Friday, January 29, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
1 c. onions, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
2 c. carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 kale leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 medium potato, diced (I left the peel on)
1 to 1 1/2 c. cooked whole wheat macaroni
14.5 oz. can petite cut diced tomatoes, with the liquid (I used "no salt added")
14.5 oz. can beans (I used great northern beans; canellini would be good, too)--rinse and drain
4 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper
5 cups water
2. Add Kale, potato, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, beans, salt, thyme, oregano, and pepper. Cover and simmer until veggies are all tender (about 45-60 minutes), then stir in macaroni and simmer about 10 minutes.
3. Add water, if desired, to make a little more broth. If you add more water, just make sure to simmer for a few more minutes to keep the flavors strong. (you may also need to add a little more tomato paste)
Thursday, January 21, 2010
For me, many food choices are pretty easy; it’s difficult to deny that leafy greens are good for you, or that whole grains are healthy. It’s a no-brainer to make foods like these part of our meals as much as possible. Then there’s meat… beef, pork, poultry, fish. I always believed that meat was a healthy and necessary part of a good meal (protein, protein, protein!). Lots of reading and questioning has led me to make some changes, though.
When I met my now-husband, he was a vegetarian. This threw my cooking preferences for a loop, but I was open-minded. Then, within a few months of us dating, he began eating poultry again. He still denies it had anything to do with me, and I still worry that I somehow encouraged him to re-evaluate his morals. Either way, for quite a long time after that, we were non-beef-and-pork-eating omnivores.
Then books like Michael Pollan’s, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and Marion Nestle’s, “What to Eat” entered our world. The more we learned, the more we felt we had to rethink what we were eating. Or, really think about what we were eating. When it came to the animals that were our dinner—where did they come from? What kind of lives did they have? What were they fed, what hormones and antibiotics were they given? And what implication did the answers to these questions have on our health and well-being? Throw on top of all that the fact that the meat industry is the single most devastating industry to the environment and it’s all a little overwhelming (recent studies have found that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 51 percent of annual worldwide emissions*).
So we entered the world of being “selective omnivores”. We’re not anti-meat…we just want to make sure we eat the right meat. That means no factory farmed meat (which accounts for 99% of the meat in our country, by the way). It’s really not easy, either. First of all, meat is harder to find—no more supermarket shopping. Sustainably raised meat is also more expensive, so we eat meat much less often. And friends and family have a hard time identifying just what we are…vegetarian? Picky? Pains in the butt? It’s just not an easy thing to explain when someone has lovingly cooked a meal for you. “Well, yes, we eat chicken, just not that chicken…”
I definitely miss eating meat. There are some nights all I want is a cheeseburger, or my Mom’s amazing roast beef with au jus. Mmm. I really like what Jonahthan Safran Foer says in his book, “Eating Animals”, and I try to remember it when I’m having one of those moments:
“Two friends are ordering lunch. One says, “I’m in the mood for a burger,” and orders it. The other says, “I’m in the mood for a burger,” but remembers that there are things more important to him than what he is in the mood for at any given moment, and orders something else.”
Michael Pollan talks about the “Omnivores Dilemma”, referring to the dilemma of choosing what to eat when faced with the thousands of options in the modern supermarket. Our dilemma is different- how to eat a responsible, mostly-vegetarian diet in a part of the world (upstate NY) that isn’t very accommodating to this lifestyle. Not easy, but hopefully as awareness continues to grow, it will get easier.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
It looked like the perfect base for quick, easy soup. I decided I would make it that night and share my doctored up soup for my next blog post. I followed the directions on the bag, but added four carrots, an onion, and about half a bunch of kale (all thrown in the food processor for a few pulses to finely chop them), and a little bullion, salt, pepper, and thyme. It came out pretty good. I liked it, my hubby liked it, our friend who was over for dinner liked it. My two-year old, Lainey…gagged on it. Really. Full blown gagging with every bite. So much for my awesome blog on a great toddler-friendly, healthy soup. Damn.
Honestly, if I didn’t have this blog, I probably would have just eaten the soup myself all week until it was gone. But, now I have this self-imposed pressure to make healthy, kid-friendly food. So I put some thought into how I could possibly save it. This morning I had my moment of brilliance. I took some soup, added a splash of milk, and pureed it with my 2nd favorite kitchen appliance (stand mixer with dough hook still takes 1st place!).
