Sunday, July 27, 2008

Food and Mindfulness

I went on a meditation retreat this weekend. I was totally, utterly freaked out that I wouldn't be able to "handle" it. But I did! I lived through it, it was awesome, and I recommend it to all. The retreat was led by Sharon Salzberg, who is one of the most amazing teachers and writers that I know of. Her book Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience is so well wrought, that I can't even do it justice by describing it. Especially for someone like me who grew up very uncomfortable with the idea/word/feelings associated with faith, her book is like taking back an idea and making it wholesome and accessible to all. Real. Here in the world. Right now.

What the heck does have to do with food?!?

Good Question.

Here's the thing: it was a silent retreat. When lunch rolled around, everybody pulled out their sack lunches and sat around eating. In silence. Just. Eating. Not reading, playing on the internet, watching TV, talking with friends. Nothing. But. Eating.

My blueberries burst in my mouth. I could taste all the different flavors and textures in my homemade dill caraway rye bread. The garlic and creaminess in my cashew cheese. I noticed just how loud my corn chips sounded as I chomped into them. Just this bite. This taste. This texture. Now this bite, this feeling on the tongue. Don't skip ahead to the next bite (or the next 50). Just this one bite. One bite at at a time.

So my challenge to all my blogging friends out there: Just for one meal this week, try Just Eating. Run the idea by your loved ones and see what they think. Or sneak away and eat by yourself in the closet where no one will bother you (or better yet, outside!). Just eat. See what happens.

Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bread and Other Awesomeness

This was an awesome food week!

We started out with some Brown Rice Cereal with Raspberry Coulis. Sounds fance, doesn't it?

It's just leftover short brown rice with some almond milk, agave nectar and pureed fresh raspberries. But it was soooooo good! And a great way to use up leftover rice. Here's a link to a general recipe if you want proportions, etc.

Dinner #1!
I also tackled one of my fears this week - barbecuing pizza. It just always sounded so weird - like why doesn't the dough fall through the cracks?! I just didn't get it. Until I watched this Everyday Dish episode and was shown the light!
We made 2 smallish pizzas - one (pictured) was topped with leftover pesto, leftover grilled portabello mushrooms, sliced tofurkey sausages and fresh garlic. The other was similar but used marinara sauce. They were awesome! I will definitely BBQ pizza again in the future. A great way to enjoy pizza in the summer.

A note on pizza dough: I have been cutting out all the white flour in recipes in a test run of Chile's Discretionary Eating Challenge - and it's been going well so far. Which is why I made this ALL whole wheat flour pizza dough! I basically just replaced the white flour with half bread flour (locally bought when we lived in Michigan!) and some whole wheat pastry flour. I also added a tablespoon or so of vital wheat gluten, but otherwise I just followed a regular old pizza dough recipe with great results. Try it!

And a little dessert...
I also made a batch of Snickerdoodles (from La Dolce Vegan) using all whole-wheat pastry flour. Straight out of the oven they tasted a little wheaty, but the next day I really don't think you could tell a difference at all.

Another dinner - asian style!

Another fabulous stir fry using up bits from our CSA box and farmer's market purchases. This one utilized fresh peas (shelled myself, woo!), piopinno mushrooms, green onions, garlic, ginger, broccoli, fresh noodles and our favorite of all time local Small Planet Garlic & Herb Tofu. A little bragg's and sesame oil and we were good to go.

Dinner #3! Mexican-asian-italian fusion!
So another one of my own challenges to myself is to start utilizing the dry beans we have on hand. They are just so much cheaper than canned, and we are a bean loving family. So I made a batch of adzuki beans, but I seem to always mess them up. I didn't soak them this time (because I read adzuki's don't need to be soaked) but I overcooked them. It was like bean mush; the beans pretty much lost all their integrity. They tasted fine but it annoyed my sense of aesthetics. Grr.

Anyway, I warmed them up later with some sesame oil, braggs, garlic, green onion, and then added julienned chard to wilt at the end. Served over brown basmati rice (which I also kind of messed up. I blame the toddler for this one though!) and topped with chopped fresh cilantro. On the side is a green salad and...

Foccacia! Woo-hoo!!!! I love foccacia and I think I've only made it once before a LONG time ago. It's basically souped-up pizza dough, so I felt pretty comfortable. Again, I used a combo of whole wheat pastry and bread flour with some additional vital wheat gluten and it turned out great. I topped it with fresh rosemary, olive oil and salt, YUM!

Dinner #4: Awesome McAwesome-son!
So I still had the baby fennel problem to deal with. I knew there was a recipe I had made before that called for it (but I had always subbed onions, never being much of a fennel buyer). I found it, switched it up some, and therefore feel ok publishing it here. This recipe is based on one from Entertaining for a Veggie Planet by Didi Emmons.

