June 27th, 2011
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I stopped eating meat with every meal on May 2. And I love how I feel nowadays, but I didn’t expect that I’d enter in to a time of total culinary paralysis when faced with re-working a lifelong habit of making meat the center of my meals.
We haven’t wasted away, thank goodness, and we never will. We’ve made some delicious foods but I haven’t stretched myself a whole lot. I’m grilling a lot of veggies, sticking them on amazing breads or tying them up in delicious pilafs. I made this fragrant and savory Red Lentil Dhal that we’ve loved since the first time it crossed our stove and landed in our bowls. We’ve enjoyed plenty of legumes, super fresh salads topped with a wide array of ingredients and terrific grilled cheese sandwiches. But I’m not content to play it safe, to stick with what I know will be wonderful. I want to expand, to grow and to embrace fully this new method of eating and not just end up a Junk Food Vegetarian.
So I’m scouring the ‘net for inspiration, grabbing books with gusto from library shelves, from Half Price Books and from friends hands (not really, but I would if the opportunity came up) just to get my mind rolling into this new territory. And it is new territory. It’s a new and totally different way of life and even being as good a cook as I am, I’ve had moments of sheer panic in thinking ‘What the hell do I make now?’, hence the aforementioned grilled cheese.
The worst part was finding the time. I had to stop over-scheduling all my time away from work into activities that were taking me away from home, away from time to experiment and work up some of these new options. I think, subconsciously, I was avoiding it. No more. It’s time to start applying tabs to the cookbook pages, plot out a few weeks worth of meals and get back on track. The nicest part of being meat-free is how much it frees up in our budget. I knew we spent a lot on meat, but folks, it’s outrageous what we have to work with now that this aspect of our eating is gone.
So I started with chickpeas. But not just any chickpeas. This is a kick in the mouth, heady and WOW recipe that will just plain knock you on your tush.
And they look so innocent, don’t they?!
We do love our chickpeas around here, and Mike has taken to making some pretty tasty hummus for us to snack on. Then I discovered Roasted Chickpeas and my life suddenly seemed more complete. But really, that was just the tip of the iceberg because I found a recipe for this Indian Spiced Chickpea salad and now I’ve got something going with this handy and nutritious little legume. It’s called love. Luuuuurrrrrve, people. Straight up legume love.
With no cholesterol, no sodium, no saturated fat; an excellent source of protein and fiber, as well as minerals like folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium, it’s a super-duper powerhouse for the meatless maniac such as myself. And when paired with toasted mustard, fennel and cumin seeds with a nice shake of crushed red pepper, plus smooth creamy greek yogurt to soften the flavorful blow to your tongue, it a cool little force to be reckoned with. Like my resolve. This is just a few steps for me, this quick jaunt out of the starting gate. The gun has sounded. And there’s a lot of road to cover up ahead so hang on, all right? Here we go.
Note: This recipe is ridiculously simple to make, but the flavor improves over time as it sits. Make it up and allow an hour, or even more if you can, for sitting, stirring regularly. If you like less of a crunchy seed factor, grind the fennel and cumin seed before adding it to the oil. You’ll still get a load of flavor without the crunch. Don’t grind the mustard seeds. Those soften really well.
Indian Spiced Chickpeas
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas—rinsed, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped mint
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl. In a small skillet, heat the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the mustard seeds, partially cover the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until the mustard seeds stop popping, about 1 minute. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and the crushed red pepper and cook until the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour the hot oil and spices over the chickpeas. Stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and mint and salt. Serve the chickpea salad at room temperature.
Recipe Credit: Food and Wine magazine
May 25th, 2011
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No, not Impatiens, like the potted flower on everyone’s doorstep. This is true impatience, the feeling brought on by delayed spring time, blooms that just don’t occur, endless gray skies and parades of devastating storms and the fleeting thought that I can’t recall what my warm weather clothes are like anymore. It’s almost Memorial Day. We briefly met 70 degrees this Spring, only to quickly plunge back to the 60′s, the 50′s and a few shivering days where 40′s were all the atmosphere could muster. Who’s hogging all the 80-degree days? Minnesota needs you to share. Now.
