Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guess what I am making for Thanksgiving...

The November issue of Sunset Magazine has a recipe for Pearl Couscous with Fall Vegetables and Caramelized Onions. The lone reader review rating it has received was not complementary. I will have to disagree and try it anyway. How on earth can a dish with cinnamon, jalapeno, saffron, cumin, cilantro, and all those lovely fall vegetables be considered bland?

This recipe is Sunset's answer to vegetarian Thanksgiving' main dish. I think I'll make it long before T-day just to be sure. Mmmmmm.

What's that, Lassie?

You say Timmy's stuck in a well and he's got a hankerin' for pumpkin cake and you'd throw him a piece but you think it'll fall apart on the way down? Have I got a recipe for you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

War muffins and Tomato Lentil Soup

On Friday we had pumpkin pancakes (the recipe is in the sidebar) and scrambled eggs (they were delightful). By Sunday I was out of eggs, so I looked online for a recipe for eggless muffins to go with some Tomato Lentil soup I was going to make for dinner.

I found this recipe and tried it out. It was really pretty good, given there's no eggs, no butter. It's definitely a vegan recipe. This seems like a good food storage type recipe, ya know?

And here's the Tomato-Vegetable Lentil Soup (adapted from Ken Haedrich's Soup Makes the Meal).
4 TBS olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 ribs celery, diced fine
1 green bell pepper, diced
salt to taste
10 cups broth---veg, chicken, beef--you decide ;)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 large carrots, diced fine
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
black pepper to taste
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (or petite-diced), undrained
2 potatoes, peeled and diced

Heat olive oil in large soup pot. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Lightly salt. Cover tightly and sweat over med. low heat until veggies are soft, about 9 minutes.

Add the stock, lentils, carrot, bay leaves and other herbs and season with pepper. Bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the potato and simmer 10-15 minutes more. Add the tomatoes; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, another 10 minutes. Correct seasonings as needed. This makes 10-12 servings.

For the pathetic people who think they need flesh, I gave them a few bacon bits. I tell them when they eat those things they smell like doggy treats, but they don't care. They just feel the love that I even allowed anything piggy in my house.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some ideas

Things are going well at our house. I'm successfully having meatless dinners about 4 or 5 times a week. DH has noticed, but I don't think the kids have. And, as an unexpected bonus, I've lost about 3 pounds in the last two weeks. Not sure if it's the meatless meals or the bronchitis that I've been battling, but in any case I'll take it. ;o)

Here are some things we've eaten lately, in case you are in need of some ideas.

Salad and veggie soup

Black Bean soup (mine was similar to this, but without the rice) and cornbread muffins

Burritos/tacos with refried beans

Black bean quesadillas served with chips and salsa and sour cream

Broccolli Gratin (recipe here)

Brie sandwiches on baguette with lots of veggies (tomatoes, spinach, cukes, sprouts)

Tortellini soup

Spinach Quiche

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Families are Forever, but beans are not.

Another reason I got interested in vegetarian cooking is its relation to food storage.  You can't dry-pack meat.  And I found, once I was baking with whole grains, that I was halfway completing a protein vegetarian-style anyway.

The other half would be a vegetable, or beans.  Beans were what I had in storage.  There was a time during my husband starting his business, that I was cooking from my food storage more than adding to it.

And that's when I found out beans aren't forever.   I had bought black beans--my favorite--at the grocery store, in those one-pound packages, before we'd moved to that house.  But in my years of extravagant living in that house, I'd been using pre-cooked beans from a can.  The dried beans I'd had at least two years, but certainly less than five.  I soaked them overnight, cooked them the next day, and those dried beans didn't soften a bit.  I think I ended up raiding my limited supply of canned soup for dinner that night.  Don't like the kids to go hungry, you know.

Next I experimented.  Soaked for 24 hours.  Started cooking them early in the morning.  They simmered until I went to bed, still hard as rocks.   Marbles.  Diamonds.  I gave up.

It's not like I didn't know how to cook beans.  I didn't put salt in the water or anything like that.  Before children when I had been actually vegetarian, I had been soaking and cooking a pot of beans successfully every week.

I threw the rest out and got new dried beans.  The new beans cooked fine.

Rotate your beans, people.  They're great in food storage, eat them a couple times a month.  Make bean-bags, toy dolls, or art projects out of the old beans if you can't throw them out.  If you have a lot of old beans, I suppose they might make good ground cover for a garden path.

Just don't try and eat them.

Can I get a witness? Miss Vickie agrees with me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Habits to break

"I am SO tempted to eat one of those sausages. If I ever quit being a vegetarian, that is the first thing I'm going to eat." and she has said that about something before--but was it about Kielbasa?  Honestly, I don't have much brain space for keeping track of what anyone's theoretically likes anymore.  I'm just glad dinner will finally start, once my son finishes washing his hands.

