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Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's Not Farro! (Or is it?)

Farro goes by many names around the world.  Spelt (Triticum spelta), emmer (Triticum dicoccum), and einkorn (Triticum monococcum), are called farro in Italy, sometimes (but not always) distinguished as farro grande, farro medio, and farro piccolo, respectively. What I know for sure, is it's delicious, cooks quickly and is nutritious. (1/4 cup has 7g of protein and fiber and 10% of your RDA of Iron)

Basic Farro
Serves 2-4

1 cup Farro
3 cups Water

Rinse the farro under cold water. Place in a pot, cover with the water and place on high heat. When it comes to a boil, turn to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Drain and serve.

I've been using my rice cooker like crazy lately and it cooked the farro just as I had hoped it would. Perfectly distinct grains, soft to the tooth and ready for whatever I want to serve with it.

Today it was sautéed broccoli, peppers, onions and navy beans. Perfecto! Life is farro after all.

Friday, February 27, 2015

LYFE Kitchen-A Review!

One of the biggest problems with eating out is that when you are trying to eat healthier, you can't always find food that fits your plan. Or when you do, it's often bland or boring. Also, if you go somewhere with friends who eat differently than you do, someone is usually left out of the good food table, if ya know what I mean.

I received a gift card from family for LYFE Kitchen and decided to try it out in the hopes that all the bases would be covered. Something for everyone, healthy options, and flavor. Please let there be flavor!

My friend TT met me, and that helped get a meat eaters opinion of things. The space is bright and colorful with comfortable seating. It even looks as if there is a larger room in the back that would make a great meeting/conference lunch space.

We ordered at the counter and headed to our table. Drinks came quickly, hot tea for me and a seasonal warm Chia Cider for her. Waitstaff was attentive, but not obtrusive. There was a mix up on our app order, probably made by us, but the were quick to fix it.

TT had the Corn Chowder, which she loved and said wasn't too sweet, as some can be. She also dug into a nicely done Grilled Chicken and Avocado Sandwich.  It came on a gorgeous whole grain bun and with a side of greens.

I had the Thai Red Curry Bowl that was fantastic! There was just enough spice to make my nose run on a freezing cold day, which I don't mind at all. The tofu and eggplant gave a nice mild counterpoint to the spice and wheatberries added great texture.

Our Vegan Unfried Buffalo Chick'n Strips came as we were digging into our food. And they were the only "meh" of the meal. I love the Gardein strips they use, as their texture and crunch were perfect, but the sauce was more a spicy marinara than a vinegary Buffalo Wing sauce.

All in all I would go back again, with a group especially, as everyone will find something that works for them on the menu, including flavor!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

TBT-Cookbook Edition Soup-er!

This Throw Back Thursday is brought to you by Snow and Freezing Cold which are assaulting everyone everywhere. Enough already!

This version of Cambell's Cooking with Soup came out in 1968. There are recipes for Tomato Soup Cake, chilled soup beverages (???!!!) and this guy...

The Crockpot recipe  book gave no edition date but it was printed in and around Kansas City MO and Prairie Village KS, so shout out to my friends there! Oh and this happened...(take at look at how long those green beans can cook for in a Crockpot....10-12 HOURS!!!)

Stay warm out there everyone!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Shiitake Happens!

Dried shiitake mushrooms are an amazing thing. Re-hydrate them and the flavor is more earthy, the texture more meaty than their fresh kin. Plus having dried shiitakes on hand means you can have shiitakes any time you want to, and I like having things any time I want to. I'm crazy like that.

After a good cold snowshoe today, and with snow forecast for this evening, I decided on a noodle bowl. Soupy, noodley and shiitake-e, all good.

Brown Rice Noodles have been my go to recently as they cook up in 4 minutes. Food, in my mouth faster!

And then the usual suspects, kimchi (anytime, anywhere!), broccoli (cooked in the broth for the soup), shiitakes, cilantro and some leftover sautéed kale (doesn't everyone have that hanging around? No? Just me? Huh...weird...).

I'm a Soup first, Slurp later gal. As in, I spoon up the soup first into my gob then work my way around the veg and slurp the noodles last. What's your favorite way?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tis a Good Day to Daal!

Red or Pink Lentils have over 10 grams of fiber per cooked cup and 24 grams of protein. Yes indeed, a good day to Red Lentil Daal!