Isareali Couscous Stew of Joy

1 C Israeli couscous (uncooked)
3 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced in half moons
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
3-4 C julienned chard leaves
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, liquid reserved into a measuring cup
Scant 2 cups veggie broth
1 cup boiling water
3-4 T Yumm Sauce (optional but delicious!)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, fennel, fennel seeds and couscous and sautee for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, see how much tomato juice drained from your tomatoes. It'll be approximately 1/4-1/2 cup. Make up the difference with veggie broth until you have two cups total. Add that and the cup of boiling water and the chard to the pan. Cook, stirring often for about 11-12 minutes.

Add the Yumm Sauce, vinegar and s&p and stir. Taste, adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve hot with crusty bread!

I also made a batch of Parsley-Tahini Vinaigrette that I learned about from the Vegan Brunch class I took a while back at the Detroit Evolution Laboratory (miss them!). It is soooooo awesome. They are cool with publishing their recipes as long as I attribute credit to them. This recipe is under creative commons by Angela Kasmala.

1 c. oil (olive, sunflower, or grapeseed are all good choices)

Juice of 1 lemon

3-6 cloves garlic

½ c. fresh parsley

2-3 tbs. raw or toasted tahini

2 tbs. brown rice vinegar

1 tsp. each salt and pepper, or to taste

Add garlic to bottom of blender and blend. Add remaining ingredients and pulse a few times to combine.

That's all for now! Right now I've got Fresh Dill and Caraway Seed Rye Bread (longest. name. ever) cooling on the rack, and some chickpeas soaking for our upcoming meals. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Love Summer

So we got our CSA share yesterday and guess what was in it? Raspberries! They are coming out of our ears. Our backyard berries are definitely slowing down though, so we won't be reaping the raspberries too much longer. Now when the heck are my apricots going to ripen?

Our CSA share also contained Baby Fennel! I have no idea what to do with it, but I'm super excited to find out. We also got some awesome looking Bibb lettuce, fresh garlic, green onions, rainbow chard, shelling peas, dill, and asiatic lilies. Oh! We also joined an additional Mushroom CSA!!!! So we got some delicious FRESH little Pioppino mushrooms! Yay.

We've been cooking more as the heat hasn't been so, well, hot lately. ;)

My final recipe test for Colleen Patrick-Goudreau came out really delicious - Scotch Broth. Which is actually more like a veggie soup/stew rather than broth - barley, split peas, lentils, leeks, carrots, etc. Oh and potatoes. Very hearty and filling, and subtly flavored. It would be great with something like seitan sausages or something in that neighborhood of strong flavors.

Here's Silas enjoying his portion:

After our first CSA box last week, I made up giant Vegan Dagwood Sandwiches with a side of Simple Chard from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. So easy and so delicious!

The sandwiches consisted of:
Herb and Onion Bread from Great Harvest Bread Co.
Avocado slices (thriftway)
Tomatoes from the farmer's market
Chickpea cutlets
Bibb lettuce (CSA)
Home Sprouted Mung Bean Sprouts
Cashew Cheese


We also enjoyed a Tempeh Caesar Salad this week:
I just fried the tempeh with EVOO with a little grill seasoning, savory and tofu scramble spice mix from Yellow Rose Recipes. Then we topped it with Dreena's Living Caesar salad dressing (next time I'll use less lemon - it was very lemony), and some fresh tomatoes and mung bean sprouts and homemade croutons. Awesome!

Upon receiving my CSA bounty last night, I felt inspired to use up some of the older produce as well as featuring some of our new mushrooms - so stir-fry was the answer!
What I Did:
I got out my trusty wok, heated up some peanut oil over fairly high heat and fried up some of our most favoritest of all time Small Planet Garlic and Herb Tofu cubes. After removing those, I added some farmer's market broccoli and carrots from last week's box, as well as about 1/4 cup of water to steam fry. When they were pretty tender, I added about 1 cup of little mushrooms, 3 cloves of minced fresh garlic, 6-7 chopped green onion, and about 1 cup of sliced sugar snap peas. I added a couple of squirts of Bragg's and about 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger and a bit of our cool new red celtic sea salt. At the very end I added the tofu back in and threw in 2 handfuls of mung bean sprouts (sprouted at home!). It was AMAZING!!!!! Maybe it's because I wasn't using any kind of recipe, maybe it was because everything was so fresh (and local and organic), or maybe it was the bottle of local chardonnay that we were well into.
I don't know, but it was fabulous. We had it over brown rice. (And that bottle was empty when Silas got a hold of it, I promise!)

Fresh Herburgers!

Ok this recipe has it's roots in Mark Bittman's Bean Burger recipe (from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) but I changed it up enough that I feel ok about posting it here.

