A Pennywise Fall Menu

Late fall cherry tomatoes, garlic and balsamic await transformation..

This fall has certainly not felt like any fall in New England that I can remember. Unseasonable Indian Summer temperatures have left me longing for the crisp bite of a fall morning; those apples I always overdose on in autumn just aren’t the same without the kiss of frost that comes with fall. So I was more than thrilled when the beginning of this week brought cooler weather with it, and my desire for warm soups and wood stoves rose to the surface from its summer dormancy. My meals were inspired by two things; my newfound need for extreme frugality (see my other blog here) and this lovely article in Saveur about the benefits of slow cooking vegetables. I tend to practice extremism in my seasonal vegetable eating; in summer I cannot look at a sweet potato or dream of eating soup, in winter the thought of eating salad fills me with disgust. Over the long weekend I was faced with a fridge of tired vegetable odds and ends; the tomatoes above I roasted and mixed in with pasta and a little Parmesan; the veggie odds and ends conspired to make a pot of soup alchemy so creamy and delicious you would swear it would bring on pounds of winter fat. The good news is it won’t!

A little of everything..

Creamy Vegetable “Kitchen Sink” Soup

The ingredients listed below are just a suggestion, any number of combinations can be used. Cooking time is flexible too, I simmered the soup for 30 minutes uncovered, then covered it and turned the heat off while I gave my daughter a bath and put her to bed. When I came back it was perfect, ready for blending!

1/4 cup olive oil

4 shallots or 1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

4 cups vegetables of your choice! (I used 4 celery stalks, 2 carrots, 1/2 a butternut squash)

6 cups veggie, mushroom, or chicken stock

1 inch piece of ginger

Salt/pepper

Rough chop all vegetables (this is the best part because you will blend them anyway, don’t worry about what they look like!). Heat olive oil over medium heat, saute shallots and garlic until soft and lightly browned. Add all the other veggies and the stock and ginger, simmer covered over medium heat until vegetables are soft. Blend soup with an immersion blender and continue to simmer until soup reduces by one eighth to one quarter. Season to taste.

I served mine with a drizzle of truffle oil and GOOD Parmesan

The hardest part of ending is starting again.

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A fresh start goes down smoother with a little chocolate.

Well friends, quite a lot has happened since I last posted. And yet, curiously, it is all the same.

I lost ten pounds, I gained five back.

I practiced yoga every day, then stopped abruptly.

I ate clean, then binged on chocolate and bread for four days straight. Then I went vegan, then I went raw vegan. I ate 12 apples one day, I drank green smoothies, I ate an entire gluten free pizza (at least it was gluten free).

I hated my job, I tried to quit. I stayed, and still hate it.

We almost bought a house, then we decided not to and now we are buying a different one.

I wrote, I prayed, I cried a lot.

I quit drinking.

Are we seeing a theme yet? Perhaps its time for some transformation. Perhaps its about time to start a revolution. I am on the verge of making some big decisions that will absolutely change my life. And despite the tiny fingers of fear that grip me (especially late at night) I feel almost certain I will succeed.

But heres’s the thing about change and revolution and starting over and making big decisions that are going to change your life. It is really, really hard. I have read many, many books on self transformation and lots of books on getting healthy and how it’s just this giant epiphany that HAPPENS and you are just never ever tempted by that giant bag of peanut butter cups again. Or maybe you are but you just eat one this time.

Really? Has that happened to any of you? If so, bravo, I am so not there. Instead this transformation feels as though I am wandering through a maze of forest and behind every dark tree is some rabid beast who hasn’t eaten in a week and is hungry for my soul. Sound dramatic? Perhaps. Maybe it’s more like a vague nausea that permeates every moment of life, maybe it’s a dramatic sense of dread punctuated here and there with tiny specks of hope.

Maybe it’s just me here struggling.

But I get the sense that I am not the only one.

These morning glory muffins are transformative, and cheaper than a self help book!

Here is what I do know; I LOVE FOOD.

I love making it, I love talking about it, I love making things delicious that you wouldn’t think could be delicious because they are healthy and good for you. I like creating, I like watching my hands turns carrots and apples and spices into those delicious muffins pictured above (and yes, I will post the recipe and discuss their myriad of subtle tastes in a later post).