I gave the new and (hopefully) improved version to Lainey for lunch today. Not only was there no gagging, but this was what she said when her bowl was almost empty: “Scrape the bowl, Mommy, there’s some on the side.” Yup. I did it. I turned a gag-worthy soup into a scrape-the-bowl worthy soup.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
This is one of my favorite things to spread on our sourdough. Some of our family has been known to sneak a spoonful straight from the bowl on occasion, too. It’s that good. The sweetness of the carrots, combined with the flavor of curry and the slightly creamy yogurt, delicious! It’s also good as a veggie dip (dip your veggies in a veggie—how’s THAT for healthy?!)
The only time-consuming part is peeling and roasting the carrots, but I found a time saving tip. When I have the oven on for anything else, I throw in the sliced carrots (with only the oil) to roast, and keep them in the fridge until I’m ready to make the spread. Then, I just add the missing seasonings into the food processor and puree it all at once.
7 medium carrots, cut into 1” chunks
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 T vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 c plain yogurt
1/4 c mayonnaise
Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, mix carrots, tumeric, curry, salt, cayenne pepper, and oil. Roast carrots for about 30 minutes, until tender and brown.Process in the food processor with remaining ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add water 1T at a time if spread is too thick. Makes 2 cups.
Friday, January 8, 2010
I hated to give up, because I really wanted to have this bread, but I did. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, my friend was generous enough to send a loaf of bread each week for the entire summer. This was when I became truly addicted. This bread was like no other; bread in my past was a delivery method for peanut butter and jelly, or butter…used basically for the occasional sandwich. THIS bread was eaten daily; toasted and buttered for breakfast, buttered or spread with something tasty at other meals, and other times just plain as a snack. We were devouring our loaf every week, waiting (im)patiently for the next week’s loaf. I realized I was totally mooching bread now for too long…something had to be done…so I got this:
Thank you, KitchenAid! This changed everything. God bless that dough hook. So, now I bake this incredible bread all the time, it’s super easy, and healthy, and I will try to share the recipe. The thing is, I really know nothing about bread baking other than this exact recipe. I can’t troubleshoot. I can’t adjust crust crispiness, or bread fluffiness. If you have trouble, I suggest google. Here’s what to do.
Put all of the following in your mixer bowl:
1 c. starter (I did not make mine, but here’s how)
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour*
1 c. water
1 tsp. Active dry yeast
2 tsp. Salt
*any combination of whole wheat and white flour can be used to total 3 1/2 cups
From what I have read online, it looks like the order of mixing ingredients is important, but I just throw it all in there. Turn on the mixer and let it go for 10 minutes. Gently form/pat dough into a flat ball shape, put in a springform pan, cover with a wet towel, and let it sit overnight.
In the morning, bake at 380 for 35 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.
My mom tells me how, even as an infant, I spent my days loving to sleep and loving to nurse. I guess it’s not surprising that as an adult, I still love a good meal. (I still love sleep, too, but with a two-year-old and an infant, that pleasure is not as easy to come by.)
Being a stay-at-home mom for the past two and a half years has allowed me to take the time to practice my cooking skills, making my own good meals. I really enjoy cooking for my family. It’s fun to create meals that my daughter gobbles up—I love these words: “Fank you, Mommy, for this da-lish-iss dinnnner!” I have experimented with recipes, hunted for healthy ideas, and come up with some great menu stand-bys.Being home, though, has sometimes left me feeling like I’m losing my mind to kid’s songs and laundry (I actually fall asleep AND wake up with children's music on repeat in my head). I recently started feeling like I really need something creative to stimulate my mommy mind. Which led to this blog. It’s my creative outlet; my chance to share my food thoughts and favorite recipes, my kitchen experiments (successes and failures), and to have some virtual adult interaction. There will probably be a common theme to most of my posts; it is important to me to cook responsible meals...not only nutritious food, but cooked with consideration for the environment and the food source. And hopefully, maybe, one of my yummy suggestions will end up on your plate one night. ( and please let me know what you think of it if one does!)