My Whim is Law

…where a single parent in Portland still believes that wishing will make it so…

Betsy’s stuffed zucchini canoes

I received the baseball-bat zucchini below as a ‘gift’ from a co-worker, who is inundated with zucchini these days. I took it with me to #MrWhimGrin’s house last weekend and made the casserole below.

Then, my friend @StephStricklen talked about the 3 ‘toddler-sized’ zucchini she’d been gifted with last night on Twitter. I sent her my recipe in 140c bursts, but thought it needed deeper notarization – a point that #MrWhimGrin agreed with, as both he and his friends (who got the other canoe we made Saturday night) want the recipe as well!

As is usual for me, I’m not going to get proportions accurate here. Go with what sounds good to you! I also believe this was originally inspired by a recipe from one of the Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood cookbooks – which means it would have been vegetarian & probably contained rice, bread cubes/crumbs or other stuff. Finally – yes, it has cheese in it (which will make the Paleo people cry a little inside, I’m sure). Don’t like cheese? Don’t use it then…


One huge zucchini (mine was rather phallic-like, as you can see).The ingredients below made 2 canoes from the right half of said zucchini – use that as a reference when you look at the proportions below.

My little baseball bat!
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My kale-avocado salad (aka ‘kale crack’)

I thought I had this posted already on the site – but I was WRONG. Guess I’d better fix that already if I’m crowing about it as ‘kale crack’, eh?

And since people at the potluck today asked for it (along with my friend Devon on Twitter), I went to my email archive to pull out what I’d emailed a friend a few months ago (who also came back with rave reviews.)(See my notes below…)

Salad’s super-easy. Just shred your kale finely & put in large mixing bowl. Add salt (I use coarse kosher salt, but sea salt or reg table salt will do) & 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix that thoroughly.

Then add 1 of your avocados (you should have two) to the bowl, along with the juice from a lemon (don’t know what you need if using reconstituted, I don’t measure much!) and use your hands to mix, rubbing the salt-avocado-oil-lemon mixture into the leaves until they’re soft/wilted enough to your taste. Rinse hands, and then add the other avocado, diced, along with anything else you might want in the salad – pepper, sliced green onion, halved cherry tomatoes, diced red pepper are some that I’ve used. (But you shouldn’t need a ton of add-ins, save for the other avocado & some pepper). Stir gently to combine, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours. (I don’t always do this part.)

Over time, you can play with proportions – more/less oil, lemon, salt, avocado. You can choose to dice & combine both avocados instead of mixing with your hands. (I’ve used up to 3 smallish avocados & mashed them all into a healthy bunch of kale before, too)

For today’s salad, I used two bunches of lacinto (dinosaur) kale (you can use curly as well, but it just takes more work to chop/deal with stems) and two avocados. The citrus was split between 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 a small grapefruit. And I also added in 3 sliced scallions, some shredded carrots from the Whole Foods salad bar (scored during this AM’s emergency run), & some sunflower seeds. I seasoned with both the salt & some fresh-ground pepper & a dash or two of gomasio as well.

Here’s the original recipe I started with last summer (now saved to my own Google Doc collection, of course!)

Posted in Caveman Eating, Chef Whims, Get Betsy Healthy | 1 Comment

Rebooting meal planning for w/o 1-22

So…what’s the post-mortem on last week’s meal plan, you wonder? (You may not really be wondering, but I’mma gonna tell you anyway…)

SO…Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday went off without a hitch (yes, smartasses – the kitchen stayed closed on Tuesday as promised, so I can still count it in the Plus column, right? Right…)

Monday’s meatloaf? #Teens hated it, while I thought it was perfectly fine. But since I wasn’t going to eat it all myself, it got revised into what was going to be spaghetti sauce on Thursday. Until neither kid showed up for dinner by the time it was ready.

At that point? I tossed some greens in it as well (just as #HeTeen walked in the house, took one look, and dismissed it as ‘food you give to prisoners’). That’s quite all right – I ate two bowls myself (minus the pasta, of course) & pointed #HeTeen at the frozen burritos instead.

We’re back on track, though – chicken stock’s underway in the crockpot for Sunday night matzoh ball soup, while #HeTeen & I have a steak date later this evening.

And the promised potato-leek soup? On tap for Monday’s dinner.

The rest of the week will be a scramble, thanks to #SheTeen’s insane schedule that includes 3 evening practices, 2 early AM rehearsals, 1 middle school youth group dinner and not 1, not 2, but 3 performances this week (it’s why she was MIA for the spaghetti sauce meal as well.) So I’ll content myself by giving us all home-cooked decent food to start the week off, and punt when necessary.

Who knows – those frozen burritos might start looking really tempting by the end of the week, even for me!

Posted in Bossing the Kids, Caveman Eating, Chef Whims | Leave a comment

Meal prep for the week of 1/15

It’s another busy week ahead of us, with evening events that won’t get us home until at least 6 pm at the earliest most nights. So we need meals that can fill in around the edges – things I can grab for myself only after Wednesday evening’s marathon, when we leave the house at 7:15 am and don’t get back until 8:45 pm (#SheTeen gets dinner at her middle school event, at least), for example. Or items I can point #HeTeen at if/when we’re not home (not that he’ll typically eat leftovers – but it’s always worth a try…)

Complicating things even further? My picky requirement that at least 90% of the food be paleo-friendly (before kid adaptations close to finishing time, that is). Yes, that’s also part of the weekly shopping/procuring drill. But at least I have my weekly box from Organics to You that helps provide fruit for #SheTeen (she’s on a major citrus kick these days) and both inspires and challenges me on the cooking front! (This week’s challenge – what to do with all of the baby celeriac roots I now have!)