There was no real plan here. I wanted the lentils and the potatoes. I also like peas with potatoes in Indian food. But then it isn't really Indian as I am using a Thai curry paste. Whatevs, I still ate the fuck out of it.

Red Lentil Daal with Yukons and Peas
(Because Why Not?)

2 each  Yukon Gold Potatoes, chopped and boiled until soft
1 TBS Coconut Oil
2 TBS Minced Onion
1 tsp  Minced Garlic
1 cup Red or Pink Lentils
2 TBS Curry Paste (or more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 cup Peas
3 TBS Coconut Milk, canned
1 Green Onion, minced
2 TBS Cilantro Minced

Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat and add the coconut oil to melt and heat through. Toss in the onion and garlic and sauté for a minute. 
Add in the lentils, 2 cups of water and the curry paste. Bring to a boil, turn to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, add in the potatoes, peas and coconut milk.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with the green onion and cilantro as a garnish.

It was warming from the spices, soothing from the potatoes and had a fresh bite from the garnish. What do you think?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Meatless Monday-What's the Tempeh?

Tofu get's the soy spotlight, but Tempeh has a solid nutritional basis that deserves consideration. It's higher in calories that tofu, 320 per 1 cup, but easier to digest as it's fermented. And the fermentation get's those gut friendly probiotics going for you as well. Did I mention a cup also has 31 grams of protein and 25% or your RDA of Iron? I'm a big fan.

Plus it's easy to cook up and soaks up the flavors of whatever you're cooking it in. Roasting is my preferred method after a quick marinade of whatever strikes me at the time. It is edible without being cooked, but the roasting adheres the seasonings to the tempeh. Today it was olive oil, garlic, shwarma spice blend, a touch of tahini and a splash of sherry vinegar. Season with a little salt and pepper and into a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, turning half way through. (I used my toaster oven as it's the workhorse of this ol'spinsters kitchen.)

There is a tang to the tempeh, that occurs because of the fermentation, but don't let that set you back. Roasting, stir-frying or sautéing in a just about any sauce will mellow it out. I've also used it in stews, like vegan shepherds pie filling where it melds perfectly.

Today I had it over brown and red rice blend with collard greens (I have been on a huge collards kick lately. Maybe my body is craving all the vitamin A? 308% of your RDA in one cup! That's crazy!)

Try the Tempeh tempo now and again and see how versatile and flavorful it is.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What's for Breakfast?

Cereal, Pancakes, Eggs and Toast, Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy, all solid breakfasts. And if you swing more towards the healthy side of things, Smoothies, Oatmeal, Fruit and Yogurt. Again solid breakfast fixings. By why limit ourselves?

Breakfast Fried Rice

I had leftovers in the fridge that needed eating. And my usual bowl of oatmeal could wait for another day. I heated a sauté pan over medium high heat, tossed in some coconut oil and then started tossing in the leftovers.

Some brown rice, chopped onion, chopped mini peppers, cooked collard greens, roasted portobellos and green onion all went into the pan. Soy sauce was splashed in for some salty umami.

This Korean Chili paste went in next. The amount I used was only enough to fit on the tip of the spoon, because this stuff is nuclear! I love it, but it's so hot I can only use it in tiny doses. This jar is two years old, I shit you not, which explains why so little has been used.

After mixing in the chili paste, I poured it all into a bowl and then scraped up the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan to put on top. Because Crispy. Bits. Bottom of the Pan. You seeing what I'm sayin? Good stuff. 

Diverting from the routine and trying something new to start your day can give you a jumpstart too. And clean out your fridge. What's the least breakfast thing you've had for breakfast?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Feeding Friends!

For the bridal shower today I was asked to keep it dairy free, gluten free (she's not so sensitive that she can't have soy sauce, as you shall see) and not so spicy. Done!

The Collard Green Wraps were filled with short grain brown rice, mango and roasted portobellos. Yes you can eat the steamed collard green, and no they don't need a dip. The portobellos were marinated so their flavor was strong enough to carry through.

A simple Roasted Tofu. Marinated in orange, honey, mustard, soy, sesame oil and garlic, then roasted in a 375 oven til puffy and crisp on the bottom. I served them with a bottled peanut sauce.