Despite the cool weather, the lettuce and radish seeds I planted are flourishing and I’m dreaming of amazing salads. The annuals in the garden are coming along nicely, albeit several weeks behind schedule. And with the drenching rains and lack of sun, the emerald greens around us are amazing. Simply amazing. While Spring hasn’t exactly been the most glorious in terms of the temperatures and sunshine, it’s still showing me it’s fragrance and the visions that we wait all Winter to appreciate.
I missed the very brief window of opportunity to love up the crabapple tree in our front yard, as it hit full bloom on a Thursday, only to be wiped clean of it’s lush petals through a series of weekend storms that unleashed torrents of rain on us, and some terrifying sky.
And a subsequent walk through the neighborhood revealed glorious pink petal carpets from the stripped crabapple blooms.
In my garden, the Creeping Phlox filled out it’s little garden bed beautifully.
The Adjuga along the front garden path burst into a rich and full display, basking in a rare sunny day while hiding among the new Hosta blooms and the fallen pink petals.
Adjuga is a wonderful ground cover, and it grows on a flagstone path right along the front of our house. It’s mostly for shade, but can handle a little sun and it forms a nice thick carpet. In the Spring, it sends up flower stalks about 6 inches high that have these tiny little blue flowers on them. It’s one of the most favorite, carefree and reliable plants in my yard.
What else has May brought?
Oh yeah. An adorable cat of course, with nary a care in the world it seems.
A gorgeous new stove!!!
I’m still in awe over this acquisition. One of my food blogging cohorts is remodeling her kitchen and through a few Twitter exchanges, she offered to sell me her old stove for $100 and a case of beer for the guy who drove it from NE Minneapolis out to the far Northern suburbs for us. The door hinges were broken and it needed a power cleaning, but for $150 in parts and a bit of elbow grease, we landed a stove that retails for $2,200.00. I kid you not. It’s like going from driving a Yugo to being handed a Ferrari with a full tank of gas. We seriously lucked out and we’ve taken to calling it our ‘Grown Up’ stove, something a serious food lover should have in her kitchen.
There were a few lovely nights on beautiful restaurant patios with my beautiful laughing food-loving friends that only solidifies how much I am falling in love with them…..
This is #GirlsBigNight, hanging outside Cooper West End with (L–>R) Dania, (me) Jen and Virginia. Yes, we posed that way on purpose.
Enjoying the tree-shaded patio at Heidi’s 2.0 in Minneapolis with the #MNFoodBloggers, Shaina and I after a few amazing cocktails. Everyone really, was as happy as we look. It was just one of those all around perfect nights.
On a rare nice night following a hectic afternoon of rain and thunder, it’s nice to find the calm after the storm.
Roasted Chickpeas. Because this is a food blog, after all. For the most part anyway.
I’m super late to the whole ‘roast a can of chickpeas for the ultimate snack’ craze. Seriously late. And I’m ok with that. I don’t jump on too many bandwagons as I always seem to miss, fall flat on my face and then have to slink away in silence, tail between my legs. I like to watch these things go by, silently waiting to see if it endures, if it sticks around long enough to not be called a fad, a trend or the next big thing. These little golden nuggets of crunchy-ness are a perfect snack for the improved eating plan going on around here. I think I could even get my Teen to try a few handfuls. They’re like Corn Nuts, but less processed, less packaged without all the strange things. I feel that these will make a regular appearance in my kitchen for a long time to come.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Drain two 15-oz cans of chickpeas and rinse well. Shake off excess water and pour chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Use another paper towel to blot chickpeas dry, then slip the off the bottom towel. You want them to be absolutely bone dry before roasting them. At this point, if the chickpea skins bug you in the same obsessive way they bug me, you can remove them. If not, then slip the pan in the oven and let roast for about 10 minutes. Shake the pan to loosen the chickpeas, then continue to bake, shaking the pan on occasion, until they are browned and crisp, with a rich nutty scent. Be careful not to allow them to burn. Depending on your oven, this should take 30-40 minutes. Watch them carefully.
Take them out of the oven and toss them with a little oil and any kind of seasoning you like. For this batch, I used a small amount of olive oil, the juice of half a lime and about 2-3 teaspoons each of chili powder and cumin, plus some sea salt. Toss to coat and serve warm or at room temperature.
For more flavoring options, see this post.
April 16th, 2009
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I think everyone is trying to eat better for their health, and subsequently, their pocketbooks. Information abounds in money-saving tips, grocery shopping tactics and ‘Quick! Fast! Cheap!’ meals are everywhere.
