Making Dinners

One thing I have never been good with is cooking dinner.  Until I met Ryan, I was pretty much living alone and on my own schedule which took me late until the night.  Not every dinner came from frozen, but many were the “healthier” prepackaged meals.  I still find it hard to cook for just one person, but I have gotten better.  Heck, it is still tough to cook for two people, but at least then I have leftovers for lunch during the week. 

When we first moved to the island, I was working very little and found that since I had time, it was easier to plan and cook our dinners.  That lasted for a little bit, but slowly died down.  Part of the problem is wanting to eat out because I have been writing a blog for the island that provides information on restaurants and activities around the island.  If you are interested, check it out HERE.  I love to experience the island and see their culture and enjoy their food before we don’t have that chance anymore.  Yes, I am making excuses, but I think there is some rational thinking somewhere in there.
In an effort to regroup with going back to school time and my new schedule with working, I decided to aim for cooking dinner twice per week.  I know so many of you do this so well every night, but this does not come easily to me.  The trouble is not that I can’t cook, it is that I don’t have time or patience.  I like to be doing multiple things at all times and keeping an eye on the food prevents me from doing this.  That is why I need to make a conscious decision to put down my work, stop what I am doing, and cook dinner.  Remember, I am a dietitian, so I actually do know all of the steps and advice for doing this, but it doesn’t make it any easier to stop doing work…that is just my personality.

I am pleased to announce that last week, I was successful, and made dinner twice.  The first was not 100% cooking, since I used a prepared item, but I added to it so it seemed like I was doing some work.
I started off with this black rice that my dad bought me.  I think it came from whole foods.
Then I wanted to try this spiced soybean dish.  My mom sent it to me, and it really looked so good.
I needed a veggie, so I was glad that I am a fan of frozen veggies.  Stocking up on frozen veggies means I always have vegetables on hand.  I picked green beans, and then sautéed them in a small amount of olive oil, added some pepper and then some green olive mustard.
In just about 30 minutes I made this lovely dinner.
The soy bean dish was really good.  I am glad my mom sent me another package.
Later that week we wanted some pizza for dinner.  After contemplating frozen, we decided it was not to tough to make it from scratch.  Since I knew I would be home early in the afternoon, I could handle getting the dough ready.
By the time Ryan came home from work, the dough was good to go.
I feel so silly, but I did not know that buffalo mozzarella is actually made from buffalo milk.  I always just thought it was called that for some other reason.  Well, maybe in the US it is, but this came from the commissary and one thing that is nice about our food coming in from Germany is that we get European products…and in this case, the mozzarella was from Italy, and it was really from buffalo milk, as I could see it on the food label.  Yes, I read the Italian label, but then I realized the had a GB (Great Britain) label on their, which is English, so I like to look for that on European foods.  It even had a smoky flavor, and I do not recall that with US buffalo mozzarella, so I am not sure…maybe their buffalo’s are different from those in the states.  Ok, I won’t bore you any more with the buffalo milk talk.
Instead of a sauce, we opted for sliced Roma tomatoes.
We also thought onions would be nice.  Our last topping was mushrooms, but we decided on canned.
Here is the dough, ready to go!
We put corn meal on the dough to prevent sticking and make it easier to slide off the stone and on to the peel.
I love the design (and mess) it makes once you pick the pan back up.
Let the topping layering begin…

#1 Tomatoes
#2 Cheese
#3 Onions
#4 Mushrooms
Then we baked it of course, and out came this very delicious, extremely fresh homemade pizza.
There you have it.  I made dinner twice last week.  I am going to try and stick with this as much as possible.  I hope I can, but things come up and I don’t want to make myself feel guilty if I can’t spend an hour or so on dinner.  I know some of you can make a fresh dinner in less time, but for me, I have to wash the dishes before and after, so it takes extra time.  Any dish that sits for more than 3 days will already have mold growing.  Don’t forget that I live in a very humid area.  The cabinets are mold and a film forms on just about everything.  So, I wash dishes first, and then right after we eat because there would be little room to keep them until the next day, and it would attract flies.

QUESTIONS:  Have many nights a week do you cook dinner?  What is your favorite mid-week dinner to prepare?  How much time, on average, do you spend a night on dinner?Have you ever lived anywhere with a mold problem?

Cars and Dinner

A few weekends ago the town of Praia had a car show.  Well, Ryan and I forgot all about it, but as we were trying to park for dinner one night, we remembered as we attempted to park in town.  The roads were closed off.  Even though we were starving, we checked out the event before dinner.
First we checked out the little race track with little go-carts for racing.
Then we headed to the main pavilion.  There was a section for old cars and then a section with new cars for sale.  For an island with a population of 50-55 thousand people, you would be surprised at how many old cars are around.  When I say old, I mean classic cars, well kept, not beat up pieces of junk.
I have no clue what this is, but it looked really cool.
The locals do not mess around when it comes to coffee.  There is an espresso bar in the car pavilion.
Even stranger, one of our favorite restaurants moved their ENTIRE interior to the pavilion for food service.  I am not kidding, they recreated the exact interior inside the pavilion.  I have never seen a restaurant move tables, chairs, and decor to another location, for just a week. 
As cool as that seemed, we already planned to go to O Pescador (the fisherman) for dinner.  Well, turns out there was a meeting at the restaurant, and the staff was very busy as it was important people there for dinner in the back room.  Long story short, it took us 45 minutes to have our order taken.  At least we spend the 45 minutes at a table waiting, not standing up, but still.  They were just that preoccupied, and while it seemed like forever, we understood.  In the US that is grounds for a free meal, but around here, that is not something they would even think to do for customer service.  In the end, we just sat, talked and enjoyed the company because there was not much we could do and it was already late.

