Friday, June 25, 2010


I found over time that maintaining this food blog separately from my main blog was too much to handle for me.  I'll be leaving it up as is but have also transfered all the posts in it to This Northwest Life where I will continue to incorporate food related posts and recipes from time to time.  I invite you to join me there, if you like.  In the meantime - Happy Cooking.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Food Revolution and Life

Have you ever had so much on your to do list that you just want to sit down and give up?  That is how life has felt the last few weeks.  I think we all go through times like this and the good thing is that there's usually a light at the end of the tunnel and we just cross our fingers hoping it isn't a train.  It's not a train, right?

I've got lots of great recipes and food related posts waiting to be shared but so little time to get them up here.  I hope you will hang in there till I get myself better organized.  In the time that I haven't posted as often I have also been doing some soul searching.  What do I want out of this and my other blogs?  Who do I want to reach?  What do I hope to accomplish?  The answers to these questions are many but ultimately I want to bring some joy into people life and also inspire them.  Inspire people to think outside the box, to make changes that are good for them, their families, their communities and this earth.  On a food blog that's going to be about doing all those things in relation to - well, food.  Preaching to the choir isn't what it's all about.  It's great, it lovely, it's nice to have at least a few people that don't get all weirded out or defensive or think you're whacked because you care about what you put into your body and what others put into theirs.  But the real change happens when people see what you're doing and get excited about it and maybe try it little by little themselves.  That little by little can add up and the next thing you know big changes are happening around you, in your own life, in your families lives an in your community.

That's exactly the kind of thing that Jamie Oliver is after in Food Revolution and he's up against some pretty big barriers.  But he cares, he's got an audience and he's going to make a difference.  If you haven't seen the shows yet, please give yourself the time to sit down and watch them.  It's worth it.  Really it is.

And I'll be back soon, a little more organized and full of stuff to share.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CSA Shares and Simple Navy Bean Soup

I just finished a wonderful lunch of left over navy bean soup that was whipped up yesterday and I'm still nibbling on the sweet and juicy pear from our last CSA box from Full Circle Farm.

And I'm mentally jumping for joy to hear that my sister in-law and brother in-law are signing up for a share from Full Circle Farm as well!

All this thinking about CSAs has me eagerly awaiting tomorrow's box.  I've been dreaming up what I will do with all that delicious produce since I finalized my selections this weekend.  I'm especially excited about getting a double order of eggplant this week - completely out of season, but something I've been craving for a few weeks now.  I want to make the simple oven roasted eggplant with anchovy that I found in my mother in-law's Silver Spoon cookbook and I want to try my hands at a recipe I came across online for eggplant "bacon" that gets marinated and then put on the dehydrator for a while.  It sounds very intriguing.  If I'm lucky enough to have any eggplant left (doubtful) I might make up a batch of Baba Ganoush to go with the Chipotle Garlic Hummus recipe I'm planning on making.  I found that recipe in the Tassajara Cookbook I've got checked out from the library (I really want a copy of this one for my collections!).  That would give us some good picnic foods for the weekend.  Something to take along for our outing to the Seattle Tilth Spring Plant Sale that we are going to with some friends.

For tonight though I'm roasting up some parsnips and cabbage for a veggie St. Patrick's Day dinner.  Yum!

Here's the Simple Navy Bean Soup recipe:

In the morning:

2 cups dry small white navy beans
8 cups water
1 Bay or Myrtle Leaf

Put all of the above in a slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on low setting.

When it's getting closer to dinner time:

2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1-2 tsp earth balance or butter or olive oil

Saute all of the above in a large stock pot till slightly softened.  Add the beans and their broth, discarding the bay leaf.  Add smoked sea salt to taste (that's my secret ingredient!).  Bring to a simmer to blend flavors.  Right before serving stir in a 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley.

We served this with garlic bread  - the perfect thing to sop up the last of the bean broth in your bowl.  This soup tastes even better the next day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Covetous Coconut Creations

Pirates made from coconuts - so funny!  I could be a coconut pirate, but for now I'll just share some other coconut creations to covet.

I opened the fridge yesterday to grab a scone when I noticed a leftover container with something in white in it.  Not recalling what it could be I cautiously opened the lid and peeked inside.  It looked like whipped cream.  Had Mark been holding out on me?  When did we get and whip up any whipped cream?  Then I sniffed.  The whipped cream smelled like coconut.  Next I stuck my finger into it (it felt like whipped cream) and tasted it and...


