Tuesday, October 4, 2011

hungry and a half

So I have this new job and it involves manual labor.

Guess what happens when you work in the warehouse of a food bank and spend several hours a day hauling food crates, making boxes, sorting food, packing boxes, and lifting boxes?

If you said “You turn into a hungry beast”, you are correct!

I try to appease myself with sensible, pretty lunches (since I’m currently working part time, most days I finish work about 12:30, which means I can eat lunch at home- SO nice).


For this particular one I was totally jonesing for stuffed peppers and had a tasty one from the farmer’s market. (Already hungry), I wanted the methodology to be quick. To me, quick+ stuffing= bulgur. You just dump boiling water on it!

So I did that. Let it absorb (ish).

Then mixed it with some canned salmon and pesto and threw it in two halves of a pepper and baked that pepper in my peppy little toaster oven til it was softish (which did not take long)


It was good but vastly improved by:


Like so many things. While the pepper cooked, I threw together an attractive bowl of yogurt, sliced peach, and walnut. Mmm.


But, like Sheila whenever I arrive home from work, who begs for much of the afternoon despite the fact that she knows she gets fed at five and has that unnervingly accurate internal clock of cats.

But…. I’m so huuuuuuuuungry.


You are such a bad person.


Anyway. My solution to this “ravenous, unceasing hunger” problem seems to be to eat energy dense foods. By which I mean… cookies.

It does not help that I discovered today (my long day- worked 8:30-4:30, spent a minimum of 4 of those hours laboring away in the warehouse) that on the way home from work I pass a shockingly good and reasonably affordable Korean bakery.


A white bean bun. Lovely fluffy puffy bread surrounding a sweet white bean filling. Mmmmmm.


You know how it goes… you meant to eat half. And then you eat it all. And then you have some potato chips, and cereal, and some cold red snapper (?) and dates dipped in almond butter.

I ask you, readers: have any of you had a super physical job? Any tips for eating sensibly while satisfying that hunger?

My current thing is be incredibly active> eat sensibly> be unsatisfied> eat tons and tons> feel guilty> exercise tons and tons in afternoon (though I really enjoy this; I think being more active at work actually INCREASES my energy level)> eat hearty dinner.

Well, actually, that part is working really well.

Allow me to introduce you to a dinner that will satisfy the bejesus out of you. You will want to lie back and smoke a cigarette after this dinner (but DON’T!)

I give you…

Heavenly Harvest Bison Squash-Topped Autumn Shepherd’s Pie

(the magnitude of the length of its name I hope is a testament to the magnitude of the recipe’s deliciousness)


1 red bell pepper
2 tsp. oil, divided
1 lb ground buffalo
½ cup chopped onion
½ apple, diced
¼ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 T red wine
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 T whole wheat flour (or your flour of choice)

1 roasted acorn squash, scooped out of its skin
8 oz sweet potato (I used three teeny baby ones, this is about the size of one normal one)
2 T milk
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut acorn squash in half. Remove seeds (roast or discard). Put squash cut-sides down on a baking sheet. Prick sweet potato(es) with a fork and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until the squash is tender, about 40 minutes. If necessary, cook sweet potato(es) a bit longer. Mash squash and sweet potatoes with milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Use a spatula to smear topping over filling.

Cut red pepper into sections and broil them until blackened. Place in a paper bag and leave for ten minutes. They should then be easy to peel. Chop them into bite sized pieces.

Heat ½ tsp canola oil over medium heat in a nonstick pan. Add bison and cook to brown. Remove bison from pan, and wipe out pan. Set bison aside.

Increase heat to medium high. Add remaining oil, and add onion, apple, and spices. Cook until onion is tender and brown. Add wine to pan to deglaze, and remove pan from heat. Stir in slurry of broth and flour. Also add reserved red pepper slices and browned bison to filling mixture. Pour filling mixture into the bottom of a large casserole dish.

Bake at 350 until topping is golden and starting to crisp.

It will rock your world.

To take you through the process-

I didn’t get a lot of filling pictures but I had to brag about my adorable tiny sweet potatoes. I mean look at these charming things.

That’s a teaspoon. Sweet little sweet potatoes!


The filling is enhanced by a tasty base of golden onion, sweet apple, and a variety of tongue-tickling spices.


It’s sweetened and given a pop of color with roasted red pepper


As you can see, it’s pretty darn meaty. I wanted shepherd’s pie, and shepherd’s pie is proper, stick-to-your-ribs, meaty food.


The nice thing is, it’s very very healthful meat- bison is naturally  very lean and rather than some tragic feedlot cornfed cow, it eats actual natural plants.

Nice, thick layer :D


The filling was a very very THICK layer! I was delighted by this.

I started with roasting just the acorn squash, but I had horrific visions of the topping being too thin. I also thought of how the traditional potato shepherd’s pie topping is wonderfully thick and dense, not at all watery, and thought that perhaps a starchier veggie, like a sweet potato, would do well.

The combination was perfect and I was really glad it was so HUGE AND THICK!


Watching (and smelling) it bake was pleasantly tortuous. When it came out, you can see the beautiful browning that happened around the edges.

The bottom, however (thanks perhaps to the help of just a bit of broth to keep everything moistened) was still wonderfully tender and not at all dried out.


A woefully poor job of demonstrating the heavenly filling/topping symphony that ensued.


You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

The wonderful, tender meat layer was earthy and rich. I got the idea for apples for a subtle sweetness (and some moisture, and another nod to the autumn flavors) from a Cooking Light picadillo recipe. I also really enjoyed the combination of the savory meat and the traditionally sweeter spices like cinnamon (a combination that pops up everywhere from Venice to Latin America).

And the awesomely THICK orange carby wondrous topping, also sweet, brought the dish together really nicely.

My boyfriend, my mom and I TOOK DOWN this shepherd’s pie. It did not stand a chance. It was gone in a really, really brief period of time.

And at long last, my hungry toiling self was satisfied :D

No comments: