Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vermont Farmers Market Eggs with Arugula and Goat Cheese

This summer, The Boyfriend and I went to VT for several days and while we were there, we hit up an amazing Farmer's Market in South Londonderry.  It was nice being in such a rural environment and chatting with the vendors.  The produce, flowers and crafts were amazing.  It actually made me kind of ache for a more simple life and I had fantasies about living on a farm and becoming a country girl.

This was July and the only eggs I was eating were the Japanese Style Rice and Eggs, but since I loved them so much that way, I figured I should try them other ways too.

We had some amazing fresh arugula and goat cheese from the market.  First, I wilted the arugula, then I whisked the eggs until very frothy.  I added about 2 teaspoons of water to them which I remember seeing on some cooking show, then I scrambled them gently; attempting to create large curds.  Finally, I added the goat cheese and let me tell you, these were so good!  We were staying at The BF's parents and they had no hot sauce, so he made some out pantry staples so I could get my heat fix. This was his first hot sauce and he created it out of crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne, garlic powder, vinegar and  a touch of a not so hot sauce his parents had in the fridge.   On the side, we had some amazing rye bread we picked up at a local bakery. Yummy!

Stay tuned to see how we used the carrots and beets!
Nice guy with lots of yummy food! 

Some of the best cheese ever.  We still have some of it! 
 I LOVE lavender.  
mmmmm. blue cheese and pears.  Have you made my Vegan Blue Cheese?
Nature's beauty. 
View from the deck. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Introducing: Angela 12 days old!

The Boyfriend and I have been busy ;-) .. creating Hot Sauce, Ethiopian Food, Pickles and now Angela (she is named after Angela Merkel, pronounced with a hard German G!) is fermenting her way to becoming Sauerkraut.  We have never made sauerkraut, but have been talking about it for months, so when some friends of ours gave us huge heads of cabbage from their garden, we knew it was meant to be.  We used both green cabbage and savoy cabbage.
What a magnificent head of cabbage!  We decided to chop it up and use the slicing attachment on the Cuisinart.

Then, we added salt and packed it into a 5 gallon food grade plastic container.  The Boyfriend bought this at the local beer brewing store.  It's important to really massage the salt in well.  It's similar to making a Raw Kale Salad

See how much she has broken down after 5 minutes of vigorous massage?

You have to cover the cabbage with plastic and then add a plate with a weight on it.  Books and websites suggested using a heavy rock, so outside we went in search of one that weighed around 7 lbs.  
We brought it inside, scrubbed it well, and boiled it for a solid 20 minutes. 

Then we placed it in the pail on top of the plate.

.. and covered with a towel

There she sat.. for the last 12 days.  We've been keeping an eye on her, and we noticed an odor that we couldn't QUITE put our finger on.  So this morning, we decided we should check on her.  The Boyfriend was also sure the rock was causing the odor, so we took it out and smelled it.. and sure enough there was a slight metallic smell to the rock.  We figured the acid in the brine was slowly eating away at the rock, causing the smell.  To be clear, the smell wasn't a BAD smell really.. and both The Boyfriend and I have very sensitive noses..  but we decided to replace the rock with a filled gallon jug of water for the weight. 

We could help but take a taste... and we are happy to say, we LOVE her so far!  We will let her go the full 4-6 weeks to get the full fermentation effect, but as of today, at 12 days old, she is delicious and sour, yet still full of fresh cabbage flavor!  I can not WAIT to start experimenting with different flavors in our next batches.  Garlic, dill and caraway?  mmmmmmmm .. maybe add some onions too.  Kim Chi is also on our list of things to do.  

Have you ever made sauerkraut or other fermented veggies? 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mexi-Base & 4 Quick Meal Ideas

Whether you're cooking for one, or for a family of 6, there are several simple tricks I've used over the years.  I like to keep 2 cooked legumes, 2 cooked whole grains and a variety of sauces on hand so I can throw together 30 minute meals without much fuss.  Taking this concept a little further, I make a mixture of TVP, Spices, Black Beans and Salsa that is the base of at least 3 more meals.  It also freezes well, but it has a shelf life of 5 days providing that you NEVER double dip.

