Saturday, May 06, 2017

Whole30: Day 7

Posting a day late because we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 last night (I highly recommend it, very entertaining and I will add it to the roster of movies I watch over and over again). Normally, we show up and stand in line to buy popcorn for Austin, water for me (I LOVE WATER), and drinks for both of us (I alternate sipping water and sipping my drink and yet somehow still finish my drink at the same time Austin does): usually "movie pours" of red wine, which is my favorite drink size descriptor.

But not this time. This time, there would be no popcorn. No drinks. I could still order water but come on: why pay $5 for a bottle of Italian water (not even sparkling!) when we're preparing to go without and packing up all these substitutes? So we each grabbed a bottle of Cosmic Cranberry Kombucha (alliteration is awesome!), I filled a water thingy with water, and then as a popcorn substitute we threw in what was left of a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds and, because there didn't seem to be that much in there, we brought the bag of shelled and salted sunflower seeds as well. This all went into a tote bag that then went into my purse, and that is how we became Those People.

I will no longer judge Those People: they are now My People.

Side effect of drinking all that water and kombucha: had to pee SO BAD by the end of the movie. Both of us. We couldn't even wait until the end of the credits (they showed stuff during the credits). Give me the dehydrating power of beer and wine next time.

So now we're a full week in, and some days have been ok and some less so (which is not different from how life would be if we weren't doing this, I'd just have different crutches to deal with it). Yesterday was, apparently, the day I reached the Kill All The Things stage (detailed here at day 4). I was grouchy about everything, unmotivated at work, and every little thing just felt like the end of the world. It didn't help that it was overcast all day (I'm glad of the cool weather, but I don't like the gray), and it was Cinco de Mayo so work brought in a bunch of food for lunch, most of which I could not eat, and there was beer and margaritas, none of which I could have, and so I ate beef topped with salsa and guacamole at my desk like the antisocial little data person that I can pretend to be when I want. (No one in our department made a showing; my teammate commented on this and I said we were just behaving on brand.) Normally I'd be out there drinking with everyone, but that was not the day.

I drank a TON of sparkling water to compensate. I am getting really into that shit.

Me and my bad mood went looking for blog posts from other Whole30 people kvetching the way I wanted to, and I was rewarded with this blog post and related diary entries, which I have very much been enjoying. She really inspired me on the food front: coconut cream in coffee, eh? That sounds delicious. Sausage apple and sweet potato hash for dinner? Dried fruit from Trader Joe's? I work a block from a Trader Joe's, I think I might just head on over there... And that's what I did, and picked up a bunch of ingredients, headed home, cooked dinner, and while I was in a shitty mood through all of this, it evaporated when we ate because holy hell that was GOOD.

Necessity is the mother of invention: we can eat from a finite set of ingredients, which means I need to learn new ways of cooking and combining them, and this hash thing sounded promising. I found this post from Serious Eats about what makes a good potato hash, which recommends using russet potatoes (we had some on hand), parboiling them in water and vinegar for a few minutes and then frying in a skillet to get them crispy. I read the recipe and it didn't seem like it would take all that long--we had a movie to get to--so I diced a couple potatoes, threw them in a pot with water, salt and vinegar and turned on the heat, then set about cooking the italian sausage I'd picked up at Trader Joe's while the potatoes cooked. The sausages didn't render much fat, so after I took them out to slice, I threw in some bacon fat we've been saving in the fridge, melted that, and then threw in the potatoes and added salt and pepper. That ended up not being enough fat, so I added a couple glugs of olive oil later on (I think I'll just use that next time: I didn't feel like the bacon fat really improved things), when the potatoes were starting to get a little crispy, after 10 minutes or so, I added some chopped fresh sage and rosemary. (Sage is ALSO something I'm starting to really appreciate: never knew what to use it for before, but have found multiple uses in the last couple weeks.) Then threw in the sliced sausage to finish cooking it. Unexpected benefit: the sausage got nice and crispy, too. Then, when everything looked like it was almost done, I threw in as much spinach as would fit and wilted it, more because I felt guilty about not having any other vegetables than because I thought it would really improve things. Well, it really improved things: the resulting dish was fan-friggin-TASTIC and something I never even knew how to make until today. After a single bite, Austin said "we have to do this again." We topped it with Tapatio, scarfed it down, and headed out to the movie theater.

Great ending to the day.

How I felt: Garbage mood, but physically, fine. Soreness in my neck is gone, and I had a tiny headache when I got to work, but that disappeared. Wasn't tired at all, like Austin said he was.

Breakfast: two scrambled eggs (I tried to do the Kitchn super slow scrambled eggs on the lowest possible heat, but it didn't work too well: either the heat wasn't low enough, or more stirring is needed; not my favorite batch of eggs), one and a half pieces of bacon, and sliced tomato with olive oil and salt, plus cold brew, and then a bunch of blueberries and more cold brew in the car on the way to work

Lunch: a few bits of chicken that fell out of tacos and fajita beef that I fished out of the veggies (I hate peppers and don't love onions unless they're cooked more), topped with salsa and guacamole and a dash of hot sauce; lots of sparkling water

Dinner: sausage and potato hash; recipe below so I can remember it (the whole thing was improvised)

We were so hungry that I'd already dished up most of it
by the time it occurred to me to take a picture.

2 russet potatoes, diced (1/2 or 3/4 inch dice)
2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp kosher salt
Sweet Italian sausage, though I'm sure any type of sausage you like will work here
olive oil
bacon fat (optional)
chopped fresh rosemary
chopped fresh sage
fresh spinach (baby spinach is fine, but grown up spinach, washed and chopped, will work too)

1. Scrub potatoes, dice, and throw in a pot or pan (I used a big wide pan with straight sides that I usually make bechamel in: maybe will use a pot next time); cover with water, and then a little bit; add salt and vinegar and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender. Drain and rinse in a colander, and let drain for at least 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat a big cast iron skillet (a regular skillet is probably fine, too) over medium high heat and cook the sausage on all sides; it doesn't matter if it gets fully cooked through or not, but it needs to be cooked enough to easily slice. Remove to a cutting board and slice in half inch increments.

3. Add olive oil or bacon fat if using (or maybe any cooking oil is fine here?); when shimmering, add the potatoes in a single layer (if possible); add salt and pepper. Turn things over with a spatula every few minutes: the idea here is to get the outside of the potatoes brown and crispy. Serious Eats says this whole process takes about 20 minutes, but things were looking ok and we were in a bit of a rush, so after 8-10 minutes, I added the chopped sage and rosemary (only had a tsp of each; would recommend a whole tbsp of the sage, maybe 2 tsp rosemary) and stirred that in. A few minutes later, I added the sliced sausage and made sure to get the flat side down to cook it (ideally, it gets nice and crispy like the potatoes).

4. When the sausage and potatoes are looking just about done, add the spinach, in batches if need be. Stir it in and get it nice and wilted. Turn off the heat and keep stirring for at least another 30 seconds to make sure all the flavors are combined; add more salt and pepper to taste
. Dish it up in a bowl and top with Tapatio or a fried egg or both.

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