Later On

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Dinner tonight

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We’re still meatless. It makes it easier that you can simply skip the whole aisle/section.

Greek eggplant with rice

Modified from Glorious One-Pot Meals

Layers from bottom in my 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte:

  • Olive oil
  • ½ c white rice
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • allium: e.g., ½ med onion, 2 large shallots, 1 leek, 1 bunch scallions: chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Small pitted black olives
  • 1/4 c pine nuts
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced
  • 3-4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (I’m using a French goat-milk feta)
  • 1 15-oz can garbanzos/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

She splits stuff up and does two layers. Not for me.

Pour-over will be something like:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 Tbsp red wine
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin

Shake well, pour over. 450ºF for 45 minutes.

I got to reading about Calrose rice, quite interesting in itself and I’m definitely buying some, but it also took me to the wide variety of interesting rices from Lundberg. I can’t wait to try a lot of those.

UPDATE: Extremely tasty. Definitely will make this again. For the allium, I chopped two good-sized spring shallots, including the green part. Cut pine nuts to 1/4 cup and half that (2 Tbsp) would probably be enough.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 July 2013 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Exceptional good Andouille GOPM

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Last night’s was especially good. I took my 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte (and you can use any 2-qt cast-iron dutch oven), poured in a little olive oil, and used a small pastry/barbecue brush to spread the oil over the interior of the pot and the inside of the lid. Then I added the following in layers, from the bottom up:

1/2 c pearled barley
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
1 bunch scallions, sliced, including all the green part
2 stalks green garlic, sliced thinly, including all the green part (could substitute regular cloves of garlic)
2 pork Andouille sausages, cut into chunks
1 good-sized yellow crookneck squash, diced
3 medium tomatoes, diced (including pulp and seeds)
1 small handful pitted Saracena olives (about a dozen)
2 Meyer lemons, cubed (including the skin, but I cut off the ends)

Pour-over: In  a small jar, I put:

2 Tbsp Penzey’s Country French Vinagrette dressing, mixed according to instructions
2 Tbsp ponzu sauce
1 Tbsp Red Boat fish sauce
2-3 Tbsp bourbon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp smoked paprika

Shake well, pour over the top, cover, put in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes. Remove, take off lid, and let sit 5 minutes.

Extremely tasty.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 June 2013 at 9:35 am

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Daily life, some reflections, and a GOPM recipe

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Let’s get the recipe out of the way first, since that’s fresh in my mind. This one turned out exceptionally well, saith The Wife. As always, I give the recipe as I made it from what I have. If I used a Meyer lemon, I’ll write that, but obviously you can substitute as you wish. I used sherry vinegar because sherry vinegar is what I happened to have. If I had apple cider vinegar, I would have used that. Recipes generally have an unrealistic level of specificity, IMO.

Rub the inside of a Staub 2.25-qt round cocotte (I used the red one) with olive oil. Note—and this is very important—do NOT buy a Staub round cocotte from Amazon.com. I bought mine there—it was $110 and quite obviously superior to the $135 Le Creuset—but tonight their prices are, literally, insane. Depending on the color, the price varies, all over the place, but is uniformly HIGH—Jeff Bezos must be having trouble reaching profit goals. $170, $285, and $460, depending on color. That is crazy. The link above is to a store that is not having a nervous breakdown, pricing-wise.

The layers, from bottom up:

1/2 cup Lundberg Organic White Basmati rice — I buy Lundberg because their rice is lower in arsenic and they address the problem directly. It’s also what Whole Foods has in the bulk bins.

1 quite large leek, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar (meant to put it on the rice, forgot until this layer)
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/3 large eggplant, diced
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
3/4 bunch asparagus, cut into segments
1 organic Eureka lemon (probably would have used a Meyer lemon if available), diced after ends removed

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp Penzeys Country French Vinaigrette (mixed according to instructions)
2 Tbsp Ponzu sauce
2 Tbsp Amontillado sherry
1 Tbsp Red Boat fish sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Shake well in bottle, pour over.

Cover cocotte and cook in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes.

The rice formed a sort of rice cake in the bottom. All very tasty—and I put it together in 15 minutes, just before leaving for my Pilates mat class.

I have gained enough weight that I would have to say I am fat once more—too much sitting—and the first session I felt horribly awkward and unable to even approximate the exercises because of being fat (too much bulk), inflexible, and weak. But, oddly, I was okay with that. I’ve been here before and I know what happens. Indeed, I am particularly interested in how bad I am and paid attention to it because this is the baseline from which I shall mark my progress—and I know from experience that regular practice will produce progress, quite rapid at first, and then more slowly.

Obviously, my previous Pilates experience helps: I know better how to follow the instructions regarding posture and muscle tension, so that moves faster.

