Posts in Category: entré

Noshed in a Book: A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove

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“What’s more important, the food itself or the meaning we give it?”

Watching the weather is a favorite pastime for some–and there are dramatic headlines to draw you in–but when I was a kid, the weather mattered to me for different reasons than pure daily drama.  Sure, when I lived in an area that was riddled with tornadoes, I knew to keep abreast of the weather updates through whatever means I could–probably a news bulletin on the television–in order to stay safe.  Maybe the weather even ruined an anticipated, outdoor field trip every now and again.  But most importantly, there were the days when I planned to make a sweet dessert called divinity with my grandmother (Mama -“mawmaw”).

Crafting the sugary confection was hard work, and she’d always tell me ahead of time “if it’s humid or rainy we won’t be able to make it.”  The thrill of her perfected method of making this dessert instilled in me an unusual need to whisper to mother nature to hold off on her sweaty hot flashes and crying jags for a couple of days so I could get some dessert work done.  Sometimes she leaned in and heard my requests, sometimes I left my Mama’s house sans candy and feeling sore about the weather.  You see, making this candy with my grandmother made me feel important and a part of something I don’t think I understood back then.  Making divinity was part of my womanly right of passage.  Forming those white fluffy clouds of decadence was hard work–a delicate sweet treat to be respected–and my grandmother understood its finicky nature, as well as my own, and introduced this process as a way to train me to concentrate, remain dedicated, and follow through.  Though you’ll never see these instructions listed in a divinity recipe, I can assure you they are key.  Cooking and baking were a part of my life lessons, as I’m sure they are for many women and men during their formative years.  However, today we speak just about women and their role and evolution as creatures of the kitchen, and how they’ve come to translate this position over the years.  Laura Schenone explores women’s history through food and helps us all understand American history through a new lens.

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A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone

Told through a series of recipes, anecdotes, historical lessons and personal recollections, A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove blooms into a field of fragrant flowers as it pollinates and harvests myths and perfunctory exaggerations about American women.

Schenone explores the long trajectory of women’s time in the kitchen and how they embarked on a world beyond.  Women were of the first to display signs of cooking and would use books to raise money for worthy causes.

Women’s rights, suffrage and winning WWI

Preparing food and cooking for wounded soldiers represented a point of freedom disguised as oppression.  Women’s frugality and inventive nature with what little foodstuffs they had, left them free of having to ingratiate themselves to higher powers for change. Their actions and intentions, born out of necessity and a nurturing nature, were loud and clear.

“American women did not have the constitutional right to vote, yet the food conservation campaign appealed to their love of democracy.  With the housewife’s help, liberty and freedom would prevail.  Each extra bit of food conserved meant more for American soldiers and the Allies.  All this was a woman’s job–essential, morally right, and heroically grounded in the kitchen.”


“In this way, food–in its endless connection to women’s lives–pushed forward the cause of suffrage.  In 1919, Congress passed an amendment to give women the constitutional right to vote in all elections.  In 1920, it was ratified, and a seventy-year battle was won.”

Forced conformity, perpetuity of labels and roles for women in the late 19th century

Still, in the twenty-first century, women are backed into a dusty corner, overrun with spider webs, and told we’re supposed to be something that is innately not who we are.  Conformity has bludgeoned most of us at some point in our life and if you are one of the fortunate few to have made it past your teens with nary a metaphorical bruise, I salute you.  Schenone asserts that even in her role as a skilled physical worker of the land and a provider of nutrition, woman has been denigrated.

In the midst of the war, women were still expected to be “pretty, practical, and patriotic.”


“Neat, clean, pretty to the eye–and above all not too spicy or offensive–these things both food and women were supposed to be.”


“They simply did not, could not, and would not comprehend that hard physical work out-of-doors could possibly be a source of respect and power for women.”

Connecting our life to our nourishment

A most touching motif of this book is woman’s connection to the earth.  I was reminded that what is most beloved about the kitchen, is the depth for which our hands and minds can connect us–by way of preparing a meal or baked good–to the beauty of nature’s offerings.  From one set of hands to the next, a fresh basket of green beans finds its way into my kitchen in spring, and I’m grateful for the love and care that will soon be transposed into my body.  Schenone’s book expresses a pure sense of gratitude, and I respect her perspective on women’s roles because of this.

“‘The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth.”” – Frances Moore Lappé


“By caring about the act of cooking itself, by believing in it, we give food a higher meaning.  Once we value food and cooking, from there other good things follow.  We make good choices.  We care about the animals and earth and other human beings involved in our food chain.  We find nourishment.  We take care of others, ourselves, and the planet.”


“In my most idealistic moments, when I go to the stove or cutting board, I try to think of myself connected to a long human story.  Then, I know that a dinner of sandwiches or a fresh salad with the right amount of grace and love can be superior to the finest presentation of salmon or squab with saffron that is cooked with disregard.”

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As for edibles, I decided to make Gypsy Soup, a recipe representative of rebellion against both corporations and simplified palettes that had taken over America in the mid to late twentieth century.  To me, this soup symbolizes female strength and ingenuity.  Although a hot dish, it folded perfectly into the end of spring here in Austin, Texas, as this part of the state has seen an unusual deluge recently, and a hearty soup felt perfect to top it all off.  Enjoy this recipe, straight from Moosewood Cookbook (1977) by Mollie Katzen; I pulled a copy of this recipe from A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove.

“The main ingredients–brightly colored sweet potatoes and wholesome garbanzo beans–seamed to stir ancient memories of Mother Earth.  The “gypsy” could be found in the scent of garlic and onion and turmeric, promising and adventurous culinary and spiritual journey far away from those commercialized kitchens of the 1950s.”

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Gypsy Soup (animal-product-free)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups spring or filtered water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp basil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium-sized saucepan full of water to boiling.  Core the tomatoes, and plunge them into water for a slow count of 10.  Remove the tomatoes, and peel them over a sink.  Cut them open; squeeze out and discard the seeds.  Chop the remaining pulp and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot or Dutch oven.  Add onion, garlic, celery, and sweet potato, and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add salt, and sauté 5 minutes more.  Add seasonings and water, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes.
  3. Add tomato pulp, bell pepper, and chickpeas.  Cover and simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until all the vegetables are as tender as you like them.  Taste to adjust seasonings, and serve.

Notes

  • I made this recipe almost just as it’s listed.  It was delicious and just what we needed!
  • About 45 minutes to prepare
  • Chickpeas need to be prepared in advance of soup prep; canned ‘ok’
  • Yield:  4 to 5 servings
  • The Vegetables in this soup can be varied.  Any orange vegetable can be combined with any green.  For example, peas or green beans could replace–or augment–the peppers.  Carrots, pumpkin, or squash could fill in for the sweet potatoes.  Innovate!

