Monday, April 27, 2009

Blog Maintenance

Sorry to have to add on the "word verification" feature for comments, folks.  I hate having to do those myself and resisted using it as long as I could.  But one can only take so many comments from spam-commenters like 9 Dragon Gold, Runescape Money, World of Warcraft, or (my personal favorite) Maple Mesos.   

It does make me laugh every time I try to read the nonsensical words and phrases that show up as comments, but it's starting to be a bit much.  Especially when it's a perk of my day to read my comments!

Here's a gratuitous cat picture to make up for it:
This is Trouble's new "cat door".  She ripped the screen out of out screen door.

Spring!

I love springtime vegetables!  Asparagus, baby green onions, garlic scapes, ramps, radishes, yum!  This dish just screams "SPRING" to me:
This meal came together really quickly and the whole family loved it! 

Springy-Vegetables over Rice

olive oil
6 stalks of asparagus, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
2 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, sliced
4 green onions, sliced
1 bunch chard, sliced thinly
1 can artichokes, drained
a handful flatleaf parsley, chopped
a Tbsp or 2 of fresh basil, torn
lemon zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
Cooked brown rice to serve it over

Just heat the olive oil in a skillet and toss in the carrots and asparagus first.  Cook until asparagus is starting to turn bright, but still crunchy.  Then add the zucchini and green onions.  Cook 1-2 minutes or until zucchini is starting to wilt down. Then add the chard, artichokes, and parsley.  Cook just until the chard has wilted.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil, lemon, and salt/pepper.  Serve over brown rice or pasta.  

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Mixer Update

After much deliberation and advice from ya'll, I contacted the KitchenAid folks about my ever-broken mixer.  Sadly, they told me that since my warranty was expired, the best thing I could do was take it back to the repair shop...or use a $30 off coupon for an online purchase. 

I decided that I have nothing to lose by taking it back to the repair shop- if it's the same problem, it's free.  If it's a new problem, I'll most likely just get a new mixer.  So I'm back to life without the mixer for a while- the repair process can take 2-4 weeks!  Thanks so much for all the advice everyone offered.  I'll post as soon as I get any news!

I took last week off from bread baking and it was liberating.  Sometimes when fun things become routine and more like obligations, they lose their fun.  That started happening with my bread baking.  But after a little time off I'm ready to bake again.  Plus, it's super rainy and thunderstormed this morning, so baking is exactly what I want to do today!

If it hadn't been raining, though, I was going to be in the garden planting.  So I am a little bummed about the weather.  My little cauliflower and broccoli plants in the basement are about ready to join the real world and meet the real sun!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dinner at Martha's!

There were 13 different fruits/vegetables in this meal!

Yams, turnips, collards, tomatoes, onions, garlic, avocado is in front (with chili powder and cumin)

Salad with red cabbage, beets, radishes, fennel, blood orange, and green beans in the back.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'll Have the Vegetable Plate...

I had a really nice day today (so far).  
I went to a yoga class this morning and then went to work to teach a class about eating less meat and transitioning to vegetarianism.  It was a fun class with lots of samples- my favorite kind!

Then I picked up some fresh produce and headed home.  I was a little frustrated for a while because our house has been pretty messy lately.  But I sucked it up and just started cleaning.  I don't want to say how long it has been since I've mopped, so let's just say that it's a seasonal activity and winter was not the mopping season.  

As a reward for mopping (why not?), I made myself a super awesome vegetable-centric dinner right before I mopped the kitchen.  Then I took my food out on the deck when I was done and ate while watching the blue jays gather all the food the squirrels knocked out of the bird feeder.  The lilacs and the apple tree have buds on them!

Now I'm relaxing with some Late July Vanilla Bean and Green Tea sandwich cookies, some almond milk, and season 1 of House, MD from the library- I can't think of much that is more fun than that!

My dinner was inspired by some rockin' good food I tasted from the Mississippi Market deli today.  When you work at the same co-op for a long time, the deli food can get kind of boring sometimes.  But I ALWAYS look forward to the spicy cucumber and peanut salad. 

 And now I'm also in love with the Green Beans Pomodoro.  So I tried to replicate them at home.  Sure, I could probably ask our deli manager for the recipe...but that'd be cheating!  It's much more fun this way!

Green Beans Pomodoro

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 pound fresh green beans, tipped and tailed
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup drained canned tomatoes (I had fire roasted ones open)
sprinkle of salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and swirl around bottom of pan.  Add the green beans and cook, stirring a few times, until bright green with some browned sides.  Then turn off the flame and add  the garlic and tomatoes.  Let the residual heat from the pan lightly cook the green beans for a minute or two more.  Then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and top with the fresh basil.  Serve hot or cold.  


I didn't really write down measurements for the Spicy Cucumber Salad, but here are my approximations:

Spicy Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts
1/2 jalapeno, with seeds!
3 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
2 green onions, minced
Sprinkling of seasoned rice vinegar
Salt to taste

Combine everything and refrigerate until ready to eat.  Tastes best after marinating a bit.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Vote for My Video!

