The Stolen Chicken Sandwich

IMG_2206The Stolen Chicken Sandwich

Prep-time: 5 minutes, after making sure there’s no one looking
Calories: Probably close to 500, on account of the fried chicken.
Healthy (+): It tastes good!
Healthy (-): It tastes good. 😦
Cost: Free! Mwuahaha!
Feeds: One. Don’t tell anybody.

Delicious scale: 4 stars (loses a point for the bitter taste of guilt)

Living with another human being necessitates the sharing of some household items: the TV remote, the hot water in the bathroom, the blankets on the bed, and the refrigerator. If you’re like me, a voracious consumer of all things edible, then the latter can be a particularly difficult problem when food items which are not your own appear in the icebox.

Now, The Partner has the self control of a Roman statue (and consequently the body to match) and often leaves portions of her meal in the fridge… which she then forgets about. Myself, having the self control of a bear in autumn, then find these extra morsels waiting patiently on the shelf for a hungry mouth. Often, I confess, the temptation is too much and I succumb to my dark desires.

The cheesecake will be mine.

Or in this case, the fried chicken. Oh, reader, it was good, I can say that much. Laid out on a bed of lettuce, surrounded by crunchy croutons, who could ever resist? Naturally, consumed by guilt I confessed my sin to The Partner when she got home. Of course she’d forgotten all about the chicken, and showing great mercy, forgave me for my transgression. Ah, the love of my life.

Ingredients

– 3 pc leftover fried chicken
– 1 bag of green things
– 1 avocado
– 1/2 red pepper
– croutons to taste
– Buttermilk ranch dressing

How to Prepare

1) Open fridge for the usual salad suspects
2) Spot container of chicken.
3) Bite lip and close fridge. That’s The Partner’s chicken.
4) Chop red pepper and cube avocado. Add to green things.
5) That chicken sure looked good, huh?
6) Add croutons to distract from tempting food items.
7) Three pieces of chicken though. I mean, what is she saving it for?
8) Liberally pump out the ranch dressing. Must not steal The Partner’s food.
9) Consider salad. It is definitely missing something.
10) Steal chicken. It’s ok.
11) It’s totally not ok, but damnit, it’s delicious!
12) Feel immediate guilt upon finishing salad.
13) Cry.

How You’re Supposed to Make It

Fried Chicken Salad

Full Fungus Salad

IMG_2207Full Fungus Salad

Prep-time: 3 minutes (or however long it takes you to chop)
Calories: Few. Mushrooms are surprisingly low cal.
Healthy (+): Lots and lots of green.
Healthy (-): Cheeeeese
Cost: about $8
Feeds: One lonely diner

Delicious scale: 4 stars

Ingredients

– 6 white cap mushrooms
– 1/4 a head of romaine lettuce
– 5 cherry tomatoes
– finely grated mozzarella cheese
– basil cheese dressing

Preparation

1) Chop chop
2) Choppity-chop-chop
3) ???
4) Profit
(seriously, it’s all chopping)

Sometimes when I’m caught up in life (read: napping, studying, napping, writing, napping, reviewing etc) I forget to take the time out of my busy napping day to go out to the grocery store and buy nice, whole foods that aren’t going to kill me in a race between diabetes and cancer. That leaves me at the mercy of whatever I have in my fridge to make something healthy to eat when I have that “Oh, Shit, I actually have to eat.” moment. Fortunately, The Partner usually picks up green things when she comes home from work. She claims she has a vested interest in my health. I think she likes to see me suffer.

Today I happened to have romaine at my disposal, as well as my salad staples, cherry tomatoes and cheese, and some mushrooms. I’m going to be honest, as much as I love mushrooms, white caps are the only ones I’ll eat raw. I don’t know why. Conditioning, I suppose. White caps were all we ever had when I was growing up. Japan has so many varieties of mushrooms that I feel a little overwhelmed when shopping for them, so I tend to stick to my old favorite.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of romaine. I think it comes from once having found a dead moth in my caesar salad. Something like that tends to put you off of a food. I don’t care much for its fibrous texture and oddly enough, I don’t find it as flavorful as iceberg, which has been proven to be nothing but a bunch of water molecules trapped in the tightest bear hug ever. Anyway, romaine makes a good salad filler. At least as good as cabbage on the best of days. I’ll always prefer it paired with barbeque, but it makes a good bed for mushrooms and cheese in a pinch.

Speaking of which, mushrooms and cheese has to be one of the best food pairings I’ve ever had. I’ll make stuffed mushroom caps entirely with cheddar cheese and be a happy woman.

