decided to go with one of the ones from the rice cooker manual. This in retrospect may not have been the greatest idea. Perhaps it’s because the rice was improperly drained, perhaps the instructions were wrong or perhaps the air is too full of moisture. Whatever it was I was once again presented with too much rice of too sticky a consistency.

This isnt rice, its a food apocalypse
This isnt rice, its a food apocalypse

Realising that I wasn’t going to be able to eat all the rice today I pushed forwards tomorrow’s vegetable stir fry in favour of prawn fried rice (I even remembered to take the prawns out of the freezer). While the rice was disappointingly sticky (I need to get a sieve) I figured it would be grand in eight or nine hours when I was going to use it (guess how right I was about that).

Anyway, my preparations complete I wandered off to occupy myself in the few hours before work. I had expected to arrive home about half ten after Sarah and Adam got some take away. But having sampled the college canteen’s fine cooking they opted to forego take away. So I got home about a quarter past ten and got ready to go. Before I moved on to preparing my actual meal I threw together my lunch for tomorrow, the now oh so familiar smoothie. I probably should have done that before going to work as it pushed forward my dinner to a rather late hour.

With my smoothie out of the way I moved on to preparing the meal itself. What I ended up making is a tad different from what I have listed above. One of the major differences being that I bought some pre-made Teriyaki sauce in Tesco’s and as such could skip step three. The second change was that I bought pork medallions rather than pork chops, largely because they were cheaper but also because pork chops are rather wasteful. The pork medallions were also extremely lean so I didn’t have to fight to cut the fat off with our decidedly sub-par kitchen knife (so tempted to shell out for a decent knife). The other major change, as I mentioned above, was the fact that I wouldn’t be adding the rice to the grill; I’d be frying it and combining the rice and pork at the end.

I prepared for the meal by finely slicing the pork medallions, which was a pain in the arse as our kitchen knife is pretty shite. I might try and sharpen it Saturday evening (because I clearly have nothing going on in my life). Once that was done I was ready to prepare the fried rice. As it was rather chilly I decided to “warm up” the fried rice by adding some ginger and garlic. I finely chopped a clove of garlic, a generous chunk of ginger and four or five green onions and slowly sautéed them on a hot pan until they started to brown. While I was doing this I arranged the sliced pork on the george and started its initial cooking.

Three minutes or so later I was ready to add the rice to the pan and the teriyaki sauce to the pork. This is where things went wrong.

It looks so terrible
It looks so terrible

The rice was still far, far too sticky and hit the pan in one depressing lump. When I picked up the sauce I realised it was actually a marinade, which to be honest wasn’t too terrible. It was when I added it to the george I realised the flaw in my plan. Perhaps the sauce would have been thick enough to resist the precipitous slope of the george, but the marinade was certainly not. As opposed to two tablespoons I added something like four, and not much of it stuck. I resigned myself to a less powerful flavour and closed the grill. The rice was a worse problem. Sticky rice is the nemesis of decent fried rice and this was some super sticky rice. I tried my best to separate the rice but three minutes later when the pork was done the rice was looking less than appealing. So I decided to go back to the original menu and add the rice on top of the pork and grill it. This would all serve to “hold” the marinade on the pork.

Rice ready to grill
Rice ready to grill

I spooned the rice on top of the pork, added a generous dash of teriyaki marinade on top and gave it another two minutes on the grill. While it may look like it turned out like ass it tasted absolutely delicious. In the future I think I’d follow the recipe directly (though it may be worth tossing the rice on the pan for a minute or two to infuse it with garlic or ginger or what have you). While it took less than ten minutes to cook I ended up in the kitchen for about an hour. Even taking into account the fact I made my smoothie I’m not sure where all the time went.

The finished product
The finished product

Presentation needs work
Presentation needs work

Supper: Muffin

Friday’s are always rather messy and today was no exception. I suppose I could have had porridge for supper, but it was rather late when I was eating it and the free muffin (courtesy of Vodafone) sitting on my desk was too much to resist. It was also the nicest muffin I’ve ever had.

Day 10 – Saturday 04/12

Breakfast: Porridge

The porridge turned out perfectly this morning. A bit of splenda and pineapple (in its own juice) and I was ready to go.