And today I indeed noticed that I was better at some things and I enjoyed it more. And I’m more inclined to work on things. I’m wondering whether being continuously sedentary doesn’t throw oneself into his mind more, with the body mostly ignored; but when regular movement and exertion is part of the day—the body getting exercise and practicing control—one’s mind moves into a somewhat different mode where it can draw not only upon the resources of the brain but of the body as well. Or, more likely, the mind has available to it more of the brain’s resources—viz., those resources dedicated to controlling the body in motion and rest—and these additional resources alter the working of mind. As noted here (and elsewhere):

Albert Einstein once stated that he felt it in his muscles, when he was thinking about something that later proved to be very significant. This heightened kinesthetic sense tells us that helping develop this kinesthetic sensitivity from an early age, instead of suppressing it, will help people turning out to be more creative individuals.

At any rate, I feel that I am doing the right thing and eager to see my progress. (Cf. the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck: I’ve tried to adopt what she calls the “growth mindset.”)

While I’m pleased to be doing Pilates again—and mat exercises have the benefit that I can also practice at home—I am also pleased at some progress on the project of converting daily common chores into sources of enjoyment (cf. shaving).

In pondering this, I recently recalled the story in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which you surely have read more than once, of the episode of whitewashing the fence: a horrible chore that was so bad that whitewasher’s coevals felt free to mock him. Tom neatly turns the tables, making the practice—indeed, art—of whitewashing something so desired that others pay him for the privilege and perform the chore with thorough and genuine enjoyment—genuine enough so that they pay for the privilege and in no wise feel cheated.

I suddenly realized that what I’m saying is that we can do this to ourselves—we don’t need a Tom Sawyer, we can be our own Tom Sawyer.

We have no dishwasher, so dishes are washed by hand. I do this, and dishes build up—you know the story. Then recently I decided that I would not have a dirty dish dormant in the kitchen. At the earliest possible moment—i.e., as soon as either of us finishes eating from a dish—I grab the dish and wash it and put it in the rack to dry. At first this took time, but the more I did it, the less time it took: there was never a backlog, so I would be washing one bowl or two, for example. That’s easily and quickly done. When I found dry dishes in rack, I immediately put them away. Dirty dishes became rare, so I would wipe off counters, put things away. Soon even that was rare. A dirty dish became a kind of prize. And keeping the kitchen clean was easy: the effort involved at any time was tiny, and I practically can do it as I walk through the kitchen.

As I thought about it, I realized I had also discovered something else: a natural and unique time to tackle it. The time was as soon as I had something to clean. That is, as soon as something was dirtied, I cleaned it. “As soon as” is quite specific and easily identifiable. “Later” is vague, amorphous, and no particular time. “Later” omits a starting bell, whereas with “as soon as” sounds the bell clearly.

I was thinking about this and trying to find a way to increase the regularity of teeth brushing. (Sorry if this is TMI, but it was instructive to me.) I had much the same problems with my electric, software-controlled toothbrush as I had with the multiblade-cartridge razor: the process has been so polished and automated that it is totally boring and repellent. Replacing the multiblade cartridge and canned foam with a DE safety razor and true lather, made with brush and soap, made my shave once again interesting and enjoyable. Maybe it would work with brushing my teeth?

My dental hygienist had mentioned that the Braun brushes were, in her view, too firm and could damage gum tissue if used with pressure. She gave me a very soft manual toothbrush and recommended that I use that for a while.

The Braun (like the Sonicare and others) has a built-in timer: you brush each half of each row (top and bottom) for 30 seconds: 2 minutes total. That amount of time is recommended, and I didn’t especially want to count or to look at a clock, when I discovered that you can buy a 30-second sandglass: they’re used as game timers. (The site at the link has quite a variety of sandglasses of all durations.) So I got a 30-second sandglass and use it to time the brushing for each quadrant, reversing it as I complete each one.

That was almost enough to make it enjoyable, but I added my dishwashing discovery: brush my teeth as soon as I could after each meal. That is, choose the unique starting bell for the task: as soon as you can do it, rather than “later”—which thus requires a subsequent decision and the effort of that. I am relieved of a decision, I enjoy turning over the little sandglass, and I have found a way to make dental hygiene enjoyable.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 May 2013 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Food, GOPM, Recipes

Cloven-hooved one-pot

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Tonight’s GOPM features flesh of the cloven-hooved, in this case lamb Merguez sausage and pork chops.