So that’s what I need to do, figure out a way that food = life, or rather food = enough-money-to-pay-the-mortgage.

With all the chaos and ugliness in the world i think we owe to ourselves and others to do what makes us happy. But not just us, do what cares for and nurtures and inspires others. That, my friends is the secret.

I think.

Well, at least I got it right tonight; green beans with lemon butter and maple and garlic glazed sockeye.

Well, I asked for it..

Is this my true nature?

I am going to post a disclaimer right from the get go and say that this isn’t really a post about health, wellness, or food, though inevitably there will be some discussion of them anyway. This is a post about the seemingly ordinary series of events that have unfolded over the past two weeks, resulting in a very curious epiphany that I had tonight while shaving my legs in the shower. I often have deep thoughts while shaving my legs, it seems to be quite contemplative and meditative until I get too spacy and cut myself.

So, this all started a couple weeks ago when I finished my vegan 21 day challenge. It went very well and I felt good and good about it and somebody asked me if I was going to continue it and I felt a bit ambiguous. Maybe that isn’t the right word, I found myself feeling like of course it makes sense to follow a mainly plant based diet but I am not going to obsess about it. The fact that this thought crossed my mind is just bizarre because I OBSESS ABOUT EVERYTHING. I NEVER express a sense of ambiguity or rolling with it or just, you know, seeing what happens. That isn’t me. Then, that same weekend, Izzie and I went to our new church for the first time and I was inexplicably humbled in a way I have never been before, certainly not in a church setting anyway. I was overcome with this deep sense of gratitude for my life and the tiniest spark of something, a sense that maybe something inside me was shifting.

Izzie is quite certain of her true nature.

I don’t know if the rest of you have these moments, but there are times in my life when I feel like something is going to happen, some major change is coming. I don’t often have a sense of what it is, and even if I think I do the actual occurrence usually surprises me, but I had that sense, something was happening. So, here’s how it played out.

This week at work was different. For some unknown reason when I went into work this week I decided I was tired of griping and complaining about things I couldn’t change. I decided I was going to change the things I could, confront the uncomfortable things I had been avoiding, and focus on appreciating those people I work with who are truly amazing and inspiring. I was a MACHINE at work, I was abnormally productive, I had transformational moments with people, I broke barriers in groups that have been stuck in ruts for years, I loved and appreciated my staff. And while things were still frustrating and overwhelming and there were multiple conflicts thrown at me, I somehow maintained this inner calm. At one point the HR person I was working with broke some bad news and I responded; “Well, it is what it is, we’ll have to make the best of it”.  Who says that!!!??? Not me! What is happening to me!?

Friday night came, I went for a run, I drank some wine, I did some homework.

Saturday morning we woke up and cleaned the house, did some chores, read books and then bustled about doing errands. Usually on the weekends I am eager to get going, to get out of the house, get things done, cram the day full. But I didn’t do that. While in Brattleboro on Saturday two strange things happened. I watched a man yell at some lady for parking crooked, then get very upset at the “pay for parking” box and kick it. We walked over and I found a quarter jammed in the slot. I was able to wiggle it free and used the meter, then I calmly walked across the parking lot to him and handed him one of my quarters. Did he deserve the quarter? Probably not. Then I went to pay for Izzie’s party and the lady wasn’t at the party place. I had to wait for fifteen minutes, when she came she told me we weren’t on the calendar but she was able to correct it. Then I got stuck in horrific traffic for twenty minutes. The funny thing was, I didn’t get upset or impatient the entire time, and it wasn’t like I was trying not to, it just didn’t happen.

Izzie's breakfast, amaranth porridge with almonds, apricots, almond milk, cinnamon.

This morning we woke up and I made Izzie this porridge. All of sudden I thought; why am I not eating this porridge? Why don’t I take the time to make myself these beautiful breakfasts? Why do I obsess about food? It’s so USELESS.

We went to church, the sermon was about justice and freedom from persecution and living a life of humble service. I felt relatively inadequate and tithed generously. After church we went to buy me boots, boots I need, boots I have been wanting for a long time. I couldn’t buy them. I ate a bagel, I ate it very slowly, thinking about the grains that made the flour, the baker baking the bagel, the homeless who don’t have any bagels or tofutti. Then I felt like a giant cheeseball.

