Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Red Cabbage Call Out

I have a beautiful red cabbage just chillin in my fridge, calling out my name but being my oh so indecisive self... I can't decide what to do with it!
My grandma used to make this epic sweet and sour cooked red cabbage and apple dish but I am also semi-interested in trying to find a coleslaw recipe that actually tickles my fancy (most coleslaw dishes are gross in my opinion AKA over laden with mayonnaise...) or using the big cabbage leaves as some sort of burrito-esque tortilla and making a cabbage wrap of some sorts.

Oh decisions decisions...

ANYWAYS if anyone has an opinion or good recipe, I would love to hear it!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guest Blogger: (continued) Thanksgiving

I wanted to share some recipes with you this Thanksgiving and to tell you how much I enjoy cooking, especially for and with other people I cherish. Samantha and I made miso soup for breakfast the other day, on a misty weekend morning, and it was a beautiful morning indeed. I feel like cooking can be a very intimate experience, especially because taste and smell are so primal, and also because you want to make sure that the people you are cooking for enjoy what you've made for them. Food for me is primarily about sharing. At the same time, as students, it is easy to forget that food can taste good, and it doesn't need to be elaborate. In any case, just like Samantha, I take food seriously.

I come from a family of people that love to eat and cook - my parents and sister are amazing cooks. I have learned much of what I know from them. Also, being Indian, cooking is something I tend to feel out - recipes serve only as a baseline (except in baking, when proportions really do matter for things like developing the right amount of gluten in bread dough or fluffiness of muffins). Proportions are tinkered with. If you asked me how many teaspoons of turmeric I add to a pot of fried okra, I honestly couldn't tell you. Cooking can and should be creative - we all have different tastes, and it is fun to explore and expand your own tastes as well. Also, I think that it is important to imagine what things taste like - this will allow you cook in your mind, and make changes that you think will make things different or suit your tastes.

Here are some things I made for my friends (and myself!) this Thanksgiving. I found a great list of Thanksgiving recipes on Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving on the New York Times website. All of these recipes were made trash-free, too! Here's what I made, and my thoughts on them. The NYTimes website calls for what is in black, and any changes/substitutions/additions I made are in green or the NYTimes ingredient is struck through:

1) Pumpkin dumplings (with my own addition of onion apple topping)

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree (I had a can of this from a year ago, before I started my no-trash project, and so I used it. You can easily make your own pumpkin puree by peeling a pie pumpkin, steaming it, and then blending it)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup store-bought gluten-free flour blend (I used flour with gluten)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Don't be shy - you can definitely use more oil than this. I love oil.)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small head radicchio, sliced into 1/4-inch strips (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used dried parsley)
Two apples - they can be tart or sweet...whatever you'd like! You can also use pears.

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, flour and 1 teaspoon salt to make the dough.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook until softened, about five minutes; remove from the heat and set aside. I added apples to this to give it an added fall flavour. 
3. When the water comes to a boil, use a teaspoon to scoop up the dough and form a dumpling, then carefully slide the dumpling off the spoon and into the boiling water. Continue forming dumplings until half the dough is used. Cook until the dumplings float, then simmer for about two minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and add to the saucepan with the onion. Repeat with the remaining dumpling dough. Don't worry if the dumplings break slightly and make the water murky. That is totally fine!
4. Return the saucepan with the onion to medium-high heat. Toss in three-quarters of the radicchio and stir gently until just wilted, about two minutes; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste. To serve, divide the dumplings and sauce among four bowls and top with the remaining radicchio and parsley.
Yield: Serves 4.

I think that this recipe could have used some more spices and/or herbs in the dumplings (to satisfy my Indian taste buds), but I also appreciated the simplicity of tastes with the NYTimes recipe.

2) Roasted Vegetable Galette with Olives
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (could definitely use more salt)
1/3 cup water (needed a few splashes more than this to make the dough come together)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1 1/2 cups diced peeled carrots (3 medium)
1 1/2 cups diced peeled parsnips (3 medium) I used Daikon radish instead
1 1/2 cups diced peeled butternut squash (1/2 medium)
1 cup diced peeled beet (1 medium) I used both red beets and golden beets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided (definitely used more than this)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried (didn't have this and so I think I used some oregano instead, although you could also use sage, thyme, ginger, lavender, black pepper or paprika, I'd say)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 head garlic
1 cup crumbled creamy goat cheese (4 ounces), divided (It is hard to find goat cheese without packaging)
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for glazing
You can definitely add in or substitute in various kinds of potatoes, peppers or squashes. Express yourself through your choices.