"Have some if you like," I say.  "You could eat meat again, or if you just have some today.  Doesn't matter."

We eat in the kitchen, and my son is washing his hands at the sink, so everyone hears this.  He's close enough to done that we're waiting for him before we start eating. He loves to give this vegetarian sister a hard time.  Every other week he'll try and sneak meat onto her plate, or wave his meat-laden fork in her face, or tell her how delicious it is.   I suspect mostly he's dumbfounded by her, since he would eat only meat and bread if I'd let him.  Heck, he may think she's the reason vegetables are served, the way I have a side of something in every meal for him.

They smell SO good... and then she pops one of those sausages into her mouth.

Immediately, the other children begin crying foul. "Not enough sausages to go around," they claim. "Don't waste the sausage on the vegetarian.  She has her own food!"  Though when I produce the heart-shaped poached eggs, the first grade princess immediately asks for one.  Then I start counting out the kielbasa slices among the family members.

"Do you want more?"  I ask my vegetarian daughter.

"Nah.  I just wanted the one."

And so we settle as usual to dinner.   A little what-did-you-do-today, a little hey-she-poked-me, and all that good family stuff.

I believe this is the first time the vegetarian has eaten meat in four years, and I am curious about the coming months.  Not so much if the vegetarian will eat meat again, but if her break has broken her brother's hang-up with her diet.

Because family dinner is an ongoing dynamic, no matter what you eat.

This week in Split Meals

Stuffing (actually, I guess it's called dressing when it's cooked in a dish?)
(apples, onion, celery, raisins, torn bread, vegetarian boullion from Knorr cube. This is my one make-an-effort dish this week.)
--thanks kits54 for suggesting the Knorr.
Top with Poached egg for vegetarian tonight; with Kielbasa, top or to the side, if you're not.
Green Salad

Strange Dessert: Twinkie-Hot Dog, as seen in Weird Al's UHF movie.
Twinkie without hotdog for the vegetarian and the sane.

Refried Beans, Queso Fresca
Spanish Rice
Green-sauce corn tortilla Enchilada, (some with cooked ground turkey, some without.)
Green Salad

Sloppy Joe, or
fried egg sandwich on bun, topped with sloppy joe sauce.

something with yams and leftovers.

Pizza. It's always Pizza on Friday.
usually with apples or green salad or both.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Addiction

I've already announced that I am not a full-time vegetarian (and I wasn't kicked out of the sandbox!) Time for another confession: I'm an addict.

I'm addicted to cookbooks. All kinds. I love the Cooking Light series and have ever year's edition from 1998 to the present. Joy of Cooking. America's Kitchen Best New Recipes. I have ward cookbooks. A family cookbook made by my recently deceased grandma. Everywhere we travel, my kids pick up tshirts for their souvenirs....and I grab a local cookbook (my faves are a New England cookbook I picked up while in Boston, a Shaker cookbook from Cleveland, and a Hawaiian cookbook that has the recipe for Leonard's Bakery malasadas and recipes from locals. Mmmm.)

Then there is my collection of vegetarian cookbooks. The only ones I pick up again and again are the Moosewood Restaurant series. The ones I have are Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites, Moosewood Simple Suppers, Moosewood Daily Special (soups/stews, salads, and breads), and Sundays at Moosewood ( a collection of ethnic dishes that the restaurant serves only on Sundays).

I have so many cookbooks that I am looking for a bookcase big enough to display them all in my kitchen. Mr. Wonderful suggested that I don't buy any more books. Especially since my time for cooking has fallen drastically since I went back to University. (Psst...don't tell him that one is on its way from Barnes & Noble.)

I was given a GC from B&N for my birthday last week, so technically I did not spend any money. I diligently tried to find something I wanted. I have no time to read novels. None of the music or movies interested me. However, there was a cookbook I've wanted for a while - Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. I can't wait for this one to come. The best part about Moosewood recipes is that they family friendly. I've discovered that my Firstborn and Secondborn do not complain nearly as much if I make a veggie recipe from one of my MW collection.

Google Moosewood Restaurant and check out their website, particularly their restaurant menu which changes daily. That is one of my best sources of inspiration when I am wondering what to make for dinner that night. They also have a recipe section. Or head to your local library and see what cookbooks they have on their shelves.

What cookbooks are on your book shelves?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cornmeal and Rye Waffles

Cornmeal and Rye Waffles
Adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking
Kid Friendly, Freezer Friendly Servings: 16

My notes: You can sub regular milk with a tablespoon of vinegar if you do not have buttermilk. Sub any canola, vegetable or olive oil if you do not have butter. Freeze leftovers to pop in the toaster for quick breakfasts. For Dinner waffles: Cut the sugar by half, leave out the vanilla and maple, and add 1 teaspoon of cumin or chili powder. Top waffle with vegetarian chili, fresh tomatoes, cilantro and cheese for a fun dinner.

