Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nutrition on the fly -- Alaskan Pie

For the most part, I'm really good about planning meals. Because it's hard to know what's going to come up during any given week, I don't usually write down meals on a night-by-night basis, just what meals we should have soon. That way when I go to the store, I know what to get so that we have the ingredients for each of the meals on hand and we can cook whatever we feel like having, or whatever works best for a particular night.
And then, there are nights like last night. I don't know why, but when I went to the grocery store this past weekend I completely forgot to get half the ingredients I'd planned for Monday's meal. And the only reason I'd planned a specific meal on a specific night was because it called for moose and everything else we wanted to make soon, we need chicken for. HGMarket is closed on Sundays and Mondays so today is the earliest I can get chicken. Well, I forgot half the ingredients for the meal (stroganoff) that I'd planned for. Silly, right? And naturally, I didn't want to make two different trips to the store (one for the stroganoff ingredients, another to get chicken from the Market.) So I spent a decent amount of time yesterday afternoon thinking about what I could make instead. "Pasta and marinara? No, I don't feel like it and I'd have to get more noodles anyway. Pizza? No, we don't have mozzarella, and not enough of any other kind of cheese. Hmmm..."
And then, I managed to think myself out of the box. I decided to make something I'd never made before: shepherd's pie. I suppose it can't really be called shepherd's pie, not having any lamb or anything. Just moose. (Technically, if you use beef it's called "Cottage Pie".) So I'll call it...

Alaskan Pie

1 lb ground moose meat
1 onion
3 carrots
frozen peas
2 sweet potatoes
Worcestershire sauce
garlic powder, salt, and pepper

Boil and mash the sweet potatoes (with butter) the same as you would regular mashed potatoes.
Meanwhile, cook the chopped onion in about a tablespoon of butter. Add the carrots and the moose, browning the meat. Add the spices and several dashes of the Worcestershire sauce. Toward the end of the cooking, add frozen peas and cook until they're warm.
Transfer into a 9x9 baking pan, then top with the mashed potatoes and place in a 350 degree oven for about half an hour, or until slightly browned on top. Serve hot.

It turned out to be a big hit. Which is good, because we had a friend surprise us. Just as I was starting dinner, Shane got a call from Gorgeous George asking, "Um, can I get a ride? My truck...." So Shane picked him up, and they naturally got to talking and it turned out poor George had been having a rough time lately. So Shane brought him home for dinner (George lives alone and you don't want to know what he eats--I once saw him eating saltines mashed up with milk and maple syrup poured over them). No sooner had he started digging in than George declared, "I'm coming over for dinner again next week, ok?" Shane said that the sweet potato topping was "inspired", and that I should definitely make this again.
Yesterday I was thinking about it and I realized that whoever said "necessity is the mother of invention" clearly didn't live in our modern society. Because we have such an attitude of "why make it when you can buy it?" and it kills creativity. We never have to think our way out of problems because we can buy our way out. Don't worry, I realize that I can be just as bad about this as anyone else. I'm trying to change that about myself. When I do things creatively, I often find out that my solution was just as good as whatever I would have bought to solve the problem. I never would have thought about making this meal if I'd gone to buy all the ingredients for the stroganoff, and that would have been a shame because this was easy, nutritious, tasty, and we usually have these ingredients on hand. So now, if I don't know what to make in the future and I'm in a bind, it'll be Alaskan Pie.

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