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Reflecting on my history as a woman in the kitchen, and that of my friends and ancestors, has been a challenging awakening for me.  This book combines my love of food and feminism and is a literary recipe you’re bound to walk away from satisfied.  Share your thoughts and photos about #noshedinabook and check out what else I’ve read this year, here.  Join me for my next reading selection, House of Incest by Anaïs Nin and a supplementary reading selection of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy & Happy Kitchen Regards,

 

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Bossypants

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As with most of the memoir and personal essay books I pick up, I expect something.  Yeah, I know expectations are a tricky thing.  Oftentimes, I don’t have a clear vision of what it is that I expect, and this muddled perspective may be part of the solution or part of the trouble.  Maybe you’re asking yourself, “what is there for you to find trouble or a solution in?”  It’s important that I find a voice in the writing; it’s important that I find some humor; it’s important that I find some true and deep personal anecdotes for which I can either relate or contrive some humanity from the writer.  The list goes on.  In many ways, when I’m preparing a dish or sitting down to eat a meal that someone else prepared, I have similar aspirations.  Yes, food can have a voice–although if you’re food’s talking to you you may want to look into that–and food can be imaginative and fun, and I should hope that some of your meals bear a meaning in your life, and in their preparation or enjoyment a life story is created.  The reason I pontificate about this is because Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, did this for me.  It had a voice, it made me laugh most genuinely, and it excavated some personal anecdotes that displayed a person, beyond the comedic, media icon.

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

A sarcastic, facetious, yet hilarious auto-biography that takes few risks but speaks truthfully in tone and anecdotes.  Bossypants is more than just a memoir because it almost perfectly channeled Tina Fey’s incredible humor and voice in a way that many memoirs don’t.  Tina’s self-deprecating anecdotes at times come off as a way she assuaged herself from becoming too immersed in the depth of her life and ‘soul’ on the page, which was the biggest down-fall of this book for me.  Fey proved she’s not ready, nor feels the need, to write a memoir filled with post-reflective ‘aha’ moments and sentiment. In this way, her writing is obdurate and the title, Bossypants, begins to hold a stronger meaning.  With no true cohesive nature, Fey is still able to make me laugh consistently on nearly every page and for this, I thank her.  The lack of structure seems to work in her favor as a thematic metaphor that she herself is still trying to understand who she is in life.  It became a genuine point of comfort for me to read about such a talented and enigmatic figure struggle to have a bone-strength confidence in herself, yet continue to have the grit to keep going.  Fey’s writing felt effortless and suave.  She captures the minutiae of transitioning from a girl into a woman and the key moments when innocence of self is lost, but self is never lost without purpose or a meaningful outcome.

“One afternoon a girl walked by in a bikini and my cousin scoffed, “Look at the hips on her.”  I panicked. What about the hips?  Were they too big?  Too small?  What were my hips?  I didn’t know hips could be a problem.  I just thought they were fat or skinny.  This is how I found out that there are an infinite number of things that can be “incorrect” on a woman’s body.  At any given moment on planet Earth, a woman is buying a product to correct one of the following “deficiencies”:  big pores, oily T-zone, cankles, fivehead…”  [Age 13; Fey continues to list ‘deficiencies’.]

Fey comments on the superiority complexes that occur among women, and we are doing our gender a disservice by not equaling the playing-field.

“…you were either blessed with a beautiful body or not.  And if you were not, you could just chill out and learn a trade.  Now if you’re not “hot,” you’re expected to work on it until you are.” [Fey comments on then and now.]

While devouring this book, a moment of sadness flushed over me when she peaks to not feeling a bond between herself and other animals.  It’s hard to realize that someone you admire doesn’t “actively care”–as she put it–about something you hold dear, but I cannot fault her for this.  Again, I appreciate her honesty.

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As for edibles, all I have to say is N A C H O S!  No, that’s not all, but really, nachos make a cameo in this book that I feel is worth focusing on.  Fey talks about the magical moment in time when homemade nachos were the “it” thing to make.  What’s so refreshing about this commentary is the manner in which she turns your typical junk food into a food celebrity.  The same way that quinoa and kale have brandished their way into the fast-food, box-food episode of the food world.  The imaginary drama we create with food trends is comical and to have someone reflect on a time when homemade nachos were the shining star is ridiculously satisfying.  It is for this reason, I decided to make my version of nachos, which have made an appearance before.

 Gourmet Nachos  (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Avocado Sauce Ingredients | generously serves 2 people

  • 2 avocados [rinsed]
  • juice from half of a lime [or more to taste]
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • /14 tsp onion granules
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves [rinsed, and stems removed; use 1 tsp dried cilantro if fresh is not on hand]
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sauce Instructions

  1. Slice avocados in half lengthwise, remove pit and use spoon to scoop out flesh into bowl or mortar.
  2. Squeeze lime juice over avocado.
  3. Now add cumin, garlic granules, onion granules, salt, and black pepper and cilantro leaves.
  4. Using back-end (convex side) of spoon or pestle and mash avocado, lime juice, cilantro and spices until you have a creamy but still slightly chunky sauce.
  5. Set aside and enjoy with nachos and other delectables.

Nachos Ingredients

  • 1 bag of blue corn chips
  • 1 can refried black beans
  • 1 package of ‘cheddar’ Daiya
  • pickled jalapeno [sliced, by taste]
  • grape tomatoes [quartered, by taste; I use about 8 per person]
  • 2 crimini mushrooms [thinly sliced]
  • cilantro [minced, no stems; *optional]
  • 2 green onions [minced; only the greens; set aside white part for another meal, *optional]
  • avocado sauce [see recipe above]

Nachos Instructions

  1. On oven safe dish, spread out your chips in layers to a proportion that suites you or use a platter if multiple people will be eating from the same plate.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat up black beans and spoon beans over chips, no need to be a perfectionist here.
  3. Now, place sliced jalapeno pieces, quartered cherry tomatoes, and sliced mushrooms over the beans, evenly.
  4. Sprinkle the Daiya on top.
  5. Place plate(s) under broiler until ‘cheese’ melts, being careful not to burn anything, maybe 3 or 5 minutes.
  6. Once plate has been removed from oven, sprinkle with cilantro and green onion.
  7. Finally, place a big wallop of avocado sauce on top of the delicious mound and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Keep some napkins and a fork handy, these might be fun and messy!
  • That plate’s hot, be careful!
  • Another option would be to place your avocado sauce in a ramekin on the side for dipping.
  • Some like to enjoy hot sauce with their nachos for an extra spicy kick, go for it!
  • Have some extra chips around, the beans can get a little heavy in the middle of the plate.
  • Know when to hand your plate over to your friend or partner; I made the mistake of eating too much because it was in front of me.  Big, full-belly mistake.

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I can’t say I’m a ‘nacho eater’, but I can say that these made my husband very happy and coupled well with this book.  Tina Fey is the kind of woman I would like to have tea with on a rainy Thursday morning while we giggle about playing hooky from our work.  Her humor speaks very clearly to the sensibility I hold dear and this book will stay near to me both figuratively and physically for years to come as a reference guide and to ground myself.  Thanks Tina.

Thanks for reading this week’s Noshed in a Book and make sure to share some of your #noshedinabook experiences and pics.  Join me ind reading Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner.  I hope you all enjoyed Bossypants as much as me, and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Noshed in a Book: Yes Please

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Often when I begin a book, I don’t like to read the introduction first because it can impact the manner in which I frame the rest of the text. For Amy P0ehler’s Yes Please, however,I wanted to read every last typed symbol.  I absolutely ate this book up and would have literally, had it not been for the fact that book pages give me really bad indigestion more often than not.  I jest, but I hesitate not at all when I say that I felt addicted by the scintillating wit and hysterical, self-conscious nature of this book.  I’m the type of reader, with text in any form, who’s constantly taking notes, looking things up and relishing in long pauses to contemplate, and I must admit that this book was drenched in all the above.

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

“Decide what your currency is early.  Let go of what you will never have.  People who do this are happier and sexier.”

 

“It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught.  It takes years to find  your voice and seize your real estate.”