I like using my  homemade salsa, but you don't have to.  Store bought is just fine if you're into that.  I'm fairly picky about my salsa, but I do love Mrs. Renfro's brand and they have a HOT Ghost Chili sauce that is delicious, but I digress.  Back to the recipes.  For simplicity sake, I will use canned beans, but obviously, if you cook your beans from scratch, it will be cheaper.

Mexi Base
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • good pinch salt
  • Canned chipotles to taste (depending on your heat preference)
  • 15 oz can black beans and the liquid
  • 1 cup dried TVP
  • 2 cups Salsa
  • Water if needed (between 1/2 - 1 cup)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  1. In a skillet or cast iron over medium heat add the oil and spices, onion and garlic and salt.
  2. Cook for 10 minutes or until the onions are soft
  3. Add the Chipotles, beans, tvp, salsa and 1/2 cup water.
  4. Cover, cook for 10 minutes, then add more water if needed, the lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt/pepper to taste.
Awesome stuffed in a collard burrito mixed with leftover grains
Or rolled into corn tortillas , topped with salsa mixed with Queso and baked at 350 for 30 mins
Turn it into a quick chili. 2 cups mexi-base, any leftover veggies, veggie broth and some more salsa. Simmer then top with your favorite toppings. 
Finally, you can make a BURGER out of it! 
Top the burger with my Southwestern Sauce and enjoy!!
Or eat on a fresh tortilla (we got these amazing fresh tortillas at a farmer's market... mmmm

What are your tricks for getting quick meals on the table?  If you're cooking for one, do you have trouble motivating yourself to cook real food?  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Creamy Broccoli Soup

This soup is so simple, but very delicious.  The majority of the "cream" comes from  blending white beans and potatoes. I stirred in some goat cheese at the very end for some extra flavor.  For a vegan option, my Goaty Cashew Cheese works very well.  This soups relies on pantry staples and frozen broccoli and comes together in around 40 minutes.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter or earth balance
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • pinch red pepper flakes if desired
  • pinch salt/pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 7 cloves garlic, reserve 1 whole clove
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large red or yellow potato
  • 15 oz can white beans and the liquid 
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 1 lb frozen broccoli 
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 5 oz goat cheese or Vegan Goaty Cashew Cheese
  1. Heat fat over medium heat in a heavy bottomed soup pan
  2. Add the spices, onion and garlic. 
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the carrot, potato, beans and broth. 
  4. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down to a strong simmer for 30 minutes
  5. Add the broccoli, bring to another boil, then turn heat off, and add the nutmeg, Dijon and goat cheese and crush the remaining cloves of garlic into the soup
  6. Cover, and let sit for 10 minutes, then puree with an immersion blender
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings. 

This is such a simple, yet comforting soup.  The beans give it great body and creaminess and up the protein content!

Here are some links to other Vegan Creamy and Comforting Soups:

I have been in Boston for a year now!  I have a big post coming up about my experiences here the last year, as well as a weight loss update, complete with Before and After pics!  I still have some weight to lose, but I have lost 110 lbs since I moved!

Do you guys struggle with your weight?  What have you tried to lose weight/keep it off?  What works, what doesn't?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grilled Eggplant Caprese Wheatberry Salad

I love wheatberries so much.  This cold salad is really delicious and makes use of eggplant, basil, tomatoes and pantry staples.  You could use Spelt Berries or Farro (and frankly I don't really understand the difference between spelt and farro despite my research into it.. so many people say different things.  I guess it doesn't matter.  You can use Wheatberries,  Spelt, Farrow or even Barley for that matter.

I originally developed this recipe for Northeast Flavor Magazine, but have decided to share it with you since it's so delicious!  You can make this vegan or non-vegan.  The smoked tofu is amazing alternative to the smoked mozzarella!

