Monday, May 31, 2010

3 things I need to remember

Three things I learned today:

  • Don't transport compost to the compost bin in a glass bowl, because cleaning hunks of glass out of 2 week old curried chickpeas inside of a 4' x 4' compost bin is not fun.
  • Don't trust that all mason jars in the fridge have their rings attached.  Sometimes they only have lids and your crisper drawers get flooded with pickle juice.  
  • Don' t start looking for the emergency vet number when Hannah yelps like her leg was just broken.  She probably just needs to lick her paw for 5 minutes and then will be fine.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kale-O-Rama

I'm not a big raw foods kind of gal.  I tend to go more towards cooked vegetables, soups and grains.  But every once in a while, particularly in the summer, I get massive cravings for super fresh raw veggies.  A kale salad is my favorite answer to that craving.


I've written about raw kale salads before, but this one turned out so delicious that I have to share it, too.
As I prepped this salad, I was inspired by both the super yummy dijon-marinated kale salad that my raw-for-two-and-a-half-months buddy Melissa had at Sacred Chow in NYC and the kale and golden beet salad that's been brightening up the Linden Hills Co-op deli lately.  This is kind of a hybrid of those, with a crazy amount of ginger.

Gingered Kale Salad
1 bunch raw kale, stems removed and chopped
1 golden yellow beet, peeled and grated
1-2 inches of ginger root, peeled and finely grated
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2-3 Tbsp. umeboshi plum vinegar
1 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. flax oil

Massage kale until it turns bright green and softens.  Combine the kale with the grated beet in a seal-able container.  In a little bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients until smooth.  Pour dressing over the kale and beet salad and shake it all up in your sealed container.  I like to marinate this salad overnight or at least a few hours before serving.  I took this salad in my lunch box all week without it getting soggy or weird!  Kale is amazing!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back in Black

Usually my weekend meal-planning system saves me time and money.  Other times my weekend meal planning is a total failure.  This week, for example, I prepared a huge batch of black chickpea curry and brown rice with soy yogurt raita.

On Monday night Mike had already started cooking dinner when I got home and he didn't remember that the curry was what I planned to serve. I can't complain, though, because he's an awesome partner who cooks dinner for the family all the time.  So we ate pasta with broccoli and cauliflower in a lemony-tahini sauce.

Then on Tuesday the kids and I visited Mike's mom and went out for Chipotle.  Not what I planned, but delicious and the kids were thrilled.

It is now Wednesday night and I'm cooking up some pasta with mushrooms and spinach even though I still have about 8 cups curry and nearly as much brown rice in the fridge.  I've eaten it for 2 days in a row at lunch and I just can't eat it for both lunch and dinner in the same day.  Looks like this curry will need to get frozen or something!

Even though I'm not ready to ONLY eat this curry for the next 5 days, it is really good.  I scored the black chickpeas (made by Timeless Foods) at Linden Hills Co-op.  I used this recipe (Bengal Gram Curry) except used more chickpeas than the recipe suggested.  I used the whole package.  I wouldn't recommend that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Empire State of Eating

It's been a delicious week!  I got to go to New York City for a co-op marketing conference (a perk of my new position at the co-op), so I tried to make the most of with with exploring, eating out more than necessary and getting lost.

A HUGE excitement during this trip was that I got to meet my "west coast twin."  After about 2 years of emailing each other, Facebook stalking each other and sending care packages, Melissa and I finally met!

And despite our fears that we might actually not like each other after this long-distance, virtual friendship, we loved every minute together!  We took this picture on the subway, after accidentally taking the train to Brooklyn (instead of Manhattan) at around midnight.  Forty minutes, a subway rat and a crazy lady yelling sexual invitations for her dog later we were safely back to our hotel.


I should have gotten a photo of the Westerly Market because this little natural foods store was amazing!  They had tons of grab-n-go vegan sandwiches, vegan knishes and the best selection of raw foods Mel and I had ever seen.  We're talking the full line of Dr. Cow nut cheeses, two whole endcap displays of raw chocolates and an entire aisle of raw crackers and chip-type-things.  Crazy!

