Friday, January 13, 2012


I'm going to be doing a lot of travelling over the next month or so, and pretty much no cooking, as I will be restricted, mostly, to a coffee pot and a mini fridge. There may or may not be some lunches worthy of sharing with you. But I haven't forgotten, and I look forward to a return to regular updates and staying put for more than three weeks in a row.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Laptop Lunches #55

I had leftovers for dinner last night and thus had none for lunch. So this is how you make a lunch when you've got "nothing to eat."

Blood orange, carrot sticks and yogurt ranch dressing, Ritz crackers with swiss cheese triangles, and four mini smoked sausages.

It tasted good and it got me through the afternoon. Also, the colors are nice, even if there is a dearth of green (the store was out of celery--celery!). But I love everything about blood oranges, except the name. (Who knows what mischief oranges get up to when you're not looking?) If I'd had more time I would have boiled an egg, but this was fine.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Laptop Lunches #54

I decided to try some new recipes, based on what I had on hand (rice noodles and napa cabbage were from the duck soup I made last week, and I had some steaks from a half price sale in the freezer). Some of them were better than others. But boy, is this lunch boring looking! I had no idea stir frying napa cabbage would take away its color.

Grapes (which I am sick of now--why do you have to buy so many at once?), napa cabbage stir fry, scallion-garlic rice noodle stir fry, and Asian beef strips. Of all these things (well, aside from the grapes, which are not a recipe unless you're God, I guess), only the beef strips were a keeper. But what a keeper they were! I really liked them, and they were super easy. Plus, I got to use my meat mallet--an excellent stress reliever on any day. The napa cabbage stir fry was a little too vinegary for me. For the noodles, I did not have rice wine, so I used rice vinegar, but in any case, they were a little too bland, so I mixed in some more soy sauce and some chili garlic paste. That adds a little spark of red to the noodles, too. But I don't think that spark of red, or the green of the scallions still clinging to the beef, or the grapes, even, add enough color to make this really appetizing.

There is the lesson for you. Avoid beige and brown as a color scheme.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Laptop Lunches #53

This isn't the prettiest thing ever but I'm proud of it for other reasons. Red grapes, a Babybel wheel of cheddar, pistacios, improvisational vegetable curry, and rice.

The reason why I am proud of it is the vegetable curry. It was entirely the invention of my push to try to waste less food and use up things before I forget they exist. I won't call this a New Year's resolution, really, just an ideal I'm striving toward. In any case, I had about 1/4 of a jar of korma sauce leftover from a recipe I'd tried, and odds and ends of veggies in my refrigerator drawer, and some leftover scallopped potatoes. I stir fried some sliced carrots, asparagus pieces, chopped onion, and cauliflower for a bit, then threw in the korma sauce. It wasn't quite enough sauce, so I added some cream (also needs to be used up), a cinnamon stick, some curry powder, and a few handfuls of shredded coconut, and threw in the potatoes with the thought that butter, milk, and salt and pepper wouldn't hurt the flavor. And it was quite successful, and made two meals--a dinner and this lunch--with rice. I saved money and a little bit of energy. For that, I deserve brownie points, if not actual brownies.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Laptop Lunches #52

Banana slices and red grapes, two more of the banana peanut butter chocolate mini muffins, a cup of yogurt ranch dressing for dipping the snow peas into, and leftover macaroni and cheese mixed with slices of mini smoked sausages.

I am a big fan of the re-invented leftover. This is how I avoided having the same lunch two days in a row, and how I managed to eat up the rest of the macaroni. However, the sausages and the grapes do kind of mirror one another in texture, so there is not as much contrast in this meal as I would like. It was too late once I realized this, so here we are. It tasted good, and sometimes that is all that really matters.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Laptop Lunches #51

Since the duck and I had plans that did not work well for packing a lunch, this lunch did not involve leftover duck. While making the stock last night, I whipped up some macaroni and cheese I got from Target. Archer Farms used to be the best macaroni and cheese I could find anywhere. Now they've changed their formula and I am woefully disappointed. But I've come to realize that Archer Farms is unreliable; they get rid of and change all sorts of things constantly. You can't fall in love with Archer Farms. Archer Farms will break your heart.

So I have a salad of mixed greens, tomato wedges, and red onion with yogurt ranch dressing, two homemade banana peanut butter chocolate mini muffins, leftover macaroni and cheese, and some random fruit I had around: pomegranate seeds, a few kiwi slices, and a kumquat, cut in half and pitted.

I really wish the banana peanut butter chocolate mini muffins had turned out to be as good as they sounded. For now I am refraining from giving my recipe, because it needs tweaking--more sugar; perhaps actual chocolate rather than cocoa powder, and a drizzle of chocolate on top. But I can tell you that the ones baked in the silicone cups rose much better than the ones in paper cups. I couldn't believe the difference when I looked at them side by side.

Meanwhile, the duck and I had a fun night tonight:

There was so much duck stock that I have some in ice cube trays, freezing., and there's still quite a lot of this soup left. A chilly night needs a good bowl of bun vit mang, even if it is missing the bamboo shoots because there are none to be had in my grocery store.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Laptop Lunches #50

Note that I am not using a dirty lunchbox; I just got pomegranate juice all over the little blue container and didn't notice in time to take a new picture.

Anyway, this is a salad of mixed greens, apple chunks, and pecans with a cup of orange dressing, kiwi and pomegranate seeds, a skinned duck drumstick with duck fat oven fries, and some kumquats.

I made the orange dressing out of leftover orange sauce (that came with the duck), lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes my experiments work out, and this was a win! I really wanted to put apples and pecans in my salad but didn't have appropriate dressing, and then I had this epiphany about the orange sauce. This is good, as I am trying to be frugal here.

Also, a note on kumquats, which are a new thing for me. I was not prepared for all the seeds. So although it is great that you can eat them, peel and all (and the peel is actually the best part), be prepared for the seeds.

This is the last of the duck I will eat in this form. I know you've only seen it twice, but oh, the things that duck and I have done together! Yesterday I made some sort of mock pate like thing with the liver and ate it on toast for lunch. Today the carcass is simmering with the giblets, some onion, carrot, celery, and herbs to make a stock that will be the basis for a duck soup (with the reserved meat). And I've eaten duck-and-something for dinner every night three nights in a row. It's like a movie: The Duck and I. I don't reget this; I do like duck and I believe in not wasting food. But I still look forward to something different.