Octopuscarwash's Gourmet Adventures

I live to eat. Yes, I am an Asian Jew. My favorite meal is breakfast (oatmeal in particular). I'm only in high school, so I am a complete amateur. Some of my favorite cuisines are Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Japanese and Korean. I eat so much Chinese food that it's hard to say whether I like it or not... all I know is that I don't like what most of America seems to think of as Chinese food, Panda Express. I'm a pescetarian and love coming up with my own healthy fusion food.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving

This post is exciting for a few reasons:
1. I've been checking out other blogs, and most of them show relatively traditional Thanksgiving food. Of course, I did kind of miss the turkey, stuffing, and apple pie, but I also love how we mixed it up and created a menu that still had a lot of Thanksgiving-ish ingredients, and yet was definitely modernized.
2. Last night was also my first official time as "head chef." I mean, my dad made the chicken and string beans, but I made everything else by myself. I feel now that I've "entertained" once, I can do it lots more in the future! It was really fun!
So yesterday I started cooking first thing in the morning. First, I had a very good breakfast: Thanksgiving oatmeal!
It had 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup soy milk, some leftover pumpkin, 1/2 a banana, maple syrup, pecans, cranberry sauce, and a dollop of yogurt.
Then I started cooking. All the dishes were spread out over the course of the day, so I didn't feel pressured. I popped the Autumn Millet Bake back in the oven because it hadn't finished cooking, while I worked on the other baked dishes, that I figured I might as well do now if the oven was on. I made 101 Cookbook's Firecracker Cornbread and a recipe I got on Epicurious for Apple Quince Crisp with Rum Raisins. I modified that one a bit-- we didn't have rum, so the raisins became bourbon raisins. I also changed the topping and used Deborah Madison's, since I prefer my crisp topping to have oats in it. I also included walnuts and used half butter and half walnut oil in the topping. Flambee-ing the raisins was awesome, although it doesn't really show in the picture.
My dad couldn't resist taking some really unflattering pictures of me.
For lunch I wasn't that hungry, so I definitely ate more than I should have. I made a big salad with a bunch of random things-- spinach, some leftover cauliflower croquettes from the night before, some rice and beans, and hummus. I also had a piece of bread with cucumber and laughing cow, and then, just because I wanted something sweet, I had a zensoy pudding with half a banana and a drizzle of peanut butter. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach, and for some reason I always finish what's on my plate. I'll get to that in a minute, but this is definitely a bad thing.
I also had an apple.
I only went out of the house once-- how sad is that?? I really really really hate being cooped up in the apartment, which is why today I'm just going to get out for the sake of getting out. Anyways, at around 3 I went running with my friends-- the friends I went with yesterday are super fast, with 5 minute miles or something. I was really afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up with them, and there were stretches when I couldn't, but I basically stayed with them the whole time and felt like I pushed myself without hurting anything. Also, we didn't go that far-- I met them at the Point, and then we ran to just over the hill (before the playground) and then ran back not quite to the Point and did a bunch of striders, which we used to do when I was a sprinter, but they were obviously longer (for distance). Then I ran back to my house. I was thinking about having a snack but realized I had to get cooking and forgot all about it, which was VERY good, considering the amount of food we had later.
We actually changed the main course, because I realized that if we were going to have the autumn millet bake, our original stuffed pumpkins would be too similar. My dad took care of the Cornish hens, basting them with some kind of marmalade marinate, while I still tried out a Flexitarian Table recipe for Lemon Thyme tofu. I was a little worried about this, since I've never had "Western-style tofu" before. I also ended up using two kinds of tofu: both extra firm, but one was silken, and it kept falling apart :(
I also realized when the guests showed up that I was the only American-born person there! I guess Thanksgiving wasn't a tradition to any of these people: most of them were either Chinese or Korean, and one was Belgian.
Inspired by Kath, I made menus: check out that sparkly paper!
My dad also made his traditional turkey centerpiece:
First course (too lazy to write it out-- just check the menu).

For some reason I perfected the dressing this time by using balsamic instead of lemon juice. The combination of salty, sour and sweet were perfected. This was really good, if I do say so myself.



