Diet cooking is for the birds

In an attempt to lose some of the weight that I've put on traveling over the last 6-8 months I'm back to my standby Scarsdale Diet since apparently having regular bouts of Harvey (my imaginary intestinal worm) hasn't kept off the weight.  While I was hopeful the weight gain and other symptoms could be explained away by a potential thyroid problem I was depressed to learn that, in fact, my thyroid is working perfectly.  Therefore, evidently my weight gain is just a symptom of being in my 30s.

So, back to Scarsdale I go.  Yes, there are some off the wall remarks in the book that one should ignore about women and PMS; keep in mind it WAS written in the '70s.  However, as the overall diet is healthy and simple to stick to in theory, I am going to start the 2 week trial once again since my daily diet of home cooked Indian food is thickening under my belt. I even contemplated buying a cute new apron at Amani ya Juu yesterday to begin the quest.

Today I figured I would start with something simple, like a fresh garden salad.  With no dressing in the house and just me and my clumsy fingers for chopping, I think it's going to be more difficult than it sounds.

I've got some eggs boiling and some onion, tomatoes, green peepers, cucumbers, and cauliflower ready to chop, and the most important ingredient, lettuce, or as Curry calls it, "that leafy green stuff".  Apparently it is not a staple in the Indian diet.  I also found one of these in the fridge.  Can someone please tell me what on earth this is?  Curry said it's "a vegetable in the cauliflower family."  Helpful.  In my opinion it looks absolutely nothing like a cauliflower so I'm left still bewildered.

What on earth is this thing?
On to the dressing.  I have some Ranch powder I brought back from the States, but as it is mayo-based I thought I could do with something a bit more healthy.  I found this recipe in the book:

Vinaigrette Dressing 
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Well Houston, we already have a problem.   While Curry Delight's kitchen is far better stocked than my own there is only white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar.  I'm sure one of those will work?

Ok, so per an article on Red Wine Vinegar Substitute in Cooking:
"You can safely substitute red wine for certain recipes that demand red wine vinegar. The acidic properties of red wine vinegar are due to the work of bacteria called acitobacter, during the process of fermentation. Red wine can be substituted for vinaigrette and marinade recipes. However, salad dressing may not emulsify if you do not add vinegar to it. In that case, a small amount of whisked mustard can prevent the salad dressing from breaking."  Yeah, so while I have some red wine sitting around, the following paragraph says, "Red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar are interchangeable in most recipes"so I think I'm going to go try that rather than risk this de-emulsification situation. Plus, I may need that red wine to drink by the time this cooking session is complete.

2 teaspoons grated onion
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

I'm pretty sure coriander and parsley are the same-ish and thanks to Curry's cook, Emily, I have a whole container of nicely chopped coriander ready to go.

2 teaspoons chopped pimiento

Substitute red pepper.  And we have none of that either.  I think I'm going to risk it and just make it sans pimiento or pepper.  I have green pepper in the salad.  It's kinda the same, right? 

1 tablespoon chopped pickle or capers

Success!  There is plenty of capers and various pickle jars.  We have green chili pickles, carrot and chili pickles, and mango pickles.  I think I'll go with the capers.

1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt and paprika to taste
1/2 clove crushed garlic (optional)
Shake all ingredients together in a jar or bottle with a tight top.  Keep chilled.

This sounds do-able.  Maybe.

Ok, so I found an empty Talisker Scotch bottle that should do but there are NO funnels or measuring cups.  Seriously.  What kind of kitchen is this?  I at least found a plastic strainer with a spout on the end that should work as a funnel.  I guess I'm going to have to eyeball the rest.

Task complete!  So it took me some time, but I have enough salad for a late lunch and to take to work for lunch tomorrow.  The dressing is tangy but definitely edible, the most important factor.  Now to figure out what to make for dinner.  I think I might be eating quite late at this speed.  However, I did just discover some frozen smoked tuna; perhaps I'll give that a shot.  Wish me luck!

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