Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Sick

I caught my sweet neice's little cold!  So I made soup tonight.  I don't like having a cold, but it is worth all the sweet Abby kisses and hugs I got this weekend. I love my neice to pieces!

Let's Not Forget...

...how yummy a simple bowl of cheerios and bananas can be!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tomato Sauce Interview @Earth Eats

Listen to me talk about tomato sauce with Annie Corrigan!  There are other great recipes, as well, including a refreshing tomato watermelon salad.

Cream of Green Vegetable Soup + Strawberry Spinach Salad With Sesame-Miso Dressing

We eat alot of soup around here.  This one was flavorful and comforting last night.  Not to mention it contained so much broccoli, bok choy, celery, and parsley in drinkable form that I knew I was doing something really good for my health.

The health factor doesn't exactly make it sound appetizing, but trust me, it's yummy.

The soup (recipe below) contains an entire huge head of bok choy, minus the tough stems and base, but the main flavor is broccoli - I only used the stems this time because we ate the flower part two nights ago.  Years ago I used to save the stems of broccoli, chop them up into tiny pieces, add them to a can of cream of broccoli soup with some water, and simmer until the broccoli was tender.  I did the same thing with canned cream of celery soup, and canned cream of mushroom soup, adding fresh vegetables and water to thin it out, so my soup felt more special.

Something else different about this soup is that it contains no base of sauteed vegetables.  I wanted the taste to be very light and fresh, closer to the raw vegetable without caramelization.  The added benefit is that the soup takes even less time to make. It's almost too easy, if you're like me and enjoy the time in the kitchen.

I also made a salad last night... usually I prefer a salad with just a little lemon juice or ume vinegar; I don't like a thick dressing on my salad, it's just too much.  But last night I wanted a suculant dressing, something that you want to drink.  I know for certain that anything white miso touches turns to gold.  So I made a sesame miso dressing (recipe below) and it got a thumbs up from Chris as well.  I know when he volunteers a "This is good!" he means it.  The secret, besides the finger-licking dressing, are the tofu cubes, which you marinate in the dressing for a few minutes before pouring it all on the salad. Add some strawberries, toasted almonds, golden raisins, and a big bunch of fresh baby spinach leaves, and you're done.

Cream of Broccoli, Bok Choy, Celery, and Parsley Soup:
5 cups vegetable broth
3 broccoli steams and/or florettes
3 stalks celery
1 tsp dried thyme
1 big bunch bok choy
big handful fresh parsley
lots of fresh ground black pepper
1 block silken tofu

Bring the broth to a boil.  Add the broccoli, celery, and thyme and simmer until tender. Add the bok choy and parsley and simmer a couple more minutes until tender.  Add the pepper and silken tofu, then puree in three batches in the food processor. Return to the pan, simmer another minute, and serve!

Sesame Miso Salad Dressing:
3 tbsp white miso
3 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 tbsp plain sesame oil or vegetable oil

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's On the Cutting Board for Tonight? ...Mashed Potatoes & Mushroom Gravy!

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has one mouth-watering gravy recipe. After listening to her talk about it time and again on her podcast as a Thanksgiving tradition, I looked forward to trying her mushroom gravy myself.

I did tonight, and it was incredibly delicious and flavorful!!

The gravy takes about 10 minutes to make.  It would be perfect on french fries, too.  Or Thanksgiving dressing...mmm.  You can puree it for a smooth gravy, or leave it chunky, or do half and half.

Mushroom Gravy:
2 tsp earth balance
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 lb cremini mushrooms (about 20), sliced
3 Tbsp flour
2 c veg stock
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat butter and saute onion and mushrooms on med-high to high until translucent and golden, about 15 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk flour into stock with soy sauce, thyme, and pepper.
3. When lump-free, add to the onions & mushrooms and stir until thickened.
4. Puree some or all of the gravy, depending on how chunky you like it.

You know, I bet it would be awesome fancified with a little white wine de-glaze, too...

Tomato Sandwiches at Earth Eats


Yep, that's my sweet little dog, Meeks, staring up at me, wondering - understandably - what the hell I'm doing.

If you're from the south you know ALL about the Three Ingredient Sandwich.  Bread, mayo, and fill in the blank (common third ingredients include scrambled eggs, bologna, pineapple, etc).  I know it's a simple recipe, but it is so good and so southern, I thought it was worth talking about.