Chicken Skewers were marinated exactly as the tofu was, and roasted at the same temp. I set them on a bed of wild garlic because I had it on hand and it looks great. It's an edible garnish too! 

This was a magazine recipe on Seared Edemame that I saw about a week or so ago. Just tossed into a searing hot pan, I used my cast iron. Toss about with some salt and you're a go. I had some mini peppers that I cut up and tossed in as well for color.

Here is a favorite of mine. Brown Rice Noodle Salad. I usually do it with Soba noodles, but as the menu was gluten free, I changed it up a bit. Cooked and cooled noodles were topped with bean sprouts, cucumber, tomato, avocado, carrots, green onion, cilantro and peanuts. I drizzled a sesame lime vinaigrette over the top.

And there you have it! Which one of these would you like to try?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Let's Get Personal

Food is personal. We each have our own likes, dislikes, rules about what we eat. I got to thinking about this today as I was prepping for a friends bridal shower.

She likes to eat a diet that is gluten free, low on dairy and doesn't do well with spicy. I love to cook for her. Because food is how I share what I love with my family and friends. If what I make for her makes her happy, then I am happy. See how that works?

A very talented chef I know, who is steeped in French techniques up to his eyebrows, refuses to share food from his plate when eating with others. It angers him and that makes me laugh. What was dinner like at his house that not sharing was so ingrained into him? (He was also very anti-alternative diets. When he heard about the folks who only eat food that falls off the bush or tree he laughingly asked "What if I climb a tree and throw a motherfucking cheeseburger at them?" So there is that...) 

My family ate dinner together at least 4 times a week, if not more. It was just what was done. There were sports to be gotten to, plays, band, etc, but we still sat down at the table most nights together. When more of the family got together (Irish-Italian Catholics, so there are about 1 bazillion of us) for holidays or parties, food again starred and kept everyone at the table. Even when the arguing would start, as it always does.

I also started thinking about how much I like sharing food with friends, after a great Chinese New Year Dim Sum lunch I had with some former co-workers. 

"Let's do this once a month!" was mentioned more than once. The basic act of feeding ourselves is turned into a celebration when you share it with friends and the food is wonderful, new and interesting.

A former roommate of mine, didn't take to my trying to cook for her. That's, again, how I show folks I care. But it made her uncomfortable. It was frustrating for me, as I didn't understand it. 

Until, after a while, she told me stories of her mom would come home exhausted from working all day and then would cook dinner for the family. It was a task her mom hated and resented. So my friend felt guilty whenever someone would cook for her. Now we go out to eat and she gets to order what she wants guilt free and I still get to share what I love with her. 

To me it doesn't matter if you only eat chicken on the bone, can't eat bananas or think vegetables are for rabbits.

There is so much food in this world that we can share, we'll have something to eat. But I do reserve the right to make fun of you about it, as I would hope you would do to me as well, because we can.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Years Eve!

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year, and will be the Year of the Goat/Sheep. I know that I will be celebrating by shoving a years worth of Dim Sum down my gob.

Dumplings represent many things for the new year, like wealth, family unity, and delicacy. I think they represent things I should eat more of.

My friend Sue (amazing caterer by the way) had recently tried some soup dumplings at a restaurant and wanted to replicate them.  Traditionally they are filled with a pork broth and meatball. When she had them, the restaurant veered from tradition by filling them with French Onion Soup. So we decided to try to replicate for her, the French Onion soup. And make for me a veggie version.

The dough is the biggest challenge. You want it to hold the soup in, while still being light and lovely. We found a great recipe here.

The dough came together beautifully, smooth but slightly tacky. And it only has 3 ingredients! Love that.

Sue filled hers with some caramelized onions and beef broth she had gelatinized with  gelatin, and a touch of shredded cheese, to complete the French Onion Soup flavors.

For my filling a used reconstituted shiitake mushrooms, chopped wild garlic, shallots, soy sauce and sesame oil with just a sprinkling of corn starch to hold it lightly together.

For my soup I used mushroom broth that I thickened with Agar Agar. A really cool vegan stand in for gelatin. The agar agar broth needs to stay in the fridge until you are just ready to fill and steam, or it starts to break down.

In they went to the steamer.

