Monthly Archives: April 2011

Nope, still not moving home, Mom!

So the May Diplomat School* class was canceled. And then uncanceled. Invitations went out yesterday and today. No, I am not among the lucky. My score is good enough that I wouldn’t normally need to worry about eventually receiving an invitation, but in this age of squabbling over budgets and debt-ceilings, all bets are off. We, the great unwashed hopeful future officers, are all counting on July and September classes.

For those of you who have been cheering Congress on as they cut the State department’s budget, please remember that diplomats are cheaper than soldiers, and diplomacy is cheaper than war. Long term, the American government will save more money and more lives through diplomacy and development than defense.

In any case, I am still in Benin, still working at the embassy, and still enjoying life.

* What I call “Diplomat School” is normally called A-100. But nobody who reads this knows WTF “A-100” means, so I’ll call it WTF I want.

Lentil loaf

Red lentils

Turns out, cooking split red lentils has nothing in common with cooking regular brown lentils. Or maybe I just buy a lot of stale brown lentils. After soaking the red lentils in water for an hour, I put them on the stove. I think they were done even before the water boiled. So now I’ve got a few cups of lentil mush. It’s delicious mush, but never-the-less, still mush.

Cooked lentil mush

That’s OK.

The lentil loaf turned out fine anyway. I based the loaf on Bella’s recipe. And by “based on,” I mean, “Hmmm, a lentil loaf sounds delicious, but I don’t actually have any of the ingredients she used, so I’ll make it up as I go along.”

That’s OK too.

I used lentil mush instead of lentils, fine brown bulger instead of brown bismati rice, mustard and worchestershire sauce instead of BBQ sauce, eggs instead of egg subsitute, red pepper flakes and oregano instead of cajun seasoning, and I added a cup of shredded zucchini. I did keep the mirepoix, because who doesn’t like a good mirepoix?

Mirepoix

A-OK.

The first lentil loaf turned out pretty well. It tasted great, but it only rises to spectacular when paired with more ketchup. Bertrand adores it. Go figure.

Lentil loaf

Since I had leftover lentil mush and bulgar, I decided to make a second loaf! I replaced the celery with a huge handful of chopped parsley, and put as much dijon mustard in as ketchup. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Lentil loaf II

And leftovers for lunch this week. ;)

Egg Scramble

Veggies on a plate

Oh, egg scrambles, how I love you so. Delicious vegetables. Lots of protein. Not lots of calories. It’s a perfect way to start my day (and a perfect way to use up old vegetables before I hit the market on the weekends).

The recipe is simple: chop whatever vegetables you like, sautee them, pour eggs over veggies, cook eggs, eat. I usually have tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchinis, and onions on hand, but it works well with spinach, leeks, and celery too.

Egg scramble. Yum!

Recipe for Easy-Peasy Egg Scramble

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes (or 250g)
  • 3 green peppers (or 125g)
  • 3 baby zucchinis (or 125g)
  • Half a large yellow onion (or 75g)
  • 1-1/2t vegetable oil (you can use olive, but I don’t like the taste)
  • 6 eggs (2 whole eggs, 4 egg whites)
  • 2T skim milk
  • 2t salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Chop vegetables. Toss with 1t salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
  2. Sautee vegetables in oil.
  3. Beat eggs, milk, and 1t salt.
  4. Pour egg mixture over vegetables.
  5. Gently turn to avoid burning the eggs.
  6. When the eggs are cooked, you’re done! Bon appetit.

Nutrition information

This probably goes without saying, but nutrition information is going to vary wildly between egg scrambles, especially if you’re like me and tend to eye ingredients and use whatever vegetables are in your fridge. The recipe above could easily serve 3 or 4 people, but I like a hearty breakfast before a long hard day of relaxing at home.

Servings: 2 | Calories: 180 | Fat: 9g | Carbs: 17g | Fiber: 4g | Protein: 17g

Vegetable skewers

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Now that we’re hitting the beach several times a month, I need some good, portable, grillable recipes. Just grill delicious meat and fish you say? Guess what Bertrand and I gave up for Lent.

Enter the vegetable skewer.

Benin’s got delicious cheese. It’s kind of like ricotta, except that it’s solid, has a tofu-like texture, and doesn’t melt, and grills up perfectly. Oh wait, it’s nothing like ricotta.

Start your skewers soaking. This is so they don’t turn black on the grill (or in the oven). This is less important if you’re not a freak about aesthetics.

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Optional: blend up a basic Beninese sauce for your marinade (recipe to come this week), heavy on the ginger and the hot peppers. Wait, there aren’t any hot peppers in that recipe? Just chop up a tablespoon oo so, and add it to the blend mix. Add in a teaspoon or so of salt and a tablespoon of oilve oil. Don’t cook the sauce!

Then, chop a bunch of vegetables. Also chop some pineapple and wagasi (or leave the wagasi, if you’re not in Benin).

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Toss marinadeable veggies (zucchinis, pineapple) and wagasi with the marinade. If you didn’t make a marinade, toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt.

Build your skewers! Leave chunks of onion in tact. They are more delicious that way.

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I cheat and roast my skewers in the oven for 20 minutes before heading out to the beach. This cooks all of the vegetables, so all I have to do once I get to the beach is reheat on the grill. When I’m cooking at home, sans grill, I roast for 30 minutes, turning and rotating the skewers halfway through.

Grill.

Eat.

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Linkdump!

I haven’t been blogging because I hate this blog. There. I said it. THIS BLOG MAKES ME CRAZY. It is annoying (like me), neurotic (like me), and damn unfunny (unlike me). I’ve written enough “I can’t find my voice” posts to sink a damn battleship.

The strange thing is that I have a few “fitness buddies,” with whom I exchange emails privately. I love the emails I send them! They are funny. Eloquent. Feminist. Honest. Yes, neurotic too.

While I’m figuring things out (and freaking out about a possible furlough at work), here are some links I’ve liked over the past few days:

Food is cheaper because costs are “externalized”. Marion Nestle’s excellent explanation for how American food stays so cheap compared to the rest of the world. Do you not read Food Politics? You should!

Lentil Loaf, on Feed Me I’m Cranky. I’m making this for dinner tonight! Oh, protein, I miss you so!

Free-Market Solutions for Overweight Americans. Matt Ridley examens healthy living vouchers as a solution for obesity. I’m not convinced, as better and universal access to healthy foods, health care, and education would do largely the same thing, but with much less cost and negative externalities. Oh, I’m sorry, is my progressive showing?