Sunday, April 13, 2008

On the Road (part 2) and Sauce Bolognese

We visited another college this weekend, and our trip was a little more successful, foodwise, than the last time. I planned more, in other words.

I made some Bolognese sauce using a recipe I adapted from an old (pre "points") Weight-Watchers cookbook, then mixed it with cooked macaroni and carried it with us. It worked out well, because our trip was longer this time, and we were tired when we got in and didn't feel like searching out an allergy-friendly restaurant. We had booked a room with a refridgerator and microwave, but no stove (and, it turned out, no plates or silverware) so we could heat up the pasta. We used the coffee mugs that did come with the room, and borrowed silverware from the downstairs restaurant. We had also brought some fruit. And oh, yes, the brand of microwave popcorn that Marriott supplies is made with palm, not soy, oil, hooray!

The college had a continental breakfast on the schedule. I ate some macaroni for breakfast, anticipating that they would have commercial products with no ingredient lists (true) but they did have fruit and coffee, which I helped myself to.

We got home in time for a late lunch (and a nap), so, all in all, a successful trip. In case you have to be away from home for lunch, too, bring some soy-free bread and you can buy sandwich meat and baby carrots or chips at any grocery store. I like to make hamburger roll-type sandwich rolls, because you can cut them in half at home and bring them in a gallon-sized ziplok bag.

In case you're interested, my daughter used the college trips to good advantage. Her pre-trip #1 choice ended up being #3; pre-trip #2, #2; and pre-trip #3, #1.

Sauce Bolognese

1 tbsp (or so) olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
a 4-oz can or 4 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped (optional. I added this.)
8 oz. lean ground beef (ground veal in the original)
1/2 cup milk (skimmed was called for; whole or lowfat is fine)
1 28-oz can chopped Italian tomatoes OR tomato puree
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds (use a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder) (optional. I added this.)
1 tsp Italian herb mix (I added this.)
up to 1 tsp salt
dash each black pepper and nutmeg (I forgot this and it tasted fine.)

Heat oil in a saucepan; add onions and saute until translucent. Toward the end of this process, add the garlic. If you add it at the same time as the onions, it gets too brown. Add the celery, carrots and mushrooms and saute about 2 minutes; add beef and cooked, stirring until the meat is crumbly and loses its pink color. Add milk and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until some of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and sommer, stirring occasionall, until sauce is thick, about 30 minutes.

Note: You can make this with ground turkey, but it is a little bland, so I usually skip the salt and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of beef bouillon powder (equals 1 -2 cubes).

Enough for 1/2-3/4 lb pasta

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Soy-free Kitchen Goes on the Road

Traveling is hard. You have to plan. I didn't plan when we visited two colleges with my older daughter this weekend, and I literally did not know where my next meal was going to come from. However, I decided it was not going to be a problem because I still have to lose--ahem--a few pounds.

Friday morning I drank coffee and ate a bagel and got into the car. At the last moment I grabbed some bread from the house. We visited one college Friday morning, and they gave my daughter a free pass to their cafeteria. My husband and I paid to eat there, too. For $8.05, I found 1.) cottage cheese, 2.) canned peaches, and 3.) Diet Coke. I could have had 4.) milk, but I didn't want any since I was eating cottage cheese.

Friday afternoon we drove to the town where college #2 was, checked into a Marriott Residence Inn, with a kitchen in case I had to cook. [Hint: book a place with a kitchen when you travel. It costs more but it evens out because you (can) save money on eating out.] We checked the tourist-y literature and picked a nice restaurant in the downtown. Good choice, they had a broiled seafood platter with steamed vegetables and soy-free mashed potatoes, and a very nice motherly waitress who made sure I could eat and not get sick. Score!

My husband and daughter each ordered dessert. There was nothing I could eat, so I had an Irish coffee. Those are always soy-free, as far as I can tell.

The breakfast at the Marriott turned out to have boiled eggs, oatmeal, V-8 and fruit juices, and of course coffee. Score again. [Hint: make sure you get to breakfast early at these places so people haven't dipped serving spoons from things you can't eat into things you can. Remember the cross contamination problem.]

We stopped off at a grocery store on the way to the second college open house and bought some cheese and whole-wheat crackers. [Hint: bring ziplok bags when you travel. ] I put some crackers in one ziplok and some cheese in another and stashed them in my pocketbook. Good thing. The only thing I found to eat at the second college's cafeteria was Diet Coke and an apple.

We came home and had whole-wheat waffles and turkey breakfast sausage for supper. College #1 had had a waffle iron right near where I was sitting, and boy, did they smell good! But waffle mix has soy, and so does the non-stick spray.

Lucky for me I came down with this adult-onset food allergy after I got out of college. I don't know what I would have done if I had had it during my college years.