A thankful heart lunch for husband

Or, the Happy Husband, Chicken Alfredo, yum-yum casserole

For lunch today, I made a chicken Alfredo casserole. This is a mostly, from-scratch recipe with a few helper items to speed things along cuz as much as I love cooking, I have a life to live! and so do you.

Maybe it is the cooler weather combined with the cloudy days, and the leaves that have begun, whatever the reason, it is beginning to feel fall-ish here in the Rocky Mountains. time for some rib-stickin’ food.

I made not only the casserole, but a Caesar salad and Texas toast French bread. What fun is it being married if I cannot go all out for my wonderful husband?

Ramen in an Instant Pot

I have two appliances in my kitchen that have changed my life. One is my air-fryer, the other is my Instant Pot.

I watched a video a few weeks ago of a woman cooking ramen in a tiny Instant Pot. She was advertising a mini Instant Pot designed for use at your desk or when traveling.

I had always just added hot water from my electric tea kettle to the dry ingredients and then if they cooled off before I had a chance to eat them I would re-heat them in the microwave. Bland and boring, I could not understand why they were so revered by and entire nation. So revered in fact that Ramen noodles had been voted the most life changing invention ever for the nation of Japan (based on a 1958 survey.).

In the video I watched, this woman added cheese, eggs, and meat to the pot of noodles prior to cooking. I almost fell off my chair. Why? Why had I not thought to do the same? To me it was just a quick snack of re-hydrated noodles. To her it was a creative endeavor, one she had learned from her father. .

In this pot, I have added, Swiss cheese and ham. No eggs this time. I love eggs poached in my Instant Pot with my noodles. Hubby… not so much.

Deli sliced ham, Swiss cheese and frozen corn have been added to the pot. Photo is of the noodles prior to cooking.

Remove noodles and seasoning packet from the package of Ramen. Break up noodles a bit so that they fit into the pot but not so much so that they turn into dust (unless that is how you like your Ramen then go for it.). Open up the spice packets and add their contents to the pot along with all of the other ingredients you want to eat. Fill the pot with water, just enough to cover the noodles/ingredients or slightly more for additional broth. The more water you add the more diluted your spices will become. I prefer less broth.

This is what it looks like right after being cooked.

After filling the pot to desired water level, put the lid on and cook your noodles. I use the broth setting and usually only for a few minutes. The broth setting allows me to adjust the cooking time. If you are using cooked meat the setting is shorter, 5-7 minutes. Just enough time to re-hydrate the noodles and heat up the meat. If you are using frozen vegetables or raw meat, you might want to add on a minute or two to the cooking time but keep in mind this is pressure cooking and there is a risk of over cooking everything and ending up with mush.

Things to add to your Ramen; eggs, vegetables (fresh and frozen) meat or no meat if you are doing The Fast, cheese; either place cheese into the pot with the other ingredients prior to cooking or after cooking (I like to do both.), adding cheese prior to cooking creates a creamy broth. Adding cheese after cooking lends texture.), extra seasoning packets if you have them.

The finished meal plated up.

In just a few minutes you can have a delicious, hot meal.

Ramen cooked in an Instant Pot is my new comfort food. What odd food item have you cooked in your Instant Pot.

Orthorexia and homemaking

The Taste of Home Cookbook: Cook.  Share.  Celebrate.

Post is NOT sponsored by Taste of Home… I WISH!

I had no idea there was a name for what I had been going through for most of my life until I read this POST by my friend, Sally.

I will not bore you with the details, especially since talking about such things can be triggers for those persons struggling with the same, or similar issue. Suffice it to say I have had a life long, skewed relationship with food.

I am not sure if becoming Orthodox has made this better, or worse. At first, I struggled with the fast requirements of Orthodoxy. I think they are ridiculously arbitrary and, well… stupid. Veganism is one of the most unhealthy things you can do to your body. We all need healthy animal fats in order for our bodies to function properly, especially our brains. Children especially need these fats for good development. There is no food that has been excluded for Christians by God… none.  These are man made restrictions.

I struggled for a long time trying to do the fasts. The heart burn and constipation were agony. Fiber helping you to poop is a marketing breakthrough and not at all based in science. If you’re into scientific accuracy you will be hard pressed to find any in what is reported about nutrition.

So what to do when one is, Orthorexia but trying to just live life the best they can? Let go. Modify. Do your best. I had begun to alter my way of thinking about food for the last couple of months. When I read Sally’s article it helped the last few pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

Also, I had watched the movie, Haute Cuisine.

Haute Cuisine (Saveurs du Palais) Movie Guide: Preview, Questions ...

I recommend it whether or not you have food issues. The main character is a skilled chef. The movie flips back and forth from her life in the Presidential Palace in Paris, France to her time in the Antarctic as chef to the scientific and research teams.

I love this movie. It is based on a true story. The main character loves to cook. She has a passion for creating good food for people.

Between this movie, and watching copious amounts of travel/cooking shows during lockdown I have learned that there is no mystery or magic to French food, or Italian, or Any other food we think is just so tasty. The real secret, which is not a secret but is a difficult concept for many Americans to grasp is; the ingredients or good. These fabulous cooks do not use processed foods. They use the freshest ingredients they can find even if that means they grow them at home OR have their mothers grow them for their restaurants.

Have you watched the Pixar film, Ratatouille? The female chef explains the importance of fresh ingredients to the novice chef.

Americans are caught up in the mill of; over-eating processed foods, dieting, illness, and yet… within it all- some end up developing Orthorexia.

What if instead of obsessing about how to eat; vegan, carnivore, keto, paleo, etc. we cooked for love? We cooked for the love of creating something wonderful out of the freshest ingredients we could find? What if we cooked for the love a creating? What if we cooked out of love for our spouses and children?

Is that not what is at the heart of homemaking? Making a home that is comfortable, warm, loving, and inviting for those we love?

All too often we homemakers have a tendency to focus on de-cluttering, cleaning, organizing, maintenance, etc. Yes we cook but what is supposed to be an act of love is often categorized as a meaningless chore. Yes, cooking AND eating can become tedious at times. Trying to come up with yet another recipe to make chicken (served for the 3rd time in a week) seem interesting can be a bit daunting.

Have you put away your cookbooks and recipe boxes in an attempt to eat ‘healthy’? Perhaps all that is needed to improve our health is a daily walk? It may seem overly simplistic but let’s look at these other, healthier cultures. Less motorized transit. The communities are small enough to walk just about everywhere you wish to go. Instead of driving to the market, buying a week’s worth (or two) of food and cramming it all in the back of the sub or minivan- food is bought as needed, and carried home in reusable shopping bags.

It is three miles to the nearest grocery store from my home… one way. There is a convenience store closer but as we discussed the emphasis for such places are foods that last. It’s not a cute, French or Greek market with fresh produce and meat readily available. Oh how I wish!

Therefore, I drive to the grocery store. I’m not quite up for making a 6 mile journey round trip on foot to buy my groceries.

Instead, I am considering reaching out to neighbors to see who has what and if we can do a neighborhood ‘farmer’s’ market. I would love to be able to walk to a neighbor’s house and buy fresh eggs from her chickens.

I have herbs to sell and can see myself contributing in that way every spring/summer.

For now, I’m taking out my cookbooks and my recipe boxes. I’m cooking for variety, for love, for creativity.

If you are inspired to cook this week, let me know in comments what you came up with.