Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Midnight Cravings

I crave flavors. Usually Japanese, Middle Eastern, and good ol' Southern USA (although I don't rule out any ethnic cuisine). Tonight (at nearly midnight) I'm really craving Lebanese.

I found a recipe on Epicurious.com for Lebanese Lentil-and-Rice Pilaf with Blackened Onions.

Not exactly holiday food.

Which is why I am making it for lunch tomorrow. With plenty of leftovers for the next few days. I'm already sick of rich holiday fare and I want something healthy. Comforting. Fragrant.

What flavors do you crave?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make Latkes!

Latkes are a treat at any time, but I especially love to have them when my neighbors are celebrating Chanukah. It's my own downmarket version of holy envy.

I was intimidated about making latkes for years. It helped when I figured out they're not much different than hash browns.

I grate a potato or two per person having dinner. I put the gratings in a bowl of water as I work, to keep them from discoloring. I like to put a little vinegar in the water, but then I think vinegar is the universal seasoning.

Then I put the grated potato in a clean tea towel and squeeze all the water out. (This does produce some good quality potato starch water, which I always intend to use in baking or something, but so far I never have.)

I put the drained and mostly-dry gratings in a bowl. I add one beaten egg per 3 or 4 potatoes.

(Ages ago, before I was always making these for kids, I put chopped onion in as well.)

I heat oil in a frying pan--enough oil to cover the whole bottom of the pan. Olive Oil is always delicious, but I tend to use a more ordinary, less delicate, vegetable oil. Except this year I ran out of ordinary oil (how ironic!) and had to go with the virgin olive oil.

I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop potatoes into the pan, pushing them down in the middle so the middle's not the thickest part.

I flip them when the down-side is starting to color golden.

I stack them finished ones on papertowels on an oven-safe plate, and keep them in the oven (on the lowest temperature, or "warm") until I've made all the latkes. I like to have two pans going, so I can get them all finished more quickly.

Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thinking about your Vegetarian Christmas Menu?

Tiny Tim had his Goose, but I don't want one. What's on your Vegetarian Christmas Menu?

Mine's kind of high-carb. And oddly simple, though it is known I love to cook an elaborate party for other days. Christmas is a quiet immediate-family day for us, so I don't do any big multi-plate feasts, and I don't do anything kids wouldn't appreciate.

A couple years ago, I settled on Spaghetti as a main dish for Christmas Eve, and soon the kids decided it was a tradition. It's easy and everyone likes it. I offer three sauces: a marinara, a pesto, and a clam sauce. Obviously, the colors work. I add an artisan bread and a green salad.

Christmas morning, I make cinnamon rolls. Not as practical as other people's egg casserole, but my mom did it, so so do I. I also make omelets. But I always want the sausage with them.

One thing I miss from having meat, is the easiness of sandwiches of Christmas Eve leftovers for the mid-afternoon feast meal Christmas Day. My thought is instead to try doing a fondue--though none of us have done it before, dipping things in cheese looking reliably festive. I think last year I made grilled cheese and tomato soup, believe it or not.

Certain produce really says Christmas season to me. Red Pears. Clementine oranges. Pomegranates. Red Leaf Lettuce.

Meanwhile, I'm browsing at The Vegetarian Society's Christmas menus page.
and three vegetarian Christmas menus at the BBC
Swedish Christmas, vegetarian version.

A lazy week of split-meals

Not that I recommend living on tacos, burgers, and pizza, which is what we ate this week.

Taco Bar (shells, beans, cheese, lettuce, taco-seasoned meat, taco sauce),
homemade applesauce,
butternut squash soup.
reheated pizza from the weekend (in the frying pan on the stove),
leftover butternut squash soup,
caesar salad from bag.
Thai vegetarian coconut curry containing baked potato and blue lake green beans,
"asian" bagged salad with dried cherries, shredded carrot, cabbage, lettuce, won-ton strips, and ginger-sesame dressing,
baked chicken thighs on the side deboned and chopped for those who'd like to add it as condiment to curry,
peanuts on the side, for those who'd like to add it to curry.
choice of Sloppy Joe, or Portabella Garden Burger. Orders taken 30 minutes before dinner.
carrot sticks and olives,
salt-and-pepper chips,
store-bought egg-potato salad.
Friday: Pizza as per contract with 9-year-old.

Monday, December 1, 2008

When Chicken Soup is Off the Menu

My kid has a cold, severe enough to warrant missing a day or more of high school, severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor, and severe enough that we filled a prescription for antibiotics. And I'm super conservative about antibiotics. Apparently I believe I can stop global drug-resistant TB by my reluctance to treat ear infections.

Of course, being a Mom, I want to supplement all that medical stuff with highly nutritious comfort food. The home version of the RS compassionate service dinner. Chicken Soup would be my impulse, but of course with this kid, Chicken Soup does not apply. This kid is a vegetarian. In fact, she's THE vegetarian who got us all back into this.

She likes thai yellow curry vegetarian, so this afternoon I fetched that for her.
She likes Campbell's Tomato Soup, reconstituted with milk, so I made that for her.
Tomorrow for lunch I'm making Indian Tomato Curry at her request.
Tomorrow for dinner I'm making more Thanksgiving yams. Possibly trying that other bloggernacle yam recipe I can't find now, mashed with roasted banana and maple syrup.
I thought of cream-of-butternut squash soup, and a vegetable pie with carrots.
But—I seem to be overplaying the beta-carotene. The poor kid will end up healthy but a strange shade of yellow at this rate.

Also, I'm off the rails for translating my emotions into food prep without the chicken soup. I've been offering her hot chocolate or orange soda in between her herbal tea—not exactly healthy. I made biscuits from scratch that, though light and fluffy, were not liquid enough for a sore throat. So I ate half the biscuits myself, with butter and jam, and was not comforted.

How do you do Mother with Sick Vegetarian Child?