Friday, January 29, 2010

Those Mormons and their no-tea tea

Here is the lovely tea I had at a cafe, which came in a pyramid-shaped tea bag. Of course, there's no tea in this tea: it's things like camomile and lemon zest ready to steep in hot water. Sometimes there is awkwardness placing the order--no one seems to know the old terms "tisane" or "infusion" so I end up asking if they have an herbal tea with no tea in it.

Ah, "tea" is lovely, good for food storage, and calorie-free. (I copied Elizabeth-W today and installed the "Lose It!" ap on my iPhone. Of course, I went on to eat a thousand calories or more over today's recommended guideline. But every journey begins with a single ap.)

Drinking herbal tea isn't essentially vegetarian, but avoiding real tea is very Mormon. Also, I was drinking this tea while on a date with my husband; I think the weekly still-married date is very Mormon too.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Food Pairing from Belgium

Harvest is but a memory in the slough of winter, but what goes with zucchini? I would have said tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers and/or cheese. Also soy sauce--I had a friend who used to marinade long slices of zucchini in soy sauce, but frankly I would say the marinade never penetrated; she was kidding herself.

Now an outfit called "Sense for Taste" out of Belgium has an online food pairing calculator. Just the thing when I'm looking at the end-of-the-week ingredients that somehow didn't make it into any dinners. I'm intrigued but sometimes skeptical of the food pairing suggestions for zucchini, a food which can be a bountiful summer challenge.

We'll be skipping the tea and Chardonnay, I add, wiping my hands on my apron.

Whether or not this internet toy leads you to your next culinary invention, or causes your frozen food conglomerate to hire them, Food Pairing is fun to play with. There is a long list of set foods, by category, on the right-hand column (you may have to click an arrow triangle to see them). The search box doesn't work for me and my machine--I don't know if that's because their coding is broken or because an ASPX database only interacts with Microsoft products.

Zucchini with ginger? maybe. Zucchini with apricot? Two Utah-ish ingredients I'd never have thought to combine.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Potato Soup with Kale Garnish

<--The mere idea of kale on the plate.
<--Yum for me; tears for her.

It's been cold and rainy. Last week I planned two dinners that didn't happen: one a mildly yellow potato soup with green salad, another garlicky greens on ziti pasta with cannellini. I still have the ingredients for both, so I decided to make the potato soup with a side of sauteed greens. It was not a hit.

Double potato soup (sweet potatoes and regular potatoes with half-and-half)
Kale sauteed in olive oil and garlic, steamed in vegetable broth.
Toasted Wheat hamburger bun as roll.
Milk or Cranberry Juice to drink

As a family dinner, this was a fail.
I forgot about the tendency of Kale to be bitter. I love it in a creamy soup, but obviously none of the children do, not even the vegetarian with the sophisticated palate. Also, the younger half of the family hate potatoes and most soups, though I refuse to acknowledge this.

Nevertheless, I assure you it was delicious. I love that greens / starchy soup / cranberry juice triad. However, I'm not sure I'm going to love it for three lunches in a row.

Potato through an Apple Peeler-Slicer-Corer

Yes, that's a (sweet) potato in an apple peeler/slicer/corer. I'm making "Double Potato Soup" from Leanne Ely's Saving Dinner and I couldn't find a vegetable peeler in my kitchen to save my life. Then I noticed that potatoes--aka pommes de terre--are as solid and thin-skinned as apples. And I've easily peeled and sliced some 15 pounds of apples for Thanksgiving pies, using a handcranked apple peeler-slicer-corer. I was going to pull back the slicer/corer blade and only peel tonight's potatos, when I realized I needed the potatoes cut for soup anyway.

I had to cut the potato in half--the ones I bought were too large to fit the hand-crank machine otherwise. I'm loving this shortcut. The potatoes were all peeled and cut miraculously fast.

Leaving me with plenty of energy to enforce dishwashing upon children this evening, making sure this time all my cooking tools go back into proper place.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tortellini, Greens, and Bean Soup

Here's another soup I love from Soup Makes The Meal by Ken Haedrich.

2 TBS olive oil or unsalted butter
1 large chopped onion
1 rib celery, finely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
salt to taste
6 cups stock
1 tsp dried basil
9 0z package fresh tortellini
2-3 C stemmed and chopped spinach (or Swiss chard--I use spinach)
Pepper to taste
1 can garbanzos, rinsed and drained
1 TBS tomato paste
Parmesan cheese for garnish

I know you know the steps.....
Heat the oil over mod low heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic. Salt light and sweat under tight lid for about 10 min.
Add stock and basil and bring to a boil. Add greens and tortellini. Return the soup to a boil. Boil for about a minute, and then lower the heat to mod low and simmer, partially covered about 5 minutes. Taste the broth, adding salt and pepper as needed.
Add the chickpeas and the tomato paste. Simmer another 5 minutes. Serve piping hot and pass the Parmesan at the table.

Tomato-Vegetable Lentil Soup

I love soup and am glad to live in a place where we still have several months of serious soup weather. Lentils are way faster to cook than beans which have to be pre-soaked.

2 TBS olive oil
1 large chopped onion
2 ribs celery, diced
green bell pepper, seeded/diced
5 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, beef--wherever you are in the process)
3/4 cup lentils, rinsed/sorted for rocks, etc.
2 carrots, peeled/diced
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
pepper to taste
1 large potato, peeled and diced relatively small
28 oz crushed tomatoes

Heat oil and add onion, celery and pepper. Cover and sweat over med low heat, about 8-10 minutes.
Add stock, lentils, carrot, bay leaf, and herbs. Bring to a boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to med low. Simmer about 15 min. Stir in the potato and a bit of salt. Simmer another 10 min.
Add the tomatoes. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, another 10-15 min. Add seasonings to taste.

This makes about 5 servings, and is adapted from Soup Makes the Meal, by Ken Haedrich.

Because Family does not live by Mac 'N Cheese alone.

Heather of omnivore blog What's for Dinner commented the other day that she was looking for more family-friendly vegan dishes in 2010, because it is easy to let cheese become a substitute for meat. And let's face it, a diet of cheese, though possibly delicious, is problematic.

To support all of us who are negotiating the cheese situation, I've added a couple new labels (like tags, but on blogger) to our blog.

Here are some of our entries featuring no-cheese dishes: no cheese

And, here are some of our entries featuring dishes which happen to be vegan: vegan

Some of these don't have the presence or nutritional roundedness of main dishes, but we all make light meals sometimes, maybe with a whole wheat roll or toast to round things out.

Our complete list of labels is there to browse in our new right side column, right below Recent Comments. There's even a label for when you're looking for cheese.

Yup, that's my cheese stash pictured above: Cotija, Goat Cheese, Swiss, American, Cheddar.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Do you have resolutions for the New Year?  Mine is to eat more beautifully! But maybe without the doily.

(inspiring salad I ate in Vienna)