Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What's Cooking

Next to knitting, I love to cook. In many ways they are similar, at least in how I approach them. I get the same high when I've mastered a new technique in the kitchen that I get from mastering a new stitch pattern. I'd love to have a food blog but I probably wouldn't maintain it regularly enough. There are two that I check out regularly. They're on my sidebar: The Accidental Hedonist and Chocolate & Zucchini. Both have good recipes, good info, and lovely pictures that make me drool.

Over the years I've been trying to incorporate whole, healthy foods into my diet. I have to admit it took some doing, but I now prefer whole wheat and grains to processed foods. I use olive and canola oils almost exclusively and rarely use butter. I drink fat-free organic milk and try to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. Although I'm not a vegetarian, I try not to eat meat too often, and will choose fish over meat if I'm eating out. Unless it's lamb. It's almost impossible for me to say no to lamb.

I've come up with a handful of healthy dishes that I think are really good, but it's a challenge to be diverse. Now that I have more free time at home, I'm starting to expand my repertoire again. A couple of years ago Lynda started a winter project where she had to make at least one recipe from every one of her cookbooks. I have way too many cookbooks (don't ask) to accomplish that, but I did follow her lead and decided to make something new out a different cookbook at least once a week. I found some good recipes that way. I think I'll try something along the same lines now. I'm going to try a new recipe and post the results here. Since it's not knitting, I'll put the word "Recipe" in the title so you'll know not to read it if you're not interested.

This week I made a recipe I got from Vegetarian Times, called Curried Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and Chickpeas. I was a little leery because I haven't had much success with sweet potato recipes, but this actually came out pretty tasty, even though I misread the recipe. I read that the spinach, chickpea and tomato mixture should cook for 30 minutes (which seemed excessive to me, but you know, it was a recipe . . .) instead of 3. I actually cooked it for more like 15 minutes because it just seemed like too long, so the spinach cooked a little more than it probably should have. As a result, though, it was really smooth and silky so I might keep cooking it that way. It has a good blend of spices. I've been looking for recipes with cinnamon in them because a friend recently told me it's good for your cholesterol, and the cinnamon works here. It's not spicy and I was tempted to add some heat, but sometimes it's nice to have a dish with a little less heat. The sweet potatoes I used were huge; I'll probably pick smaller ones next time so they don't dominate quite so much, but they go well with the chickpeas.

I usually follow a recipe pretty closely the first time I make it, so I can assess it on its own terms. Then I'll make adjustments the next time based on how it came out. I don't know that I would change much about this one. I don't know that it looks all that appetizing:

but it does taste really good. I'm using up some whole wheat bread right now so I'm eating it with toast, but it would probably be good with whole wheat couscous.

I'll definitely make it again.

Now this doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good hamburger now and then, or feel the need to recharge with some Ben & Jerry's. I try to do that 80-20 thing where you eat healthy 80% of the time and have what you want the other 20%. Sometimes, of course, the percentages reverse.

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