We did get some bread, cheese and wine during that time.
Ryan had a steak.
I had the Almoco Jack (a fish, and I have no idea what kind other than the name they called it) with passion fruit vinaigrette with mashed sweet potato.  I love that they call mashed potatoes, punched potatoes.
In the end, the meal was wonderful, and once we ordered the food came quickly.  It was a nice Friday night out.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to a car show?  What is the longest wait you have had at a restaurant?

Operation Fat Cat and Chinese

Meet Midnight…
This is my fat cat.  She is about 10 years old.
I recently took her in to the vet for a teeth cleaning.
She was unable to have the surgery because she is overweight.  Actually, she is 40% overweight, so sadly, I need to call her obese.  The risks of surgery with that excess weight and her wheezing breathing problems were greater than the current benefit and need to clean her teeth.  Also, the vet found a heart murmur.
So Midnight will be waiting 6 months to have the teeth cleaning.  If you are not familiar with teeth cleaning in pets, they put them under anesthesia for the procedure so there are more risks than a human teeth cleaning.

Midnight needs to lose 4 pounds total, but only about 0.5-1 pound in 6 months.  The process for a cat is much slower than in people.  I may be certified in adult weight management though the Commission for Dietetic Registration, and some of the physiological principles apply, but I am not a cat weight loss expert.  Since I have some idea, I got started with diet and exercise changes.

The cat is relatively lazy, as we would expect with a 10 year old cat.  We started out by purchasing a variety of toys for her to play with.  We did not know what she would like, so we tried multiple things.  This is a cat nip toy she can kick around.  She is not too interested in this.
This is a fish on a pole.  She was not too interested with it attached to a stationary object, but if Ryan or myself are on the other end, she will play for hours.  This has been the most helpful tool so far.
She likes the idea of this toy, but I do not think she really gets it yet.  I am still hopeful she will want to play with this more because she can self entertain and does not need one of us to be at the other end of the toy.
Then In placed her on a monitored meal plan, not a diet.  Before I would fill the bowl and leave it all day.  She never ate it all, but I also had no clue how much she was eating.  Also, I give her not “junk” food, but not top of the line.  I heard Hill’s was not the tastiest, but it was the only one I had access too.  I bought the light kind.  I calculated intake needs based on her desirable body weight as per the vet.  This translated to 2/3 cup daily.  I decided to mix her Purina with the hills, in equal 1/3 cup amounts.  Plus, I give 1/2 can Fancy Feast a day, which was approved by my vet.  It is mostly water, so it is low in calories.  I also am now on to 2 meals a day, but she can still craze.  I give half in the morning, and she can eat throughout the day.  Then I give the rest at night, since she prefers to eat nocturnally, as she is a cat.  She still does not eat all the food, but it is much more controlled.
As for the current results.  She started at 12.5 pounds, and some how at the next weigh in was 14.  I think it was a fluke, so I will be checking again this weekend.  I plan to weigh her once a week.  I really hope I am successful with this.  I want my cat to live a long healthy life.  I can’t believe I let Midnight become a fat cat.

Speaking of feeding, Ryan and I finally made it to the Chinese restaurant on the island.  That’s right, there is a Portuguese version of a Chinese restaurant.  I was excited to see so many options on the menu, and that the menu was also listed in English.  I assume there is a Chinese restaurant because there are quite a few Chinese families on the island.  I am still not sure about the history behind that, but I am sure there is an interesting tale.

It looks a little run down outside,
but inside it was nicer than I expected.
No Chinese beer on the menu, so we went with Danish.
Ryan had sweet and sour soup to start.
We also ordered spring rolls.  Good thing I cut first before biting because there was ground beef inside.  I gave it to Ryan.
I had sweet and sour shrimp for my entree.
With white rice of course.  Nope, no brown rice here.
Ryan had just some broccoli with garlic sauce, because he had the soup and spring roll also.
Overall it was not too bad, but not the best either.  I would go back simply because it is the only choice for Chinese, other than cooking it at home.  I am glad we finally gave this place a try.

When we got home, we tried out this crazy sugar pop with popping candy because it looked too funny to not try.  It reminded me of something I may have eaten at summer camp, and in fact, I think I did have something like this before when I was a kid.
Oh, and we are so excited that this came in the mail.  I love this show.
QUESTIONS:  Have you ever had to put a pet on a “diet”?  What is your favorite Chinese dish?