Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thanksgiving plans.

It gives me great pleasure to obsessively plan my menu every year, but the trouble comes when we have to execute it. Not that it turns out awful, just a lot of work and there's the occasionally disappointing result.

In past years, we've had a Mediterranean menu, Japanese, and Indian. This year, I wanted to go super-duper simple, fresh, local -- and, of course, very vegetarian. I feel like we sometimes get sucked in to recipes that sound divine but end up being overly complex to prepare and underwhelming in flavor. I'm hoping this year's choices will remedy the problems of the past but still satisfy everyone's desires: for taste, for the joy of cooking, for an easy family holiday.The recipes are simple but should taste nice. Very veggie-heavy and healthy, but veggies we are like. It's not a big group -- though if you're in the Bay Area and want to join us, shoot me a line -- but we all like cooking and eating healthy.

I also have in mind to incorporate one of Kevin's wishes: a walk in the park, though not the kind he'd prefer (Pt. Lobos -- too far). Hopefully the meal prep itself won't be so taxing that I can't make it, like last year. I'm also thinking of getting Up from Netflix since it seems like the kind of thing we all might enjoy while lingering over a well-deserved dessert overdose.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Delicata squash stuffed with spiced brown fried rice.

Stuffed delicata squash
Originally uploaded by emily ca..

Another attempt to throw random veggie ingredients together to create something that doesn't appear to suck.

Here are the things I had:

  • 1 delicata squash per person
  • 2" piece of ginger, peeled and microplaned into mush
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground serrano pepper (cayenne, etc. would work)
  • 3 little chopped sweet/hot peppers (I'm not actually sure, they were from the farm share and I can't be bothered to look at the newsletter -- either way works for me)
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • chopped cabbage and lacinato kale
  • handful slivered almonds
  • 1-1/2 c. cooked brown rice (preferably day-old)
  • white wine to deglaze
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 big fat carrot, grated
  • 1 stem basil, leaves torn

Heat your oven to around 400 degrees F. Slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and pulp, add a dribble of olive oil and a pinch of salt and bake until tender but not totally brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the fried rice. First fry the ginger and whole seed spices, then add the ground spices, then the peppers and tomato. Add a pinch of salt to encourage things to get reeeeal saucy. Add the cabbage and kale and cook a little more ('til greens are wilted), then add the almonds, stir, add the rice and cook for a few more minutes. If it is getting a little sticky on the bottom of the pan, add maybe 1/4 c. white wine and turn the heat up high, stirring to deglaze. Once you think things are pretty much cooked, turn the heat down low and add the scallions, basil, and grated carrot. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

When both your rice and your squash are ready, scoop the rice into boat-like squashies, and stick it back into the oven for about 5 minutes.

Then you can eat it.

Yay! I'm hungry.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I never post anything but recipes!

Is that really so terrible? I don't think so.

Here's a soup I threw together for dinner. It tastes pretty delicious and can be made with stuff you might have sitting around (and not only if you have a spice addiction collection rivaling mine) plus something that's in season and wonderful.

You will need, roughly:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small kabocha squash, diced (~1/2 in cubes) -- this is the awesome seasonal ingredient!
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 tsp each ground coriander and cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper (I have some neat ground serrano pepper, but you could use good paprika, cayenne, etc.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 c. red lentils
  • 4 c. broth (or cheater concentrate + water)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil in a good-size soup pot. Add the squash and cook a little more. Dump in the spices and stir around. Add the lentils and stir, then add liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, partially cover, and let simmer for 30+ minutes or until the lentils are cooked and squash is tender. Season to taste and eat.

The other thing I made was much easier: quinoa tabbouleh.

All you need is:
  • Some cooked quinoa
  • A diced red onion
  • Some chopped up parsley
  • Diced cucumber
  • Toooomaaaaatooooooo (I love tomato season, and heirlooms are leaving soon)
  • Dressing of lemon juice and olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I am not even going to explain that. It's a goddamn salad. It tastes good. It's good for you. Eat it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'd like to do this more often, I would.