If you live anywhere near a co-op, you might know that today's the deadline for the My Co-op Rocks video contest.  And you know Mike and I got ours done just in time and used every second of the 2 minute time length allowance.  Now it's up to you to make us win!  




So go vote right now!!!  You have to enter your name and email to register, but it's really quick and easy.  

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cherry Ginger Brew

I canned a lot of cherries when they were in season this past year, but didn't really think about how I might use them.  I didn't consider the fact that aside from eating them fresh or dried, I don't typically use cherries.  I rarely make fruit pies because I don't really dig fruit pies that much and I havn't mastered the gluten free pie crust yet.  So i'm sitting on about 7 pints of cherries and before I know it cherry season will be upon us once again.

So I decided to blow a quart of them on making cherry-ginger soda.  Check out this gorgeous color!  It's one of my best soda creations!
Cherry Ginger Brew

2.5-3 oz. fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 quart of canned cherries in light syrup or juice
1 quart water
3 tsp. natural cherry extract (Frontier Co-op makes a good one)
2 quarts water, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon granulated champagne yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water

In a big saucepan, combine ginger, brown sugar, cherries with juice, 1 quart of water, and the cherry extract and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, then remove from heat and cool until only slightly warm.  

Strain cooled cherry mixture into a larger container.  We like to use a big food-grade bucket with a spigot at the bottom.  Add 2 quarts of room temperature water.  Using a tasting spoon, test the temperature of the cherry brew.  It should be slightly warm only.  Combine 1/4 cup of lukewarm water with the yeast and stir until dissolved.  Add the yeast water to the cherry brew and stir or shake to thoroughly combine.  

Dispense brew into sterilized glass bail-top bottles, leaving a few inches of headspace for carbonation.  Pack away into a dark place for 36-48 hours.  Be sure to carefully open one outdoors, pointing away from your face, after 36 hours.  The carbonation depends on your yeast, sugar and temperature, so you should always check them sooner rather than later.  

Hate to waste the leftover cherries and ginger?  Me too!  

Squeeze ALL liquid out and spread the cherries and ginger out on a baking sheet and bake at 200 for 60-90 minutes until dried.  Add them to your homemade granola!

What to do...What to do?

I need advice.  

Since I was a little girl I've believed with all my heart that KitchenAid mixers are the very best mixers to be had.  And I continued to believe that even though my beloved tangerine artisan stand mixer broke once.  I even believed it after it broke twice.  But now, after the motor has died yet again, I'm starting to doubt my commitment to KitchenAid.  

But maybe I just got a lemon of a mixer and need to give the brand another chance. Afterall...my dishwasher and food processor haven't failed me [knock on wood].  

 Here's the situation:  The last repair is under warranty.  I can have it repaired again for free if it is a problem related to the previous one or pay for parts only if it's a whole new problem.  Or I can return the whole darn mixer to the repair guy and he'll give me my $80 back from the last repair.  

So what do I do?  Get it repaired and possibly have it break again?  Or just take my $80 and buy a sturdier model that can handle my quadruple pizza dough recipes?  

One option is clearly cheaper than the other, but I don't want to get stuck in a loop of continually repairing this thing.  I've already spent nearly the original cost of the mixer in repairs!  

What would you do?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Some Spring Cleaning

I went on a little cleaning spree this past weekend...in the freezer.  I keep a pretty good inventory of what's in the fridge, but the freezer is uncharted territory.  Our freezer is a chest style freezer because our fridge is 100% fridge.  So when you put something down into the freezer, it is instantly lost.  

I found some wild things in the freezer that I didn't even remember I had.  Like fake shrimp that was a sample product from the co-op...a couple of years ago.  And popsicles.  And a gallon of local strawberries I forgot about.  And a gallon of mulberries.  And ice cream.  

Ice cream wouldn't be that surprising except that Mike and I were just lamenting about not having any ice cream!

And it wasn't just one tub.


Clearly we have a problem.  

So I've instituted the freezer inventory list, just like the refrigerator has.  Nothing goes in without going on the list!  I've got to use all those berries, and cauliflower, and green peppers, and pesto, and jalapenos, and ICE CREAM!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Another Quick Dinner

I've switched over to salad mode already.  It happens every Spring.  All of a sudden I start craving raw vegetables and cold salads instead of lasagna and casseroles.

Don't worry, though.  I don't stop eating my soup or hot tea or anything.  It's not that severe of a change.  I just find more ways to work raw veggies into my life.  

Tonight's meal is a perfect example.  I had a lot of free limes from the co-op, an avocado, a jalapeno, some cilantro and carrots.  They were practically screaming to become a spicy quinoa salad.
Here's what I threw together:

About 1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
2 carrots, shredded
1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced
salt to taste

So good and so simple!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Quick Dinner!

Tonight's dinner was ridiculously quick!