A humorous and thought-provoking memoir by the comedian, writer, and actress, Amy Poehler, that assures any reader–taking the time to swathe themselves in her pages–that they are capable of self-love, self-actualization, and increased self-esteem.  She does this by exploring segments of her life as decisive moments and markers of her purpose rather than inconclusive moments of failure.  That’s not to say that Amy doesn’t comment on real struggle and genuine fear of failure, but she speaks to admittedly not struggling much throughout her life, and when she does speak of struggle, it is transformed into a right of passage.  Amy never hesitates to take an emotion or feeling that may seem mundane and turn it into a real life battle or truce.  This book embraces the concept of working hard and reaching a desired outcome, but understates that often times the ‘desired outcome’ can be exhausting, exhilarating and feel incomplete.  Really, for me, that is the point of her book; feel comfortable in the fragmentary manner in which life hands you victories and defeats.  I have to admit the incessant need to name-drop–which may be difficult to step away from in the celebrity world–turned me off.  However, when you know as many ‘cool’ people as Amy Poehler, it might be worth it to name a few.

[In response to CPAP Machine results.] “I just started this crazy mask and accompanying gurgling device next to it and just couldn’t wait for the instructions to be over.  I looked at it the same way you look at a plate of vegetables.  You know it’s good for you but most of the time you don’t feel like it.”

 

[Arrival in Chicago.]  “I would smoke in the morning and listen to Bob Marley.  I would wear headphones and buy records and comic books.  I would make mac and cheese while watching Deep Space Nine.”

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As for edibles, there were not many reflective moments in the text on noshing, and in response to veggies, there’s even commentary about avoiding them (see above).  However, as this book speaks a lot about personal acceptance and self-gratitude, then I’ll have to say one of the best ways to approach a meal in this head-space–and most–is with gratitude.  At the risk of being too literal, I chose to make a macaroni dish to finalize and celebrate this memoir.  It felt like this meal was–even if by accident–a transition food in Amy Poehler’s life.  Food can be and often is a lifestyle, and it seems obvious that for Amy, it was.  I wanted to add a bit of a spin on your average boxed mac and cheese dish, so I made a recipe all my own, inspired by one I tried long, long ago.  I hope you enjoy this dish as an extra savory and protein filled treat.

 

Delicata Squash Macaroni and ‘Cheese’ with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

‘Cheese’ Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 delicata squash [rinsed, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and pulp scooped out]
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup raw cashew pieces (new edit: 3/26/15 – because cashews can cause digestive troubles (ahem) cutting the nuts out all together and adding in a legume: white bean, navy bean, chickpeas–same proportion)
  • 3/4 cup no salt added vegetable broth
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 tbsp nooch (nutritional yeast)
  • 2 or 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Sauce instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place all ingredients except squash and oil into blender or food processor–reserve 1/4 cup broth for if the mixture clumps up in blender once adding squash.
  3. Increase blending speed until mixture is creamy, but not over blended and splattered on all walls of your device.
  4. Rub olive oil on squash flesh, not on the skin and place all four sides, face down onbaking pan, use a fork to pierce skin a couple of times on each piece.
  5. Place on the top rack and bake for 30 to 45 minutes [varies by oven].
  6. Once squash is cooked it should be tender.  Let it cool for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Scoop out each side of cooked squash into the blender with other ingredients.  Blend until smooth.  Add in the remaining 1/4 cup broth to move the blending along.
  8. Set aside.

Macaroni Mixture  & Roasted Brussels Sprouts Ingredients

  • 1 serving of ‘Cheese Sauce’ [see above]
  • 1 package gluten-free macaroni pasta [I use Tinkyada pasta]
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk [or non-dairy milk of your choice]
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 package brussels sprouts or approximately 16.5 oz [rinsed with hard base cut off and cut in half from base to top]
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic granules
  • Paprika to garnish

Instructions

  1. Coat brussels sprouts with olive oil, 1/8 tsp salt and garlic granules and place in 425°F preheated oven on the bottom while cooking squash.
  2. Cook brussels sprouts for 15 minutes.  Reverse rack position between squash and brussels sprouts after 20 minutes of cook-time on the sprouts.  Toss brussels sprouts before placing back in oven.  Remove when they are tender yet firm and have become golden on the cooked edges and sides.
  3. Cook pasta according to package instructions in large pot [cook to al dente].
  4. While pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder and the milk of your choice until there no longer formed lumps; set aside.
  5. Drain and rinse pasta and place it back into the large pot.
  6. Add arrowroot mixture to pasta and mix thoroughly.
  7. Now, add in ‘Cheese Sauce’ and gently mix together making sure to not break apart pasta [gluten-free pasta can become mushy and crumble easily].
  8. Over medium heat begin to warm pasta.
  9. Serve and enjoy your macaroni and ‘cheese’ with delicious brussels sprouts on the side.

Notes:

  • After plating the mac, sprinkle a pinch of paprika on top.
  • You may need extra almond milk if your mixture becomes too sticky and thick.  The milk will thin out the ‘cheese’ but keep it creamy.
  • If you have the time, conserve the squash seeds, rinse and toast them and have a crunchy topping for the mac.

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As an ultimate comfort food for many, take a big bite out of this one and let me know your thoughts on the book and how you dig the mac!  Really, as this is my third book into the year, I can’t tell you how fun it is to connect reading to eating; a natural pairing.  Both require you to be present and both incite joy.  Thanks for checking out Noshed in a Book and remember to share some of your #noshedinabook moments for the year.  I hope you can read along with me for my next book choice, this time a graphic novel, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Splendid Springtime Spaghetti with Toasted Seeds

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Good Day Everyone,

Happy Vernal Equinox !

Springtime represents so many things in our society, that it’s hard to overlook this major transitional period–and subsequently positive alteration to the environment–by way of beautiful blooms, pollination and the beginning of a new growing season.  Spring washes over us all and makes way for sweet morning reads by a window and fresh spring salads to compliment the change of weather.

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As March settles in, I am finding my time being stretched in different directions and all I can think about lately is savory goodness to satisfy my longing to stay nourished through the busy days of work and creative projects. This recipe revealed itself one late afternoon while I was alone in the kitchen and peeking into our refrigerator for what we had “in stock” at the time.  These are the moments I enjoy most in the culinary experience because my imagination stands a chance.  Have you ever heard that we all like a range of options, but if you present too many, we’re less likely to come to a solidified choice?  Well on this particular afternoon, we were just scant enough in the produce department that is our kitchen, that I felt a happy inclination towards this vibrant and delicious spaghetti dish.

I  knew I wanted pasta, but mother time had not gifted enough to me in this instance to warrant making it from scratch.  However, I was able to use Tinkyada spaghetti noodles and they were just what I had in mind.  I wanted a noodle I could wrap my fork around and spaghetti, along with farfalle, remind me of Spring!  Also, I wanted to–as I’m sure most of you know about me–balance color, but I did lean on the green end for this dish.

I wanted to balance the semi-soft nature of the dish with something crunchy, and after cutting open the butternut squash, I was in luck; seeds!  I decided to combine the butternut squash seeds with the other three you’ll see listed below to make a nice crunchy medley.  Honestly, I initially wanted these roasted, but I went with toasted and I was pleased with the results, however I recommend trying both ways.  Additionally, I did not hull the butternut squash seeds but ate them as they are.

The peas and the butternut squash balanced their sweetness and semi-savory nature perfectly and will dance on your palette with divine texture and pleasure.

Take a moment this spring to appreciate the colors nature offers, appreciate the remainder of veggies nestled in your fridge and prepare yourself a happy Spring sketti!