Rub 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte with olive oil, then add these layers in the order listed, bottom layer first:

1/2 c white rice (we’re using Lundberg these days)
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
3 spring onions, sliced thin with most of green part
2 green garlic, sliced thin
1 lamb Merguez sausage, sliced into disks
1/3 bunch of celery, sliced thin (keeps meat from sticking together)
1.5 pork chops, cut into chunks
1/4 c pine nuts
good shaking of Penzey’s Old World Seasoning
1 yellow squash, diced small
1 bunch asparagus, cut into short sections
slices of Meyer lemon (including peel) to cover

The pour-over:

1 Tbsp Red Boat 40º fish sauce (on the Worcestershire sauce analogy—still feeling my way)
2 Tbsp Penzey’s French Country Vinaigrette
Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon I had around
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1-2 Tbsp smoked paparika
1-2 Tbsp Amontillado sherry
1 tsp dried thyme

Shake vigorously and pour over the top. Cover, put in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes, and there’s your dinner, if you’re The Wife.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 April 2013 at 6:56 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Meat and Potatoes GOPM

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Last night’s GOPM was sort of interesting. It does require some work and refinement, but it is promising. Wipe out the 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte with olive oil, leaving some on the bottom. Then the layers:

Russian Banana fingerling potatoes, cut in halves or thirds if bigger than very small
1/2 large Spanish onion, chopped
several cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, cut into large dice or small chunks
1 boneless rib-eye steak (8-10 oz), cut into bite-size pieces
sprinkling of Penzeys Old World Seasoning
6 or so Brussels sprouts, sliced
1/2 head cabbage, chopped small
2 Roma tomatoes, diced

The pour-over was:

4 Tbsp beef stock (from the corned beef)
2 Tbsp Ponzu sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Then cover and cook in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes.

It was tasty, but there was a fair amount of liquid in the bottom: sort of a stew. Potatoes don’t absorb the liquid the way (say) rice or quinoa do. I could add some quinoa to the bottom layer and/or use less liquid. Perhaps:

2 Tbsp beef stock
1 Tbsp Ponzu sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp horseradish
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

The above version also reflects The Wife’s request to drop the vinegar and to add horseradish.

I got the rib-eye steak thinking of prime rib (same meat, only thicker). However, it did seem somewhat dry, though tender. I think I might try a different cut—perhaps a tri-tip.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 March 2013 at 9:24 am

Posted in Beef, Food, GOPM, Recipes

Baby-Lima-Bean GOPM

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Exceptionally tasty. Turn oven to 450ºF to preheat. Wipe out 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte with olive oil, then layer from the bottom.

1/2 c White Basmati Rice from Lundberg
2 Tbsp red vinegar
small handful of green garlic, like scallions, chopped including the green
1 small heart of celery chopped
1 huge mutant carrot cut into largish cubes
good sprinkling Penzeys Old World Seasoning
1 spicy Italian pork sausage, cut into coins (by no means a solid layer)
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1/2 lb frozen baby lima beans, unthawed
5 Roma tomatoes diced

Pour over:

2 Tbsp Country French Vinaigrette
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp Ponzu sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Amontillado sherry
2 Tbsp smoked paprika

Shake well, pour over top, cover, and bake in oven for 45 minutes.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2013 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Chicken GOPM with what was on hand

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I had half a boneless skinless chicken breast, and yesterday afternoon I decided to marinate it, so I poured a lot of ponzu sauce over it in a covered storage dish (the glass kind with clamp-on lid) and shook it from time to time during the evening and today. Then I rubbed the inside of the 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte and lid with toasted sesame oil and put in layers of food I had on hand:

1/2 c pearled barley
2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
thickly sliced frozen leeks from Trader Joe’s (not thawed)
several cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
the marinated chicken breast, but into chunks
1 good-sized carrot, diced
1/2 small head of Savoy cabbage, cored and chopped
2 Roma tomatoes diced

Pour-over:

1.5 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
2 Tbsp ponzu sauce
2 Tbsp sherry
1 tsp Colman’s mustard (the dry powder)

Shake well, pour over, cover, and put in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes. Very tasty.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2013 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

GOPM thinking of stuffed cabbage

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As I’ve mentioned, a GOPM works well if you have a theme of some sort in mind. This theme was stuffed cabbage.

Wipe out 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte with olive. Layers as follow, from bottom up:

1/2 c converted rice
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 medium leek, sliced thinly (good amount of white on this one)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 spicy Italian pork sausage and 1 lamb Merguez  sausage, cut into thick slices
2 medium tomatoes, cored and diced
1/4 Savoy cabbage, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, cored and diced

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp Country French Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp Ponzu sauce
1 Tbsp Amontillado sherry
1 tsp horseradish
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp smoked paprika

Shake well and pour over; cover and put in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes.

Very tasty.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2013 at 11:49 am

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Two GOPMs: One with red quinoa, one with pearled barley

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A friend from Victoria, BC has been visiting, so I made a couple of GOPMs: each was made in the 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte. Layers are listed from the bottom up:

Red Quinoa GOPM

Wipe out cocotte with olive oil. Layers:

1/2 c red quinoa (no rinsing required)
2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
3 good-sized shallots, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
3/4 lb chicken breast, cut into chunks
1/2 c Kalamata olives, halved
1 Japanese eggplant, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
8 brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
1 Meyer lemon, not peeled but diced

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp French Vineaigrette
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Amontillado sherry
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Squirt of gochujang sauce

Cover and cook for 45 minutes in 450ºF oven.

