Gastroporn Menu – May.2013

May is one of those odd months. Sometimes the weather is already muggy and gross and all you want to do is sit in a cool pool of water alternating between sipping fancy drinks with umbrellas and licking something frozen. But sometimes it’s still nice and cool out and it still feels like what we think spring should feel like in our minds. So for this month’s GastroPorn Menu I’m going to go with something light that can feel cool enough to battle the heat but can also keep us feeling light enough to go run around and warm up enough to maybe just need a sweater.

Gastroporn Menu – May.2013

Salad with Avocado Dressing Bowls

“Salad with Avocado Dressing Bowls” from Dash and Bella

Matar Paneer

“Matar Paneer” by Dassana from Veg Recipes of India

Saffron Mango Lassi

“Saffron Mango Lassi” from US Masala

Pistachio Saffron Ice Cream Pops

“Pistachio Saffron Ice Cream Pops” from Simply Reem

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Ridin’ the Serotonin High

Lemon-Arugula Potato Salad

“Lemon-Arugula Potato Salad” from More Than Burnt Toast

My mother occasionally has to go on these extended business trips overseas for weeks or months at a time. When I was in college, all my professors knew when she was gone because I would always come in to work or class starving and asking for something to eat or drink. The chair of the Communication/Journalism department at the time would come to work in the morning and see me sitting there all droopy while sipping at coffee and get this sad look on her face before telling me “I feel like I should take you grocery shopping, you poor motherless child.” I told my dad that on our way home that evening and he decided that maybe we should stop and at least buy some vegetables.

You see, my dad is strange. Like really strange. I sometimes wonder and worry about where he got his mentality about food from because Apo (my paternal grandma who lives with us) says that they had no problem with food when my dad and his siblings were growing up and she has no idea where any of his weirdness comes from. So, every time my mom would go away for an extended trip (usually with my brother since he was still little at the time) my dad would announce that we were going to “clean the fridge”. This mean eating what we had and not buying anything until it was empty. Well, in theory that sounds great. Until you realize that half of the stuff in our fridge is pickles, spices, or some sort of chili paste. After about a week of finishing up the bread, fresh produce, and dairy products, my dad would be eating plain rice and chilies and I’d be living off coffee. And THEN I found out that he and a coworker were going OUT for lunch during the day. I Skyped my mom who had a good yell at my dad and soon there were potatoes and veggies and even a loaf of bread. I brought a sandwich to school and showed all my professors that I was being properly fed and cared for before they called child services (I started college young so I was still a minor at the time).

Somewhere in one of these “dark ages” in my younger life I remember my dad trying to make “potato salad”, which he interpreted to mean a salad with potatoes in it. I wasn’t sure what to make of the concept until I tried his warm potato salad made with romaine lettuce. I’m not sure what exactly he did to make that salad taste so good but that night we each ate a mixing bowl’s worth of salad for dinner and then we had more for lunch the next day. I thought it was just because I’d had nothing but plain rice and coffee for the last 4 or 5 days but I’ve had a similar salad since then I’m glad to say that the salad really was that good. So this post’s salad is in honor of the days when my mom left me alone with my dad during my developmental years and why I learned how to cook for myself.

What I Should Be Eating For Lunch

Green Goddess Salad Bowl

“Green Goddess Salad Bowl” from Grass, Roots, & Grains

So for those of you who still don’t know (or are just tuning in) I have this job thing that I do. I come into my little corner office four days a week (one day for 14 hours thus the 3-day weekends) and I “work”. As one of those unfortunately productive people in the land of the Vogon-human hybrids I usually get the bulk of my physical work done in the span of about an hour. Then I sit around waiting for all the students that aren’t “making it” that are supposed to come see me. As is evidenced by this blog and its Pinterest and Facebook siblings, they don’t seem to feel as passionately about their education as I’m paid to. You’d think they’d want to get the best out of what they paid for but it’s like spending a ton of money on some fancy exercise machine that you use like twice a year. I use mine a little more often than that but I’ve had my equipment since high school and I ain’t losing much weight so clearly that ain’t working’ all that great. Sorry, I’ve been watching “True Blood” while working up a tentative orientation schedule for August. The accents gets in your head after 4 straight seasons.

And at lunch I close my office door so I can eat while doing… well the exact same thing. But today I took a look at some of the other bloggers out there and found this: “Green Goddess Salad Bowl | Grass, Roots & Grains“. While I do usually bring in something more along the lines of a salad for lunch this past week has been a train wreck and there is currently nothing green in my fridge. There were, however, a couple tomatoes in the kitchen so yay! My mom hasn’t been home for a few days and so scrounging happens (my dad doesn’t like buying food and expects us to live off the condiment bottles in the fridge until is is completely empty).