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 Splendid Springtime Spaghetti (gluten-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 package gluten-free spaghetti (I used the Tinkyada brown rice kind, but the quinoa pasta is great too!)
  • 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes (cut into strips and re-hydrated if purchased dried–boil water and place dried tomatoes in hot water after removing from heat; soak for 10 min.)
  • 7 or 8 thin slices of purple onion (cut in half, and separate into slivers)
  • 4 white mushrooms (cut into thin slices)
  • 1 bundle of flat leaf parsley(leaves and majority of stems minced)
  • 1 1/4 cup red kidney beans (cooked and drained)
  • 6 or 7 glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients (toppings)

  • 1/2 medium to large butternut squash (roasted strips)
  • A couple of glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A few shakes or cranks black pepper
  • All butternut squash seeds from cut squash (rinsed well and partially dried–either toss pulp or use for compost)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (raw; optional)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds (raw; optional)
  • 1/2 avocado (per person, thin slices)

Instructions  (butternut squash)

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Rinse and peel squash and chop off bottom and top
  3. Slice in half through the vertical perimeter and then use seed scooper or large spoon to scoop out seeds  and pulp
  4. Place seeds into a bowl reserving them for the seed mixture topping (see above)
  5. Cut  squash into 1/2 inch thick strips, about an inch and a half long
  6. Place squash strips in medium bowl and cover with a couple of glugs olive oil, salt and pepper
  7. Toss squash with hands until it is lightly coated with oil, salt and pepper
  8. Distribute squash evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (flip half-way)
  9. Once baking is complete, place aside

Instructions (pasta dish)

  1. Begin by prepping all veggies
  2. Boil enough water to be able to submerge entire pasta amount (I break pasta in half); salt pasta once pasta is added.  Cook 10 – 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Gluten-free pasta can get mushy very easily, that’s why you want it to be slightly undercooked or perhaps this is your taste
  3. Drain, rinse and place pasta back into sauce pan or pot
  4. Add olive oil and all spices and marjoram to cooked pasta
  5. Add all veggies except butternut squash
  6. Mix well, but gently so as to not tear apart the spaghetti
  7. Add lemon juice and salt to taste and stir
  8. Keep over a very low heat to warm until the next step is complete
  9. In a bowl, mix together all seeds, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (lightly coating seeds)
  10. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, add seeds and toast until golden brown (note:  add the sesame seeds toward the end of the toasting process as they will brown much faster than the other seeds)
  11. Serve pasta in bowls and place butternut squash slices on top, then fan out avocado slices and finally sprinkle with seed mixture
  12. Serves:  Approx. 4 people
  13. Enjoy out on the patio, your front steps or in whatever immediate outdoors area you have and I recommend following this meal (15-30 minutes later of course :p) with a kombucha!

splendidspringtimespaghetti5I hope you all enjoy this meal and please let me know your thoughts and experiences welcoming Spring.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Kitchen Letters #3: A Big Bowl of Winter Veggies & a Grapefruit Fizzy

bountifulwinterbowl4

Dear world,

There are many reasons to look forward to certain days of the week, but Thursday’s are special around our house because we pick up our packed CSA box–and I mean packed–with an array of veggies and fruits to kick-start new ideas for recipes.  This winter we have been fortunate to receive some of my favorite veggies and fruits all in one box, and I thought I could share our abundance of yummies with you–in recipe form–in this fleeting winter season.

My favorite meals usually involve a bowl.  There is something incredibly comforting about food in a bowl to me.  Perhaps I channel back to the feeling of being a child and picking the biggest concave basin to eat my cereal from, with loads of milk and never the worry of a spill or splash.  In my opinion, bowls are where it’s at!  With this dish, I decided to work with layers, which I feel gives more depth to the flavors and textures touching your palette.  Like I previously mentioned, I was working with veggies directly from our CSA box, thus it did most of the menu planning for me.

I get in a bit of a rut with root veggies, and though I know there are a myriad of things to do with them, I typically end up preparing one or two variations because I’m in a time bind, but this week I wanted to mix it up a hint.  I decided to make a sauce with the beets to create a colorful backdrop to the remainder of the dish.  I allowed myself the joy of slowing down.

What’s wonderful about this recipe is that it’s an ‘everyday’ kind of meal.  It’s not as sexy as some of the gourmet delicacies you’ll find out there, but what it is, is realistic and relative to the time and availability of what you might have hanging out in your fridge or produce baskets this time of year (at least in the states).

You could eat the dish in layers or mix it all together, but this is not a dish for the faint of heart as it’s bursting with lively flavor and swimming in immaculate texture.

I suggest eating this meal with friends or a loved one, that way you can share in the bounty and casual nature of the dish.  Kick back with little prep and effort for table arrangement and enjoy it with your favorite record or even this Songza playlist –> An Ipanema of the Mind.  Yes, I’m hooked on Songza.

From a before dinner drink to the entrée, I hope you enjoy!

grapefruitgingerfizzy1

Grapefruit Ginger Fizzy

Ingredients

  • 1 25.4 fl. oz Topo Chico or any mineral water
  • 1 inch grated ginger
  • 1 to 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • juice of 4 grapefruits
  • 3 or 4 drops liquid stevia (if you want it sweeter, I prefer mine more tart so I leave this out)

Instructions

  1. After juicing your grapefruits, pour the liquid through a sieve and catch the liquid in a wide-mouth container–this will catch any extra pulp or seeds that may have slipped through into the juice (or leave it behind if you like pulpy juice)
  2. Now, pour the juice into a large pitcher
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir
  4. Now, add the mineral water
  5. Stir or shake if you have a lid
  6. Chill and sip in your favorite glass before and after your big bowl of veggies!

I have always enjoyed grapefruit, it is one of my favorite citrus fruits and I am always very happy when it comes in season because it adds a nice addition to my daily eats!  Fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice would be ideal to start your days or begin your meals in the winter as it helps to detoxify your liver, alkalize your body and give your metabolism a boost.  Additionally, it is loaded with vitamins and minerals and will help with reducing and preventing fevers.

bountifulwinterbowl2

bountifulwinterbowl3

Bountiful Winter Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed & soaked)
  • 2 cups water
  • generous pinch of salt
  • small bundle of beets – about 4 (cleaned, peeled and boiled until tender; reserve beet greens for another time)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp annatto powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (optional)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic (more if you’re a garlic hound like me)
  • handful of parsley (flat leaf or curly; minced)
  • 2 glugs of extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 bundle of your favorite greens in season (I’m using curly kale; pull leaves off stem, massage and rip into small pieces, soak and rinse, then salad spin to remove excess water)
  • 1/2 yellow onion (thinly sliced into strips)
  • 2 or 3 glugs of grapeseed oil (2 or 3 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or to taste, in ‘pours’)
  • splash or 2 of red wine (whatever kind you have on hand, the higher quality the better the taste)
  • 2 hefty pinches of red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch half-moons; cut off the dimples or where dirt has sunken in)
  • 5 or 6 small to medium carrots (cleaned and cut into half-moons)
  • 2 glugs of extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Toppings (optional)

