Brown Bagging on the Road: Vancouver Island, Canada

Looking over Juan de Fuca Strait at Washington, U.S.A. Location: Steve and Gail’s home at Vancouver Island.

Those who have followed this blog over the past few weeks know that my husband Pete and I have been driving north through the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday, we took the Port Angeles ferry to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Sailing into Victoria, British Columbia. Parliament building in background.

We proceeded to my husband’s uncle’s home, which is located in the verdant hills above Sookie. It’s a home-and-garden phenomenon, with lovely flowers everywhere and a koi pond.

Foxglove
Koi pond

Uncle Steve and Aunt Gail furnished us with wonderful breakfasts and dinners. Below is a simple recipe from Gail that would be great for a side dish in a brown bag meal. Yes, I know….dill and strawberries? A strange combo. But trust me. It tastes great. Delicious with a ham or turkey sandwich.

SPINACH-STRAWBERRY SALAD

  • Baby spinach (can be found bagged in the produce section of most mainstream supermarkets)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Four fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice*

Place first three ingredients in a plastic container. Place last two ingredients in a separate container. Pour onto salad at lunchtime.

*A bottled vinaigrette will work in place of the oil and lemon juice mixture.

Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Smoothie

My brother Jack’s morning smoothie

I’m a little late with my blog post this week, as I just got back from visiting my brother Jack in Memphis, TN. Memphis is a great town for some great eats: Spare ribs, fried chicken, catfish, collards….yum! But in order to keep balanced nutritionally, Jack makes himself a smoothie for breakfast every morning. Above, you see bananas, pears, berries, spinach, pineapple, an entire lime, and a little bit of fresh ginger. Jack blended this mish-mash for a minute or two into a lovely, thick veggie malt. By the way, no added sugar….just the fructose in the ingredients. It was delicious!

Squash and Tomato Saute

Yellow crookneck squash and tomatoes

For my low-carb people, here is a nice side dish that pairs well with roasted chicken, turkey, meatloaf or cooked hamburger. It heats up well in the microwave or in the Hot Logic mini oven/lunchpail. (see https://myhotlogic.com for more info on this device.) And it is so colorful!

SQUASH-TOMATO SAUTE (2-3 servings)

  • Two tablespoons of pure olive oil
  • One large yellow crookneck squash, sliced crosswise
  • One medium sweet yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • Two small on-the-vine tomatoes, chopped
  • Approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
  • One small package of fresh dill, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and add squash and onion. Saute for four minutes, constantly stirring.
  2. Add tomatoes and saute for one minute more.
  3. Add enough water to cover. Mix in minced dill plus salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add additional water if needed.
  5. Serve immediately.

Adventures in Nuking: Egg Custard

Microwave Egg Custard

That’s right folks….I actually cooked egg custard in the microwave. The recipe can be found later on in this post.

I was brought up believing that microwave ovens are primarily useful to warm up frozen and precooked foods. And there are a couple of dishes that cook from a state of rawness very well; for example, salmon and trout.

However, I would never have imagined that nuked egg custard is possible until a friend gave me the following recipe a couple of weeks ago.

MICROWAVE EGG CUSTARD (4 Servings)

  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk *, warmed to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Nutmeg
  1. Warm milk to appropriate temperature (30 seconds in the microwave will do it.)
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, add milk, sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla.
  3. Using the lowest speed on rotary beater, mix until well combined. (You can use a whisk instead of an electric beater.)
  4. Pour the mixture into four 6-oz. round custard cups, filling 3/4 full.
  5. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
  6. Cook, uncovered, on High for 4 1/4 to 5 minutes, or until the custard starts to bubble.
  7. Cool, and then refrigerate.**

******

*Do not use low-fat or fat-free milk in this recipe. Otherwise, you will get watery custard. I have not yet tried vegan products like soy milk or nut milks.

**It is necessary to completely refrigerate the custard overnight prior to consumption, in order for it to set properly. Eaten cold, the custard will be firm with an creamy eggnog layer on the bottom of the cup. The recipe instructions indicate that you can warm the refrigerated custard by placing in the microwave for 30 seconds, then let stand 1 minute to distribute heat. I have not tried this recipe reheated, but it is very tasty cold.

For a brown bagger, this dish would be delicious as a breakfast item, perhaps with granola and/or blue berries. And egg custard is always good for dessert!

High Protein Vege Chow Mein

Did you know that you can use Italian pasta for Chinese dishes?  It’s a great substitute for chow mein noodles.

The secret ingredient for this easy-to-make dish is Barilla Protein Plus Thin Spaghetti.  This pasta is made with a combination of grain and legumes, and provides  17 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces dry serving  (Approximately 1/4 of a 14 oz. box).  The product also contains lots of healthy fiber, and no saturated fat.  You can find Barilla Protein Plus pasta in the packaged foods or Italian foods area. 

This chow mein dish is easy to pack for lunch and can be either microwaved or warmed up in a Crock Pot Lunch Warmer (see previous blog regarding the Lunch Warmer).

Ingredients:

  • One large saucepan water
  • 3.5 ounces Barilla Protein Plus Thin Spaghetti (appx. 1/4 of a 14 oz. package)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz. bag of fresh shredded cabbage (preferably with some carrot and red cabbage for color and flavor)
  • 3 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Soy sauce to taste
  1. Heat water to boiling.
  2. Break pasta in half, add to water, and wait for water to reheat to boiling.
  3. Boil for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain pasta using a colander.  Rinse with cold water to keep pasta from clumping together.
  5. Using a medium-sized sauce pan, heat the two oils until smoking.
  6. Add the vegetables and lower heat.  Saute for 3 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to avoid overcooking or burning. 
  7. Add 1/4 cup of water and soy sauce to taste.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  (leave uncovered so liquid reduces.)
  8. Turn the heat off, and add the drained pasta.  Mix well.  Eat immediately; or let cool and store in frig for later use.

This will provide one large serving, or two small servings.