Then I remembered.  Mark had told me he couldn't get the coconut milk to blend so he had stuck it in the blender for a few seconds.  What he didn't know was that when he stuck the blended coconut milk into the fridge it set.  It set into a frothy whipped yummy goodness and became whipped coconut milk - any day rival to the real deal.  It was like whipped cream and creme frache all mixed up in one but with the light taste of, well, coconut.  

You know what I did, right?  I mean I WAS grabbing a scone from the fridge, and what goes with scones like nothing else?  Creme Frache, of course.  And I had this perfect creme frache look-a-like right there in front of me, complete with finger marks.  I couldn't resist.  I plopped a heaping dollop on both sides of the scone got the coffee that my cat, Jazz, made me make (really - she was running between the coffee maker and the fridge and looking at me intently - she knew it was "time for a little something" and she wanted to make sure I made coffee and not some fruit smoothy thing, 'cus those fruit smoothy things do not contain milk - her favorite thing on earth!) Anyway, I grabbed the now glorified scone and that milky coffee and headed back to my studio to relish in this new found accidental creation all the while thinking, "My husband is a genius!"  I was so engrossed I forgot to take a picture.

Later that night, however, I introduced my husband to his geniusness by taking a slice of his carrot cake and putting a big heap of whipped coconut goodness onto it.  He agrees, he's a genius.  This time I got a picture.

But wait there's more!  Not only did we have this homemade coconut adventure we've also been continuing to test out more products from Luna and Larry's Organic Coconut Bliss.  Remember I blogged about their Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars?  Well we couldn't help but try one of their ice-cream creations as well.  Still non-dairy, still organic, still fair trade, still magnificent!  The flavor we picked up was the Cappuccino - we love our coffee flavored frozen desserts - so it had to be the first one for us to try.  You know what we discovered?  Coffee and coconut, together, rock!  Wow, this was delicious.  I highly recommend it - but beware, it is rather addictive and disappears far to quickly.  They need to work on that - maybe the miraculously refilling coconut ice cream container could be their next endeavor.  Or maybe my genius of a husband will figure it out - I can dream can't I?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Carrot and Parsnip Bisque and Vegetarian Dishes in the Slow Cooker

Aw, the slow cooker, that ingenious invention that lets you cook dinner all day while you get everything else done.  I was l aways taught never to leave the oven on while you are away from the house, I think most of us were. In comes the slow cooker to the rescue, an appliance that can safely be plugged in while we're away or otherwise preoccupied.

Thing is, most people consider the slow cooker as a way to cook chucks of meat in various sauces, it is not commonly connected to vegetarian cooking.  That becomes even more obvious when you glance through most any of the slow cooker cookbooks at a bookstore.  They are meat centric to the core, you'll be lucky if you find maybe one or two vegetarian main dishes.  Those are usually lentil soups or some other bean dish.

Then I discovered Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  Since then I've adapted any number of the recipes in this cookbook.  I've made stocks, and soups and the list goes on.  I still have several recipes to try and several that spark my imagination for winging it.  If you like the convenience of a slow cooker but are vegetarian or would like to weave a few more vegetarian dishes into your meal plans I highly recommend picking this cookbook up.  My copy belongs to the library and keeps getting checked out over and over again - eventually I hope to find a used copy to keep.

The following recipe was adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.
It was really delicious.  This was also the first time I had ever made a carrot based bisque before - and I was really impressed.  I think I'll be trying a lot of variations on that theme in the future.

Carrot and Parsnip Bisque

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion
4-5 cups sliced carrots
3-4 cups peeled and sliced parsnips
2 small to medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
5 cups water or light vegetable stock (I used water and it was very full flavored)
salt to taste
1 Tablespoon dried dill or 2-3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill and more for garnish

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, parsnips, potato, and garlic.  Cover the pan and cook until the vegetables have slightly softened, about 10 minutes.  When softened transfer them to the slow cooker (4-6 quart), add the water or broth and a little salt, cover and cook on low for about 7 to 7 1/2 hours.