I'm still working on my photography skills :-/  Please keep expectations in check :-)

Check out the post here, and other awesome Earth Eats recipes and articles here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Black Bean Enchiladas

When I eat food like this, I wonder why some people assume a vegetarian diet isn't hearty and satisfying.

Granted - I used daiya cheese, but it was more for nostalgia and not necessary for the richness of the dish.

I cooked black beans down with the usual Mexican spices - actually, I cheated and used a taco seasoning packet which, I must say, made things go a little quicker. :)  I stirred in some corn and caramelized onions and garlic, too.

The enchilada sauce is just fresh tomatoes, garlic, cumin, onion, chili powder, tomato paste, cilantro, salt, and pepper pureed in the food processor then simmered until ever so slightly thickened.

Dip corn tortillas in the sauce, spoon on the black bean mush, and roll up in the dish, seam down.  Top with the remaining tomato sauce and some Daiya cheese if you like.  Bake on 350 for 20 minutes or so.

I always need a cool, raw contrast with spicy cooked food.  So I made guacamole, and an unusual salsa from shredded radishes, daikon, cilantro, corn, lime juice, and - this is KEY - lots of fresh ground black pepper.  Chris thought it was strange, I liked it.  Chris loved the enchiladas though.

Warm Soba Noodle & Sauteed Cabbage Salad (with pears from our pear trees!)

Lunch today was spontaneous, quick, and good.  If you like the delicious Asian combination of sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and bitter - and you want something healthy and easy - then try this dish, or a version of it.  It's, as usual, about using what you have in your kitchen.

My version today was the following:

1. leftover cooked soba noodles (these are made from organic buckwheat and water, nothing else)
2. baby cabbage, shredded and quickly wilted in a hot pan with a few drops of shoyu, mirin, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, and yellow raisins
3. big green pear, peeled-cored-chopped
4. toasted slivered almonds
5. dressing of miso, peanut butter, orange juice (only cuz we had no limes or lemons), shoyu, brown rice vinegar, and mirin, whisked til smooth.

Have You Written Your Obituary Yet?

I bought the book Food Jobs, by Irena Chalmers, months ago, not because I was convinced I wanted a food job, but because I do love food and I was curious.  What I found, having picked it up yesterday and started reading through it, is that the book is helpful to anyone seeking his purpose in life - not just foodies.

What I've gathered after just a few chapters is that there exists in this world every possible combination of interests.  A million different types of people in this world love food - and not every one of them wants to be a chef, a food critic, or a restauranteur.  For every food-lover, there is a suitable job.  If you feel torn between food and... I dunno, ship-building - there is a job for you.  Don't ask me what it is, but I bet this book has some ideas.

The author (who herself has explored many different careers with one common thread - food) suggests we write our own obituaries.  She says we will then find out what we truly hope to accomplish in life.  What we want others to say about us when we're gone, what we want them to remember us for, and what our life's work should be.  I love this idea.

I want to end by saying that though I'm passionate about food, it is a hobby, and not the core of who I am.  I wrote my own obituary yesterday, and it confirmed what I have known since I was five years old, though I've perhaps tried to deny it or abandon it temporarily over the years.  Try writing your own obituary, and see what it tells you about your sincerest hopes and dreams.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Living Walls

This particular form of art may not seem related to food but it is if you'll stick with me.

Just need to brag a little about my talented boyfriend.

Street artists from all over the United States joined together in Atlanta for this weeklong art project, called Living Walls.  I'm not very knowledgeable about graffiti, but I do know they painted up this huge building and it looked really cool.  Chris is not huge into street art either, but he did a few things that looked awesome.
I liked to stand beside his pieces and watch people's reaction as they walked by. :-)
And here's the food part. We had jalapeno margaritas before the show!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lettuce Wraps & Nutty Soba Noodles

Ahhh... imperfection.  Ever notice that when you apply pressure, the fun lessens?  I vow from this moment on to stop trying to deliver excellence through this blog, and just deliver whatever the hell I feel like.

Does that sound okay?

I've found that when I try to stage a perfect meal or picture, the result is kinda disappointing anyway.  So here's what we ate for dinner tonight, in all its refreshing realistic-ness!