Pearled Barley GOPM

1/2 c pearled barley
2 Tbps apple cider vinegar
2 monstro scallions, sliced thinly (see second photo in this post)
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
6″ length of monstro carrot (see same post as above0, diced
1 pork tenderloin, 3/4-lb, cut into thick slices
Dijon mustard brushed onto pork
1/4 red cabbage, chopped
3 Tbsp dried currants

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp French vinaigrette
1.5 Tbsp Ponzu sauce
1.5 Tbsp sherry
1.5 Tbsp sweet vermouth
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Cover and cook for 45 minutes in 450ºF oven.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2013 at 8:41 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Chinese-themed GOPM

with 3 comments

It’s easier to make a GOPM with a theme in mind. Here’s tonights:

Wipe out 2-qt Staub round cocotte with olive oil. Add in layers, bottom up:

1/2 c converted rice
2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
3 lage shallots, chopped (had planned on leek, but leeks awful)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 boneless, skinless chicken legs, cut into chunks (3/4 lb)
probably 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce, spread over the chicken
1/3 c roasted unsalted peanuts
fill pot with broccoli florets
1 Meyer lemon, sliced thinly and not peeled

The pour-over:

1.5 Tbsp sesame oil
1.5 Tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 Tbsp ponzu sauce
1.5 Tbsp sherry
2 tsp gochujang sauce or 2 tsp Dijon mustard, your choice.

Shake vigorously in a little jar and pour over. Cover pot.

It will cook 45 minutes in 450ºF oven.

I’ll update with The Wife’s verdict.

UPDATE: The Wife and I agree: very good indeed. The lemon came out terrific, as did broccoli, chicken, etc. I’ll be making it a second time tomorrow or the day after.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2013 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Plan for tomorrow’s pork GOPM

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Tune in late tomorrow to find out what actually happened. UPDATE: Recipe now updated to actual.

2.25-qt Staub round cocotte, sprayed with olive oil, then wiped out with paper towel. Add the following in layers, listed from bottom to top.

1/2 cup rice pearled barley (just thought it would go better)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
chopped onion or shallots or sliced leek
4 cloves garlic, minced (added)
celery
boneless pork chop cut into chunks
freshly ground pepper
dried cranberries
sliced spicy linguiça (and sliced chorizo: had some left)
1/2 head green cabbage, finely chopped
1 Pink Lady apple, diced (including core and seeds)

Pour-over:

1.5 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp gochujang sauce
1 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp Amontillado sherry

I used a tiny whisk to break up the gochujang sauce so it would mix in better.

Cover, put in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes, remove, and let sit 10 minutes, then serve.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 December 2012 at 7:40 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

GOPM, planned and actual

with 3 comments

I just finished a GOPM. The plan:

1/2 c pearled barley
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
chopped shallots
minced garlic
celery
carrot
boneless skinless chicken thighs
linguiça slices
zucchini
parsley
eggplant
tomatoes
Kalamata olives
Brussels spourts
thin slices Meyer lemon

I generally make a list of layers to guide my shopping. But when I got to market, I found that they had no boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), not even for ready money, but they did have turkey breast slices. I got two of those: 0.45 lb, or 7.2 oz—close enough, since I was going to use linguiça slices as well. (That had proved to be quite a hit.) But then I found that I had 3 domestic white mushrooms left over from something, so I chopped those for the aromatic layer and skipped (okay, forgot) the carrot. And when I came to it, there was simply no room for Brussels sprouts. So the actual recipe:

1/2 c pearled barley
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
4 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 domestic mushrooms, chopped
7 oz turkey breast slices, cut into chunks
dried thyme sprinkled over turkey
layer of linguiça slices
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 small bunch parsley, chopped fine
the other half of the Japanese eggplant, sliced
good grinding of black pepper
3 large Roma tomatoes, diced (probably could have gone with 2)
1/2 c Kalamata olives, maybe more, halved
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp Penzeys French Vinaigrette
2 tsp (approx) Ponzu sauce
2 tsp (approx) Gochujang sauce
1 Tbsp (approx) Amontillado sherry
1 Tbsp (approx) horseradish
1 Tbsp (approx) Worcestershire sauce

I shook that furiously, then poured it over. The only thing I measured was the vinaigrette. Horseradish is a good ingredient: it often contributes an interesting but elusive flavor—the kind of thing that makes people say, “What is that?”

I tried for a small volume of pour-over because I thought the tomatoes would contribute a lot of liquid, as well as liquid from the lemon.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 November 2012 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

GOPM: Explanation and template

with 2 comments

I put most of this in a comment, but it seems worth a post: a template for “Glorious One-Pot Meals.” Elizabeth Yarnell originated the cooking technique in her book of the same name: Cooking two meals at once in a 2-qt enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, the food layered in the pot which then is covered and put into a 450ºF oven for 45 minutes. Generally, you can assemble the pot of food in about the time it takes the oven to get to 450ºF.