If you read this morning’s post you’ll know that I happened to have enough energy to mix together and bake up some cornbread to go with some chili (canned vegetarian kind. Oh yeah.) and of course, my tomato. That is not salad but I’m fed and now I can be more logical about my frustrations. Speaking this morning was a task of great magnitude so I opted for sneaking down into the English department to visit my friend who is a professor down there and eat chocolate and have some tea. Their hot water making device is much better than the one in my office.

But my mother returns to us this evening and so she will probably get to go grocery shopping this week and that means healthy food!

For those of you confused how someone with a master’s degree and a full time job still needs her mother to help buy groceries it’s okay. You’re not alone. But this is what happens. It’s hard to explain. But as some form of justification I don’t drive and I live just far enough into the suburban sprawl that not driving means not having access to much besides the super cool playground.

And now I should probably reopen my office door and get back to “work”.

A Quest! A Quest!

I always feel guilty playing around on Pinterest while at work. But for some reason I have no problems playing Tetris on my phone during committee meetings. Well… They’re really bad meetings. Nothing ever gets done and in the end we always have a worse problem than we started with. I can’t believe that this is what an “Adult” workplace looks  like. It’s ridiculous. There will probably be a new VP to oversee the new Dean who was installed in my office to oversee the Director who’s been here for eons without a vacation and who actually worked up to 18 hours a day 7 days a week over the summer because there wasn’t anyone else to help out. Until they finally hired me, that is. Then there were 2 of us working insane hours but at least they were less than his previous hours.

We need more worker ants! It’s really too bad that all those student workers we pay to sit out at the front desk all day are next to worthless. Maybe it’s because I’m on the wrong end of the complexion scale but I’ve never been so mistreated by anyone as I have been by the students who (believe it or not!) work for me in this office. One of my freshmen just got the Monday night shift with me and he’s still fresh and helpful. I intend to keep it that way. And there is one other decent worker but she just got married (to another student I think) and they have a baby-toddler. How sad it is that the newly married mother is a better student and more productive worker than the ones on a music scholarship who sits at the desk watching YouTube all day? Tragic.

Anyways, I digress.

Today’s self righteous college students with their attitude problems jut really bother me!

Okay, I’m sorry. Had to get that out before I could continue.

When I was working in the English Department it was always very clear as to who was in charge: Dr. C——-, the chair of the department. She actually referred to herself as the Queen of the Underworld on several occasions. The English Department is in the basement so this actually made perfect sense. As an eternal honorary citizen on the Underworld I still go down every morning to get proper hot water for my tea.

It get’s me to thinking that we’re becoming to top heavy in terms of our administrative scheme at the University. A recent conversation had me referring to it as the epitome of Vogonity with all the paperwork it takes to get a check cut or try and use any of the rooms on campus for events or seminars and meeting! Don’t even get me starting on trying to find a location for a meeting…

No. What we need around here is a grand monarch to whom everything goes and either gets a thumbs up or thumbs down. Like in the Arena. There should be no hiding that this is the case. Trying to make every thing seem all well planned and thought out and democratic will only make people more frustrated. If you’re going to be oppressive you should have the guts to be honest about it.

Every day court will be held up on the 3rd floor and the “University Monarch” — who may choose from a list of appropriate titles such as “The Academician” or ” His/Her Educatedness”– for a certain number of hours and there will be a line that follows the old ways so there’s no favoritism, merely the willpower required to get yourself into that line far up enough that you can be seen that day. A request will be made and the Monarch can ask for the opinions of his/her advisers (finance, scheduling, legal, etc.) and then make a final decision.

Guess who thinks she could be a great Monarch….

My first order of business would be to set up a real calendar of events that everyone has access to. That way no one will ever make a stupid scheduling request because they simply have no idea. Simply log onto your computer, see the schedule, decide whether or not you really need to make a request based on the schedule or petition the schedule and then, based on your decision you can either go upstairs and stand in line or you can stay in your office and focus on actually working with your students.

My second order of business would be to fire the third party company that runs the cafeteria and start all over again. I am aware that a large amount of the readership of this blog may not be aware of the Health “Message” of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church (and most of its affiliated institutions, such as my workplace) so I’ll give you a brief synopsis, without all the politics of why some countries ignore parts and become martyrs to others and blah blah blah.

We should all be vegetarian. Preferably vegan but vegetarian will suffice. We should also refrain from alcohol, caffeine, and (if you’re a purist): vinegar, melting ice cream, baking powder (but it may be baking soda I can never remember because obviously I’m not a purist), pepper or spiciness of any kind…. and there are others but it’s not necessary to continue. I think the point is clear. It’s pretty strict in theory. Luckily there are only small groups in the world that actually keep to this lifestyle and then tend to be like the Amish in terms of how often they make it out into “The World” (which they are in but not “of”). The rest of the SDA community is pretty “OK”. Promise.