I started by slicing a block of Lightlife garden veggie tempeh in half lengthwise so it wasn't too thick and then each slice in half.  Then I mixed up a marinade of:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
black pepper
sprinkle of salt

...and rubbed it all over the tempeh.  

Then I started cooking up some quinoa.  It only takes about 15 minutes and it's a whole grain with ridiculous amounts of protein and calcium!  When the quinoa was done I stirred in:

Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 green onions
salt and pepper to taste

Then I heated up a cast iron skillet and added a little oil.  I tossed in the tempeh and let it sear nicely before flipping to the other side.  It didn't take long.

I threw in a salad at the last minute with some green leaf lettuce, craisins, and walnuts.  I mixed up a little dressing, too.  I have no idea on the quanitites, but the ingredients were:
Veganaise
Dijon mustard
flax oil
lemon juice
salt
pepper


This could totally be on the Rachel Ray show.  Except that it doesn't have sausage or cheese in it.

So much to celebrate...

Hooray!  I'm so proud of myself.  I just installed my new wireless router and I didn't even get angry or cry during the process.  Even when it took me nearly two hours and ended up being a little switch on my laptop that I needed to turn on to use the wireless network.  Sometimes it amazes me that my job involves so much computer troubleshooting and yet I usually can't even burn a CD on my own at home without getting frustrated beyond belief.

But here I am.  Blogging from the comfort of my own futon.  Actually, our futon is anything but comfortable.  We spent the evening shopping around for mattresses again and finally found one that is made locally in the Twin Cities that we both really like (The Original Mattress Factory for anyone who'se interested).   In a couple of days I could be blogging from the comfort of my own actual mattress!

On Tuesday night I rushed home from teaching a neti pot class to make some awesome snacks for a game night with a few friends.  It's Mike's birthday this week and he HATES birthday parties.  But he agreed to having some friends over and eating birthday cake as long as it wasn't a "birthday party".  So I baked up some of Karina's gluten free foccacia bread.  Only this time, the dog didn't eat it all!

The bread was really great, except that I misread the recipe and added way too much salt.  Luckily my sweetie is a salt fiend and didn't mind one bit.  I also brought home a Rustica baguette and made Banh Mi sandwiches on both breads, using portobello mushrooms as my "meat".  


When I asked Mike what kind of cake he wanted, he decided he wanted to duplicate his favorite Mighty-O donut: the Don King donut.  They are chocolate with a white glaze and coconut on top!

I figured that this called for a bundt cake so that it would look like a giant donut!
The cake is gluten free and is a combination of a couple of recipes, mainly Karina's Banana Bundt Cake.  If you've never checked out her blog, please do!

Here are her ingredients and directions with my adaptations:

Double Chocolate GF Bundt Cake

Wet Ingredients:: 

1 medium very ripe bananas, cut up 
1/2 cup prunes
1 cup hot water 
1/2 cup applesauce
 
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract 

1/3 cup extra light olive oil
 
2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
 
1 1/2 cups organic light brown sugar
 

Dry Ingredients::
 

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
 
1/4 teaspoon sea salt* (if your flour blend has no salt)
 
2 teaspoons xanthan gum* (if your flour blend has no xanthan or guar gum added)


Add in last:: 

Egg Replacer for 2 large eggs (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer made with vanilla rice milk)
 

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a Bundt® cake pan by rubbing a little oil in it. 

Place the banana chunks, prunes, and hot water into a blender and puree until smooth.  Add the applesauce, vanilla, olive oil, agave, and light brown sugar. Beat well. 


In a separate large bowl, measure and combine your dry ingredients (I use a whisk to do this).
 

Add the wet ingredients into the dry mix, and beat for two minutes.
 

Make and froth your Egg Replacer; add it to the batter and beat to combine.
 Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared 
Bundt® pan and bake in the center of a preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes until done. Check the center for doneness with a wooden pick. The cake should be firm, and may appear slightly golden brown at the edge, yet still be moist inside. 

Cool the cake on a wire rack before releasing it from the pan (by placing a serving plate on top of the cake pan and turning it upside down onto a plate).

My 
Bundt® pan is non-stick, so my cake slid right out- but if your pan is not non-stick, be sure the edges of the cake are loosened from the sides before you invert the pan. 

Yields 12 to 15 slices. Freeze extra slices.



For the frosting, I was going to do a thin buttercream, but my mixer has broken yet again.  [Don't worry, I'll raise hell with the repair shop and get my money back.  KitchenAid- why are you doing this to me?!]

So instead I just mixed some powdered sugar with a little coconut milk to make a glaze and drizzled that on the cooled cake and then sprinkled coconut on top.  It was really good!

The sandwiches and the cake were a hit, but we're just about out of cake and Mike's birthday is tomorrow.  Maybe time for another?...
It's time for bed now.  



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Whoopsie!

Sorry, Mom, and various other people to whom I promised to post this video.  Here's the link to my appearance on Fox's In the Kitchen segment of the morning show.  


And keep in mind that I later found out that the dog ate my missing jalapeno!