Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Edible Din-Din

I woke up this morning to Raj, looking dashing at the end of the bed all dressed for work in a crisp white shirt and slacks, saying, in an exceedingly chipper sing-song voice, "Munchkin, wakey, wakey. Time to get up, Munchkin!!" As I struggled to hold my eye lids open, I slowly realized that it was already 9:15, Raj had woken, gone to the gym, showered and dressed, and I had slept through it all. How many hours did I get last night, with only one interruption at 3 am? Nine blissful hours. Now that's the kind of sleep I'm talking about!

So much for getting in to work at a reasonable time.

Last night I made dinner for Leila and Zahra, two extraordinary teenagers I have befriended while working on their asylum case. We have not yet heard the results in their asylum case, so the girls continue to remain in legal limbo. They have been living in a domestic violence shelter since June. I see them about once a week, either visiting them at their shelter, or having them over to my apartment. I love spending time with them.

Though the girls often request "desi" (South Asian, including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan) food, they decided yesterday that they were tired of desi food and wanted to have something non-desi for a change. The girls also wanted something healthy. I volunteered to cook dinner at my apartment, and this resulted in a flurry of conversations in which I tried to figure out what non-desi food they might like. During one conversation, Zahra told me that she liked eggplant "if cooked properly." When I asked her what she meant by "properly," she said, "with the right spices." I cautioned her that non-desi food does not use the same spices as desi food, to which Zahra replied, "Oh..." In another conversation, Leila told me that she did not like sweet potatoes. When I asked if she had ever had sweet potatoes, she admitted that she wasn't sure.

It was challenging to come up with a healthy, tasty, easy meal - one that I could make, and one that I could teach the girls how to make in the future. How do moms do it every night?? I'm forever looking for ideas, so if you have any, send them my way.

I ended up making poached salmon, corn, sweet potatoes, a salad, and antioxidant-packed blueberries with yogurt and brown sugar for dessert. To my great delight, it was a success!! Both girls had seconds, they loved the sweet potatoes, and the also really liked the dessert. Raj came home just in time for dinner and he said, after complimenting my cooking very sweetly, "Why aren't you always like this?" Ha ha.

Personally, I wasn't thrilled with the salmon. I'm partial to grilled, as opposed to poached, fish. The sweet potatoes, however, were brilliant. I was short on time so all I did was microwave one giant sweet potato for 6 minutes, after peeling the skin off, pricking it with a fork several times, and wrapping it tightly in saran wrap. After removing it from the microwave, I carefully removed the saran wrap (watch out for steam), put it in a dish and mashed it up with a fork. I topped it off with a few pats of butter, and voila! No unhealthy additives and it was delicious. Of course I didn't tell Leila, Zahra, or Raj that; he's worse than them, always wanting butter, salt, and the ubiquitous hot sauce.

Easy Blueberry Dessert:

Fresh blueberries
1 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp brown sugar

Rinse blueberries, put in bowl. Place a dollop of yogurt on top of the blueberries. Sprinkle with tbsp of brown sugar.

Tips: When eating this dessert, I love to mix the blueberries, yogurt, and brown sugar together until each berry is coated with a delectable brown sugar infused yogurt coating. This satisfies my cravings for creaminess and sweetness.

On yogurt: My mom used to make this dessert when I was younger by using sour cream instead of yogurt. Recently, I discovered Fage's greek yogurt. It's thick and creamy and has a similar consistency to sour cream, yet it has all the health benefits of yogurt. I buy the plain 2% yogurt because it is low fat, and still delicious. Occasionally, I eat it with honey and cinnamon as a snack, or dip strawberries into the honey yogurt mixture. Yummy.


Prue said...

That sounds yummy. Question - Did you poach the salmon in water or milk or some other liquid? And about how long did you poach it? I've never poached fish but would like to try. I've always either grilled it or baked it.

Tracy said...

I have recently discovered Greek yogurt. It is so rich and delicious. Mmmm.

You are such a sweet friend to the two girls. I hope they hear good news very soon.

Buttercup said...

Prue, I poached the salmon in about 1.5 inches of water, soy sauce, and 3 tbsp of brown sugar. I brought the mixture to a boil, then turned it down, put in the fish, covered it and allowed the fish to simmer for about 10 minutes (probably a bit too long). Check out this website for instructions on poaching:

Tracy, Rich and delicious is the best way to describe greek yogurt. Other than it being a bit more expensive (right?) I can't see why you wouldn't buy this on a regular basis instead of other yogurts. (Unless you want minis for work lunch, like light and lively yogurt cups).

colleen said...

Buttercups, beans, and blueberries. I feel an alliteration coming on!

Bean said...

Buttercup, It should be Blueberries, Sour Cream and Brown Sugar! Mmmm, I could totally go for some of that tonight!