I’m thrilled that Springtime, and the return of fresh produce is commencing. It changes the whole tone of what happens in my kitchen, and on our plates. There are sweet baby lettuces that need barely a gasp of fresh squeezed lime juice and a tiny drizzle of balsamic, rich asparagus stems in a quick sputtering stir-fry and tiny crisp radishes dredged through a bit of french sea salt. I keep dreaming about main-dish salads of smoky grilled vegetables. I long for summer cherries, melon season and corn plucked from the field that morning, dew still clinging to the leaves and tassels. It can’t come soon enough. I long to retire my soup pot and clean out the oven; bye bye rutabagas, thick skinned squashes and heavy braises. Nights may still need those extra blankets, but this girl’s in the mood for new food.
I’ve started to move a little from winter’s heavier fare to quicker, simpler and more varied eating, mostly by fulfilling my current hankering for anything cabbage related. This isn’t the most spring-like of offerings, but it’s cheap, chock full of excellent nutrition and it keeps like a trooper in the fridge when properly wrapped. I’ve been a fan of cabbage since I was a little girl. It was one of my Mom’s continual offerings. She would chop up an entire head of green cabbage, place it in the ‘cabbage tupperware’ (reserved only for that use) and then pour on some Good Seasons Italian dressing and grate a bunch of pepper over it. The cover would be pressed into place and she would shake that thing like crazy. I can still hear the sound of all that cabbage being tossed around. Cabbage makes me think of her and I still love it with little else besides that same dressing, doctored in my own fashion, tossed with a handful of chopped almonds for crunch and extra flavor, although there’s far more to this humble vegetable than most people ever realize.
Cruciferous vegetables-like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale-are rich in a variety of compounds that have been shown to slow cancer growth and development in a number of laboratory studies. Other larger human studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables can help to reduce the risk of lung, stomach, colorectal, prostate, and bladder cancers. (from the Living Strong Living Well website article ’11 Cancer Fighting Foods)
Cole slaw is a very favorite dish of mine as well, only I am not one to beam and shout over most recipes, drenched as they are in a mayo based dressing to the point of giving the term ‘limp and soggy’ a run for its money. Although that tastes pretty darn good on a pulled pork sandwich, from the end of a fork it doesn’t resonate quite so beautifully. Coleslaw needs to be made and eaten quickly. It’s one food where ‘leftovers’ in my fridge tend to cause immense shuddering and a wrinkled nose.
The whole idea of coleslaw has changed dramatically in my mind, thanks to the endless food blogs that pour out every variation of the stuff. It isn’t just about the cabbage anymore, and by definition, if it adds something more, is it still just humble coleslaw?
This recipe evolved from several sources and plenty of inspiration. It mixes green and red cabbage, jicama sticks, garbanzo beans, cooked bulgur and chopped almonds, with a few cool cucumber slices on the side for color and crunch and in return, it promises you a plate of superb antioxidant protection, a powerhouse of vitamin C, omega-3 fats, whole grain goodness and loads of crunch. It sticks with you long after the fact too, with an amazing amount of fiber that leaves you feeling satisfied and full without being too overbearing. No one needs food to continually outstay its welcome; these days we want a good meal without wishing for a sofa and pillow afterwards. And it’s so good that it won’t take long for you to turn a lovely pile of vegetable goodness into a near bare and heavily appreciated empty plate.
This is also a perfect offering for the blogging event happening over at Mele Cotte- Cooking to Combat Cancer. Chris is now in Year Three of being cancer- free and calling all food bloggers to offer up recipes with cancer-fighting appeal.
There is no shortage of good people around me fighting with everything that they have against the ravages of cancer, and this event can help everyone arm themselves with good tools to put in their pantries and tummies that will offer some support to a body that is constantly exposed to an wide range of harmful properties. I owe an enormous amount of my well-being and overall health to the foods that I eat; whole foods, plenty of vegetables and fruits, lean meats, whole grains, nuts; it’s all there. I stepped up my efforts to make our meals even better over the winter, and we were rewarded with only a smattering of illness that took little time to disperse. While food itself isn’t the only way to stay healthy, it’s one good tool you can use to help your body be at it’s very best.