So here’s the plan:

  • Sunday: Chicken rubbed with spices, stuffed with aromatics (lemon, onion, apple), & roasted on a bed of cabbage & leeks. (Need to use up weekly veggie allotment before the Organics to You box arrives tomorrow night!) We’ll use leftover chicken during the week (& I’ll take some to work for salads), while the carcass will be used with veggie scraps to make chicken stock.
  • Monday: Meatloaf (inspired by Richard Nikolay’s Gluten-Free/Nearly-Paleo meatloaf recipe, except – not really by the time I was done…!) Used leftover mashed potatoes as filler instead of his dry white rice (the non-Paleo part), plus a handful of dried veggie soup mix & a healthy dose of the leftover wine/herb braising liquid from last night’s chuck roast (have more of that elixir to use during the week, in fact). Also skipped the dried fruits part & added in sage pork sausage from New Seasons for part of the meat. Plus a squirt or two of sun-dried tomato paste (love the pastes that come in a toothpaste-esque tube).

    Come to think of it? I completely bastardized Richard’s recipe, didn’t I? (It’s what I do…) But his post did inspire me to make meatloaf (which is what counts in the end, right?), that’s now already mixed together & ready for the oven tomorrow night. Since the kids have the day off for the MLK holiday? #SheTeen just needs to pop it in the oven at the right time. (If there are leftovers, they’ll go to work with me for lunch later in the week…)

  • Tuesday: Kids have dinner with their father; I have plans with a bunch of my female friends. Kitchen is: CLOSED.
  • Wednesday: It’s a heavy #momtaxi day for yours truly after I get out of work. Depending on how the week’s going, may start the chicken stock to do its thing in the AM & then strain/refrigerate in the PM. Also – leftover chicken will fill in dinner gaps if needed for me/#HeTeen…
  • Thursday: Potato-leek soup (or possibly matzoh ball soup if #HeTeen gets his way), made w/chicken stock for the kids (either from this chicken or what’s already been frozen from before) – and I’ll forage for myself. (Roasted brussels? Sure…) Of course, all veggie scraps during the week get saved to replenish the regular stock-producing mode I’m in during winter months.
  • Friday: #SheTeen heads to her dad’s for the weekend after jazz band practice, while I may have evening plans with friends, since it’s a kid-free weekend in theory. #HeTeen? There should be plenty of leftovers by this time – or else he’s free to nuke one of the burritos I keep stocked in the freezer, just for him!
  • Saturday: It’s probably a ‘steak at home’ night if #HeTeen is around (he’s been urging me to stick to steaks as a general rule when I buy meat for the week). Since I’m not independently wealthy and he’s a voracious steak eater? Um, not doing that, kid. But I might just spring for a decent grass-fed cut or two on Saturday. (For those of you wondering just why #HeTeen’s going to be around on a kid-free weekend? Stay tuned – there’s an update to this story…)
  • Sunday: Kitchen typically closed on kid-free weekends…

Of course, this is entirely modifiable as whims dictate. (Yes, I’ve been known to drive through Taco Bell to bring crap back for #HeTeen, or skip dinner-making in favor of an evening with #SheTeen at Sweet Tomatoes.)

And nope – I don’t plan out breakfasts or lunches in any major way, ever. Planning dinners out *should* be enough, no?

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Creating the chili – a morning-after activity

(I’d consider this the part two to the previous post – read that first if you want to know what inspired this creation…)

Woke up with an, um, excess of energy this morning – so thought I’d put it to, uh, productive use. Of course, I live-tweeted the creation as follows:

Time to make the (beanless) chili that the kids won’t eat.

Pulled out 2-5 lbs of stew meat, 2 onions, 2 peppers, and assorted cans of tomato products.

I’m not really crying, you know (am just chopping the onions…)

Onions go into bottom of crockpot with bacon fat & beef suet on high, w/handful of kosher salt.

Yes, I’m rough-chopping the veggies (I’m just working it out, is all…)

Used big knife to manhandle 2 bell peppers & 1 parsnip, set those aside.

Scraping the rotten sludge (…out of the compost bin)

It’s long past time (…to re-up my weekly produce delivery box)

Added rest of veggies to crockpot.

Letting them sweat it out (…the onions & peppers, that is)

…while I wrote this blog post.
Then, added the following to the mix:

  • 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can Ro-Tel with lime & jalapeno
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can homemade stock (used to rinse tomato paste can)
  • Several healthy shakes of Penzey’s chill 9000, smoked paprika, more kosher salt & some applewood smoked salt
  • 1 can of roasted chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Now? It simmers.
Me? I’m done simmering. Instead, I’m heading over to Organics to You to re-up on the weekly produce delivery.

Posted in Caveman Eating, Chef Whims, Wacky Dating Stories | 1 Comment
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