1. To prepare crust: Combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse several times. Mix water and oil; sprinkle over the dry ingredients and pulse just until blended. Add olives and pulse to mix. (Alternatively, combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the water-oil mixture, stirring until well blended. Stir in olives.) I did this by hand. When you make doughs, it is important to know what they feel like. I also added a few hand fulls of water to make the dough come together at this point.
2. Press the dough into a disk; if it seems dry, add a little more water. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. The unbaked crust will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Just use some oil to coat the sheet.
4.To prepare filling: Combine carrots, parsnips, squash, beet (or whatever else you added or substituted), 1 tablespoon oil, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet. Cut the tip off the head of garlic. Set on a square of foil, sprinkle with a tablespoon of water and pinch the edges of the foil together. Place the packet on the baking sheet with the vegetables. Roast, stirring the vegetables every 10 minutes, until they are tender and beginning to brown and the garlic is soft, about 35 minutes. (The garlic may take a little longer.)
5. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Unwrap the garlic and let cool slightly. Squeeze the garlic cloves into a small bowl; add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and mash with a fork. Add the mashed garlic to the roasted vegetables and toss to mix. Add 3/4 cup goat cheese and toss to coat.
6. To assemble galette: Roll the dough into a rough 14-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the dough on it. Arrange the roasted vegetables on the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Fold the border up and over the filling to form a rim, pleating as you go. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup goat cheese over the vegetables. Stir egg and water briskly; brush lightly over the crust. (It would make it look nice, the egg glazing, but I totally forgot to do this!)
7. Bake the galette at 400 degrees until the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
Yield: Makes 8 servings.
This was so good. Again, I'd add more salt to the crust, and you can also try to add some herbs/spices to the crust.
Alsatian Pear and Apple Kugel with Prunes

5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds ripe Bosc pears You can also use D'Anjou or any other pear
an apple or two
2 small onions (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
Salt to taste
1/2 loaf bread (about 7 ounces), cubed
3/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter or pareve margarine, melted I just used vegetable oil instead of butter. It is hard to find trash-free butter. And if you notice cake recipes, they are just full of oil!
2 large eggs
2 cups pitted prunes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil.
2. Peel the pears and cut all but one of them into 1-inch cubes. Don't peel the pears - their skin is already delicate. I did peel the apple though.
3. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of the oil over a medium-high heat in a skillet. Lightly sauté the onions until they are translucent. Remove from the heat and salt lightly, allowing them to cool slightly.
4. Soak the bread for a few seconds in lukewarm water and squeeze dry. Put in a large bowl, and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the butter or pareve margarine oil. Stir in the eggs, onions and half of the diced pears, setting aside the remaining pears for the sauce.
5. Pour the batter into the spring form pan and bake for 2 1 hour 40 minutes or so hours.
6. While the kugel is cooking, make the sauce. In a heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat, put 1 cup of water, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, the prunes, cinnamon, lemon juice and the remaining diced pears. Cook this compote mixture uncovered for 30 minutes.
7. Finely grate the remaining pear and stir it into the cooked compote. (I didn't grate the pear, although this would have been better. I thought that the pear would disintegrate, just like apples do when you boil them. I was wrong! No harm done, though)
8. When the kugel is done, remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool for about 20 minutes. Unmold from the pan onto a serving platter, and spoon half of the compote over it. Serve the remaining compote on the side.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

The onions give this an extremely savoury taste - very different than what we expect cake-like things to be. I loved it.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Miso for Breakfast

A couple of weekends ago I ventured north of campus to spend the morning and make breakfast with a dear friend of mine, Darshan Karwat. Darshan is a really cool guy, doing really cool things. For one thing, he's getting a decent amount of press for his current commitment to living a zero waste lifestyle. Yes, that's right, zero waste.

This commitment began in March and so far he's created about 2 pounds of trash. Let's compare that to the "average American" who produces about 3-4 pounds of trash PER DAY.