Soba Noodles With Peanut Sauce:

1. Cook noodles as directed.
2. While noodles boil, whisk together peanut butter, lime juice, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, and cilantro.
3. Toss noodles in sauce and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and/or cashews.

Lettuce Wraps:
1. Finely chop carrots, radishes, daikon, peppers, cabbage/greens, green onion, and cilantro.
2. Toss with soy sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice.
3. Stir in marinated and baked tofu cubes (you can marinate the cubes in lemon juice, miso, soy sauce, agave, liquid smoke, and nutritional yeast, or some similar combo - not important that you be exact - then bake the cubes for 15 minutes on 350). OR - use plain tofu cubes. They taste delicious on their own, in my opinion.
4. Spoon into cabbage or lettuce leaves and garnish with crunchy toasted nuts or seeds.

Here's what my chopping block looks like, more or less, almost every night.
I also enjoy a mixed drink every so often - particularly after a long day and/or a long run!
This is a favorite.  Stir chocolate syrup into almond milk.  Add a splash of vodka.  No dessert necessary!

I don't like it when there's white space due to Google's strange blog formatting. Should I switch to Wordpress?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Pumpkin Risotto at Earth Eats

Check out the recipe for summer pumpkin risotto at Earth Eats.

Yeah, it's August, and it's Pumpkin, but it's straight from the garden so that's what I call seasonal!

Oh - and it tastes incredible.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Is This Photo Pretty or Ugly?

I go back and forth.  Actually, I think it is kind of ugly (something about the sausages and the "plop" of berry topping)  but I like it nevertheless - possibly for that reason.  It makes me think of a British bed and breakfast, where the natural light is overcast. Those are banana wheat pancakes with a black-raspberry sauce and two morningstar sausages.  Ahh, simple sweet and salty breakfast is the best.

Happy Monday morning!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vegan Yum Yum

First - this is NOT my photograph. This belongs to the talented, generous vegan blogger Lauren Ulm.  I made her recipe for cappellini in fresh tomato cream sauce (I added a little vodka) last night.  I visit her blog Vegan Yum Yum, and other great ones like Little House of Veggies, whenever I need inspiration.

Lolo's (as she's called) photographs are beautiful - obviously.  Her recipes are very detailed with step-by-step photographs to go with them.  And her writing is so clear and enjoyable, you really understand how to recreate the dish without it feeling like work to read.

I call her generous because her blog is a treasure trove of recipes - for free.  Her work is definitely inspiring and a level of excellence to strive for!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Southern Food

I'm sorry - I am once again photo-less!  But the pics I take at night do the food so little justice, I hate to clutter up my blog with them... still, I have to tell you about the meal I ate tonight.

Mashed turnips and carrots, zipper peas, turnip greens, watermelon salad, caramelized mushrooms and onions, tomato relish... a plate full of well-seasoned vegetables that fill you up, comfort you, and just make you feel good.

I now have plenty of ideas for Southern meal posts for Earth Eats.  I was beginning to wonder if I might feel "boxed in," offering to write about Southern food.  I mean, I recently submitted my recipe for pumpkin risotto, and risotto is Italian... originally, anyway.  I figured I could get away with it because I am southern, and my pumpkin was southern, and therefore, my risotto was southern. :-)

But I've got a stereotypical southern meal post coming up that I think is really worth sharing.  The mashed turnips tonight were so yummy, they had me wondering why in the world mashed potatoes are so popular - I know, crazy!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Food Service Industry Observations

I'm not referring to observations about the food service industry, but from inside it.

Customers never cease to amaze me.  That's probably because people never cease to amaze me.

For every jerk, there's a set of intelligent eyes right behind him that diffuses any anger and allows me to see the humor in situations.

Then, there are my favorites: customers so outrageous, or quaint, or intriguing, or off-putting, or mysterious, that they belong in the pages of a novel!  That's when my mind really goes to work and the wheels start turning, as I set their omelets in front of them.  Who are you? I think I know and it makes a really good story.


Of course, I have two such characters in mind.  Let me start by saying I don't like them.  Strange vibes about the unsound things they might do in private.  Or maybe I just question their characters.