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces (there will be some leftover)
  • 1 avocado (one half for each person you’re serving; thin slices)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
  2. Place the cut sweet potatoes and carrots into a medium mixing bowl and cover with a couple of glugs of olive oil, salt and black pepper; mix well with clean hands
  3. Spread mixture over two baking sheets so the veggies are not touching; bake for 20 to 30 minutes, flipping half-way through
  4. Once veggies are in the oven, after rinsing and soaking, pour the quinoa into a medium saucepan and add water and a pinch of salt
  5. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 or 20 minutes
  6. Fluff quinoa with fork
  7. While quinoa is cooking, in another saucepan, place beets in water to boil until they are tender to a fork (15-20 minutes)
  8. Place beets, paprika, onion powder, annatto powder, lemon juice, 2 or 3 garlic cloves, olive oil and salt into blender and blend until smooth
  9.  Cover quinoa with beet sauce and distribute throughout; add minced parsley and feel free to add unsweetened almond milk for a creamier sauce or add water or more olive oil if mixture becomes dry; re-heat on low and cover to keep warm until remainder of dish is prepared
  10. In deep skillet over medium heat, add 2 or 3 glugs of olive oil until it flows like water over the bottom of the pan
  11. Add onion strips and cook until browned but not fully caramelized (7 or 8 minutes)
  12. Begin to place handfuls of kale into skillet and stir with tongs until greens are bright but not soggy (1 or 2 minutes)
  13. Now, add your splashes of apple cider vinegar and red wine until you hear a crashing and cracking sound–it should be a loud roar; continue to mix greens making sure to not burn, and then sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes and remove from heat
  14. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, place walnuts and toast until a light golden brown; take care not to burn
  15. NOW, to assemble the delicious bowl, in this order bottom to top:  wilted kale and caramelized onion mixture, quinoa with beet sauce, roasted veggies, toasted walnuts (by eye), avocado slices
  16. Enjoy every bite!

*This should serve approximately 2 to 4 people depending on portion sizes

boutifulwinterbowl1

Quinoa, no longer the ‘It’ grain, is still ‘It’ at our abode.  It’s a full-source protein with a delightful nutty flavor and a fluffy light texture that absorbs flavor well.  The perfect grain to use for heavier sauces like this one, the semi-bitter undertones of quinoa are offset by the sweet and mildly tangy flavor of the beets and the umami of the garlic.  There are many exceptional qualities about this meal nutritionally, but take care in knowing you’ll be very satisfied and sated afterward.

Let me know what you think of the recipes and what type of creations you’re coming up with at the close of this season.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Yummy and grateful regards,

RAM

Check out more kitchen letters here!

Podcast # 2: Cinema Cuisine: Italy – L’eclisse

Japanese B2 poster L'eclisse 1962

Hello All,

I’m very pleased to say that podcast #2 has happened!  That’s right, if you weren’t absolutely titillated after the first one then this one might help to get you more in the mood for a delicate intermixing of film and food.  Foreign Film Sunday (ffs), also known as Cinema Cuisine, has morphed into the type of occasion that can fall on whatever day is most forgiving with time and the day that allows for the most edits and polishing to occur.  Thanks for your patience in the transitioning.  I hope you enjoyed my introductory post with all of the recipes and my first ever FOOD RELATED VIDEO!!!  Please let me know what you think, and again, much gratitude and thanks to my sweet and talented love for all of his help and creativity.

Podcast HERE–> Cinema Cuisine Ep.2 – Italia

Some notes on Italian food culture:

  • Most beverages are typically enjoyed at room temperature as the Italians feel–and is often proven–this aids digestion. (Personally, I prefer all my drinks at room temperature. My love found this to be a bit more challenging.)
  • Multiple course meals are often followed up with coffee or espresso (Italian press was enjoyed with breakfast and after).
  • As simplicity and full flavor is often the goal in an authentic Italian meal, unless a strong sauce is being prepared–battuto, the starter to a dish wherein aromatics are used:  onions, carrots, celery, parsley, garlic, finely chopped–either onion or garlic are chosen for a dish, not both  (I tried to stick to this principle).
  • Creamy, garlic white sauces are often used on pizza and pasta dishes over red sauces. (I had so much fun creating this sauce).
  • Local, and seasonal produce is important when creating a meal (one of the most exciting aspects, for me).
  • Salad is a side dish, rarely a starter to a meal.
  • Typically each dish is served on a different plate. (We did not follow this tradition, as we would have been cleaning dishes until next year).
  • Primo (starter, rice or pasta), secondo (main course), contorno (side dish). (We enjoyed each of the dishes I prepared all at once rather than in stages with the exception of breakfast).
  • Breakfast is typically eaten around 11 and dinner is also enjoyed much later in the day (8 p.m.). (We ate earlier in the day).

l'eclisse

l'eclisse_1

l'eclisse2

l'eclisse3

This quote is still haunting me:

“Vittoria: Why do we ask so many questions? Two people shouldn’t know each other too well if they want to fall in love. But, then, maybe they shouldn’t fall in love at all.”

Somehow, I was entirely beguiled by the main protagonist, who spoke this line. It has resonated with me ever since.  As someone who has the tendency to look at the world with a relatively cynical view, I cannot question the love and devotion I have to my special someone. However, it does occur to me that before him, there were years of questioning and an incredulous nature that was hard to tame for awhile.  This film helped align my thoughts to the concept that those feelings or perceptions in our life that are left without sufficient closure on finality, leave us feeling as though we’re in a stagnant state of disbelief.  Vittoria seemed like this type of character to me.  Underlying naivety coupled with insecurity.    Perhaps that is why this quote sticks.  There’s discussion of institutions in the podcast, but something we–Matthew and I–neglected to remark on, is the more obvious fact that the film itself was displaying the institution of marriage of hearts to one another forever, and the credibility or likelihood of this happening with comfort and ease for everyone.  Moral concepts, we as humans, try to tattoo onto our culture and place precedence on, lose meaning when we–consequently–desecrate and participate in such institutions without a willing and bending heart.  Again, I speak to the idea of absolutes and their danger.  (See commentary in previous podcasts.)

What is more, our instinct for detachment in some aspects of our lives and–on an outside food related note–our detachment from our food and where it comes from is forgotten and ignored.  In turn, our general lethargy with consumption and the creativity that is necessary in the growth and preparation of all worlds of food is stunted.  Incidentally, the media doesn’t allow much room for empathy and seeing outside of ourselves to appreciate things.  What I mean to say is, our empathetic instincts are being muted because of societal entrenchment into technology and “moving forward”, rather than stopping to appreciate the present.  This is where we’re all flawed; our negligence to stand still and take in the beauty of our world whilst living in it.

l'eclisse

I hope this podcast helped stitch you in a little closer to the food world and it’s connection to another artistic medium.  Let me know you’re thoughts and critiques below.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

-featured gifs/jpg:  courtesy gelsominas, unpetitgateau, missavagardner

Cinema Cuisine: Italy – L’eclisse [1st Video]

YesterdayCafe

YesterdayCafe

Hello Everyone,

My experience with preparing and cooking the assorted dishes for Cinema Cuisine, Italy, was that much more care, devotion, patience and love had to go into each dish.  What do I mean?  Oftentimes in the kitchen, as much as possible, I try to be efficient and quick in my approach to making a meal.  I embrace delicate measures when necessary, but otherwise, I’m multitasking and moving from one dish to the next, incorporating one spice or ingredient after the next. After much sweat and heart, the meal is complete.  Shortly after, I either feel one of two things: a strong sense of accomplishment and elation or a mild sense of disappointment and anxiety.   These feelings are common because I’m either pleased with my creations or I’m displeased with–by my standards–an unsatisfactory outcome.  Either way, I’m able to enjoy my creations with a loved one and, being the critic that I am, dissect the many facets of the meal.  With this in mind, for my Italian meal I allowed self and outside critique, but I channeled a level of love into the process of making the dishes that I rarely do.  It was one of my most enjoyable cooking experiences yet.