After the 7 to 7 1/2 hours stir in the dill.  Then puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor  until completely smooth.  Pour it all back into the slow cooker to keep it more before serving.

Serve with a little more dill sprinkled on top.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Bottom of the Box

Tuesday night found me pulling out the final few items of last weeks CSA, the bottom of the box so to speak. I was down to spinach, sweet potatoes and an onion.  I added to this some garlic and a package of whole grain tempeh that I had in the freezer.  These would need to become dinner.

I knew the flavors were right.  I love both tempeh and sweet potato sandwiches with greens.  Why not all together, minus the sandwich part?  So I peeled and diced the sweet potatoes, diced and cried over the red onion, thawed the tempeh in hot water in the sink and rinsed the spinach a thousand times (well, it felt like it!). I trimmed the stem ends off the spinach and spun them in the salad spinner to get some of the water off, diced up the thawed tempeh, peeled the garlic, pulled out the garlic press and grabbed the olive oil.

First a good coating of olive oil went into the pan.  I heated that over medium heat and added the sweet potato.  I covered it and let it saute-steam, occasionally stirring.  Then the onion went in and was cooked till it was translucent.  I added the garlic, stirred it around a couple times and threw the spinach in, once again covering it to help it start to wilt.  I stirred it around and pulled it off the heat before the spinach was over-cooked, wilted but still solid.  I added about a tablespoon of soy sauce, stirred the whole mess to blend and called it done.

We served it up into our bowls and chowed down.  It was absolutely delicious!  I am certain that I will have to make sweet potato, tempeh and spinach sandwich now - this combination of ingredients is too good to ignore!  I also have a feeling some variation of this will be made fairly often in this house from now on.  I love it when great recipes are discovered this way, when you're to the dredges of the fridge and pantry and it's as if the ingredients have just been waiting to meet - like it was meant to be.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Peanut Butter Ball Improv

I needed a little something this afternoon (this is a common trait of mine, no?) to go with my cup of decaf cafe au lait.  So I got the food processor down and started pulling ingredients that sounded good.  No recipe, just improv for food.  The results are delicious!  Very peanut buttery with a base of oats and almond meal, a touch of chocolate -two ways- and coconut just because.

Here's what went into them:

1/2 cup oats, ground to a coarse meal in the food processor
1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy
1 Tablespoon almond meal
1 Tablespoon unsweetened coconut
1 Tablespoon chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon agave syrup

All the above blended up in the food processor and then molded into little balls. This made 14 Tablespoon size goodies.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Coconut Bliss Bars - A New Addiction

Finding an honest and true certified organic non-dairy treat is nearly impossible and that keeps me from trying the ones I hear about, for me Organic is paramount.  So when I peeked into the freezer at the local PCC and saw these, I snagged them up super duper quick!

And oh my goodness am I glad I did!  Not only were they made from certified organic ingredients, fair trade chocolate and sweetened with agave - THEY WERE DELICIOUS!!!!!

Coconut Milk, Cocoa, Agave and Vanilla  = YUM!

I highly suggest you run on out and pick yourself up a box of these, gobble them all up, go get more, gobble those up and then maybe send me a couple boxes so I can gobble some up too!  Just use the super fast shipping option or they'll melt! ; )

Here's a link to their website.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Temporarily Out of Service

I think it was a good thing I listed so many great places to visit in the last Favorites Friday because I am temporarily unable to get fresh posts up.  All the pictures for the yummy recipes I was going to share are currently stuck on my computer which is having technical difficulties.  I've borrowed my husband's in the mean time for other things and he is working on a solution. 

So please enjoy all the links and if you are looking for some great blogsto keep you busy just go to my blogger profile and check out some of  the many blogs I follow.  

Be sure to check back often though, because I'm hoping to get this fixed ASAP!

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Favorites Friday Time!

It's Favorites Friday time!   I hope everyone enjoys all these links - I did!

There were a couple could articles this week on Food Issues.  Mixed Greens Blog wrote a thought provoking post on what leads us to change the way we view our food in Carbon 101 Foodprints.  I think this is a great post that shows how we are each on our own paths to figuring out our relationships with food and that we will each be challenged towards change if we allow ourselves to be and what provokes that change may be different for each person.

