Let George feed you

I like to cook. I mean, I really do. I enjoy being in the kitchen, selecting ingredients, whipping things up for my family to eat with my own two hands. Growing herbs, yeah baby! I sprinkle them on everything.

Like lots of people, apparently, I gravitate to about 10 different meals. These have morphed over the years; for example, I almost never make baked chicken and rice any more because I’m thoroughly sick of it.

Now I tend to make a lot of homemade pizza because I’m a loon and obsessed with it. I make the crust in the breadmaker, make the sauce in the food processor, and whip up an obscene number of toppings on the stove or fling ’em raw from the fridge (like olives; don’t worry I’m not killing my family with raw meat). Recipes coming next week.

I also like to grill indoors. Meet George.

Specifically, this is the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat X Grilling Machine. With George Foreman signature.

George holds quite a nice amount of food. See his nice wide maw?

You will also, no doubt, notice the yucky looking spots, which are not crud but probably water spots from the dishwasher for lo, this George Foreman model grill features removable grill plates, which can be washed in the dishwasher. Let us pause for a moment and thank all the saints.

If you don’t mind cutting up a few things, you can have a decent dinner on the table in a half hour with George. Here’s what I did the other night.

Here we have some marinated pork slices, which I purchased already cut this way at the grocery. I usually marinate cuts such as this with a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and balsamic vinegar.

Then I halved some “baby bella” portabello mushrooms, a few green peppers and half a Vidalia onion. Simple and easy peasy lemon squeezy. I steamed the broccoli in the microwave, and drank the wine.

So throw the meat on the grill.

And close the lid. After about four minutes, it’s cooked. Just put it on a plate and cover with foil, and then grill the rest of the meat, if you have more.

Now here’s the funny thing. The George Foreman grill is designed to grill things without fat. All the fat and juice runs off into the little tray below. Since I always choose lean cuts of meat, I have no problem whatsoever with saving the juice. Frequently, I’ll pour it over the vegetables so they don’t dry out. Then I grill them as well.

And so here you have it, my finished dinner. Served with broccoli, and possibly a green salad, it’s a low-carb, healthy meal that’s fun to make … if you invite George along.

Of course, now that outdoor grilling season is upon us, poor little George can go away in the pantry until next winter. But eh, I grill indoors a lot in the summer too.

It’s simple and a fairly obvious dinner, in my view. But if you’re like me and sometimes stumped for easy dinner ideas, I offer it to you … and George, if you ask him along.

Be still my heart

Clogging an artery near you

I spent several hours at the state fair last week, and while the reprehensible sights one can behold at such an event are usually so numerous they could fill at least one, hair-raising book, this vision leaves them all far, far behind.

Behold: The Donut Burger. Forgetting for one moment that the spelling “donut” alone makes me spit up a little, let us take a few minutes to contemplate this frightening foodstuff.

According to the Courier-Journal, which paid one of its reporters to actually eat one, the Donut Burger packs a hefty 800 calories per sandwich. And unlike the affront to culinary sensibilities served at the Wisconsin State Fair, which plated its cheeseburger demurely between a single, horizontally sliced donut, the Kentucky version brazenly slapped its cow patty between two whole fried-dough confections.

If the combination of doughnut and beef isn’t enough to stop your heart, the intrepid diner can also add cheese and, that most sinful of all foods, bacon. Approximately four slices, if my field observations are to be believed. Of course there is lettuce and tomato which can be piled upon the foul mix as well — although with a heart attack like this going, I have no idea why anyone would introduce anything as close to health food as vegetables into the mix.

It should probably be mentioned at this point that there is no way in hell that I would ever eat a Donut Burger, so if you got this far looking for a review, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Perhaps your misguided curiosity can be placated with my favorite part of the Courier’s story:

Two bites, then three and soon it started to taste like a regular cheeseburger with a hint of sugary glaze. By the fourth, fifth and sixth bites the doughnuts had flattened from trying to handle it and the grease was starting to mix with the glaze, creating something that doesn’t really have a name. Let’s just call it “glease.”

The booth where I spent my hours at the fair wasn’t far from the Donut Burger stand, and at no time during my stay did I ever look donutward and not see a line of similar length to the one depicted before you. It was generally made up of persons of girth commensurate with the main bulk of the population; that is to say, people lining up to get at this thing were thin, average and alarmingly overweight.

I myself indulged in a pork-loin sandwich and, I must admit, strayed into Donut Burger territory, grease-wise, in my choice of sides: a mighty plate of deep-fried, freshly cut spiral potatoes. An entire paper-plate full. I ate every one. I am certain that this indulgence would rarely lead to cardiac arrest; I am not so sure of our pal the Coronary Burger.

Will each of the fair-goers who succumbed to its greasy siren song do penance this week on the treadmill — or add it to their list of sins when seeking the solace of the confessional? I have to admit, while my one  greasy plate of tates did launch me into a renewed burst of cholesterol-fighting energy on my walks over the weekend, I did stop short of frightening our parish priest with my tales of state-fair sin.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone did, though; it’s so rare to see, in the wild, a victual so heinous and so sinful that it’s literally heart-stopping!

Damn, I’m good

Last night my son Christopher had a friend stay the night. He arrived in time to have dinner with us.

Scrumptious, it was. Pan-fried chicken, baked in the oven with a slice of ham and cheddar cheese on top. Accompanied by french fries, sweet-potato fries, and a mixture of  sautéed zucchini, onions, and mushrooms. And salad. Usual fare, more or less, for us … nothing out of the usual rotation, though I don’t make it often. Another time Nathan was our guest, I fixed meatloaf, which he positively gobbled.

And so, I was unsurprised when he made up his plate and proceeded to eat just about everything. And when he was done, what was the high praise I received?

“I like eating over here. I don’t have to pretend I like the food.”

Here comes the sun

This morning it was snowing and it was 19 degrees. Yeah, sure, snow is pretty. OK, fine, it’ll warm up as the day goes on.

Tell me another one.

Winter is not my favorite season. I’d much rather be basking in summer sunshine, listening to the birds and watering my sunflowers. But the earth needs a rest, at least in this hemisphere, and today I choose to view winter as a period of rejuvenation. I’m gathering strength for the coming season.

Like most of the over-indulgent, I’ve put on a few pounds over the holidays, slacked off on the exercise and generally lived the life of a pampered potato. Tras, too, has taken a good hard look at where his abs used to be and made a similar deduction. And like most of the over-indulgent, we have taken the coming of the new year to vow to turn over a new leaf, make a new plan, start afresh.

A shopping trip yesterday found me buying loads of fresh foods that I love. I’ve perused the recipe book for healthful dinners that I’ll be making from now on (NO MORE GRAVY) and I’ve taken inventory of spice rack and planned accordingly. The Wii Fit is singing its siren song and no longer will I ignore the treadmill in the basement.

These are my resolutions. Like the cheerful sunflower that again adorns the NouveauSoileau masthead, I’ve resolved to take a new and sunny view of life – and my waistline — and view it as an optimistic Project. I’m up for a challenge. I’m a healthy risk-taker. I know what needs to be done and by God I’m gonna do it.

I only ask one thing.

Talk me out of it.