I remained in my weirdly contemplative state most of the day. Izzie was cranky, we went on a family snowshoe that was tremendously painful given that Izzie melted down and refused to move. As I was putting Izzie to bed I thought about how five years ago tonight I went into labor, thinking it would end so differently then it did. I thought about expectations and how life screws with it all the time.

I ate chocolate. I exercised. I ate Tums because I had a bellyache from eating chocolate and exercising.

Then I showered and as I was shaving my legs I suddenly realized I am a gigantic a**hole. No, really, I am. I am completely self centered, selfish and self-absorbed and all I can think about all the time is this STUFF that just doesn’t matter. Why am I so obsessed with what I eat? Why can’t I feed my body and be done with it? Why can’t I just LIVE? Why, for goodness sake, can’t I stop talking and start doing? Why am I obsessed with making more money? Why do I care? I thought about all the places I could be right now, all the terrors I could be facing, and i realized that the answer to all my questions is pretty simple. Until I let go, until I let the reins loose and realize I can’t control anything, until I humble myself , I am not going to change.

So, I’m not saying anything more because really who knows what I will do with this thought. Maybe I will change, maybe I won’t. Maybe it will take me a long time, maybe not. Only one thing is certain, I am a big donkey a** and the only one who can change that is me.

Things you don’t want to be true.

There are moments in life when one suspects that their hypothesis or intuition might in fact be correct. The unfortunate nature of said events is that they usually aren’t things you want to be true, like when you have a toothache and you SUSPECT it might be a cavity that requires hours of drilling and white-knuckled dental chair gripping (okay, that might just be me). Such things happened to me this week as I embarked upon my New Years intentions with vigor, and found many things to be true that might have been easier had they proven false.

Somewhere in there is a zen koan, though better versed.

Exhibit A

This is me!

Ok, ok, it isn’t exactly me, but I was close! This week I embarked upon the Alicia Silverstone touted 21 Day Vegan Challenge (also sponsored or encouraged or organized by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). To be honest it isn’t truly that much of a challenge as you have Alicia Silverstone leaving you encouraging voice messages, full meal plans and recipes and clever and engaging videos.

I used to be vegan, then I got pregnant and wanted steak tips so I stopped. Since then I have had the sneaking suspicion a plant-based diet might be the way to go but then I am inexplicably drawn back to loll in some bacon and console myself with the notion that at least its local bacon. Now, I don’t have a problem with meat, but could I honestly slaughter a pig myself and eat it?

Probably not.

And here’s the other thing, I feel f**king amazing on this diet. I consume fewer calories yet have boundless energy and enthusiasm and an obnoxiously clear state of mind. And I powered through my workout tonight like a rock star and enjoyed it thoroughly without any hint of wanting to kill someone (okay, but I didn’t do any hip openers).

So I am going to keep trying it, knowing full well I will feel great and maybe someday I will fully adopt it without launching into self-cathartic rites that involve scarfing entire bags of peanut butter cups (but that hasn’t happened in a awhile so maybe I am gaining!).

If it makes you feel better I am drinking wine as I write this post (see! not perfect Wendy!)

Exhibit Two

Yoga

*sigh* …I can’t even berate yoga because it’s so goddamn good. I mean, I sincerely cannot believe how much my life and my body has changed since I stepped on my yoga mat and committed to the discipline of it. Every day, without fail, I get on that mat. And for the first time since I was dressing up like a disco hoochie in college I feel empowered and beautiful. Right now, in this moment, not at the thing I might become but at what I am. I had to reconcile the work of it though, I wanted it to be fun and perfect all the time and nothing is, that just isn’t life.

I am getting yoga arms though, I tried to take a picture but it was too challenging to photograph my own bicep.

I will say this, it takes a good teacher and I am lucky that I have an amazing one. Not only does she push me, she inspires me and not in a cheesy and unattainable way either. She is real and transparent and open and generous and that makes her all the more oerfect…in her own way. Here she is, if you live anywhere near her, GO TO HER CLASS, you will be transformed.

Okay, I am tired now, more later…but make the carrot and red pepper soup from that PCRM website…so good!