Grilled Eggplant Caprese Wheat berry Salad
Serves 6 as a side dish
  • 1 c wheat berries
  • 4 c water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 2 inch rounds
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves pressed garlic, divided (around 4 teaspoons)
  • 4 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, washed and dried (around 1 ½ cups loosely packed), hand torn
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon (around ¼ cup)
  • 4 ounces fresh smoked mozzarella* or smoked tofu cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a large saucepan, bring wheat berries, water and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil. Cover, turn heat down to simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the wheat berries are tender. Drain in a colander, rinse and set aside. This can be done the night before
  2. Slice eggplant, place in a gallon size Ziploc bag with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 pressed garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt. Let this marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
  3. Grill eggplant over medium heat for around 4 minutes a side, set aside
  4. In a bowl, add the cooked wheat berries, the rest of the vinegar and olive oil, tomatoes, basil, herbs, lemon zest and juice and smoked mozzarella.
  5. Chop eggplant and add to bowl, toss and add smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

*Smoked Tofu is a great alternative to smoked mozzarella for those wishing to avoid dairy. You can find it in many Chinese markets and in some supermarkets.

 I know the ingredient list is along.. and many people are intimidated by the long lists of spices I use in my recipes, but please, if you are going to make something like this, every spice and flavor is important to the outcome :-)  

Here's a link to my delicious Curried Wheatberry Salad

Have you prepared wheatberries? If so, what is your favorite way to eat them?  I don't have a picture or  recipe on the blog, but I love to eat them for breakfast as a hot cereal with raisins , cinnamon and almond milk.  I also like to sprout them and add them to bread.  

I grind them into flour in my Vita Mix.  If you go back to 2006, I talked about them a lot. I bought 20 lbs directly from a farmer and kept them in my deep freeze for a couple of years! I think I spent $30 including shipping and got soooo much bang for my buck! 

Wow, it's amazing to go back in time through this blog.  My kids in the last link were so little.. yesterday, my oldest son turned 21 and my youngest son is 19 and just started his second year of college.  My baby Jorda (dog) is 7 now. It's so interesting to see how much life has changed over the years.   When I first started this blog, I was married and cooking for my pre-teen boys.. and now they are adults.   

I have so many posts coming up!  The Boyfriend and I have been doing A LOT of cooking and recipe experimentation!  Here's a sneak peak of a great meal He and our friend Naamah made ... mmmmm Naamah actually has written a guest post you guys will love! 

Oh.. and last week, we started our first batch of Sauerkraut!  We have named her Angela pronounced with a heavy German accent!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hotter Sriracha Experiment # 1

I LOVE Sriracha so much!  It is like the best hot sauce out there, BUT I have a problem.  I use too much of it and that can make to food too salty.  The Boyfriend and I set out to create a sauce with the amazing Sriracha flavor, more heat and a bit less salt so I can get my chili fix!

We talked at length about the flavors in Sriracha...  and from the very limited research I have done in the past, I knew that many recipes called for fermentation.  I remembered this fermented Korean red pepper paste  (Gochujang) and suggested we use this as a base for our sauce.  OMG... let me tell you that I am IN LOVE with this paste.  It is sooo delicious.  Basically, it is hot miso with garlic and other umami flavors.  I admit, I wanted to eat it from a spoon and did a couple of times.  There are variations of heat for this paste.  We want to find the HOTTEST of the hot.. but were only able to find level 3 at the local Asian market.

Gochujang is really delicious; I will be using this in many recipes to come!!   ...

..but back to our recipe...  While this sauce is NOT Sriracha at all... it is still totally delicious.  I ate a sickening amount within the first 24 hours of making it and can't wait to see how yummy it is after sitting for almost a week!

Here is our recipe...

  • ½ cup xtra hot gochugang paste
  • ¾ cup extra hot Indian chili powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp paprkia
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
Method: Mix all of the ingredients and heat over a double boiler for 10 minutes.

The Boyfriend had the awesome idea to heat the ingredients on a double boiler... so we could preserve the the fermented nature of our sauce..   notice our "ghetto" set up?  Just a mixing bowl on top of a pan of gently boiling water...  It changed the texture of the sauce while preserving the fermented quality of the Gochujang paste..  

