Tuesday, August 3, 2010

To America and Back Again (+ Rice & Beans, Breakfast Shepherd's Pie)

Back from the States! I was with people who wanted clothes and electronics, so I didn't always get all the time I wanted to look at housewares, but they were pretty patient with me dragging them to the opposite end of the store. Most of the relevant things I got were from the Dollar Tree. Here's what else I got for the household:
  • collapsible storage ottoman, damask pattern, from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $20
  • 24-pc set of Tupperware from Wal-mart, $10
  • 2-qt Crockpot from Wal-Mart, $10
  • hanging file storage from Target, $10
We had a fine time. Going to White Castle was a shock, though; I wouldn't have been able to imagine a burger at any size being that awful. The meat was only 1-2mm thick, the bun was porous and doughy, and the cheese wouldn't melt. Harold and Kumar lied! Then again, it felt like one would have to be high to be willing to ingest one of those things.

Other food experiences in the States were mainly pretzels. Overall, getting food out was well-priced, but I wish it had come with half the amount for a cheaper price. There was always more than I expected, and it was always too much for me to finish - and if my strange cooking has taught me anything, it's how to be a champ at finishing my food.

I bought Wal-Mart's $3 wine to try (Oak Leaf White Zinfandel). Travelling with Europeans meant that no one else would drink it, so I valiantly made it through the whole bottle solo. It smelt kind of like rotting fruit, but fortunately I have allergies so it didn't hinder my experience. The prevailing taste was water, which I found pretty awesome for something with 12% alcohol. Wines often taste like petrol to me, so I have to be careful and pick sweet ones (hence getting the zin).

I've continued my food dabbling now that I'm back. Last night, I made rice and beans: Minute Rice made using beef broth, with pinto beans, onion and cooked frozen shrimp all in the bowl with it. I added chili flakes after. We used brown rice, so my parents didn't like it, but my sister and I did. My sis is vegetarianish (piscitarian, really), so eating it like that suited her fine, but I added a sausage to it, which added a lot of flavour.

After my field course in the Bahamas, I'm in love with rice and beans, but I can never make it properly even when I'm actually cooking. At least I have this sham version, which is still good. Maybe I'll have Caribbean next time I eat out.

This morning, I made a total mang of a breakfast shepherd's pie. There's really no good way to describe it, and it kind of looked like vomit. It was:  leftover potato, salsa, egg, cheese and bacon. I mashed the potato with a pat each of garlic butter and cream cheese. Then, I made my one mistake and added milk (too liquidy). I added the salsa, cracked the egg over top, covered it with plastic wrap and cooked it in the microwave. Then I added crumbled bacon and shredded cheese, burst the yolk, and stirred it all together for a glorious feed.

It tasted really good, though no one else in the house would try it. This was sort of a trial-run for college breakfasts. I've been planning a potato-salsa-egg-cheese mix (all the food groups!) that could mostly be done the night before. I'm big on breakfasts, if not mornings, and I like starting the day with a big meal more than finishing that way.

Four-and-a-half hours later and I'm still kind of full. Maybe I'll have one of those anti-engineered soups in our cupboard - you know, the ones where they have as few calories as possible? They're a bit silly, but I really like soup. Saw a neat recipe for Creamy Broccoli soup on Martha Stewart that uses oats as a thickener instead of cream. I like that idea, though I'd probably food-process the veg & oats before adding, rather than puree after.

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