They come in, about once every two weeks, and order sandwiches with pickles and chips.  (Our sandwiches here are delicious, made with soft, homemade bread).  He is tall, immaculately dressed in a dorky sort of way, with hair that is greying at the temples and a false-distinguished air.  He stands up very straight and I get the feeling if he saw a little homeless dog he might kick him.

She is slightly overweight, void of aesthetic or inner personality except where he's concerned, meaning she fawns over him and has nothing left for anyone else.

They spend a long lunch hour leaning close together over their sandwiches, talking and laughing up a storm.  They're an odd couple, and a new one.  They recently met online (I just know).  At the end of their meal, they leave the plates on the table instead of bringing them up to the counter.  He eats his entire sandwich, including the pickle.  She barely touches hers (too nervous, I suspect).  They never, ever tip.

These people have a story to tell, and they are not from the Land of Oz, I can tell you that.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blueberry Cobbler & Sorbet: Go to Earth Eats for the Recipe!

I'm really excited - my first post for the awesome food podcast, public media program, and blog Earth Eats has appeared.  I thought it was appropriate to write about blueberry cobbler for my first post, since I grew up in the Blueberry Capital of Georgia... and had a freezer full of blueberries from my mom. :-)

I wrote about two types of cobbler, and easy blueberry sorbet. Check out the recipes at Earth Eats! :-D

Friday, August 6, 2010

Walmartz

Okay. So this is another one of those posts that kinda veers from the topic - or at least, seems to - and may get a little deep and philosophical in the non-intelligent way.  But I just have to say - I enjoyed my time at Walmart today.

I know there's lots of controversy about Walmart.  Unethical labor practices, the demise of America, and such.

But all that aside, I spent five years in Atlanta before I found my Walmart, the one I didn't realize existed so close to all the designer boutiques and cute cafes and independent shops and pedestrian-friendly, European-esque neighborhoods... yet there Walmart lay, just a short trip down I-20 E.

I found it during a transitional period in my life (now.) and I do find such solace there, after work, once a week-ish, when I go after a 12-hour day to wonder its isles aimlessly, admiring the various scents of Softsoap I can get for $0.97, or sometimes even less depending on whether or not it's Rollback time.

Being a big NPR fan, I know Walmart is evil, but I've actually found their produce section impressive!  Much better than the Kroger near me (every time I buy an onion there it's rotten inside!).  Walmart-Eastside's produce is always fresh, picked at it's peak, and cheap.  Kind of like the farmer's market, except in a setting that seems much less trendy and somehow it's probably unethical, but it tastes good.

I want to end by saying that Walmart reminds me of childhood.  Because everyone in small towns goes to Walmart, and I went with my mom, sisters, and women neighbors all the time to buy wide-ruled notebooks and beach towels.  No one in Walmart is pretentious, and if he is, well, he doesn't fit in.  It's a great place to be alone but not, and buy some good-smelling bodywash for a dollar, and Walmart - I'd like to thank you for that, anyway.  Though, if you're reading this - you really shouldn't buy body wash.  Bar soap is much more economical and environmentally responsible.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

White Pumpkin from Uncle Hal's Early Harvest


Uncle Hal gave me this cute white pumpkin.  He had an early pumpkin harvest this year. :-)  He has all colors, but I really like this pale pumpkin.  It seems summery and whimsical to me.

I'm planning to make a summer pumpkin risotto with this for my next Earth Eats post.

You can see in the first picture where the stem broke, and my sister glued it back together for photo purposes. :-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fig Preserves from Aunt Cacky

Yummy.  I LOVE fig preserves.  You will never taste anything so delectable as warm fig preserves over vanilla ice cream.  In fact, I love fig-anything.

Last weekend, I stopped by the beautiful home of Uncle Hal and Aunt Cacky to say hello.
Like my other aunts and uncles, Aunt Cacky and Uncle Hal had a definite influence on my love of cooking.  Uncle Hal is known for his creole boils and stews.  And of all my family, when I think of adorable and delicious desserts, I think of Aunt Cacky!

So no wonder she gave me this precious little jar of fig preserves.  It is calling my name.
No, wait, Fig Preserves, you cannot get away!  I'm going to have to try you now.
YUMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Quote of the Month

If you look at a photographic negative, the colors are reversed, nothing seems quite as it should, and the image may be unrecognizable. Once you see the picture developed, you recognize the face of your best friend.   - Robert Bass, Ph.D.