I didn't get a photo of the food from our picnic in Times Square, but we had and awesome raw foods snack:   Kimchi crackers and dehydrated onion-y daikon chips with Dr. Cow cashew cheese, nutritional yeast-y kale chips and a naturally fermented ginger beer.


I also got to meet up with my friend Luis who used to work with me at the co-op.  Hooray!  We went out to Sacred Chow for a super yummy meal.  I had the 1/2 Orange Barbecue Seitan Hero with a Caesar Salad and an Original Sin cider (made in NY).  Yep, that hero above was a 1/2 sandwich.  I don't think I could have eaten a whole one!  The sandwich was really filling and the seitan was awesome.  I usually prefer my barbecue sauce to be more tangy, but this one had really great flavor- even if it was on the sweet side.  Melissa's Dijon Marinated Kale was so delicious- I'm going to have to try to replicate that at home!

Hmmm... This post is all out of order, but that's okay.  The first night in NY, Melissa and I went to Hummus Place.  Guess what I had?  Hummus!  This hummus was really something special- Drizzled with olive oil and topped with sautéed mushrooms and served with fluffy, hot pita bread!  I also had some yummy pickles and this "Mediterranean Mojito" that had a ridiculous quantity of mint in it, lime juice and wine instead of hard liquor.  And it was frosty-frozen.  I am definitely making this at home sometime!  The kids would really love a non-wine version.


On my last night in NY I headed to Candle Cafe with my old friend Monica (again, who I used to work with at the co-op) and 3 new friends from west coast co-ops.  We started with some rockin' quesadillas filled with veggies and Daiya cheese- we all agreed that this was the best part of the meal!  I had the Cajun Seitan Sandwich with coleslaw.  The seitan was really crispy and tasted deep-fried.  It had a fantastic texture!  But the flavor of the sandwich overall was really bland.  A little sprinkle of salt on the avocado and greens would have helped.  And some cajun spices on the seitan would have been great.  I was expecting something a little bit spicy.  The ancho chili aioli saved the day with its Veganaise-y goodness, though, and made the sandwich overall pretty good.


After our dinner we took the subway over to Lula's Sweet Apothecary.  I knew that I'd regret it if I didn't make it to this ice cream shop on my trip.  It was close, but we arrived an hour before they closed on my last night in New York!  I tasted the caramel, marshmallow, graham cracker flavor and it rocked my world...but I really wanted a malt without hunks of things in it, so I opted for a classic chocolate malt.  Oh. my. goodness.  I had never met a malt I couldn't finish until this one.  Made from cashews, this ice cream is incredibly rich.  I couldn't make it through this whole shake even after sipping nearly the whole trip back to the hotel!  It was thick, gooey and malt-y.  Yum!


I really enjoyed my time in New York- I got to see tons of landmarks all by accident while exploring and hunting down these restaurants!  But, homebody that I am, I am really happy to be back home right now: just sitting in my kitchen, eating biscuits and sipping decaf while I type to you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Greens Under Pressure

I jumped into the canning season in kind of an odd way.  I pressure canned soup.  Not usually what one might be inspired to do in May when the local herbs, radishes and asparagus are just starting to roll in.  But it's cold!  And the mustard greens at the co-op looked AMAZING.



This is just my Mustard Green Soup with red lentils and lots of ginger added.  I simmered the heck out of the soup until the lentils were falling apart and then added the mustard greens and turned off the heat.  When pressure canning soup, you usually have to can quart jars for 75 minutes or so.  That means it gets quite a bit of extra cooking in the canner, so I only the cook the greens minimally beforehand.

In case you've never canned soup before, please know that the ONLY safe way to do this is with a pressure canner (not a pressure cooker).  Because soups are not usually acidic enough to prevent the growth of clostridium botulinum, the only way to kill any stray spores (that might kill you once they grow) is to zap them with 240 degree temperatures.  And since water (and soup) normally boil at about 180 degrees, you have to put them under high pressure to get the temperature up to 240.  And you should follow a recipe from a trusted source or at least find one similar in ingredients and texture to the soup you want to can.  Got it?