Before the big meal, my love and I knew we needed to begin the process of making the homemade pasta for a few reasons, but mostly because we had never used a pasta maker before.  For the winter holiday of 2012, we received an authentic, Italian press (with some extra attachments) and a bamboo wooden drying rack for the pasta.  Up until the end of June, we had yet to crack open the box, and this lack of attention to this thoughtful pasta making gift set in motion my idea of choosing Italy as our next film and cuisine exploration.

Below you’ll find many recipes and my FIRST VIDEO that you too could incorporate into a day or days of Italian themed dishes.  Most of them are my own creations and ideas, but some are inspired by wonderful chefs I’ve discovered.  I hope you enjoy every bite and appreciate the process of making this meal or meals as much as I did.  What is more, as the Italians do, enjoy this meal with a group of people and even encourage a potluck. Making all of these delicious recipes and more could turn into an all day affair.  For me, there’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying.

A quick note on L’eclisse.  Why–before the viewing of this film–I had yet to see an Antonioni film, escapes me, but I can say these dishes couple consummately as their simplicity matches the contemplative and confident manner of this movie.  Please, enjoy every bite and every frame.

Keep a look out for our podcast where you’ll hear much more depth into L’eclisse. I’ll post it in a few days!  Please let me know what you think of the recipes and the tweaks you made to your own creations.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Breakfast

Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe medium avocados
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 tbsp unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk to taste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp pure maple syrup to taste
  • 1 or 2 drops of liquid stevia to taste (slightly more liberal w/ powder version)
  • 6 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large apple of your choice (pear)
  • fresh coffee beans
  • coffee press
  • water

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Pudding/Spread

  1. Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
  2. Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
  3. Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is reached (note:  Add remaining tbsp of milk if mixture is too dry. Additionally if not sweet enough, add in stevia–take care to not add too much initially as excessive amounts could make the pudding/spread too bitter.)
  4. Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding

For Coffee Press

  1. Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
  2. Begin to heat water, don’t boil
  3. Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
  4. Pour VERY hot water (not boiling) over beans and immediately cover with coffee press lid, but do NOT press down filtration piece yet; let sit for 3-5 minutes
  5. Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
  6. ENJOY!

NOTES

 

This dish could also be made with soft and soaked medjool dates (6 to 8). I happened to not have any on hand. Raisins would also be a nice substitute.

Also, Italians often enjoy their chocolate spread with bread or toast.

For a more dense protein treat, add some pre-soaked raw pecans (you’ll get a flavor closer to Nutella but without the hazlenuts).

Should store, refrigerated for up to two days.  After two days I’d smell it/taste it.

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Flavorful and full-bodied coffee beans from www.equalexchange.coop

Lunch/Dinner

Italian Summer Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions)

  • 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (sliced thinly into half moons)
  • colorful sweet peppers of your choices (I chose:  1 purple, 1 red, 1 green, 1 banana; thinly sliced rings)

INGREDIENTS (DRESSING)

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (if you’re watching alkalinity, nix this and add an extra 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
  • salt to taste
  • course, freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp & 1 tsp dried Italian herb mixture (my mixture is:  thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram; if you have fresh herbs available, curve the amount; also, the dressing cannot be kept as long)

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Salad

  1. After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
  2. Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
  3. Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed

For Dressing

  1. Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
  2. Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
  3. Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
  4. Enjoy salad soon, or lettuce will wilt.  If only enjoying in single portions, plate salad portion and drizzle dressing over individually.  Secure remaining dressing with lid, store at room temperature

summa cucumber

summa salad

Beet Balls

NOTES

  • Please see my previous post for the beet ball recipe HERE.
  • Some tweaks: I adjusted the herb mixture, type of mushroom and nut when I made these recently, and unlike my old post, I find that golden beets do bring out a more savory nature to these balls.

 

Sauteed Summer Squash

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 summer squash (yellow & zucchini, mixture of your choosing; thinly sliced into half strips)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil/coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
  2. Once oil is hot–should move like water in the pan–gently place squash slices into skillet and gently toss until every piece is covered with oil
  3. After beginning to brown, add garlic
  4. Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^

 

Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

Recipe by:  Cassie

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp flax (ground)
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!

NOTES

 

  • I made farfalle and fettuccine noodles (both of which fell apart to some degree). I’ll need to do my own personal tweaking to the recipe for the future. Don’t overcook!
  • SALT the water!
  • Make sure you have plenty of flour for rolling out and putting dough through pasta press, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess.
  • I also recommend keeping a small bowl of cool water nearby wherever your hands are when rolling out the dough. This works much better with moist hands (the dough will not cling to your fingers in such large clumps with a little water).
  • Have a partner! Though you could make this pasta alone, I think it would be more fun and easier with a buddy.
  • Give yourself plenty of time and space. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you, this recipe is relatively time consuming, especially if you’re in a moderately cramped space.
  • Please do not get discouraged if you are in a one butt kitchen or don’t have a pasta press, this is completely doable without both, but it will be more challenging.  Respect your space and the amount of time it will take to make.
  • Kick back and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll botch the recipe and process and find yourself very frustrated.
  • Stick to the instructions in the video. Although I’m an advocate of going with the flow in recipes, skipping or rushing a step could lead to problems. :(

 

Walnut Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 to 1 cup raw walnuts–depending on how ‘nutty’ you want your pesto (soaked w/ apple cider vinegar for 6 hours, rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups loosely pressed basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to your desired consistency)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your desired consistency, taste)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
  2. Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
  3. Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
  4. Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
  5. Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap

NOTES

  • This will make a sizable amount. Try freezing the remainder in ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap.  Later, you have a quick meal as all you’ll have to do is pop a pesto cube onto your dish and heat it up or thaw it out.

 

Italian Creamy White Sauce w/ Parsley and Grape Tomatoes

Follow directions HERE for dressing then do the following:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 garlic clove (yes, more garlic)
  • 3 tsp dried Italian herb mixture
  • water to desired consistency (unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency)
  • 6 grape tomatoes (quartered)
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (gently minced; lucky me, this go round I had some from my herb garden!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
  2. Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
  3. Blend once more
  4. Serve mixed into pasta (add in parsley and quartered grape tomatoes), or over your favorite, homemade gluten-free pizza crust (without the added parsley, just the tomatoes)!

NOTES

  • Italians typically serve a plain or ‘pasta blanco’ for ease of digestion as a more minimal dish. I dressed up the idea but created a vegan, high protein/omega-3 cream sauce, free of soy and other additives.

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Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Refernces:

Italian Breakfast

Italy Food Culture

Primer – Italian Food Culture

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermecilli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Hi everyone!  Another recipe awaits!

A friend recently received his Master’s degree and in celebration I made an on the spot stir-fry.  Recently he asked me for the recipe and it occurred to me I did not write down the creation. Since then, I have mulled over what I could have possibly used and what follows is the recipe–as close as I can recall–and a few pics that my love happened to take that night.

Friendships and Food

Our friend is of Latino descent and his lovely girlfriend (also a close friend) is very involved and interested in Mexican culture.  Additionally, they are both vegetarian, which worked out well for the ideas I had for the dish because I didn’t have to hold back on any of the veggies I wanted to include.  I decided on an Asian themed dish but with a Latino (South American) twist.  I wanted to make something that the two of them had never tried and it turns out I did!

