The Toy And All It Meant

Previously on Poor Impulse Control, we pondered a tasty puzzle. An acquaintance must eschew the following:

Alcohol
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Garlic
Paprika
Nuts
Soy
Grains
Coffee

If you’re just joining us, we’ve been noshing.
Intro
Breakfast
Snacks and facts

Ta darling, you say, That’s all well and good, but it’s midday and my lunchbox is filled with no sandwich. Quite right. How do you feel about soup? Plenty of charming people now bring prepared foods to work for lunch and almost nobody discusses their moral torpor – anymore. In our case, a careful reading of the ingredient list is very important since garlic, flour and HFCS will turn up in unexpected places. No ingredient on our list should find its way into a decent New England clam chowder, but it will if someone in R&D took the moronic step of thickening chowder with a roux. So: read. Really.

Making your own soup couldn’t be easier and it will make lunch less like spinning a carnival wheel where hives are the big prize. Got a slow cooker? Good. You are about to develop a new habit: when you cut up vegetables, throw carrot tops, celery ends, onion bits, fennel leaves and so forth into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and drop that in the freezer. When the bag is full, empty the contents into your slow cooker, add peppercorns, bay leaves, star anise, annatto and celery seeds, a little salt and pepper. Got a chicken neck or feet or a smoked turkey neck? They would add nice flavor and they’re super cheap. Turn this on low and come back in 24 hours. Strain. Taste it. You could season it with stuff you already like in your fridge. If you tell people you make your own stock once a week they will think your are both crazy and curiously virtuous. Don’t tell them all you have to do is plug in the CrockPot.

Roasted Anything Vegetable Soup

(Insert your favorite vegetable here)
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
butter or olive oil
stock
salt and pepper
your favorite herbs

Prepare your favorite vegetable to roast. For instance, halve and clean a butternut or acorn squash. Save the seeds. Or peel sweet potatoes or regular potatoes or eggplant. Or halve tomatoes. What do you like? Roast that in a 400 degree oven until it’s fork tender. Set aside. When cool, cut into small chunks.

In a soup pot, melt butter or heat olive oil. Sweat onion and carrots until onions are clear and sweet and carrots have softened. Add your roasted heart’s desire and mash to combine. Add in stock, maybe a quart or two. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, add salt and pepper. If you want to puree, you can use an immersion blender or a regular blender, if you cover the lid with a towel and pulse carefully.

Serve with a scoop of plain yogurt and a dusting of your favorite herbs. Squash seeds, toasted at 350 degrees until they smell delicious, make a great snack sprinkled with salt.

How do you feel about beef stew? Pot roast? Chicken soup? Tuna salad? Chicken salad? Ham salad with melon? Chef salad? Turkey stew? Sashimi? They can be prepared without the use of our off-limits ingredients. If I, in all my hypothetical allergic glory, were to order any of these items in a restaurant or cafeteria, I would demand the assurance of the cook that I was not about to poison myself. Is that assurance enough? Probably not. I’d personally threaten to haunt the chef that lied and treated me to anaphylactic shock. Haunt them with knives. Yep. But you may be a nice person. If you prepare your own food, you stand an even better chance of both surviving and enjoying lunch.

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Things Haven’t Really Changed As Such

A taciturn acquaintance, running in the same social circles I used to walk, has many food allergies and decided recently to test drive a diet plan. There may have been an ER visit and prick tests, but it’s not all glamour. His wife is an award-winning baker and the two of them are briliant, capable researchers. Even so, he kvetched a bit about “hippy food” and “rabbit food” on Facebook. He has to live with it; I don’t, so to me this is a puzzle and I love puzzles. Want to play?

These foods are off-limits:

Alcohol
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Garlic
Paprika
Nuts
Soy
Grains
Coffee

These foods may or may not be problems, but I don’t know:

Dairy
Eggs
Citrus
Nightshades

You have questions? I have questions. How about corn? Chocolate? We don’t know. Next week, our acquaintance will try adding in bread to see if he goes all Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet!

No one wants that.

I’ve been thinking about this task for several days and what I like best about the list of no-nos is that it offers no easy ways out. Once I settled into it, I found myself thinking about all the possibilities in the produce aisle and everything I wouldn’t usually consider in the meat, poultry and seafood sections, because if grains are verboten, bulk is an issue.

But – and this is the bright, shiny, upside: a person eating this way could feel super healthy in very short order. So this week, I’m going to put down pieces of this puzzle and invite you to try your hand at it in comments.