While we waited we partook of some Korean Kimchi Pancakes, because why wouldn't we? I found the pancake mix (all vegan!) at the Asian market and wanted to try it out. I think I may have fallen in love. The kimchi spice is eased up by the pancake batter. They are crispy and chewy and just nicely spicy.

When they came out of the steamer they were fantastic. We ate them with some soy and shallot braised greens on the side. 

We still need to practice a bit more, with the pleating of the dumplings, but this dough is marvelous. It is in the repertoire from here on in.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bon Mardi Gras!

 And a very Good Fat Tuesday to you!

This is working out to be one hell of a week. Saturday-Valentines Day, Monday-Presidents Day, Tuesday-Fat Tuesday and National Pancake Day and Thursday-Chinese New Year!

Today's Double Header is brought to you by Pancakes. Because Fat Tuesday is all about indulging and we don't eat pancakes every day now do we?

And the Good Fat here on Fat Tuesday, is Coconut Oil and Coconut Butter. I used the oil in the pancake mix (Bob's Red Mill Organic 7 Grain because it starts out vegan and I add in, coconut oil, water and egg replacer.)

And the Coconut Butter I used to spread on top, like you would with dairy butter. And I sprinkled almonds and coconut over them, with banana and maple syrup...because FAT TUESDAY!

Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler!!

A note about Good Fats. Olive Oil, Avocados and Coconut Oil have all been shown to have health benefits like...

Coconut is particularly rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens. The fats in coconut oil can also boost metabolism slightly and increase feelings of fullness compared to other fats. 

So yeah, I use that shit in everything! My oatmeal, baked goods (taking the place of butter), for stir fries. Everywhere.

Happy Super Holiday Week Everyone!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meatless Monday-The Omelet Returns!

Eggs are one of my all time favorite foods. They are versatile, tasty, and packed with protein...and cholesterol filled time bombs. I thought.

There have been some studies lately that they aren't as bad for you as we once thought. And that makes me happy. I may try to ease them back into my life, after clearing it with my doctor of course, because if I can eat a fried egg sandwich, I will shove you out of the way to get to it.

But until the doc gives me the ok, I wanted something to fill the eggy craving. The Post Punk Kitchen has a great Tofu Omelet recipe here that I used. I also sautéed some shallots, kale and tomatoes to stuff it with.

The texture was good, flavor very close. (It worked so well I had two. No regrets!) I'm a fan. But a couple of notes. 
You absolutely need a non stick pan. I would say for anything like this, egg filled or eggless, it's the only way to flip it and get it out of the pan without disastrous results.
I actually tried filming the flip for you, but as coordinated as I am with flipping omelets, I'm not so coordinated that I can film it while doing it. Ah well, that can be another post, if you'd like to see it?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Gettin' Easier to Be Cheezier!

I eat mostly vegan now, to keep my heart from exploding. People are always asking "Don't you miss cheese?" Yes, yes I do. I was a cheesemonger for fucks sake.

But what I don't miss is the cholesterol. Some folks have bodies who process it no problem, and can get all sorts of cheesy. I can not. I don't get all woe is me about it. Instead I look for ways to get cheesy without clogging my arteries.

So color me all sorts of happy when I found Field Roast is now making a vegan cheese! I've been a big fan of theirs since I discovered their Vegan Italian Sausage. It's fennel flavor and great texture work wherever meat sausage would.

So I tried the Chao in a grilled cheese. It was good, but honestly as long as it melts, you can't mess up a grilled cheese. I wanted to try something else. Something that would satisfy the craving for gooey cheesey goodness, but wasn't all hippy-dippy granola.

So here you go...

Chao Broccoli Bites
Serves 4

  • 6 slices of Chao Creamy Orginal, chopped
  • 1 head of Broccoli, florets only, steamed and chopped
  • 1 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 TBS Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the Chao, broccoli and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs together. Mix in the vital wheat gluten and mix well. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. If the mixture won't hold together in balls, add more vital wheat gluten. Form the mixture into balls, the size is up to you.

Roll the bites in the rest of the bread crumbs to coat.

Grease a sheet pan with the olive oil and place the broccoli bites on it, then place in the oven.
Bake the bites until golden all around, turning from time to time, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove and let sit for a few minutes then dig in.

I had some extra mixture left over, so I tossed it into the oven in a small cast iron pan then ate it with some hot sauce on top. Because, why wouldn't you?