Over at MNN (Mother Nature Network) there was an article about potential foods we could lose due to monoculture, genetic modification and industrial agriculture.  I really enjoyed the bits of history they provided about where mass outbreaks have happened before with disastrous results, like the potato famine.  To me this brought home, even more, the importance of avoiding and hopefully eventually banning GMOs as well as supporting local small agriculture with an emphasis on diversity of both crops and varietals.

I loved the post that The Daily Raw Cafe wrote to her Aunt Gigi and the marinated collards recipe that went with it.

For a delicious sounding vegetarian mexican food fix check out Oven Aversions' Mole Burrito with Guacamole  This sounded so delicious and she had a good point about products that seem to be one thing but turn out to be another.  By the way, I only recently discovered this blog, but I'm really enjoying it so far.  You should definitely check it out.

Live Green Mom decided to make her own chocolate syrup and it sounds yummy!

Seitan is my Motor had a delicious sounding Carrot Coconut Soup.

Rawmazing did it again.  The recipes on this blog never fail to inspire me to eat more raw goodies.  Just check out the recipe for Cinnamon Raisin "Toast"

BitterSweet had a recipe for Adzuki Bean Gyoza - Little Bundles of Joy, Indeed!

Here's a source for coupons for natural and organic products - eat and live sustainably and save a little money in the process!

Julia and Julia goes Vegan?  Oh yeah!  Check out A to Z Blogging of Conscious Cook and Vegan Table.  I'm looking forward to following Pink Vegan's progress.

So simple and so delicious made with three of my favorite things - mushrooms, asparagus and tempeh. See what Vegan Minded Blog wrote about here.  Yum!

Last, but not least I came across something fun over at Dinner at Christina's where everyone gets together and shares their "firsts" in the culinary world from that week.  It's called Friday Firsts and she explains how it came about here.  Go check it out and share a first!

Well, I hope that keeps everyone busy over the weekend.  I also hope everyone enjoyed my recipes from this week and the story of how I met my husband.  I really will have to share my stories sometime about all the gourmet dinners I've had while out in the wilderness, especially the one where we had home cooked southern food in a snow cave during a blizzard.  It's a good one.

Coming soon to Rutabagas and Other Adventures:
  • Zucchini, Carrots and Broccoli Two Ways
  • A cookbook review - Vegan Brunch
  • Fennel and Grapefruit Salad
and much much more...

Question:  What has inspired you to change your ways of looking at food and how you eat?

Now I'm off to spend the weekend enjoying the spring weather:

 Reading through my new Vegetarian Times Magazine:

And dreaming up recipes for all the lovely produce in this weeks CSA from Full Circle Farm.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vegetarian Reubens and Romance

I met my husband in the woods.

You see, there was a backpacking trip where I knew a bunch of the people and he knew a bunch of the people and all those people met up at a trail head in Olympic National Park on October 20th, 2000.  I was pulling my gear out of a friends car when a big red truck pulls up with the famous (infamous?) SARboy.  That's short for Search And Rescue and that was his trail name at the time.

I was told that upon seeing me he said to his fellow passenger, "Man, she's cute - too bad she's taken."

That's me with the monster pack!

Yep, I was not single.  Was not looking.  So that this all happened was a bit of a shock.  What happened?  I'm getting to that.  We donned our enormous backpacks (Did I mention this was to be a gourmet backpacking trip?  Someday I'll have to share the menu and recipes.) and headed up the trail.

Switch back after switchback after switchback.  Eventually it was noticed that someone had fallen far behind, it was their first time on the trail since they had gotten out of the army and that was a couple decades earlier.  A bunch of folks decided to wait for them while myself and one other girl headed on to secure the campsite.  We had gotten about a half mile or so shy of the campsite when my companion went down.  She had slipped on a root that had made a step in the trail and had come down on her ankle at a wonky angle with her full weight and the 75 pounds or so she was carrying. (I told you, heavy packs!)  So we dropped her pack and I assisted her along at a hobble till we got to camp.  Eventually everyone else showed up along with the dropped pack and went about setting up camp while I and SARboy took a look at the injured girls ankle.  You see, we were the two with medical training on the trip and so were thrown together to care for (or torture if you asked her) the injured party.  First thing was to get that ankle into the icy cold creek and set up people to make sure it stayed there.  For some reason it kept popping back out of the water seemingly of its own accord.