1.5 C of Cannelini Beans
1/2 C cooked brown rice
3/4-1 C old-fashioned oatmeal
3 cloves garlic
5 green onions, roughly chopped
1 small handful EACH (approximately 1/4 cup) of:
italian parsley
And a couple tablespoons worth of fresh dill
Large pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper

I also added about 1 teaspoon of Bill's Chick'nish seasoning and a large pinch of my tofu scramble spice mix mentioned above, so just throw in whatever usual seasonings you like - it's an adaptable recipe!

Put EVERYTHING in the food processor, starting out with the smaller amount of oatmeal. Pulse and process until everything is combined. Check out your mixture - does it look too wet to form patties? Add some oatmeal and process some more.

When you are reasonably satisfied with your mixture (taste for seasoning - nothing in there will hurt you!) use WET HANDS to shape it into patties.

Fry up your patties on a pretty hot skillet with some EVOO (I use cast iron). Flip when it gets brown on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes and cook until the other side is browned.

We had ours with HOMEMADE (!!!) wheat bread, cashew cheese, ketchup and lettuce - they were awesome!
Local vs Vegan News

Ok, it's not really a competition, but I just wanted to post these links about greenhouse gas emissions and diet - in the Vegan vs. Local Omnivore Challenge, the vegan wins!

Do Food Miles Matter?

And the original report that is quoted above can be found here:
Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States

What I'm taking from this is that being a locovore is good, being a vegan is better, and being a locovore vegan is best! I'm personally recommitting to sourcing as much of my vegan diet as locally as possible.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Super Duper Over Due Update

Sit down, pour yourself some sun tea (we've got black tea OR peppermint), and catch up with me and my foodiness!

Geez, it's been forever since I've been here! You know how it is, you keep meaning to update, and then you don't and then the stuff you want to update about gets longer...and longer...requiring more of your you put it off a little more...until more than a month has gone by and you've lost all your loyal readers. ;)

So apologies, all. I have been so busy getting to know and falling in love with my new home that I just haven't had it in me to update. Here I am!

(If you're only here for food, skip down to the end of this post).

Seattle is AWESOME. Did I mention I love it? Because I am like psychotically, sloppily, first-time-crush in love with Seattle.

Could it be the raspberries in my backyard?

(I've picked about a bowlful of berries every day for the last 4-5 days! OMG!)

Or the giant apricot tree?

Maybe it's the cute little (yearound!!!) farmer's market in downtown West Seattle. Or my new (woman-owned, organic) CSA.

On to to food!

I've been recipe testing for a new cookbook by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, which is super fun! Of course I can't share the recipes, but here are some photos of the creations:

Beet Cake

Not-Just-For-Breakfast Banana Splits

And of course, we've been eating lots of delicious things in general.

CSA Tofu Scramble and Salad
This tofu scramble consisted of tofu (duh), mushrooms, fresh garlic, green onions, beet greens, fresh cilantro and avocado. Our salad was butter lettuce with (home-sprouted) mung bean sprouts and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Silas liked it.

Did I mention I bought a new cookbook? When we were in Portland we stopped by Herbivore and I had to buy a copy of Yellow Rose Recipes, which is awesome. This is our new favorite tofu scramble recipe! With some avocado on the side and some awesome whole wheat bread from the farmer's market.
This was a whipped together pasta dish with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, calamata olives with garlicky olive oil over it all. With some more of that awesome bread, garlic bread style.

We ditched our old grill in MI because it was DONE. Luckily for us, Chad's parents decided to go halvsies with us on a new one. Wicked! Here is some grilled BBQ tempeh over rice with grilled asparagus and smoky collards.We've also been eating a lot of delicious food out and about:

Rice and Bean Burritos from Tacqueria Guyamas
Delicious Breakfasts and Silence-Hearts-Nest
Fabulous Coffee and Mighty-O Donuts at Red Cup Espresso
Unbelievable pizza at Tutta Bella in Columbia City
Very good Veggie Pho at Thanh Brothers

Our little dude Silas also celebrated his 2nd birthday last month, and my mom being the ANGEL that she is ordered him a special Choo-Choo cake from Sweet Pea Bakery in Portland, an all-vegan bakery. It was DELICIOUS!!!!

Silas thoroughly enjoyed it (that's my mom with him).

Oh and I forgot (for SHAME!!) to take a pic of this, but I also made a raw (!!!) raspberry cobbler with our bounty of backyard raspberries. It is delicious. It's unbelievable. It takes like 5 minutes to make. Go make it NOW! Use whatever delicious fruit you have on hand, it takes about 6 cups of fruit. I used Ani Phyo's recipe for Mango Cobble.

So much to do! So much to say! But that's all for now. :D