Super Slaw Salad
1/4 head of both red and green cabbage, shredded or chopped
1/2 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. cooked bulger
1/2 c. (approx.) of thinly sliced jicama
1/4 c. chopped almonds
Dressing of choice
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and toss to mix, adding dressing to taste and seasoning with fresh cracked pepper or a dusting of good sea salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Obviously, endless variations on this abound. It’s almost silly to make a cut and dried recipe out of it. I would have added carrots if I had some. Shredded apple would be delicious. I love the addition of shredded bok choy and napa cabbages to my slaws also. Vary the dressings too for a different flavor profile, like an asian style with sesame seeds. Change up the nuts, the beans or the grain.
December 17th, 2008
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I’ve often been wary of chickpeas.
The very name sends images into my head of a certain something that I never consider to be a food, and for some reason, I expect a particular texture from them- something certainly un-legume like- and as a result, have been overly cautious about putting them, whole, into my meals.
But I’m more than willing to eat them after they’ve been ground to a pulp. I adore Hummus, and we are pretty regular consumers of the chickpea/tahini spread, usually adorned with kalamata olives and tangy with plenty of lemon juice and good zest.
This past summer I took a tentative foray into the world of whole chickpeas, or garbanzo beans as they are also called, and made a wonderful grilled eggplant and garbanzo bean salad that earned rave reviews and for me at least, a lot more respect to the round little legume I’ve been avoiding. The texture that had held me back was unsurprising- it was a legume and it tasted like a legume- primarily, it tasted like whatever I had added to my dish to create a flavor base. That’s the beauty of legumes, the empty palette of them, one of the many tabula rasas of the food world; alone they don’t taste like much but add them to a robust recipe that smacks of flavor and they become something else all together.
So back to Hummus. As I said, we love the stuff, and when I made it I always used canned chickpeas for ease and we were perfectly fine with it. Really, really fine with it, in fact we held more concern for the state and freshness of the pita bread we enjoyed as a means of transfer for the spread, often traveling across town to the Middle Eastern deli to buy bags of it that were fragrant with thick rounds, and often still warm or sweating from the days baking. We take our bread seriously in this house, no matter what form it comes in.
But then, I started noticing in my food magazines that recipes for Hummus were appearing regularly, and extolling the virtues of cooking garbanzo beans from scratch for the ultimate flavor. I was intrigued, but it took me a while to get my act together and really do it, and wow, do I wish I had taken this one on quicker. Fresh cooked chickpeas taste nothing like the canned that I have previously used. (Insert a great big ‘Duh’ right about now- it’s OK, I don’t mind) The Hummus that resides in my fridge right now has the nicest, freshest, most garbanzo bean-y flavor I have known; nothing has even remotely come close, not the containers I’ve tried, not the batches I’ve whirred up at home. Nothing. I’m hooked on the good stuff and ain’t looking back. And the most important aspect of it is that cost-wise, making anything from dried beans is really inexpensive.
I cooked the garbanzos in the crockpot over the course of a lazy snowy Sunday afternoon. They took longer than I anticipated, and once finished, I simply drained and rinsed them-or tried to anyway- as the one thing about garbanzo beans I have a wee bit of trouble with finally reared it’s ugly head- the skins. Gads. I don’t know what it is about them but I became obsessed with removing the offensive looking milky little things and just try to do that to a pound of recently cooked chickpeas! It’s an act of futility, but I charged forward and did my darndest. It might be slightly easier if I just didn’t look at them, touch them, think about them or even start the process next time. They can’t possibly be all that bad, can they?
Ugh, now I can totally feel them clinging to my fingers and feel like I need to wash my hands. Rant over!
jump for the rest……
Come in to my kitchen…
September 1st, 2006
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Combine the following in food processor: 1 14-oz can garbanzo beans (i drain and rinse, you decide about that one), 1/3 c. tahini, 1/4 c. lemon juice, 1 T. oilive oil, 2 t. minced garlic, 1 t. salt, and 1/4 c. water for smoothness (this is optional but it seems to even it out well- you will need less water if you don’t rinse the beans)
Whirl together until well blended, scraping sides and stirring from the bottom as needed. Keep in fridge, eat with pita bread, crackers or veggies. Resist standing at the counter and eating it with a spoon.
I often add about 1/2 c. chopped kalamata olives to ours because we love the flavor. I have also used roasted red peppers which makes it sweeter. Don’t skimp on tahini, it gives it the authenticity you want and if you can find organic tahini, buy it. The flavor is way better.