It became obvious to me that there was a fracture along with the severe sprain so once it was thoroughly iced I slathered a bunch of herbal salve (a slimy green murky looking thing that works wonders) onto the ankle and we got it wrapped up nice and sturdy.

The injured party decided to stay for the remainder of the trip and just keep off the foot and keep it elevated and gripe at us when we insisted it go back into the icy water.  And so SARboy and Trail Artist (yep that was my trail name at the time, I had a way of making art out of random objects along the trail) were thrown together for better or for worse.

We worked well together with little or no effort and ended up falling hard.  (Yes, there is way more to this story - but this is a food blog so I will be moving along now -maybe I'll tell more on This Northwest Life at some point - like how Mark almost caused me to break my own ankle on the way out or how he had threatened I would have to marry him if I asked him to hold my coffee mug one more time.)

It took us a few weeks of talking online and on the phone to figure it all out.  Then came the very painful part, for me, of ending a 6+ year partnership with an awesome guy and one of my best friends.  Not fun, not easy.

Eventually Mark and I agreed to meet up again for a snowshoe backpack trip near Mount Hood.  We had a blast.

When we came off the trail we had our first meal out together at a local McMenamins.  We knew it was meant to be when we both ordered Reubens and Beer.  Reubens are one of my husband's favorite things and those two things put together were why I chose a form of Reuben as the special meal for my husband of 9+ years.  (Yes, we were married 3 months to the day after meeting.  Go figure.)

Now that we have a more vegetarian bent on our eating we didn't want regular old reubens and I had seen several references to Vegan and Vegetarian Reubens.  The ones that intrigued me most were those using tempeh.  None of the recipes seemed quite right, so we winged it, as usual and ended up with a delectable, rich and amazingly messy Tempeh Reuben.  It rocked!

Here's the recipe.  The marinade was adapted from an adapted  Vegetarian Times Recipe.

Vegetarian Reubens

8 oz package tempeh, I used multi-grain, sliced in half and then down the middle to make it thinner.

The marinade:

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Marinade the tempeh for several hours to overnight.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.


3 Tablespoons mayo*
3 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons chopped dill pickle

Combine the above and set aside.

To put the reubens together:

Slather the dressing on 2 slices of really good artisan bread - rye or a multi-grain, or a sourdough.  Layer slices of tempeh on two of the pieces of bread,spoon a little of the marinade sauce over it, top with a slice or two of swiss cheese* and a goodly pile of sauerkraut.  Put the other side of the bread on top of that.  Repeat for sandwich number two.

Heat a griddle or skillet lightly coated with oil over medium heat and grill the sandwiches on both sides till lightly browned.

Serve with a juicy dill pickle and big cloth napkins.

*This could easily be vegan by using veganaise in place of regular mayo and using a vegan swiss cheese or other vegan cheese option.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chickpea and Sun-dried Tomato Stew

Another simple recipe to warm your bellies.  This one I copied from a friend several years back and have since altered it here and there.  It's one that after making it we often ask ourselves why we don't make it more often.

Chickpea and Sun-dried Tomato Stew

1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 Tablespoon oil
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
dash cayenne
dash black pepper
3 cups vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar 
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Tahini
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Saute the onion, garlic and carrots in the oil over medium heat, till onion is soft.  Add the everything else except the tahini and parsley.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Blend 1/2 the soup in a blender with the tahini until smooth.  Return to the pot and stir in the parsley.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mostly Raw Almond and Coconut Macaroons

Inspired by all of Averie's delicious sounding raw cookie balls and made up on a whim when I was needing a little somethin'.

Mostly Raw Almond and Coconut Macaroons - Makes 1 Dozen

3/4 flaked oats
3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup agave
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons almond meal/flour
2 Tablespoons rice milk or other non-dairy milk
Splash of vanilla

Put the oats in a food processor and process for 15-20 seconds.  Add all the other ingredients and process till a dough comes together.  Gather the dough up in tablespoon portions and roll in your hands to make small balls.

So simple!

So yummy!

So Pretty!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Tacos with Chipotle Cream

These are one our favorite quick week night dinners.  It's simple.  It's delicious.

