lundi 28 mai 2007

I wish the trash trucks wouldn't wake me up at 8AM on a holiday. Especially when I was having a rather nice dream about shopping and speaking French.


Where I would much rather be right now.

I'd apologise for it being a week since I last wrote, but I don't feel sorry, for it's not only approaching the end of the quarter (which means papers! Although, true, I only have one to write), but my advisor wants me to put out a paper for publication within the month (on a topic I'm not terribly familiar with, but, "it's a challenge!" she says), and I have annoying things to do like, um, write a review paper, do more research, and TA and stuff. To say I don't really feel compelled to write more is an understatement. I'm just waiting for the summer so I can... oh, right. Do more research.

(Right now is not the right time to be asking if I am enjoying pursuing my PhD.)

But a girl needs to eat, and not eat yummy fatty food, like duck and bacon and cupcakes, all the time. Not that there's anything wrong with it. But a break had every once in awhile is a relief for the system.

So, even though it's Memorial Day, and it's my second night this weekend having BBQ, I present you with two lighter options, in case eating grilled meats isn't your cup of tea or you need to detox after gorging yourself on meat. Ha. My mind went in the gutter there for a second, sorry.

(Yet, of course, the two following dishes do involve meat [it can't be avoided!], although it's easily subbed out in one of them, at least. More importantly, for me at least, they're lower on the carbs, which to me equals healthy.)
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Quinoa with bell peppers, chickpeas, mushrooms, and bacon

Quite obviously, this salad can be amended in a plethora of ways. You don't need the bacon, or the pepper, or the mushrooms (although I would really recommend the chickpeas, they're dynamite cooked like this), and you can sub in anything else you want. But I have to say, this combination is rather tasty. And even better, it's healthy, and keeps quite nicely for lunch.

1 cup quinoa
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 pound of mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped

Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package. (Or, roughly, add the 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover, cooking until all the water is absorbed, approximately 15-20 minutes.)

Fry the bacon in a large pan. When the bacon is crisp, remove the bacon to a paper towel to drain, but keep the fat in the pan. Add the chickpeas to the pan, and fry for several minutes, until the chickpeas are nice and golden (I dare you not to eat all the chickpeas after this step). Add the chickpeas to the cooked quinoa.

In the same pan, add more olive oil if you need it, then saute the mushrooms until they are lovely and brown and limp. Season with salt and pepper at this point.

Add the mushrooms and chopped bell pepper to the quinoa and chickpeas, and toss to combine. If you have some parsley lying around, I'd chop some up and throw it in at this point, but I didn't have any.

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Duck soup
Quite obviously, this is an improvised soup made from the leftover duck bones I had from the roast duck. It's actually a wee bit unctuous, probably due to the fact that duck is a fatty bird and I was too lazy to strain out all the fat properly. It also relies heavily on stuff-in-the-fridge-or-pantry, and again, is quite open to improvisation, hence my lack of exact amounts, since I have no idea how much of anything I used.

1 duck carcass
dried mushrooms
meatballs (my mom made these and gave them to me. I think they're pork. I'm not really quite sure. I don't ask sometimes.)
tofu, cut into cubes
soy sauce

Make duck stock from the carcass by covering the bones with water and letting it all simmer for a couple of hours. After cooling, refrigerate the stock overnight. Skim off all the fat the next morning. You'll probably have around, oh, say, 10-12 cups of stock. You don't need all of it for the soup, unless you want a lot of soup. It's your perogative. I froze about 2/3rds of the stock I made.

Pour the amount of stock you want in a large saucepan, and add the meatballs at this step if they were previously frozen (mine were). Bring to a light boil. Add the dried mushrooms and tofu, and let it all simmer together for a bit, until the mushrooms are reconstituted and the tofu is warmed through. Salt the soup at this point. I actually undersalted the soup so that I could add some soy sauce later for more depth of flavor.

If you had some udon or soba noodles, they'd probably be awesome in the soup. But I didn't, and I was trying to give myself a break from starches anyway.