Intention vs. Resolution

As this old year draws to a close I have had many a discussion regarding the usefulness of New Years Resolutions. It seems most people I talk to have made them at one time or another, very few have stuck to them, and most of the time they seem to serve only as some guilt inducing reminder that you aren’t doing or bring what you want to be doing or being. I myself have made resolutions in the past, and this is what they tended to be:

  • lose ten pounds
  • win the lottery
  • lose twenty pounds
  • run a marathon
  • win the lottery
  • lose ten pounds

What occurred to me recently is not only are these “resolutions” asinine and boring, they really aren’t resolutions, they are just things that I want. What a waste of a resolution, none of these things will make me a better person or will change the world or my sense of being, nor will they even advance my wellness..losing ten pounds does not necessarily mean you are healthier.

Today was a beautiful day, the sun was out and the temperature was downright balmy after the cold snap and ensuing blizzard we all weathered immediatly following the Christmas holiday. Izzie and I were out in the snow, rolling giant snowballs, making snow-women with lopsided snow-breasts, shoveling the driveway, chatting with the neighbors, when it occurred to me that this was my intention for the New Year; to have more moments just like that. What if we all did that? What if we stopped the mad rushing of our brains and our bodies and savored those moments until they extended into an entire intentioned life?

So here are my intentions, some more structured than others, and in order of importance:

  • be fearless

You can keep looking for more of them, you won’t find any. The thing is…I had a much longer list and it involved things like doing a vegan challenge, practicing yoga every day, being conscious of my words and actions, scheduling regular time to write, and doing things not out of obligation but out of love. Then I looked at that list and realized that the root of all of those intentions, the thing holding me back from all of them? It’s me. It’s my own fear, my own restriction, my own JUNK getting in the way of my happy well intentioned life.

So my intention for 2011 is to be fearless, to drop it all and just see what happens, and what it looks like on the other side.

Hiatus: Interrupted

Well, an apology is certainly in order.

I am well aware that I disappeared suddenly off the blog map, leaving my relatively successful blog flapping in the wind like a deflated balloon…poor little blog. And while there is a small part of me that wants to make up some fantastic story about being carried off by Martian sharks and fighting my way back to earth I realize that would sound not only implausible but desperate.

The truth is that I freaked out.

I freaked out because as I gained more readers and more attention I felt obligated to post more, take more pictures, succeed immediately at my wellness journey. And of course I couldn’t because I work 40+ hours a week and I have school, and suddenly my schoolwork and work work began to ramp up and I felt totally overwhelmed and muddled. I got severe writer’s block, I was sweaty and stressed and it all felt like too much WORK. It’s unfortunate because honestly THIS is what I wish I was making money doing. And maybe someday it will but I wanted it to happen NOW, and it wasn’t, and i was impatient.

I didn’t intend to totally stop blogging, but after about a week I felt guilty. I logged onto foodbuzz and saw the hundreds of posts and immediately retreated. Then I did what I often do when faced with a conflict whose resolution is unclear, I just pretended it wasn’t there. No blog, no worrying about the blog!

That worked until people started asking me what happened and I had no really good explanation. So after some thought, I decided to come back for one reason; I love to write. This blog was supposed to be about my own wellness journey, my family’s wellness journey and it just sort of morphed until I felt I had to post within certain guidelines, post every day, or choose my topic according to what’s popular. So I am taking it back to its roots, it’s my wellness blog; about me and for me and if others want to read it then great!

Plus I feel really guilty that Wendy bought a giant bag of chia seeds based on my post and then I just up and left. That s**t is expensive.

Ironically I am doing really well, I managed the stress of the holiday season without becoming a crazed and maniacal sugar addict. I have read some amazing books on nutrition and am in the process of reading and learning more. I have cooked a lot of good food and eaten even more good food. Perhaps best of all I have come into a very serious daily yoga practice which is doing wonders for my mental as well as my physical health.

So thanks for putting up with my relative inertia, I do apologize and hope all of you are well.

Halloween-o

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Cinnamon buns!

 

This weekend was so packed with pumpkins and food and spookiness I don’t even know where to begin! I will admit I am getting a wee bit nervous because I start grad school back up tomorrow after three months off (it’s been a nice break!). You all know I wax poetic about wanting a simpler, more unhurried life..I don’t seem to be heading in that direction. However…I need more doors to be opened to me so I can escape from the mindless hamster wheel to a more mindful and joyful existance.