1 large Sweet Potato or Yam, peeled and diced
oil to coat the above
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons sour cream or vegan alternative
1 tablespoon plain yogurt, dairy or vegan
1 heaping teaspoon chipotle puree*
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
corn tortillas

Place the oil coated, diced sweet potato in a roasting pan and roast at 375 till tender - 20-25 minutes.

In the mean time blend the sour cream, yogurt, chipotle puree and lime juice in a small bowl.

When the sweet potatoes are done, warm the corn tortillas.  In each tortilla put a little of the sweet potato and avocado and drizzle the chipotle cream over the top.

Eat and Enjoy!

* Chipotle puree can be made by taking one can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce and pureeing in a blender or food processor.  Place in a jar and store in the refrigerator to have on hand for all things chipotle.  It will keep for several months.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate Infused Favorites Friday

I can't believe it's Friday again already!  This week has just flown by.  I've been very busy reading about all sorts of yummy food related things, and there seems to be a theme this week - chocolate.  Chocolate seems to be on everyone's mind and their blogs.  Hmmm, perhaps it has something to do with that holiday coming up this weekend?

I'll go along with the chocolate theme for this weeks Favorites Friday and make everyone happy by pushing the chocolate craze just a little further along.

If your looking for chocolate recipes then check out these posts:

Over at Mixed Greens Blog  you'll find a recipe for Chocolate Pudding featuring one of my favorite chocolate companies, from right here in Seattle - Theo Chocolate -  

Vegan Crunk revisits a memorable dessert from Millennium Restaurant in San Fransisco and tries her hand at recreating it.  The results sound delicious.  Check out the recipe for her take on the Chocolate Almond Midnight Torte.

Love Veggies and Yoga has several options for chocolate fans.  There's the delectable looking Vegan Fudge, the beautiful (they look like something done by a professional chocolatier) White Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and one of my all time favorites desserts - Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

I tried out Chocolate Covered Katie's 5-minute Chocolate Mousse recently.  It turned out pretty tasty. (It must have been, I think we managed to gobble it all up before getting any pictures!) It was way richer than I thought it would be.  I'm eager to try different brands of tofu as the base after reading that some are better for this kind of thing.  I also thought it would make a decent raw-like icing for something too so I'll be searching for a raw dessert, maybe with strawberries to try that out.

With all those delicious chocolate possibilities I only ask that you use only fair trade, slavery free chocolate.  If you don't already know about the the slavery issues related to chocolate, you can learn more about it here.  Fair trade is the way to go!

Now, I'm going to be sacrilege and share something completely different for any other lemonphiles out there who would rather serve up a sweet-tart luscious lemon-filled delight.

What is a lemonphile?
lemon - a tart citrus fruit, usually yellow in color
phile - one who loves, likes or is attracted to

Put them together and what do you have?  A lover of all things lemon!  If that's you, then definately check this out this humorous post from The Daily Raw Cafe and the recipe for her Lemon Coconut Pie.

Or maybe you just want a little spice in your life?  How about these Raw Cinnamon Rolls from Rawmazing.  These are on my to-do list!

I hope those links will keep you busy and inspired to spend some time in the kitchen this weekend!

Coming soon to Rutabegas and Other Adventures:

  • Sweet Potato Tacos with Chipotle Cream
  • Chickpea and Sun-dried Tomato Stew
  • Fennel and Grapefruit Salad
  • Vegetarian Reubens and Why a Reuben is Special Enough for Valentine's Day (I might even share the story of how I met my husband, it's a good one!)
  • A Cookbook Review - Vegan Brunch
  • First Ever "Meet Your Food Monday"
And so much more...

My question for anyone who might like to answer it:
Do you have foods or meals that are connected to special memories in your life?  What are they and the memories that make them special?

Have a great weekend and Valentine's Day, everyone!  Till next week, happy cooking!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Garlic and Kale Soup and Intuitive Cooking

I mentioned last week that I was still working through many of the recipes from the current issue of Vegetarian Times and that one recipe I hoped to make was the Garlic and Kale Soup.  Well, I finally got around to it and switched it up a bit based on what I had on hand in the house.  This recipe proved versatile enough to stand up to my altering it and that is a good quality in a recipe in my book.