While we love this sauce, it is NOT Sriracha.  It is missing the brightness .. so we have a plan to remedy that...  stay tuned for more Sriracha adventures!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Stewed Yellow Split Peas)

We had an amazing Ethiopian feast a week ago and I am finally getting around to posting the recipes we used!  The picture doesn't do it justice.  As long time readers of this blog know,  I ADORE split peas in various ways.  They are usually around $1.00 a pound, which is an amazing deal! They are a nutritional powerhouse as well.  What's not to like? 

So, this stew is known as Kik Alicha... and is often somewhat mild; at least that's been my perception when I go out for Ethiopian food.  I am not a fan of mild, so I wanted this stew to be very flavorful but still mild in it's own way and hold it's own against the other dishes and 100% Teff Injera we made.  It did not disappoint, even though it kind of looks like baby poop! 

I used my spice mixture in this recipe.  

Kik Alicha 
  • 8 oz yellow split peas, cooked with salt 
  • 2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp Melody's Spice Mix 
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp freshly minced ginger
  • Good pinch salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped 
  1. Cook the split peas (1/2 lb peas to 3 cups of water.. bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then add 1 tsp salt)
  2. In a heavy bottom skillet, add the oil, spices, garlic, onion and ginger over medium heat.  Season with salt, then lower heat to medium low, and cover, cooking for 15 minutes
  3. Add the split peas, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning. 
Stay tuned for more Ethiopian recipes ...  I'm thrilled that we made enough to feed an army, so we froze half of it for another meal!  Including the Injera batter.. but that is another post coming up.  We used 100% Teff Flour, which was a bit hard to find..  Whole Foods had it.. I expected the local "African" Grocers to have it...  but they did not carry it!.. I MAY have been pronouncing it wrong though...  so I will go back and see since there are THREE "African" grocers in my neighborhood.  

It was a bit pricey.. $8 for 24 oz....  both The Boyfriend and I LOVE the flavor the the Teff flour.. omg.. we want to experiment with the Peanut Butter Cookie recipe on the back of the package.  

...  I am also looking into buying whole Teff and grinding it in my Vita Mix....  

Our Injera (post coming soon) was amazing... but nothing like the breads we get in local restaurants...  they cut their Injera with white flour and add yeast, so we will do that when we thaw our batter to see if we can re-create the restaurant style Injera.  

I love having a boyfriend who is into cooking like I am.  We have a lot of fun in the kitchen.. :-) 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Quick and easy Kale, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

My friend Naamah threw together this simple, yet very delicious stew the other day.  Kale, sweet potatoes and black beans go together so well!  I asked her if I could put it up on the blog and shared her recipe with me.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 large sweet potato
15 oz can black beans and it's liquid
1/2 bunch cooked kale
1 goya sazon packet
1 cup water

Saute the onion until translucent, then add the rest of the ingredients, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
So simple, yet very flavorful. I think the leftovers would be GREAT in an enchilada bake.

A couple weeks ago, we baked bread; here she is with her cute little loaf.

She and The Boyfriend do a lot of cooking together and she is going to cook for me, maybe this weekend!  They like to cook Asian food, and I'm very much looking forward to eating it!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Gluten Free Pumpkin- Orange-Ginger Muffins

Fall is in the air and what better way to celebrate it than making piping hot, fragrant muffins to start your day?  These muffins aren't the healthiest things out there since they do contain sugar... but they are super yummy!  If you are looking for sugar free, gluten free breakfast items, click HERE and HERE and HERE.

This recipe is loosely based on my Pumpkin-Cranberry muffins, but kicked up a notch, flavored with orange zest and crystallized ginger.  Feel free to add cranberries; they would be a lovely addition, bursting with tartness and imparting a healthy dose of Vitamin C!