That was my deep thought. On to the food! While I may not have been posting much, I certainly was cooking and eating! I think I will break this post up into days..that will make it easier!

Friday:

Friday I once again forced my poor, dedicated staff to come in early, so I thought it only fair that I make them cinnamon buns. Unfortunately I used half whole wheat and half GF flour and the result was not so good. While the flavor of the filling was good the rolls were way too dense and had that faint aftertaste that comes from using garbanzo bean flour. I generally try to avoid using this flour anyway because I find it to be too heavy and I don’t like the taste but I used a pre-mixed blend from Bob’s Red Mill not realizing it had that flour in it.

*sigh* oh well. People still ate them but I am not posting the recipe on here because it needs significant tweaking.

I left work early to attend the lovely Orchard School Halloween celebration. It’s just about the cutest thing in the entire world, the teachers are so amazing and they tell great stories and sing great songs, it’s such a wonderful place for my daughter to be. The kids get to trick or treat around the school grounds and across the street to the bakery and farm and they get so into it, it’s adorable watching this scraggly little band of kids and their parents parading around the woods and roads.

 

The whole school crew!

Red Riding Hood leads the kids to adventure!

Trick or Treat!

Beautiful ballerina

Saturday;

 

Saturday the big plan involved stacking the enormous amount of wood we currently have dumped in our yard. I should have taken before and after pictures because I FEEL like we stacked enough wood to fill three barns, but the pile is still there! I decided to make some gluten free donuts to fuel Izzie (she is a great little wood stacker) and because she was seeing her Auntie Em who is also gluten free (and a reader of this blog; Hi Auntie Em!). These donuts were also part of a Daring Baker’s October challenge and I just got them in under the wire..phew! I am continuing to have issues with the rise on my gluten free baked goods and I don’t get it. I do think the baking powder was an issue because it was expired or old or whatever, but I used fresh baking powder this time.

Hmmmm…it’s very frustrating, this rising issue, anybody else have issues with GF baked goods?

However, they were donuts, they were delicious anyway, even without the rise I wanted them to have. Rolled in cinnamon sugar, a little crispy on the outside and that delicious chewy softness inside…yum! I loved the little donut holes most of all because they were so small it was the perfect little bite..a great proportion of donut to sugar. The recipe is here and was followed to the letter as requested by the Daring Bakers.

 

Gluten Free Donuts!

 

Saturday evening was the Town of Acworth’s Halloween Costume Party. This little town is just the biggest hoot. Izzie’s teacher lives in Acworth and told us about the festivities, we couldn’t believe someone had a party in their barn that everyone was invited to, regardless of if you knew the hosts. We went to the party dressed as a cow and her milkmaid, I was hoping someone would send me pictures but I haven’t seen any yet. So we went, we knew nobody, but by the end of the night we knew EVERYBODY and had a grand old time dancing to the band and meeting all our neighbors. Although..they were all in costume so I am not sure how we will know who they are in everyday life…(“Pardon me, do I know you? Were you a monkey for Halloween?”).

Sunday:

Sunday we had a mellow day, Iz and I went to my mother’s house and had a delicious squash and sweet potato soup. She played and read books with her Mimi while I happily sipped coffee and devoured Saveur and all her other foodie magazines. We then went for a nice fall walk down to the pond, Iz piked up many woodland “treasures”, filling my pockets with birch bark and lichen, tiny acorns and wintergreen berries. Later in the afternoon we headed over to see friends, parents of Izzie’s friends Seamus and Josie. We had a yummy potluck meal (lentil soup, wild rice with raisins and almonds and root veggies with sausage) that fueled us for the VERY COLD trick or treating ahead. Thankfully we gathered a posse along the way of more friends, and the kids rushed from house to house cackling with joy, seemingly oblivious to the near arctic temperatures. Now we are home and the flames are bright in the woodstove, everything is cozy and sleepy and warm and I am headed off for some much needed sleep.

How was your weekend?

One Lovely Blog

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Izzie with Kohlrabi

 

 

I got tagged, I got tagged! I finally feel like I am no longer that kid who didn’t get picked for kickball…okay that’s a bit dramatic but I love reading Gina‘s blog and I feel so honored that she gave me an award and tagged me. As you know I am a BIG fan of talking about myself and so I am more than happy to answer these questions.