3 Cups buttermilk
2 whole eggs
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Cups yellow cornmeal
1 Cup rye flour
1/4 Cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract

1. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Then quickly and gently combine the wet and dry ingredients. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes to soften the cornmeal. The batter will be thicker when you are ready to use it.

2. Preheat your waffle iron (spray with cooking spray before preheating). Drop batter onto iron by 1/3 cupfuls and bake 3-5 minutes. These waffles are best with a crispy brown exterior.

We like to serve these with butter, bananas and honey for breakfast.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What is brown and sticky?

A brown stick.

Hey Y'all. I'm kind of late to this here party, but I've been thinking on this whole veggie way of life for some time now and now I'm ready to bore delight you with my opinion.

I have been considering this lifestyle change for a long time. I have 3 kids. I'm 33, and I feel like I am reaping many of the benefits of my parent's healthy choices when I was a child. I have a lot of friends my age, which is pretty young, if I say so myself---who are struggling with a lot of health problems already. Who's to say what is causing them, but I can't help but think the Standard American Fare is a large contributor. My parents were about 98% vegetarian. Kind of how we plan to be. I am not going to decline meat if served it when I'm a guest. We plan to use fish regularly, and if I/We ever get an intense craving, we've decided we'll go for it. I'm hoping to use the W of W more as a guide than say...uh....Peta. This mostly Vegetarian is in complete accordance with my standard approach to life. Half-arsed.

So, here are a few things that have factored into my decision.
1. The above comment about reaping the benefits of my parent's healthy lifestyle. I want to give my children that same gift. McD's Gift of Life.

My young, 46 year old brother, who's youngest child is 7, was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. After removing part of his colon, more was found in his lymph nodes. My mother and great aunt both had colon cancer. Clearly, this problem is hereditary. I feel quite strongly that it is very important that I do my part, inasmuch as possible, to not give cancer a welcoming place to stay in my colon. Or my children's.

The W of W says NOTHING about caffeine, specifically. And yet, there are Mo's who will not touch the vile devil juice, or come within a yard of it. However, the W o W very specifically states the importance of eating meat sparingly. And yet---our culture has managed to make meat the center of every meal of the day. Those darn little mini weenies soaked in bbq sauce are so irresistible. Believe me, I get it. I find it ironic that most of us (myself not excluded) have conveniently disregarded this part of the wise counsel we've received, while others have kind of made up a part, that even nonmo people think is fact.

4. At the risk of sounding like a molly....the other night, I was driving home and heard a commercial for "a preventative medicine for cancer". I thought it was for that stupid, I-have-way-too-many-emotions-wrapped-up-in-this-topic vaccine that rhymes with Tardapill (if you approve of this vaccine, I mean no disrespect and more power to you. It infuriates me that it is touted as a "cure for cancer"--that is wrong and also neither here no there. Sorry.) And I almost changed the channel. Then they said, "And you don't even need a prescription, it's over the counter." Of course that caught my attention and I listened on. It was promoting a vegetarian lifestyle. NOT just fresh fruits and veggies, which it did do, and we've heard before---but an actual vegetarian lifestyle. Am I just waking up or something? Has anyone else ever heard something like that on public radio or tv? I haven't. I thought it was cool. The conclusion I came to is, this is how God talks to me. I start getting it from every angle. Even when I'm simply minding my own business, belting out with Jon Bon Jovi Living On A Prayer.

5. It's disgusting how meat is....uh...made? Produced? Grown? Whatever. You know what I mean.

6. I'm fat and this is my last ditch effort to change that.

Okay, to be fair, 5 and 6 kind of came after the decision had been made. I have learned more about meat since opting to give it up. And it has definitely solidified my decision.

So, thanks for starting this Millie. And thanks for the great recipes. We tried a new dish last night that we loved. I didn't make my kids eat it though, so I can't tout it as a wonderful family recipe.


I'll post a couple that we love in a couple of days.

The End.

Recipe: Black Bean Hummus

Good with veggies and pita chips or as a sandwich spread. From my fellow Cookie Emily:

Black Bean Hummus
Source: Emily’s Kitchen
Servings: 8 (about a ¼ cup each)

Notes: I used the juice of ½ of a lemon, but I think it needs a little more lemon juice. Next time, I plan to use the juice of a whole lemon. I served this with baked tortilla chips and raw veggies.

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large garlic clove
2 to 3 T fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
2 T olive oil
3 T tahini (sesame paste)
½ t cumin
½ to 1 t salt

Drain beans and puree along with the garlic in a food processor or blender. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, cumin, and salt. Blend until smooth.