Squash Randomly Stuffed

Yesterday I had the task of baking some acorn squash.  Of course, my first thought was that it would be incredibly boring alone.  Arming myself with random accessories, I went to work.

First up, onion, always have to have onion (it was about 1 cup total).  Diced well, it was.  Eyes watered, they did.  Finger check reveals all are intact, so that went well.  +10 XP for not slicing any fingers!

Next, cashews and Craisins.  Those were set aside to top the squash.  The dosage:  “enough”.  They are accents, so keep that in mind.

Finally, barley.  It had to have some substance to it.  I decided to be bold and not cook it at all before hand.  This, right here, was the very thing that prompted me to muse I hope this doesn’t taste like crap.

From this point, there’s what I did and what I’ll do the next time.

What I did:  Halved two acorn squashes.  Scooped out seeds.  Placed in appropriately sized casserole dish.  Liberally drizzed with olive oil.  Filled with mix of barley and onion.  Topped with craisins and cashews.  Poured a little maple syrup over each (2T?).  Baked at 400F for 1 hour covered.  Covered is important here to keep the moisture in — or you’ll end up with barley pebbles and that does taste bad.

What I’d do the next time:  put the barley in first and make sure it is covered, covered, covered by everything.  Completely.  I might even put 1T of water into each squash cavity.  The barley cooked but, heh, barely.  The barley on top was crunchy — which was not all that great.  It was edible, but not all that great.

Otherwise, this was awesome.  Perhaps adding some apple would be good too.  That would add more moisture and help the barley cook.

But the best part is that this was relatively fast.  The largest effort, in order was: (1) prepping the squash, (2) dicing the onion, (3) washing my hands to get the onion juice off.

And there you have it:  Squash Randomly Stuffed which did not taste like crap.

Breakfast Djinni (in a jar)

I picked up a breakfast conjuration from Lifehacker and ran with it for this week.  My regular breakfast wish is something quick, healthy, and able to keep me from overindulging for my mid-morning snack.  And so, this morning I rubbed the magic breakfast lamp and *poof* I had breakfast in a reasonable amount of time without it being a shake. [1]

The premise is simple:  prepare some kind of cooked oats on the weekend, put them in jars, reheat each morning for breakfast.  The nice thing is that it really is that simple.

I cooked about 1c of steel cut oats in 3c of water to get something firm but not chewy and also something that would take well to reheating with a little water added.  I’ve learned that oats do not reheat well without some kind of hydration.  This means when following this plan, making something slightly under-cooked is required because it is going to slightly cook when reheated in the microwave.

Oh no!  Use of black magic!

Before you point back to a previous post, remember that this is reheating.  You can’t reheat without cooking something a little bit more, especially in the microwave, so I dare say reheat and cook in the same context here.

I portioned the cooked amount of oats into 5 jars, tossed a dash of cinnamon in each, sealed them, and got them into the fridge.  It is best to do this while the oats are hot as this will help seal the jar as they cool.  In theory, this should help them keep better over the week, especially if you aren’t using small jars and end up with a fair amount of air in the jar.  Ideally, appropriate sized jars would be used to minimize the amount of air within.

I also prepared a jar of mixed fruit and put that in the fridge.  I used frozen fruit [2] and dried cranberries in about equal ratio.  This consisted of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and the dried cranberries.

This morning I added about a tablespoon of water to the jar and heated it for about 22 seconds in the microwave.  Heating slowly helps ensure the jar doesn’t explode from any heat change.  It should’t as canning jars are meant to handle high heat, but don’t tempt the Black Magic Box.  I then stirred the oats and heated for another 44 seconds.  I was aiming for warm not hot so I could eat these immediately.  I then added a few table spoons of fruit, a teaspoon of molasses, and a bit of soy milk to make this mixable and quickly consumable.

The outcome was quite good, and the upside of using a larger jar was that I could continue to summon this strange Djinni in this bottle without dirtying anything else.  Tomorrow I plan to add soy yogurt instead because it is good to get the little Health Gremlins in yogurt on a daily basis.

Another variation I will try is to reduce the amount of steel cut oats and use a balance of rolled oats — mostly because steel cut oats are crazy expensive, and party because variety is good.

[1] I have recently hit a wall with this vegan diet I am temporarily on.  This includes a slight aversion to intense soy.  There are studies that indicate too much soy for Westerners isn’t a good thing as it hasn’t been a part of our dietary culture and our metabolism isn’t properly geared towards it.

[2] Quality frozen fruit can be second best to fresh fruit because it was frozen at its peak freshness.  Don’t shun it because it came from the freezer, but certainly shun Ye Generice Brande — goodness knows the quality and origin of that!