When I think about eating and preparing food, I immediately think about sharing.  In many ways, I feel like food is one of the most wonderful and full-hearted gifts you could ever give someone.  A well prepared, home-cooked meal is full of dedication, trust, and creativity.  Food, as a gift, polishes the idea of friendship because it’s sharing a part of yourself with the people in your life that mean the most to you.  Preparing a meal, or giving the gift of food (especially if personally prepared, picked, sought out) is a way of leaving your mark on the world. Sadly, in some opinions, it’s much less permanent and much more easy to forget.  I say let us remember these acts and appreciate every bite!  Even when you’re sharing a meal with friends at a restaurant, take the time to truly appreciate the flavors, the environment and where the food came from. If it’s possible, you could even take the time to thank or compliment those who helped make the meal for you.  Take a picnic with your friends and enjoy nature while enjoying your basket or bag full of wonders.  Essentially, imbue the thought.  I hope all of you enjoy preparing this meal and are able to share it with someone extra special.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Ingredients / Utensils

  • 1 crown of broccoli (cut into small pieces, I even used 3/4 of the stalk and sliced it into very thin julienned pieces; waste not!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots (or whatever amount seems right to you, julienned)
  • 1/2 large zucchini or 1 small (skin on, julienned)
  • small sweet peppers or 1 bell pepper (thinly sliced into rings)
  • 3 garlic cloves (more if you’re a garlic freak like me, minced)
  • 3 small Yukon potatoes (1/8 inch thinly sliced)
  • 4 or 5 white or baby bella mushrooms (thin, long vertical strips)
  • 1 lime (quartered)
  • 1 medium to large avocado (cut into strips)
  • dried vermicelli noodles (gluten-free, vegan; whatever amount suits the party you’re serving)
  • 1 package tempeh (cut into long, medium-sized strips or you can crumble it)
  • sesame seeds w/ dulse (used to garnish the dish at the end)
  • coconut oil or grape seed oil for sauté
  • drizzle of sesame oil for noodles
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 1/8 tsp garlic granules (more if you cut back on the garlic cloves)
  • pinch or two of cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp ginger powder (1 tsp minced if you have it fresh)
  • 1 tsp (or more to taste) Peruvian chili lime spice
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free, low-sodium tamari (or to taste, I normally just poor :/) (this is fermented soy sauce, better for your digestive system and shouldn’t wreak havoc on your hormones)
  • bamboo spoon or large bamboo chopsticks for mixing
  • sharp chefs knife
  • chopping board(s)
  • bowls (if you want to portion out your veggies)
  • measuring spoons
  • A wok is preferable for heating this meal, but if you have a large skillet this should do.

Instructions

  1. Prepare all veggies first!  (I like to keep mine separated in bowls or on separate chopping boards organized by cooking order, but I’m a big dork.  :p )
  2. Once all veggies are cut, begin heating water for noodles.  Add noodles once water is boiling and cook for just a few minutes until tender.  Do not over cook, or they will become gummy!  At this point, line up your herbs, spices, and Tamari for easy access.  If you want to be especially tidy, you could allocate all of your spices into a small glass ramekin and then set the remainder of your bottles away, for less clean up time later.
  3. Begin by sautéing the garlic and onions until fragrant, then add in the tempeh and cook until tempeh turns a light golden color but before onions are caramelized.
  4. Next, add in the broccoli, carrots and potatoes. Cover and toss until just before tender.  Then, add in the remainder of the vegetables, cook until mushrooms produce an ever so slight broth.
  5. Follow-up by sprinkling in your herbs and spices and mix everything together gently.  Now, add the tamari to taste.
  6. As you’re cooking the vegetables, keep on eye your noodles (as mentioned above) and once prepared, drain and rinse with cool water.  Drizzle sesame oil over noodles once back in the pot.
  7. Plate the noodles and serve prepared stir-fry over and to the side of the noodles.
  8. Place slices of avocado on the side and sprinkle with sesame seeds and dulse.
  9. Set a quarter of a lime on the plate and squeeze over dish just before consuming.
  10. Eat up, happily, and with friends!
Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

 

Notes:  I focused on the style in the cut of the vegetables.  I wanted them to seem slightly uniform for a more aesthetic, pleasing look to the eye.  I was going for a slender, matchstick or even julienne look to pattern with the small, delicate noodles.  On my choice of noodle; I was inspired by Vietnamese dishes that frequently have vermicelli, thus I was hooked!  I over-cooked the noodles just slightly that night, and they became a little gummy, but adding the slightest amount of sesame oil helped loosen them up.  Also, I’m still perfecting the science of presenting a recipe because personally, I pour and shake my spices and liquids, thus it’s difficult for me to portion out measurements for others to use.  I just go by taste.  Patience, please! 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast # 1: Cinema Cuisine: England – Withnail and I

Gif Courtesy of:  http://emptyandsmoking.tumblr.com/

Gif Courtesy of: http://emptyandsmoking.tumblr.com/

Hello Everyone,

About two years ago (although I think in the pc we said one, but it has been almost two) my husband and I began a fun ritual on Fridays called ‘Foreign Film Fridays’, wherein we would choose a country, a film to represent that country–whichever one of us was in charge of picking the country and film, would prepare a meal representative of that country.  It was such a blast, but as our schedules grew busier, Foreign Film Friday sadly fell by the wayside.  You all will be happy to know, it has been reincarnated, but on Sundays!  So, we lost some lovely alliteration, but we gained a more relaxing day, with more time to prepare.  Also, I do the cooking/preparing and we are going to alternate picking the country/film.  One of Matthew and I’s biggest passions in life is film, and we both have a deep connection and fondness for food.  This podcast has allowed me another way to connect food to all of you out there.

I’m very happy to introduce my very first podcast and even more pleased that I’m launching it in conjunction with connectabite.  Please, be forgiving when you listen to it as this is our first ever time to attempt this, and though we’re both avid podcast listeners ourselves, there is certainly a separation in action of something you love.  Needless to say, here it is!  I hope you enjoy and I’d really like to start a dialogue about what you hear.  Tell me what you don’t like, what you do like, was it funny, was it awkward, could you understand what we’re saying, did you appreciate our commentary, etc…

CLICK HERE: –> (right click here) Cinema Cuisine Ep.1 – England

Below you’ll find the recipes to the meals I created, plus sources to some of them.  I hope you will join us in foreign film connecting and food and share with me  your experiences, recipes, ideas and so forth.  I’d love to chat about it all!  Maybe some of you have recommendations?  Enjoy both listening to the podcast and preparing these recipes, and remember…bite responsibly!