Meanwhile, my dad stir-fried the string beans and served up the chickens. It was too hard to get everything out at once, so we ate everything gradually. For some reason, I got full much more quickly than usual! I can normally eat HUGE amounts of food, but yesterday I couldn't. My downfall was either a) being the cook-- real chefs hardly ever eat because they're around food all day. Not saying I'm a real chef, but you know what I mean. b) the HUGE AMOUNT OF STRING BEANS MY DAD GAVE ME in order to compensate for lack of chicken. I really shouldn't have eaten all these, esp. since they're not a "special occasion" food, but they're so good... and they are vegetables.
I had a tiny sliver of cornbread, two helpings of cranberry sauce, and a small piece of the millet bake. Everything was really good- the cornbread especially, since I rarely cook with butter. The butter was infused with cayenne and made the cornbread spicy and moist. It was also good that I used millet because they use it a lot in China and Korea, and I think it was interesting for the students to see it in a Western way instead of just labeling is some kind of hippie dish, since most of us think of millet as bird food.
As for the tofu... It was a little strong for me. It absorbed the flavors so thoroughly that I think it would be better on a sandwich or in a salad. Still, it was definitely interesting, and eating it in bigger chunks made it feel more substantial. I had one half triangle and I didn't end up eating all of it.
One student made some kind of Chinese buns with gluey rice flour on the inside. I had a bite, but honestly I've never really liked Chinese baked goods.

I don't know why I was so full at this point! But I knew it was Thanksgiving and I was really looking forward to dessert.
In addition to my crisp, people brought a blueberry cheesecake and some ice cream. The only thing I really felt was worth splurging on was the crisp, and I really wish my mom had been there to try it. YOU WOULD HAVE LOVED THIS, MOM.

I was afraid it would be too boozy, but the bourbon just added another dimension to the filling. The contrast between the apples and quinces was subtle but definitely there-- the quinces were chewier and more tart. I had the crisp with some full-fat Greek yogurt and it was great. I went back for seconds. I thought it was justified.
By the end of the night I was full but not actually stuffed-- I think the problem was the massive amount of fibrous green beans sitting in my stomach.
Afterwards, we all signed the menus-- not sure why, but I think my dad is going to save it-- he joked about framing it as a way to document my first real dinner party. Actually, it wasn't really, since I've cooked for friends before, but I've definitely never made so many dishes at once.

However, this is the unfun part to say. I'm realizing that I have gained weight. I don't regret not being stringent and borderline Orthorexic (do people actually use this term? I've only recently heard about this), but I do regret not treating my body well and listening to myself when I'm not hungry anymore. It's not just that my jeans are tight, but also that I don't feel good when I keep eating when I'm full. My goal is to not stop myself from eating one thing, but to start with smaller portions and get more if I'm hungry, rather than setting out a huge food spread for myself and devouring it all, because I'm just not the kind of person who can leave food on my plate-- maybe it's an Asian thing. Either way, this isn't going to be an "I'm going to lose X pounds" type of thing, although I would guess it's probably around 5 pounds. If I were really going to go back to how I was at my thinnest, it would be around 10, but I was too thin then, I wasn't healthy and had to go to the doctor, and I also didn't have as much muscle mass... also, I was an inch or two shorter. Anyways, you see my point.
I just want to eat more slowly and really savor everything.
What advice do you have?

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6 Comments:

Blogger originallycliche said...

Congrats on your dinner, it sounds like it was incredible! I actually did quite a bit of cooking on Thanksgiving too, which was definitely out of the ordinary. I would love to try your cooking some day!

But about the weight thing...the only advice I can give is to stop thinking about food so much, but I'm not sure if you would consider that. I've found that when I really look forward to eating, I am bound to eat more than I really need to...and if I try to eat less, I just get really hungry. If you don't think about it so much, eating becomes much more natural. The fact that you still exercise is great too. I would definitely not think too much about losing weight though...just eat until you're full, and get used to listening to your body, like you say. You're probably smarter than me, but trying to lose weight is a slippery slope, and unpleasant too.

November 28, 2008 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger ghostologist said...

This is the first time I feel really homesick! Brava, an incredible menu, and the pictures make it look like a very chic as well as delicious party. Only thing missing from the narrative--beverages...

November 28, 2008 at 6:11 PM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

Hey, I found your blog through Sweet Eats. Your Thanksgiving spread looks amazing :)

November 28, 2008 at 8:43 PM  
OpenID Santa Barbara Dreaming said...

Is that your apartment??? It's so slick and modern and glamorous! I am officially super jealous!
Your dinner spread looks absolutely beautiful. The menu was such a nice touch! ;) We did a non-traditional dinner too, and I think it's so fun and refreshing to have something new and different! You are quite the excellent chef, go you!
As for gaining weight.... it sucks, but weight comes and goes, and considering your age, you are probably just growing/developing. Since you seem to eat incredibly healthy, I don't think you need to worry so much. It's not such a good idea to restrict when your body needs to grow! Maybe you could do some interval training? It burns mad calories. Hang in there! I think you look fabulous ;)

November 28, 2008 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger VeggieGirl said...

Incredible feast, centerpiece, and table-setting!!

Best of luck with your health endeavors - stay strong, and understand WHY you're working to get better.

November 28, 2008 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Lida said...

Thanks for the comments guys! You're too sweet!

November 29, 2008 at 11:59 AM  

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