Very important: This is not a “slow-cooker” method. Some see “one-pot” and stop thinking: even though they read the description, “one-pot” overrides everything and they think these are slow-cooker recipes. They are not: they are “fast-cooker”: 450ºF for just 45 minutes. Some foods that work well in slow cookers—shanks, oxtails, short-ribs—would not work at all in GOPM meals because those foods require long cooking at low heat, and this method is the opposite: short cooking at high heat.

The layering is part of the reason it works, and the layers make it easy to assemble the meal in your mind (the first creation, as Steven Covey calls it) before assembling it in the pot (the second creation): that is, the technique makes it easy to improvise with some assurance that you know what you’re doing. (The layering technique is what Yarnell patented.) While I’ve had a failure—at most, two—the meals virtually always turn out to be tasty, nourishing, and balanced.

Two caveats about the recipes in her book: they tend toward blandness (a little sprinkling of crushed red pepper helps), and for some reason she cooks 4 servings (not 2) of rice. A serving of rice, measured before cooking, is 1/4 c, so two servings is 1/2 c. I generally use 1/3 c because I like to limit my intake of starch, but Yarnell’s recipes call for 1 cup (4 servings).

When I think of a recipe, I first consider what I’ll use for the three main parts: the starch, the protein, and the vegetables. Then I may think about the pour-over: the 1/4-1/3 c of liquid poured over the assembled vegetables just before covering the pot.

The pot itself can be any cast-iron dutch oven that holds about two quarts. These tend to come in two versions: tall and narrow, or short and squat. Both work. Texsport makes one that is seasoned cast iron but not enameled; it’s of the tall, narrow sort and holds 2.5 quarts. Le Creuset makes an expensive 2-qt round pot that works if you replace the plastic knob with a metal knob: the plastic knob won’t stand up to the 450ºF temperature. (A cabinet doorknob works.) I used the Texsport and the Cajun Cookware 2-qt enameled cast-iron dutch oven (of the short, squat variety), but I finally got a Staub 2.25-qt round cocotte: enameled exterior, some type of tough non-stick interior. The Staub comes with a metal knob to begin with—and a knob with a long shank, easy to grip while wearing oven mitts. This is the one I like. You can find it in various colors. The Staub is, IMO, better than Le Creuset and costs $65 less: $99.95 vs. $164.95.

Now: contents and assembly. I first spray the interior of pot and lid with olive oil, and then use a dry paper towel to wipe off excess oil, leaving only a thin film of oil. Then I layer the food. Below, and when I write recipes, I list the layers in the order in which they go into the pot—i.e., bottom layer first, and ending with the top layer.

a. Starch: This is usually the first layer, or you can put it atop the aromatics. Starches that work well: white rice (converted rice has a lower glycemic index and higher arsenic content than, say, Lundberg rice grown in California), pearled barley, cut pasta, egg noodles, lentils, quinoa, diced yams or potatoes. I use 1/3-1/2 cup, or for noodles and pasta, 3-4 oz. Aim for 1.5-2 servings.

b. 2 Tbsp vinegar of some kind — I often use sherry vinegar, but rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar are also options. Vinegar brightens the taste.

c. Aromatics - use some or all of the following, layer by layer
c1. Chopped allium (onion, shallots, leek, cippolinis, scallions, spring onions, whatever)
c2. Minced garlic (also an allium, but I always add some)
c3. Chopped celery (you can chop an entire bunch of celery, drying the stalks well before chopping, and it will keep in the fridge: the drying is important; if it’s wet, it rots)
c4. Diced carrot

d. Protein: 8 oz. cut into chunks for easy serving: boneless skinless chicken breast, thigh or leg; boneless skinless turkey; boneless pork chop; lamb; Dover sole (I just lay the fillets down without cutting into chunks) or salmon, cod, swordfish, halibut (any of which I do cut into chunks); tofu or tempeh (diced or cut into small slabs). It’s better to avoid very fatty things, like duck breast: the fat doesn’t cook off and will make a greasy meal. Still, I sometimes use linguiça or chorizo or lamb sausage, but generally a small amount (thin slices) as an accent with some other protein.

e. Seasonings: Crushed red pepper, thyme, Penzeys Mural of Flavor, Emeril’s Essence, whatever. Generally I cannot taste the seasoning, though I certainly can detect the presence of (say) crushed red pepper. You can also use condiments in this layer (or as another layer): chopped olives, capers, anchovies, sesame seeds, and so on: whatever might spark up the taste. Pickle slices? Why not? (I’ve not tried them, but now will.)