How You’re Supposed To Make It

Asparagus & Mushroom Salad

Late Coming Taco

Late Coming Taco SaladIMG_0002

Prep-time: 40 minutes
Calories: Lots
Healthy (+): Umm… some vegetables
Healthy (-): Beef, cheese, tortilla chips, sodium
Cost: about $20
Feeds: 4 people at sensible portions. 2 ravenously hungry women.
Delicious scale:4 stars

I worked hard yesterday. I sweated. I saved my calories. I deserved meat! After powering a super walk up the mountain and pushing myself through an hour and a half of kendo, my muscles were crying for protein. Alex put the idea of taco salad into my head yesterday at work, and there it bloomed, a delicious promise to myself if I could just get through the rest of my day. Sadly, kendo went overtime and by the time I got home, all the supermarkets were closed (cry). So there was no yummy taco salad yesterday. Today, though, by God I was going to have a taco salad and nothing was going to stand in my way.

How I made it:

IngredientsIMG_0001

– 1 head of iceberg lettuce
– 1 white onion
– 1 red pepper
– 4 firm tomatoes
– 6 sprigs of Italian parsley (cilantro can go to the devil)
– 1 bag of avocado cream cheese corn chips
– 1 lb of ground beef
– shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

1) Slice iceberg lettuce into thin strips. Or to specific taste. I prefer thin strips. Add to large bowl.
2) Cut onion in half. Ponder the strange green spots inside onion. Consult partner about said spots. Cut and throw out spots from onion, and chop the rest* finely and add to bowl.
3) Dice the parsley into unidentifiable flakes of green goo. Ponder how herb chopping skills could correlate with body hiding skills. Add goo to bowl.
4) Chop tomatoes into fine cubes. There are lots of blogs out there that will tell you how to cube a tomato. This is not one of them. Add goo to bowl.
5) Hollow, slice and dice red pepper. Add to bowl. It should look like Christmas. If not, you’ve done something wrong.
6) Rescue taco seasoning from a year-out-of-date box of Old El Paso hard taco shells.
7) Ponder the viability of probably expired taco sauce. Consult partner about said taco sauce. Ultimately throw out taco sauce, but use seasoning.
8) Follow directions on Old El Paso box:

  • Brown beef in a skillet.
  • Drain beef.
  • Add one cup of water and taco seasoning to beef.
  • Let simmer for 7-8 minutes or until most of liquid has boiled off, stirring often.

9) Beat the bag of corn chips like it owes you money.
10) Portion out salad into individual bowls.
11) Sprinkle corn chip crumbs onto salad.
12) When done, add beef to top of salad, to taste.
13) Sprinkle on cheese quickly. QUICKER! It won’t melt, otherwise!
14) Gorge.

This was a bit of an experimental salad. I mean, I know intuitively (and from experience) what a taco salad is supposed to be, and what it’s supposed to taste like, but not how to make one. There isn’t any place to buy real tacos or corn chips around here either, except for the expensive foreign foods store that only sells them in big bags. That’s dangerous. So, like most instances involving me cooking, this was improvised. It turned out pretty damn good, all things considered.

* It is the opinion of the partner, and my indigestive stomach, that half an onion is the optimal amount of onion for this salad. We’re going to be sleeping facing away from each other for a few nights.

How it’s supposed to be made.

The Salad Bowl

IMG_2153This is my salad bowl. It’s nothing particularly impressive–just plain, white and deep enough to hold a filling meal. I bought it at the 100-yen shop a few years ago. It’s only made of plastic, but that means it won’t break or get chipped if I accidentally drop it, which is likely to happen. No, my salad bowl isn’t all that much to look at, but it’s utilitarian. Maybe if I’m feeling fancy I might draw a smiley face on it in permanent marker. Or not. I’m a bit fond of its unobtrusiveness.

The rules of the salad bowl are simple. I make a salad as near to every day as I can. I put the salad in the bowl. I eat the salad. For the purposes of this blog, salad will refer to any collection of forkable food of which 90% or more is plant matter. Preferably green plant matter, but I don’t want to box myself in this early in the game. The important thing is that it’s fruits and veggies, and that it must fit within the bowl to qualify as edible.

Now, living in Japan I’m a little, how should I say, limited with what produce I can put into the bowl. Most fruits and veggies out here are seasonal if I don’t want to be selling internal organs to pay for it. The goal is to lose weight and save money, but I’d rather avoid hacking pieces of myself off to do it. That said, I’ll have to be a bit creative with what I put into the salad. If I happen to make a salad in which the only components are Japanese squash and steamed carrots, let’s just assume that Nicky couldn’t stomach the thought of eating one more mouthful of shredded cabbage.

Finally, I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a chef. I probably won’t be making anything that looks like this. I cook only rarely and when I do, it is with a complete disregard for the thousands of years of history humans have put into turning raw materials into palatable foods. Part of that is because I almost never have all the ingredients and/or tools to make something from a cookbook. The other part is that I don’t take directions very well. But hey, it’s a salad, right? How much do I really need to know?