I didn't originally learn to cook from recipes, just like I didn't learn to sew from patterns.  My mom was both a master seamstress and a master innovator in the kitchen.  She had to be.  Sewing is what made the money to put the food on the table and the food was rarely purchased based on a recipe - that would have proved to prohibitive in cost.  Like many others who didn't have such luxuries she shopped according to what was lower priced that week with an occasional splurge for something special.  Even the few recipes she actually referred to were altered often to make due with what was on hand.  This wasn't to say she didn't have very many cookbooks.  Far from it.  If you had seen my mother's house and then mine shortly after she passed away you would see the irony in her being a woman who rarely followed a recipe. Cookbooks were a hobby of my mothers.  Some people collect stamps, art and trinkets.  My mother collected cookbooks.  One of her favorite past times was to stop by a local second hand store and peruse the new cookbooks that had come in, often coming home with half a dozen at a time.  New, old, obscure and occasionally popular cookbooks of the day.  She would sit at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and read cookbooks like others read novels.  If you happened to be nearby she would share what she was reading when something caught her eye or her taste buds, rather.  I have picked up on this habit myself.  Just ask my husband and look around at the piles of cookbooks I've brought home from the library.

I, at times have had the luxury to cook from recipes and at other times struggled to eat organic and chemical free while relying primarily on a food bank.  What I learned from my mom was indespensible during those times and gave me the creativity to cook outside the box at others.  I learned to use my senses and my creativity to pull meals together inside my mind - testing flavors in my head while looking at ingredients in the pantry and refrigerator, while walking down the rows of stalls at a local farmers market, when seeing what came in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share or what was available from the local food bank.  It has become second nature for me to rarely follow a recipe precisely.  While talking to others I have found that this is a rare quality among the general population of the United States.  Most have barely learned to cook, having grown up on take out and boxed foods.  Intuitive cooking is a lost art for many of the people in the US today.  Thankfully there are food movements and food has been the "in thing" for a while, so I have hope that will change.

Of course among those writing food blogs it may not be rare at all.  There are a lot of creative cooks out there.  I only wish that could be said for the rest of America - that ability is one that would help many people eat healthier and have an all around better relationship with what fuels them.  I would love to see programs at local food banks and farmers markets that reach out to people and share those skills.  I would love to see chefs and home cooks and food lovers everywhere reach out to bring a good chunk of our society into a healthier relationship with food.  If there were free to inexpensive cooking classes that taught how to prepare meals based on what came in a particular CSA box, less people would be daunted by the thought of signing up for a local CSA.  More people would be supporting local farmers and the main course would be based on fresh vegetables instead of a slab of meat.  People would be healthier and hopefully happier.

All that said, I'll share the actual recipe for the Garlic and Kale Soup from Vegetarian Times and then share how I altered it and give a few other ideas how this recipe could be altered to accommodate more pantries, more budgets and thus more people.

Garlic and Kale Soup - Vegetarian Times

1/2 cup wheat berries
2 Tbs. olive oil
3.5 oz shitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (1 cup)
10 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch kale (10 oz), stemmed and coarsely chopped

1.  Soak wheat berries in a large bowl of cold water overnight.
2.  Heat the oil in a 2-qt saucepan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, and season with salt, if desired.  Saute mushrooms 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown.  Add garlic, and saute 2 minutes more.  Stir in vinegar; simmer until vinegar is almost evaporated, stirring to scrape up browned bits from the pan.
3.  Drain wheat berries, and add to mushroom mixture with vegetable broth and 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes.  Add Kale, cook 10-20 minutes more, or until kale is tender.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