But life is exhausting. I don't know how people with kids do it.

I haven't done anything fun lately, honestly, but I have been cooking a little bit. Not as much as I'd like, but there are the occasional little discoveries. If you know me, you know I consider the farmers' market on par with going to church, except better, since I'm agnostic but I can't deny the gorgeous bounty of planet Earth.

Corn is in season. I think we're supposed to avoid corn products as part of some conscientious avoidance of Big Agriculture, but I figure a few ears of seasonal, organic white corn from vendors I shop with year-round can't hurt. Certainly doesn't hurt the taste buds. Three for $1 and I can plan a meal around them: what goes with a nice ear of corn?

Sub-question: what goes with a nice ear of corn that will require as little effort as possible to prepare, AND be healthy, AND use other vegetables (since god knows we get an obscene amount from Live Earth)? That's a lot of things to consider. Many nights my tired little brain can't muster up the creativity and decision-making powers to find the answer, and we go to a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant after much debate and whining (the latter mostly on my part).

Tonight I managed to hit all the points.

There was the corn, steamed ('cause it's easy and Kevin doesn't dig grilled corn for some bizarre reason).

There was a bunch of chard, fresh from our share, chopped and sauteed with garlic.

And there was a salad made of leftover quinoa, black beans, heirloom tomatoes (see? better than church), red onion (snatched from the garlic braiding activity station at Live Earth's solstice party), and a cumin-apple cider vinaigrette.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

More posts about buildings and food. Or just food.

I just made some food with ingredients I had sitting around my house!

I made:

Brown rice!
Spicy split mung dal!
Mixed green salad with shredded cabbage, carrots, and apples!

The brown rice is self-explanatory, if you've ever successfully made rice.

The dal is simple. The explanation is kind of complex, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy.

Take 1 cup of split yellow mung dal and wash it, then put it in a pot with 3-1/2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer until the lentils are cooked. When they're cooked, you'll be able to blend them with a whisk--they'll dissolve into a creamy puree.

When they're almost ready, in a separate small frying pan, heat a little canola oil and add 1-1/2 teaspoons of whole cumin seeds. Fry them until they turn brown and fragrant, then add some minced fresh ginger and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook briefly, then pour into the freshly pureed mung dal and stir. Next, add some chopped cilantro (or another flavorful green--I used some mizuna, which is similar to arugula, and it was nice and peppery) and a little fresh lemon juice, stir, taste and adjust seasoning, then serve.

The salad was also easy, but it turned out well.

I had: some mixed salad greens from one of my favorite farmers' market vendors, and green cabbage, carrot, and apple from the CSA share. I made a dressing with some fresh ginger, ground coriander, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a hint of agave nectar, then tossed in the salad green. I shredded some of the cabbage (cutting super thin strips is bizarrely satisfying) and grated the carrots and apple. The result is refreshing and a tad spicy and sweet.

The result: this stuff is TASTY... if you are a fan of GINGER. Which I AM.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Awesome snack to get you through the peanut butter crisis.

Surely you've all heard that processed peanut butter snacks are out due to salmonella. Way to go, industrial food complex! But that doesn't mean you can't have peanut butter at all--the jarred stuff, they say, remains safe and delicious. So here's something I made last night from a veganized and healthified (well, healthier) recipe found on Recipezaar.

-2 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
-3 tbsp. water
-1/3 c. canola oil
-1/2 c. sugar
-1 tbsp. molasses
-1/3 c. natural crunchy peanut butter
-1/2 tsp. vanilla
-1 c. rolled oats
-1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/4 tsp. salt

In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseeds and water, then set aside. In a large bowl, mix oil, sugar, and molasses until smooth. Mix in the flaxseed mixture, then peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth (besides peanut chunks!). Add the rest of the ingredients (oats, flour, baking powder, salt) and mix until a thick dough forms. Spread the dough into a small, lightly greased pan (8-9" round, pie plate, 8" square) and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

You won't miss those peanut butter Clif bars.

And yeah, maybe someday I'll actually blog again.