f. Veggies the rest of the way—choose what you like and give each vegetable its own layer. Frozen vegetables work fine without requiring thawing before putting in the pot. Again, to make serving easy, I chop or dice or slice the vegetables. Diced zucchini or summer squash or bitter melon; chopped or diced tomatoes; pitted olives, halved or chopped; eggplant, sliced (Japanese) or diced (Italian); chopped okra; sliced or diced mushrooms; chopped bell pepper of whatever color; corn kernels (fresh or frozen); dried cranberries; raisins or chopped prunes or dried currants; peanuts, walnuts, or pecans. As a top layer, green beans (fresh or frozen, cut into 1″ sections) or chopped greens (spinach or dandelion greens or cabbage or sliced Brussels sprouts) or chopped cauliflower. Experiment: look around the produce aisles and see what you like. Diced or thinly sliced whole organic lemons are good with fish or with greens. I’m eager to try halved kumquats.

Fill pot to the top. Greens will wilt as they cook, thus taking up less volume. The heavy lid of the Staub is an advantage.

The pour-over: Keep in mind the likely volume of liquid you’ll get from the vegetables and how much liquid the starch will absorb—yams and potatoes don’t absorb much, for example, while rice and noodles do; tomatoes, lemon, frozen vegetables may contribute a fair amount of liquid. Adjust the volume of the pour-over to complement the amount of liquid you expect. Experience will quickly teach you, and too much liquid is not really a problem since it tastes good.

I always use 2 Tbsp of vinaigrette and then add whatever strikes my fancy: soy sauce, mirin, ponzu sauce, sherry or red or white wine, Dijon mustard, gochujang sauce or other hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, whatever. You can also add seasonings here: ground black pepper, paprika, and the like, though they tend to remain on top, so it’s often better to put them atop the protein layer. I have a small bottle that once held some food; I use that to receive the pour-over mix, which I then shake vigorously before pouring over.

It’s good to have some sort of “theme” in the back of your mind: Greek, Mediterranean, German (e.g., egg noodles, pork, cabbage, apples, etc.), Caribbean, Oriental, whatever. A theme will suggest things to include that go well together.

After making a few of these, you get the idea and it becomes quite easy. Although it’s said to be two meals, The Wife usually gets at least three from a pot, sometimes four.

If you have a family, you can simply use a larger pot. I have a 3-qt Staub round cocotte, and you can also get larger sizes: a 4-qt pot could doubtless serve 4 easily, and probably 5 if some are children.

For examples to stimulate your imagination, look through the GOPM posts in this blog, most containing recipes. Measurement of starch, vinegar, and protein is always exact—of course, if I buy (say) Dover fillets, I generally do not get 8.00 oz exactly, but I am going for 8 oz and I buy as close to that as reasonable. Same for chicken, pork, etc. For tofu, I will use a 10 oz cube and figure what the hell; tempeh conveniently comes in an 8 oz package. The vegetables I simply use enough to make a layer. The vinaigrette (containing the oil) I measure exactly: 2 Tbsp.

Leave some of your successful GOPMs in comments: just list the layers, starting with the bottom layer, ending with the top, and describe the pour-over.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2012 at 9:58 am

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Tonight’s GOPM

with 2 comments

Here is the first cut of what I’m thinking. Since in the making things can change, you might want to look again later: I’ll update if changes occur. Now UPDATED.

In 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte, sprayed with olive oil and then wiped with dry paper towel to remove excess, put in layers, from bottom:

1/2 c converted rice
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
4 chopped cippolini onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c chopped celery
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
thin slices linguiça sausage
1 yellow crookneck squash, diced
1/2 Japanese eggplant, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 c pitted Kalamata olives, halved – forgot
chopped red dandelion greens (about 1/4 bunch)
very thin slices organic lemon (No room for green beans)

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp Penzeys Country French Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp Ponzu sauce
1 Tbsp Gochujang sauce
2 Tbsp Amontillado sherry

Shake well. Then shake even better: the Gochujang doesn’t want to mix. Go at it.

The squash, eggplant, tomato layers is thinking of ratatouille. The chopped Kalamata olives would have been good….

Something I didn’t know: Cippolinis are small bittersweet bulbs that come from the grape hyacinth that look and taste like small, white onions.

UPDATE 2: I’ve had some: the very thinly slice organic lemons worked very well indeed. Dandelion greens were good. As The Wife says, dicing the tomatoes worked much better than just slicing them. (Dicing them was her idea, and a good one: they release their juice more readily.) The slice eggplant was very tasty. Linguiça was a good idea. (I just happened to see it in the store.) Given the tomatoes, could have gone with just 1 Tbsp of sherry, but the end result was fine. Want to try it now with pearled barley.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2012 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Tonight’s GOPM: Salmon and standard

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This one is pretty standard, so by now you know the drill. In 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte, layers from bottom up:

1/2 c pearled barley
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
3/4 large Spanish onion, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
layer of chopped celery (chopped celery keeps in the fridge if you dry it before storage)
8 oz salmon fillet, cut in chunks (The Wife doesn’t like the skin, so I sauté that as a snack)
Heavy dusting of Emeril’s Essence (from this recipe)
1 Meyer lemon, diced
1/2 c pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1.5 Tbsp capers with 1 tsp juice
1 medium zucchini, diced
fill pot full with sliced Brussels sprouts (The Wife likes Brussels sprouts)

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp Penzeys Country French vinaigrette, made according to instructions on jar
1 Tbsp Gochujang sauce
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Ponzu sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp Amontillado sherry

Shake well, pour over, cover, cook in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes. Two-three meals.