Gluten-Free Orange Pecan Scones

               Recipe inspired by Alex Jamieson

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups of almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 egg replacer (could also substitute ground flax or chia seeds)
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest from one organic orange
  • 1/2 cup & 2 tbsp unsweetened almond, coconut, rice or other plant-based milk ( I used almond)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I broke them into pieces with my hands rather than processing them in any way)
  • ½ cup raisins (you could also substitute another dried fruit)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda.  Take special care with the coconut flour as it will want to clump together.  Use a fork and sift through large bulges.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, maple syrup, orange juice, zest, and milk.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until blended thoroughly. If the dough seems too dry and isn’t sticking together, use another tablespoon or two of milk.  Dough should feel almost spongy.
  5. Dump in the pecans and raisins.  Then wet your hands to evenly distribute the nuts and dried fruit through the dough.
  6. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out evenly sized scones and place scones on a parchment lined baking sheet and gently press down to flatten to 1/2 in thick with palm.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

NOTES

  • These are slightly crumbly scones but have a nice density.  They aren’t as heavy and thick as I was used to, but they are gluten-free, thus for what they are, fantastic!  I was so fretful the entire time I was making them/they were baking, that they would turn out flat and fall apart because there is no fat, and for must scones that a key ingredient, but these were only slightly crumbly as I mentioned and had the most divine flavor.
  • We enjoyed these with a hot cup of English Breakfast tea and the combination was superb!
  • I have a few ideas on how to improve/perk up the recipe and someday I’ll post my newest re-creation.
Orange Pecan Scones (gluten-free, vegan) © ConnectaBite 2013

Orange Pecan Scones (gluten-free, vegan) © ConnectaBite 2013

British Beetroot Salad

INGREDIENTS

For Salad

  • romaine lettuce (cleaned and chopped)
  • two medium beets (washed, peeled, and cut into small triangular wedges then cooked until tender, yet firm to form)
  • green peas (portion size is up to you, I’m a sprinkler/dumper)
  • two green onion (diced at an angle into 1/4 inch pieces)

For Dressing

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (previously soaked-about 6-8 hours, and rinsed)
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tbsp dulse
  • 3 to 4 tbsp (or more depending on your taste buds) Organic horseradish mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more depending on your taste buds)
  • freshly crushed black pepper to taste
  • onion granules to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For Salad:  layer as follows – lettuce on the bottom, followed by green onion, peas, and top with whatever amount of beets sound yummy to you
  2. For Dressing:  in a high powered blender, add to blender all ingredients starting with water, seeds, lemon juice, then horseradish mustard, and so forth.  Blend on low and increase to high until a thick, white creamy sauce is before your eyes.  Do a few taste tests to make sure it’s just right for you.  The dressing should resemble the ubiquitous ‘Ranch’ dressing that so many love.  Drizzle dressing over salad. Enjoy before main entrée.

NOTES

  • You’ll have plenty of leftovers if you’re making this for just two, enjoy this delicious salad for a few days.  Store the dressing in a clean glass jar.
British Beetroot Salad w/ Raw Sunflower Seed Horseradish Dressing © ConnecaBite 2013

British Beetroot Salad w/ Raw Sunflower Seed Horseradish Dressing © ConnecaBite 2013

Lentil & Mushroom Shepherds Pie

               Recipe inspired by Susan Voisin (via Nava Atlas)

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 medium golden yukon potatoes
  • olive oil to taste (for potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (rice/quinoa blend-unsweetened)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil or coconut oil*
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (I used white)
  • 2  large cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cup cooked brown lentils (creates about 3  to 31/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon reduced-sodium, gluten-free tamari (fermented soy sauce)*
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 8 to 10 ounces baby kale leaves
  • cooked millet, maybe a day or two old

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Mix together olive oil, potatoes and some salt (to taste) then add the milk and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
  5. Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the tamari (optional) herbs and spices. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring gently, then letting the mixture rest to disperse flavors. Combine the arrowroot with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
  6. Add the kale in small handfuls, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
  7. Lightly oil a 2-quart casserole dish.  Distribute the millet on the bottom of the dish. Pour in the lentil mixture evenly, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top.  The potatoes should spread almost as if they were thick frosting.  Spread with a spatula/bowl scraper.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes–to set–then serve.

NOTES

  • This would be especially tasty with a British inspired onion gravy–vegan and gluten-free of course, but I didn’t make one this time.
  • Also, I was so anxious to try this dish, I didn’t let it set for the 5 minutes initially, but the next day when we had leftovers, oh, so yummy!

shepherd'spie

English Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie © ConnecaBite 2013

 

Also, I thought you’d want to know we did indeed record this on a Sunday, but editing and the like took a bit longer.  :p

“Isn’t it stimulating, getting back to a basic sort of life for awhile?  Surrounded by trees and nature, one feels a glorious stirring of the senses, a rejection of poisonous inhibition, and a fecund motion of the soul” – Monty, Withnail and I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only A Recipe Away

As most recipes are planned out with precision, I find it very difficult to EVER truly follow a step-by-step list of directions and ingredients.  Most typically I look at recipes for inspiration, ideas and a tad-bit of direction. That being said, last weekend I made these fresh yummy wraps that I’d like to share with all of you because I didn’t follow a recipe I just gathered a few tips online.  I’d like to share my product and yes, a bit of a directional list.  What’s great about this recipe, if you’d even call it that, is it coincides perfectly with my last post about being ‘spatially challenged’ in the kitchen.

As with most of my ‘recipes’ I am going to simply put estimates of product, but for the most part I will simply list the ingredients I used.  Enjoy!!

Killer Collard Wraps

(for 1 person)

  • 2 collard green leaves (if you don’t have an affinity for collard greens, try using Swiss chard leaves).  Now some recipes you’ll find out there in internet land will instruct you to cut out the leaf stem, but I find this to be wasteful, unnecessary and it creates a messier and much smaller wrap.  Take the stem of the leaf and at a horizontal angle, slice off the excess bulky part of the stem so that you’re left with a flattened stem on the leaf. It should be flat not circular.  Now place the leaves on a flat surface (I used a plate) and stack them in a way where together they make a wider leaf, but the edges of one are exposed.
  • Use any condiment you prefer and spread it over the top layer leaf and somewhat on the underlying leaf. I used a raw almond spread I made, which I’m still perfecting, but I’ll eventually post its recipe.  Some ideas:  humus, zucchini spread/dip, mustard, vegan mayo, nut spreads, sunflower seed spread, avocado spread, pesto.
  • Cucumber – slice thin pieces and then cut into half-moons, place 6 on each side of the wrap bottom, almost as though you’re keeping an inch or more between each row of them.
  • Tomato – again, thin slices and now place them between the two rows of cucumber half-moons
  • 1/2 a ripe avocado – I typically make long vertical slices and place them in a stagard row in the center.
  • 1-2 green onion – at an angle, slice small pieces of green onion including the white area.  Sprinkle the small pieces on top of the tomato and cucumber liberally.
  • Sunflower sprouts (or whatever you prefer) – about a handful; I chose sunflower sprouts because they have a lovely crunch.  Spread these out across the top of everything else you’ve
  • Quinoa – 1/4 a cup or so, but I mostly just sprinkled unseasoned quinoa on top of the vegetables.
  • Tempeh – slice in long medium thick strips and sauté over medium heat in grapeseed oil until golden and moderately crisp.  Place tempeh strips on top of all other layers.
  • Sprinklings!  Try sprinkling:  garlic granules, paprika, cayenne, nutritional yeast (nooch), Himalayan sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, or even a spicy hot sauce.
  • Fin!

Now what you’ll need to do is fold in the vertical end of the wrap where the stems end and then tuck in the horizontal end nearest your body and squish in the wrap contents.  Now fold in the other vertical end and complete the wrap process.  It’s generally like making a burrito, except you’re using green leaves.  In retrospect I should have taken pictures of how I wrapped it.

I hope you enjoy these wraps as much as I do.  I don’t think sticking to the vegetables I used is a must.  I would use whatever you have available and what is freshest at your local market.  Make the wrap your own and share with me different methods you’ve approached with making yummy vegetable wraps.  I would love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to masticate every bite because digestion begins in the mouth.  Crazy right?!  Have a lovely first weekend of spring!  =^_____________^=

And remember…bite responsibly.

 

Healthy Regards,

~RAM~