1)  If you could turn back time, who would you spend it with and what would you eat with them?

This is an easy one for me, and also an emotional one. I know I could say any famous chef or pick some huge significant meal in my life, but it’s quite simple. I would turn back time and cook with my grandmother, my father’s mother. We actually never cooked much together, but she was a phenomenal cook. We would make baked beans, she made THE BEST baked beans…slow cooked with salt pork and molasses in her old brown bean pot.
2)  Do you cook for others, or just the sheer pleasure of it, which would you prefer?

Both. I love cooking for others because I am a caretaker by nature and cooking for others is an easy way for me to show my love and affection for others without..well..having to get too close. I also find cooking incredibly calming and meditative, especially the more meticulous qualities of it; chopping, dicing, kneading bread, making soup and watching it all come together, standing over the stove patiently stirring risotto..I love it all
3)  What item do you consider a must have in the kitchen?

Garlic and good salt. I use the salt in everything, it’s a fancy Himalayan pink salt that brings out the flavors of both savory and sweet perfectly. Garlic is just good. I love it roasted, raw, chopped, smashed, in potatoes and eggs and martini’s. Bring on the garlic.
4)  If I told you your secret ingredients in your chopped basket were tomatoes, pears, & anchovies, what would you make?

I would make a tart with a simple tomato sauce simmered with the anchovies and slices of roasted pear and a hard cheese on top.

5)  Have you even traveled a long distance, just to go eat?

Oh yes! Thank goodness I have a foodie spouse..in fact, probably most of our longer trips are simply for a certain cup of coffee, or a delicious charcuterie plate, or an out-of-this-world salad. And I would travel back to India simply to eat Indian food there, it’s amazing, the spices are so different and so fragrant and you can’t even tell half the time what you are eating but it’s so good.
6)  If you had all day in the kitchen, what would you make?

Croissants because the end result is so satisfying and i feel so proud when they come out well. And baked beans..slow simmered. And braised ribs. And samosa’s and momo’s…the list goes on and on. I love things that take me all day to cook.
7)  What is your favorite part of blogging?

The community. I am actually really astonished by how friendly and sweet people are. It’s why I keep blogging, it feels like the world is smaller and nicer and I like that.
8)  Are there blogging skills you are working on?

Photography! I have a crappy camera and it’s making blogging difficult for me because I like taking macro pictures and process pictures but they just aren’t coming out well.

 

That was so much fun! Okay, now I want to do it too! I am tagging;

Katrina from she’s in the kitchen (my mum!)

Megan from Foodalution

Adelina from My Tasty Handbook

Dennis from More than A Mountfull

Lisa from Korean American Mommy

Marlow from Gluten Hates Me

Okay, so here are my questions;

  1. What is your “kryptonite”? Do you have a recipe or ingredient that reduces you to tears every time you try to use it? What is it?
  2. What is your favorite time of day to blog? What is your least favorite time of day to blog?
  3. What was your most memorable meal and why?
  4. What do you hope to gain through blogging? What is your ultimate blogging goal or do you have one?
  5. Imagine you have unlimited foodie funds..what is the first thing you buy? Is it an ingredient? A kitchen implement?

I can’t wait to see all your responses!

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

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Falafel with Tahini Sauce

 

 

For a brief time in college, and intermittently throughout my adult years, I have been a vegetarian or a vegan, ovo-lacto or raw foodie (for about 2 hours). Ultimately I just like meat a little too much to ever let it go, and as we eat sustainable and local meat for the most part I don’t feel too bad about it. However, during my first brief stint as a vegetarian I discovered what I consider to be the ultimate veggie burger; the falafel (or is it falafels?).

What is it about the falafel? It is the crunchy exterior, it’s satisfying crunch followed closely by a meltingly soft interior with spices you can’t quite place? Is it the magical blend of chickpeas and tahini sauce in a pita, perhaps with some hot sauce and tabbouleh? Is it that it is the ultimate street food, versatile and filling and the perfect sandwich for a fall day? Is it just that it’s fried?

Whatever the reason, I am a falafel convert, a falafel connoisseur, a falafel addict. I eat it whenever i can find it and when I do I generally eat so much that I feel as if I have become a little falafel ball myself, rolling away down the street.