While I obviously don’t adhere very strictly to many of these rules I’m a fan of religious institutions being true to themselves in that if they are going to preach/teach something they should do it wholeheartedly. So when I took this job and found out that they were serving caffeinated sodas in the cafeteria I was little unhappy. Mostly because the last thing my Freshmen needed was caffeine to mess up their already horrifying sleep habits but also because the cafeteria boasts as being a vegetarian restaurant in keeping with our church’s message. And by vegetarian food I’m not talking something like this:

A Vegetarian Harvest Dinner, from Saveur

I’m talking stuff like this:

Tofu Scramble (the link takes you to a review from “Freezer Burns”)

My Gma used to make stuff like this. It’s disgusting and an affront to tofu everywhere.

So of course we have students who are used to having a lot of meat in their diet and suddenly BAM! Tofu scramble… but here’s some Pepsi! Not okay.

The only good thing I’ve heard or experienced in the cafeteria is that there is a decent salad bar. Not much of a compliment when you think about it. I mean how hard is a salad bar? Considering our chef has supposedly won awards for his vegetarian cooking I’m not impressed. But I do like salad. Which brings me back to playing on Pinterest at work. It’s chapel time so I can actually do that now.

If you’ve been to my Pinterest account at all you will see that I have all the GastroGasms boards somewhat separated for easy browsing. I really wanted one for salads because I like salads and think that there would be better salads. My mom happened to make me a few nice one this morning to take with me to work (I know I’m SUCH a big girl!) and I had a fantastic one last night at an employee banquet. Other than the salad  and the bread there wasn’t much to write about, SDA banquets are fairly drawn out and rather dull affairs and everyone just automatically gets up and leaves after closing prayer. No dancing. Dancing is evil. Probably because there’s no booze and we’re all just so exhausted from all those committee meetings.

But my Gastrogasms: Salads Board is pathetic. Only 20 pins. 20 is pretty lousy, especially with the amount of time I spend looking for recipes and Gastroporn. So I am now on a quest (Yay!) to try and find more salad recipes. Here are some recent additions (all of which I intend to try within the next 2 weeks):

Crispy Okra Salad

Cucumber and Feta Salad

Grilled Zucchini and Spinach Salad with Feta and Roasted Hazelnut (aka: Zucchini Ribbon Salad)

Deconstructed Caesar Salad (Also great site for additional Gastroporn)

I’m now on the prowl for more salads. If you know of any please share. The findings will be posted to both Pinterest and the GastroGasms Facebook page.

Gastroporn Menu – November.2012

I know some people have been asking me if November’s Gastroporn Menu would be Thanksgiving themed. The simple answer is “No”. Thanksgiving is a magical time and should not be attached to anything else. That would spoil it. I will do a special Thanksgiving post later. This menu is inspired by the fact that on November 2 I’ve been asked to give a special vespers program on “Health”. Why they picked me for something I obviously don’t take care of personally is beyond me but I’ll do my best.

I’ll probably do something that has little to do with healthy eating and more to do with a healthy lifestyle and mindset. Part of that is being able to think critically about yourself and your environment. This may seem a little off point but I don’t think so.  Studies show that families who have a sit down dinner together more often have a better family dynamic and the kids turn out better. Point and fact: My family eats most meals together and I turned out fantastic! Also, taking longer to eat your food means you will eat less and usually with more conscience than someone who just scarfs down a burger or junk good on the go. The time we put into getting and making our food can be a religious experience that, when done right, makes us think less about stress and more about the things that make us happy in life. The things we should be known.

So the following menu is a “Life Lessons” Menu. Forcing us to take the time to plan things in advance and spend time with ourselves while we are creating and, in the end, share what we produce with the people that mean the most to us. This is what having a healthy lifestyle is all about: Making sure we take the time to do what we love and do with it with/for the right people.

The Lesson

 

Roasted Almonds

Fall Sangria

Pear, Walnut, and Ricotta Crostini

Caesar Salad in Parmesan Cheese Baskets

Spinach Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Blackberry Prosecco Popsicle

Lavender, Cardamom, and Dark Chocolate Truffles

served with Coffee

Cheese Board

Gastroporn Menu – October.2012

October is like the perfect month for cooking. The weather is crisp but not frigid and it is energizing as your natural instincts are telling you to start storing fat for the winter. Unfortunately we also have Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up (two of the greatest food-related holidays in my world) and everyone is already thinking about all the weight they will gain from that.

I’ve also noticed that people seem to be going a little pumpkin crazy. It’s cool but there is such a thing as single-ingredient-OVERLOAD and a little goes a long way with things like squash and pumpkin. Yes, it’s healthy. Yes, it’s pretty. But no I do not want pumpkin spice lattes with my pumpkin bread after a pumpkin soup and squash ravioli lunch. And I definitely don’t need to be preparing my pumpkin donuts for the morning after all that. I’m gonna turn orange!

But without further ado, here is October’s menu:

Fall Lunch

Black Velvet (Guinness and Champagne)

Spinach and Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing

Roasted grape, goat cheese + honey stuffed sweet potatoes (with step-by-step instructions)

Blueberry, basil, and goat cheese hand pies (A good use for all those blueberries I have from the summer. See “The Big Blueberry”)