Gluten Free Orange-Ginger Pumpkin Muffins

  • 2 cups Bob's All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mix
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • pinch ground cloves, cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, crystallized ginger
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • Zest of half of the orange 
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk of choice 
  • 1/2 cups olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup golden flax meal 
Method: Pre-heat oven to 400 
  1. Mix the first 9 ingredients together well in a large mixing bowl
  2. In a separate bowl, add the juice/zest of the orange, milk, oil and flax meal.  Mix well and let sit for 10 minutes
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in the wet ingredients, stirring until VERY well incorporated.  Don't worry about over mixing the batter.. one of the fabulous benefits of Gluten Free Baking! 
  4. Line a muffin tin with a dozen paper liners, spray with cooking spray and use an ice cream scoop to fill the cups 3/4 the way full.  You should have 12 muffins.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean; rotate the pans halfway through 
  6. ENJOY!!
I love experiencing the change of seasons!  Fall is my favorite... !  What are your favorite seasonal Fall foods? 

Monday, September 03, 2012

Ethiopian Spice Recipes I'm sure regular readers of this blog know, The Boyfriend and I are kind of obsessed with going out to eat and then re-creating our favorite dishes at home.  Our Fasika adventure inspired us to create our own Ethiopian feast and I am going to share the recipes we created.

We were given some spice mix or Berbere at Fasika because we both like our food HOT.. and we had a great time trying to discern what was in it.  When we got home, I wrote down the ingredients we came up with and then a couple weeks later, wrote down the actual recipe.  It's always great fun for me to see if my recipes actually match the flavors I think they will in my head and I'm thrilled to say that this spice mixture was EXACTLY what I expected! I know that there are a lot of spices here.  We hit up a local Indian grocery store for the majority of the spices.  I LOVE the variety of foods available in the Boston area.. wow.  If you don't have access to various ethnic markets, you can buy many spices online.  Whatever you do, don't rely on your local grocery store for the spices or you will end up spending a fortune!  Health food stores are another great place to buy bulk spices for a good price.  Just a note:  I use asafoetida  (also known as HING).  This is a very pungent herb and necessary for the correct flavor.  It is worth seeking out!  Because of the intense smell, I store mine in a plastic bag, inside of a glass jar and then encased in another plastic bag. Or just put it in your basement if you have one! 

The Boyfriend is awesome... he measured all of the spices and put them in bowls so I could take the pretty picture you see above.  He is a patient man.. very precise.  Nothing like me!  We work well together :-)  Here's the recipe I came up with.  It is super yummy! 

Ethiopian Spice Mixture:
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot chili powder (Indian style, cayenne is an OK substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon salt, ground fennel seed, ground fenugreek, black pepper, brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons asafoetida, ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon amchoor, allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
I used this mixture in all of the food I made for our feast... as a base.  If you are sensitive to heat, you can lessen the amount of chili powder.  We used 1.5 tablespoons of extra hot Indian Chili powder. 

I would have used 4 tablespoons had I only been cooking for myself.. BUT.. we had friends over and I didn't want to hurt them.  I have an uncanny ability to enjoy VERY hot food.  10 years ago, I was at a bar in NH and won a chili eating contest against a group of marines.  I can handle more heat than anyone I know. 

..but I digress... back to the not so spicy awesome Ethiopian Spice Mixes!!  The Boyfriend found a recipe online he wanted to try.  He made a chicken dish, Doro Wat.  I am DEFINITELY going to play around with a vegan version..  I think tempeh would be a great protein for this dish.  Or seitan if you are into it. I am NOT into seitan

Here's The Boyfriend's recipe.. he found it on the web. 

1 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 cup ground chili
1/2 cup hot paprika

2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice

Mix this all together and seal in a bag. Makes about 2 cups.

As you can see, the recipe are very similar.. but the flavors are quite different.  I used some of this seasoning in one of my dishes...   so yummy! 

Here's a sneak peak of our feast!  (sans the chicken dish) ...  recipes will be coming up this week .. including the 100% Teff Injera. 

sorry for the FONT issues.  Blogger.. you are making The Kitty MAD today!