Lunch: Smoothie

As always the smoothie was edible but not awesome, perhaps mixing for “effect” rather than taste is not the greatest plan ever.

Dinner:Egg fried rice with prawns

Ingredients

125g Rice (cooked)
250g Prawns
100g Spring Onions
1 egg

Notes / Directions

1. Heat the pan on a high heat, add some oil/low fat spray and throw on the rice.
2. Cook the rice for three or four minutes stirring vigorously
3. Add the prawns and spring onions, fry for another three to four minutes (more vigorous stirring). Add any seasoning at this stage (I’d strongly recommend Chinese Five Spice).
4. Crack the egg over the pan and quickly stir it through the mixture, give it ten or twenty seconds to set then serve.

How could it turn out so wrong
How could it turn out so wrong

On a lot of previous diets egg fried rice with a variety of additions was my staple. I wanted to avoid falling into a dietary rut this time which is why it only appears once on my meal plan. As you can imagine it’s a meal I’ve made literally dozens of times. What I made last night was the worst one ever. An extra day hadn’t made the rice less sticky, it had turned into some kind of shitty paste. If I had been thinking right I would have binned the rice, fried the prawns and made some awesome prawn sandwiches. I clearly wasn’t thinking right. So I had some really nice prawns surrounded by nicely flavoured sludge. Chased by a free Vodafone muffin (I’m not going to lie, the novelty of nice tasting muffins is addictive).

Day 11 – Sunday 05/12

Breakfast: Porridge

Another morning of perfect porridge.

Lunch: Smoothie

I decided to put into action yesterday’s thoughts about effect over flavour. However I’d shopped based on making the same smoothie again and again so my only options for changing it was to change the proportions or leave stuff out. In order to get a more “commercial” smoothie result I decided to leave out the kiwi and the orange. The kiwi because I was a bit weary of seeds and the orange because the ones I got were extremely pithy. I have to say that as the dominant flavour and colour was due to the berries and currants changing the other ingredients didn’t make a huge difference. However I’m going shopping tomorrow and I think I’ll put together a second smoothie recipe (probably heavy on the citrus) to mix things up. Unfortunately my lunch went slightly astray with the addition of another free Vodafone muffin. Work thwarts me at every turn it seems.

Dinner:Chillied scrambled eggs

Today was a day wrought with temptation and mis-communication. But despite Sarah’s best efforts I managed to avoid the twin pitfalls of Subway and chinese take away. However as I discovered last night my bean sprouts had gone rogue. This basically wiped out my plans for vegetable stir-fry. I can’t even pretend I’m sad about it. I could have brought forward tomorrow’s Grilled Cuban Style Pork Chops but I wanted to let them marinate overnight. I’ve noticed that one issue with strict meal plans is that they don’t leave you with a lot of room for flexibility. Luckily Adam being home inspired me to throw together a quick egg dish, because he hates them and a day in work fills you with a need to do terrible petty things to other people.

I decided to throw together a quick omelette, three extra-large eggs (which Tesco’s keeps in the bread section for no apparent reason), a pinch of low sodium salt and a large helping of chilli flakes (courtesy of Sarah) later I was half way through cooking it. I’d thought that the low fat spray had come out a little strangely (I’m again blaming the cold), the omelette sticking to the pan confirmed my worries. So as opposed to having a ruined omelette I threw four slices of weight watchers bread in the toaster and switched to scrambled eggs. This turned out so very tasty.

I’ve also fallen into another neophyte diet trap, low fat foods like the Go Ahead bars or Tayto Velvet are an excellent addition to a diet. They allow you to eat foods you “aren’t supposed to” and help deal with temptation in a non-destructive way. However, they can also become something of a crutch, they were slowly creeping into becoming a staple as opposed to a treat. So I’ll need to place a restriction on them similar to my “once a week” take away restriction.

Just finished preparing my marinade and placing my pork chops in it, they smell absolutely awesome. Though now my fingers and camera shutter appear to be overly garlic scented.

Listening to: Mumford and Sons - Sigh no More

Vent your spleen

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