UPDATE: I forgot the seasoning on the salmon: see added line above.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2012 at 5:32 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Friday-night chicken GOPM

with 2 comments

The Wife made up this recipe:

In 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte, wiped out with a little olive oil to coat bottom and sides:

1/2 cup converted rice
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 large Spanish onion, chopped small
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (.63 lb), cut into chunks
good sprinkling of a rosemary-and-garlic-powder seasoning
1 large Meyer lemon, not peeled, diced (but do remove label stuck on it)
1/2-2/3 c pitted Kalamata olives, halved
Then fill pot with shredded brussels sprouts

I cut brussels sprouts in half vertically, then thinly slice crossways

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp Penzey’s Country French vinaigrette made according to instructions
1 Tbsp Annie Chuns Gochujang sauce (a good squeeze)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp horseradish
2-3 tsp sweet paprika
3 Tbsp Amontillado sherry
good grinding black pepper

Shake well, pour over, cover, put in 450ºF oven for 45 minutes.

This one seemed exceptionally good.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 November 2012 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Another GOPM: sausage and chicken

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Planned:

1/2 c pearled barley
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Italian pork sausage, cut into disks (4.6 oz)
1 leek, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 handfuls chopped celery
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks (7 oz)
good sprinkling of Mural of Flavor seasoning
1 zucchini, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/2 c Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 eggplant, diced
several anchovy fillets from a jar (packed in olive oil)
1 Meyer lemon, sliced

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp Country French vinaigrette
4 Tbsp Amontillado Sherry

I’ll return to make changes as needed and also deliver the verdict.

UPDATE: No room for kale: omitted.

VERDICT: Excellent. The pearled barley was not al dente this time, and I think the reason is simple: more liquid. Also, the anchovies were an excellent idea, worth repeating when they fit. Kale not missed. Rich taste, as you might expect.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 November 2012 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Food notes

with 2 comments

I’ll make a salmon GOPM for The Wife today, along these lines:

1/2 c pearled barley
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
sliced leek
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c chopped celery
1 medium carrot, diced
9 oz wild salmon, cut into chunks
good sprinkling Penzey’s Mural of Flavor seasoning
2 sliced Roma tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
chopped red kale to fill the pot
thin slices Meyer lemon (not peeled)

pour-over:

2 Tbsp Penzey’s Country French vinaigrette dressing
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp sherry

UPDATE: It came out very tasty indeed. I was curious to see how the pearled barley worked (very nice, a little al dente but done) and the kale (good choice, and lemon slices were a good touch). Worth a repeat.

I’m also going to make a tuna salad. I’m thinking something like this (now updated to reflect what I actually did):

2 cans Wild Planet Albacore Tuna, drained
around 1 cup chopped celery
1/2 red onion, chopped (no sweet onion at the store, not even for ready money)
2 Belgian endive, chopped
1 radicchio (same shape as endive), chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 Haas avocado, chopped
1/2 cup forbidden (black) rice, cooked (producing ~1 cup)
2 Tbsp capers
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, cut in half
vinaigrette made with Penzeys Country French vinaigrette seasoning (with olive oil and sherry vinegar)
a little mayonnaise
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp turmeric
dash of Worcestershire or soy sauce

That’s what I’m thinking now. I’ll look around the produce section to see what I might add. Maybe some radicchio? An avocado cut into chunks?

The idea is familiar by now: protein, starch, a little oil, and veggies galore.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2012 at 8:25 am

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Teakwood and Rose—and a GOPM contest for free shaving soap

with 11 comments

Today’s shave was to test the Omega Bambino shown, which I used in yesterday’s shave with Mike’s Natural shave soap, having to return to the tub to refresh the lather for the third pass. I have that problem with Mike’s Natural soaps and this morning’s shave convinced me that the problem is not the brush: I loaded it with Strop Shoppe’s Special Edition Teakwood shave soap and had copious amounts of superb lather for all three passes. In a way, though, this is not a fair test, since the Strop Shop Special Edition shaving soap is among the very best soaps (if not the best) that I’ve tried. Still: there it is. I will try Mike’s Natural again, using the Rooney Finest brush and see whether I can load the brush sufficiently to get the lather to last. Based on my experience so far, though, I find this soap not fully satisfactory, though I know many like it. I’m hoping that some of those who do will try a side-by-side comparison with (say) this Strop Shoppe soap and let me know their impressions of how the two compare. For me, it’s no contest.