  • I used spelt berried in place of wheat berries.  Most kinds of whole grain would work.  Even precooked, left over grains could be added towards the end of the process to simply warm through.  Try barley, brown or wild rice, quinoa and so on.  Some would not need to be pre-soaked and you may need to adjust the cooking times.  You can find cooking times for grains online by doing a search or some basic cookbooks will have a reference chart in them.
  • Fresh shitake mushrooms can be expensive, for instance the organic ones I purchased for this dish were close to $15 a pound.  It was my splurge that week.  But that would not always be possible.  You could use dried shitake, re-hydrated and the extra liquid squeezed out of them before sauteing or you could just skip sauteing the mushrooms and add them at the time of the broth.  If need be use less expensive regular mushrooms, the flavor will be different but the soup would still be good. 
  • I didn't have any broth on hand, since I have had to make my own broth now to avoid some potential irritant ingredients in even the organic broths available.  Making home made broth was still on my list of things to get done.  So I used some barley miso paste at half strength to make a broth base.  I dissolved the miso in the water in a separate pan and then added the warm broth to the recipe when the time came.  So my soup became Miso, Garlic and Kale Soup and it was yummy.  Any kind of broth or low to no salt bullion would do.  If you used dried mushrooms, the broth from re-hydrating them would be perfect.  If none of those are possible use water, salt and an herb like parsley (fresh or dried) if you have it to give the broth flavor.  The garlic and mushrooms do a lot for the broth on their own.
  • I happened to use kale for this soup, but ANY leafy green will work like chard, spinach or collards.  If you don't mind a slightly spicier flavor to the soup you could try mustard greens or arugula.
Obviously altering this recipe is pretty straight forward and not all recipes would be as simple.  But I hope this will inspire just a little creativity, just a little - it's a start, anyway.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cookie Monster Goes Raw

There are a total of six cookie monsters in this house.  The first and foremost would be Mark - my
hollow-legged skinny pole of a husband.

(Really I DO feed him and his mother had to swear the same thing and his sister, Meri, will most likely have to say the same thing about one (or both) of our nephews - they seem to be taking after their Uncle Mark. I'll feel for Meri when she has to start feeding those boys through their teenage years!)

The next cookie monster on the list would be Ginger.  If a cookie comes out, she's quick to try and steal, beg or otherwise let it be known that she things all cookies belong to her.  She's a tortoise-shell tabby with the attitude to match her striking good looks.  She occasionally gets a cookie crumb and a reminder that she's an obligate carnivore and if she eats too much grain things get messy. (This IS a food blog so I won't get anymore detailed.)

Then comes Tigger (the loud mouth) and his sister Tipsy.  These two grey striped monsters are always on the lookout for a stray cookie or crumb or whatever they can get their nosey little whiskers into.

Now Jazz, she's a different story.  She would quickly forgo the cookie to get her pink little tongue into the glass of milk that goes with it.  This cat will drink coffee if it has milk or cream in it.  When you go to the coffee pot and start to make coffee she gets all excited and under foot because she KNOWS that the milk will soon come out of the fridge and I have been a sucker enough times to make a nuisance into a monster.  Heaven help this cat if I were to ever go Vegan!

And the sixth cookie monster?  Well, that's me.  I've been known during times of bad behavior to have a cookie or two for breakfast.  Shame on me.

Having cookies for breakfast may not be such a bad thing now that I've discovered the glories of Raw Cookies, thanks to Averie over at Love Veggies and Yoga.  That woman is always posting up the most delicious ideas and recipes and so far I've tried out the Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Protein Bars - they were good.  Then I made a version of her Raw Oatmeal Raisin Cookies which turned out way to cinnamon-y for the likes of me but they were right up my husband's alley - the guy is a cinnamon freak.  I made these with raisins as the base and learned that it would be better to soak the raisins first. I had to add water to get a workable dough.  I honestly wonder if 2 T of cinnamon is a typo*...but Mark loved them anyway.  I have to make more for him asap, I've been informed.  (I don't have a puppy-dog, but who needs one when you have a husband that is so good at puppy-dog eyes?!)

Since the first batch of cookies didn't turn out to my liking I decided to play with the recipe a bit.  Averie gives lots of options for ways to switch it up with the raw cookies.  I ended up using dates as my base, and added coconut and only a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon but more than a splash of vanilla and ooh la la I got a winner!  I LOVE these cookies.  These little cookies are packed with good for you stuff.  On my last trip to the co-op I picked up some raw chocolate nibs that are SO going into my next batch.  To top it all off, these cookies are SO easy to make - I can't wait to get one of the nephews over here to help me make a batch.  They'll learn baking from mom and grandma and un-baking from Aunt Maurie - what well rounded kids (culturally, that is) they'll be!

* Thanks to Averie for stopping by in the comments and pointing out my oops.  I had doubled the recipe - that's where I got the 2 from.  But even worse was how I read Tsp as Tablespoon.  It comes from the way my mom always wrote recipes:
Big "T" "for tablespoon and little "t" for teaspoon.
I saw the capital T and my brain said Tablespoon and ignored the rest of the letters - even after double checking!  Silly me!