I'm a huge fan of home-canned soups, despite the pain in the ass that they can be to can.  Because when I'm sick or tired or sick and tired, all I want is homemade soup.  I save these jars for a day when I really can't make soup for myself and then I'm so thankful I spent a hour and 15 minutes watching the pressure canner to make sure it never dropped below 10 pounds of pressure.

Plus, I have a stash of this soup in the fridge for lunch- Hooray!

Friday, May 7, 2010

In a Blanket


This is admittedly not the most aesthetically pleasing meal.  It even looks kinda dirty.  But it was all I wanted for dinner on Thursday night and I've thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast.  

Pigs in a Blanket!!!


I just made a batch of my favorite biscuit dough and cut long triangles, a la Pillsbury crescent rolls.  Then I wrapped up some Smart Dogs.  I think I should have shaped them differently because they ended up with huge biscuits around a very small part of the dog.  I enjoyed mine dipped in Silver Spring horseradish mustard and homemade ketchup- Yum!!!

Also in blankets are my plants.  It's supposed to get down to freezing temperatures tonight and possibly (okay, probably.  Like 90% chance probably) snow.  So I have my strawberries, green beans, grapevine and lettuce under blankets, tarps, sheets and empty compost bags.  All of my newly purchased plants (from the Mississippi Market plant sale and Friends plant sale) are safely in the garage for the night.  I'm especially worried about my strawberries because they've already flowered and mostly fruited!  Please don't die!!!

I forgot to cover my baby apricot and pear trees.  Got to go...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Emotional Spin Cycle

I shouldn't be so emotionally attached to my home appliances, but I am.  I shouldn't have cried when Mike called to tell me that the 70-year-old delivery guy wouldn't even try to drag my dream washing machine down the 1/2 inch-too-narrow basement stairs, but I did.

My favorite, super-huge 5.0 cubic feet washing machine (Maytag Bravos) was just too big. I researched washing machines for a full week and decided specifically on this model.  Then it was a week before it could be delivered.  I even read the manual online before the delivery date.  I was so sad.

But I love my new only-25"-wide-and-fits-down-the-basement-stairs washer.  It's supposed to be super energy and water-efficient and the guy at Warner's Stellian says that stuff made in New Zealand is made to last 20 years.  We'll see about that.  I hope he's right.


It's a high efficiency top-loader and doesn't have the center agitator, so it's really big inside.  It's made by Fisher & Paykel (I hadn't heard of them either).  I tackled all this laundry in only 5, maybe 6 loads:

The picture doesn't really do this pile justice.  This is 3 weeks of laundry for my family of four people, two cats and one dog.  It was a mountain. None of us had clean underwear and we were using hand towels as wash rags.  Thank goodness the washer came on Monday!

  I've been really excited to do laundry this week.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder...


PS- I can still use my homemade laundry soap in this machine because its low-sudsing!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

No More Dizzies

Well, nothing is wrong with my brain  (that's the perfect set up for someone to make a joke about me- feel free).  And nothing is wrong with my eyes (except my crazy-bad near-sightedness and astigmatism).

I'm not sure what was causing my dizziness, but it disappeared a couple days ago.  I'm relieved that it's not a brain tumor or anything, but I wish I knew what was causing it.  And I wish I could be confident that it won't come back.  Both last month and this month the dizziness started right before my period- We'll see what happens next month.

Thanks for all the kind words and suggestions.  I plan on taking good care of myself and hoping the symptoms don't return.

And my appetite is back!  Hooray!  I just ate some amazing homemade pizza- Mike and I each had our own.   We chowed down way too fast for photos.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rampy


Everyone should go find some ramps right now and make this bread.  Or make any bread.  Just add ramps.  

I love ramps.  Maybe you've noticed?  Ramps with pasta.    Ramps with peas.    Ramps with parsnips.   
They're garlic-y, onion-y, and definitely spring-y!



The bread was meant to be just a vehicle for the fava bean hummus with preserved lime, the yogurt/mint/coriander sauce and cucumber.  But it was so yummy hot off the griddle that I could have eaten it plain!