I am fortunate enough that I have a spouse who did not quite realize that falafel is REALLY hard to make and can be very time consuming and discouraging and can make one prone to fits of rage, chickpeas flying. Traditional falafel is made with chickpeas and spices, it is then rolled into balls and fried and served in pita bread with its many accompaniments. While this sounds simple enough it can be very difficult to get the “dough” to be the right consistency so that the falafel comes out moist but doesn’t fall apart.

Of course Jaime did it perfectly.

The recipe she used is modified from the joy of cooking. We soaked our chickpeas in water for two days and didn’t cook them, which may have been a good thing as these falafel had the greatest texture; very crunchy on the outside and bursting with a smooth flavor..totally addictive.

Falafel

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp ground red pepper

Process the above ingredients in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Remove from the bowl and add in a couple more tablespoons flour. In a deep skillet pour 1/2 inch canola oil and heat over medium-high heat. Form the mixture into balls using wet hands and fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.

Meanwhile mix;

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup cold water

1 Tbsp lemon juice

pinch of salt

Warm up some pita bread, slice a nice head of romaine into shreds and slice a fresh tomato if you have one. To assemble spread about a tablespoon of the sauce on a pita, place about three or four falafel balls on it, and top with lettuce, tomato and more sauce. Fold over and eat.

Pure deliciousness!

P is for…

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POLENTA!!!

I apologize in advance, there may be a rash of alphabet themed posts as we have been working feverishly with Izzie on her ABC’s. We got her a little workbook because she is a bit behind her class and now she can’t get enough of it, I think we spent THREE HOURS today tracing letters and sounding out phonics, I’m surprised we can even carry on an adult conversation at this point.

Today was a bit dreary and rainy, it felt like one of those November days where you want to just sleep all day long…but unfortunately we are at that point in life where sleeping all day is not an option. Last night we had a date night and saw a movie followed by a very long and late evening listening to a friends bluegrass band at the Tap Room so the lack of sleep made it a bit difficult to accomplish the myriad of chores we needed to get done (all of which involve stacking wood..FYI).

 

Look at all this basil! All from my dad, who grew it in his windowsill!

 

 

When it came time for dinner it was pretty slim pickin’s as our lack of motivation manifested itself in a staunch refusal to make the trek to the grocery store. We had some leftover black bean soup from the other night, so I decided to make a simple Italian Polenta and some roasted beets to go with it. Polenta is a big staple in our house due to the lack of wheat products and also due to it’s versatile and delicious nature. I make it two different ways, one results in a porridge-like polenta perfect for breakfast, the other is firmer and more suitable for frying or serving some sort of sauce or soup over.

Perfect Polenta

6 cups water

1 tsp salt

2 cups polenta

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

Have you ever made polenta before? If not I am going to add a disclaimer here, if you don’t use a large pot with very tall sides you will be very sorry. Jaime didn’t listen to me when she made polenta, she made it in this dinky little pot and I honestly think most of it ended up all over the stove, the counter, the walls…it’s like hot molten lava..only stickier.

So, basically all you do here is put the water and the salt in said large pot and bring to a boil. Add the polenta and stir well, then turn the heat WAY DOWN and cover. Let it bubble like some primordial porridge for twenty minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t clump or burn. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the 20 minutes are up remove the polenta from the stove and stir in the olive oil, parmesan and basil. Spread mixture in a well greased 9×13 inch pan and cover with foil. Bake for another 20 minutes and remove from oven to cool.

If you want the polenta to hold its shape it’s important that you let it cool to almost room temperature. You can serve or eat it before then it will just be a bit softer. We usually make a big pan of it so we have lots of leftovers to use throughout the week, it’s really quite addictive. I served this with soup and a nice roasted beet salad. For some reason the pictures of the roasted beets are horrific though, so I’ll try that again tomorrow. In our CSA we received these cute little ears of corn, which I proceeded to cook as a little granish for the soup and polenta. When I tried to cut the kernels off it was like cutting through concrete and i couldn’t figure out what was going on. Jaime watched me for a few minutes as I sweated and struggled…only to proclaim calmly; “Honey, that’s Indian Corn, it’s not edible”.

Yeah…I just can’t get through a day lately without something…

How was your weekend?