With my beard wonderfully lathered, the bakelite slant with an Astra Superior Platinum blade did its usual magic. What are we going to do when Italian Barber exhausts his stock of these? I can only hope that he (or someone) can commission Merkur to do a special run to replenish the supply. This really is one of the best razors going, regardless of price (and the price for these is modest).

To end the shave, a good splash of Saint Charles Shave Savory Rose. Again, the rose fragrance developed over several minutes, though I believe this must be a fragrance oil, based on the price. And, BTW, the notion “essential oil = good, fragrance oil = bad” is simply wrong: each type has its virtues, and selecting which to use depends on many factors. See, for example, this explanation.

I like the Savory Rose aftershave, but then I generally like Saint Charles Shave aftershaves: they’re just excellent and at reasonable prices. Give them a try. (She does sell samples.)

Now, the contest. When I published my review of Strop Shoppe’s Special Edition shave soap in Wicked_Edge, the proprietor offered to let me run a contest with the prize being the winner’s choice of a Special Edition shaving soap. This is that contest. Decision of the judge is final; offer void where prohibited by law; relatives of judge not eligible; etc.

I fairly often blog a recipe I made up for a Glorious One-Pot Meal (GOPM). Here is the most recent example, which I’ve edited to include a compete description of what exactly a GOPM is. Yarnell’s cookbook, referenced in that post, is likely to be available in your local library, and in any event the idea is simple. You can review all my GOPM posts to get an idea of how they work.

The contest: Add a comment to this post that contains a GOPM recipe in the usual format: a list of layers from the bottom up. That is sufficient. Include measurements when appropriate (especially measurements of the starch, the protein, and the oil). But you can skip measurements in some cases—e.g., the final layer can be simply “Fill the remaining space with frozen cut green beans.” (Frozen vegetables, by the way, cook fine in a GOPM: no need to thaw.)

Next Friday morning, I will pick the winner. Enter your true email address, which I’ll use to email the winner to find which Special Edition soap is desired and to get the shipping address to which to mail it. If an invalid email address is entered (my email bounces), I’ll move to the second-place entry, and so on. (Fairly often when I’ve tried to email a commenter, I find that the email address entered does not work.)

If you have any questions, post them in the comments and I’ll answer; I’ll not respond individually to the entries, though I’ll read them with great interest.

Let the entries begin!

Written by LeisureGuy

2 November 2012 at 8:28 am

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes, Shaving

Pork & sausage GOPM

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For new readers: Glorious One-Pot Meals (GOPMs), so named by Elizabeth Yarnell in her cookbook of that title, are cooked in a 2-qt cast-iron dutch oven. I use a 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte, which I think is terrific and clearly much better than the corresponding Le Creuset pot despite Le Creuset’s higher price. For example, the Le Creuset plastic knob can’t take high oven temperatures; the Staub pot has a metal knob with a slightly extended shaft that makes it easy to grasp while wearing oven mitts.

GOPMs are easy to make—you normally can ready the pot in the time it takes the oven to heat—and afterwards there is only one pot to clean. In addition, the meals are healthful: heavy on vegetables, light on fats, and using measured amounts of starches and proteins.

Spray or wipe the interior of the pot with olive oil, layer the ingredients, then cover and cook in a 450ºF oven for 45 minutes. They seem to be always delicious, but of course I layer foods I like, so I have a head start. Yarnell’s recipes tend toward blandness (a sprinkling of crushed red pepper helps), and for some reason she always specifies 4 servings of rice even though the 2-qt pot is intended to make two meals. (1/2 c uncooked rice is two servings; she always uses 1 cup uncooked rice. Go figure.) But after you’ve made one or two GOPMs, you’ll find it easy to create your own recipes: two servings starch, 8 oz protein, and the rest of the pot is filled with vegetables, with the pour-over adding some oil (the vinaigrette in this case). For myself, I often use 1/3 c uncooked rice instead of 1/2 c: slightly less than two servings.

My next GOPM for The Wife, with layers listed from bottom up (that is, in the order in which you add to the pot):

1/2 c converted rice
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 spicy Italian pork sausage, sliced into rounds
2-3 shallots, chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 boneless pork chop, cut into chunks
good sprinkling of Penzey’s “Mural of Flavor” seasoning
1-2 handfuls chopped celery
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
3 smallish purple carrots, chopped
1 yellow crookneck squash, diced
Chopped red cabbage to fill pot

Pour-over:

2 Tbsp vinaigrette (Penzey’s Country French Vinaigrette seasoning mixed with olive oil and sherry vinegar according to the label instructions)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp Amontillado Sherry
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

UPDATE: Very tasty, as usual. Putting the sausage on the rice worked out well.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2012 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

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