Darshan has been collecting all of the trash that he creates, not including TP or food scraps (which he composts). So this includes a straw that a waitress brought to him with his glass of water one night at a restaurant and every sticker on every piece of fruit he eats. For him, every piece of trash now has a story and evokes a memory.

One main way that Darshan has significantly lowered his trash is by buying local and in bulk. Therefore he's very familiar with both the Ann Arbor farmer's market and the People's Food Co-op. Also, he has become very open about his lifestyle choice at restaurants. Explaining to the waitress what he is doing and asking for no straws, disposable silverware, or napkins, etc.

Please visit Darshan's blog, Minimizing Entropy, to read more about what he is doing. He has tips and recommendations for how to reduce your waste. He also challenges readers to collect all the trash that you produce in 1 day, week, month, etc. and carry around with you!

Darshan has written an article for the Michigan Daily here.

He has also been featured in:

So anyways, it was waaay too early on a Sunday morning. Therefore, I felt obligated to capture the mood of the very grey, very misty morning. (I think that the fact that I am judging myself for posting these pictures is a very bad testament for the fact that I AM posting them...)

Annnndddd I hope that whoever lives here, sees this. Yes, yes I am creepin' on you...

The kind of unconventional breakfast that was decided on was Miso Soup! And gosh do I love Miso. Miso is essentially fermented soybeans. Salty and delicious. So anyways...

Miso Soup
Wakame. Mmm, you know I love sea veggies.

Darshan's onion choppin' in action.

Ingredients: (and oh gosh, these are an estimate)
8 c + 4 T water
1 c wakame, rehydrated in 1 c water
1 onion, sliced
2 c dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 handfuls of spinach
4 T miso

Why yes, chop sticks are keepin' the asian moood.
Bring 8 c water to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and add in onions and carrots.
Add in wakame and mushrooms.
Add in spinach.
Once all ingredients are cooked through, softened, add in the spinach.
Dissolve Miso in 4 T water.
When spinach starts to wilt, pour Miso mixture into soup.
Remove from heat, garnish and serve.

Garnish options:
chopped scallions
toasted sesame seeds
fried soba noodles
garnish of choice!

And yet it does not end there. This day was a day of new experiences for me. Tea-wise. Everyone knows the words "Earl Grey." But I doubt that many know what those words actually mean... (And I will allow you to explore (google?) as you wish).

Working at a cafe, one would think that experiencing Earl Grey tea would be assumed of any employee. But there were no assumptions for me. And no Earl Grey... Until now.

My first Earl Grey experience!:

So beautiful. But still not... my cup of tea... (Yes, I am embracing that pun). And I am not a black tea fan. But that's personal preference. I can totally see a black tea  lovah to loving Earl Grey. However I am not there yet.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions

3 c Brussels sprouts
1/4 c + 2 T Balsamic vinegar
2 T oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c water
1 t maple syrup (or other sweetener)
salt and pepper

Remove wilted outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and cut in half.
Mix with 1/4 c Balsamic vinegar and set aside.
Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Add onions, cover and saute until translucent.
Add sprouts and water to pan.
Cover and allow to steam until sprouts are soft, adding more water as liquid evaporates.
Remove from heat and mix in 2 T Balsamic and maple syrup.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add in 1/4 c roasted walnuts (or other nut of choice) for added crunch and flavor!

Note: Let me just say that I do not recommend eating 3 cups of Brussels sprouts in one sitting. From experience...

Falafels are too easy.

As mentioned in passed posts, my mom works at the Golden Gate Cafe, a vegetarian, natural foods restaurant in Detroit. They get bulk falafil vegetable burger mix that make it pretty easy to make large volumes of falafils. After seeing a smaller package (therefore more packaging waste...) version of the mix they serve, my mom realized that the mix is made in Dearborn, MI! Thanks Jerusalem Foods (no website to link to, roughh...)!

The result of said events is a delicious, way too easy meal and me being gifted 2 boxes of falafil mix!

For a full Mediterranean meal, try a falafil pita wrap.

Brother bear with falafil pita.

Falafil Pita
1 c falafil mix
1 c water
Sandwich Extras
1 onion, sliced
2 T oil
1 pickle, chopped
1 T hummus (recipe below)
1 T dill tahini sauce (recipe below)
1 leaf of romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 tomato, diced
1/2 whole wheat pita bread

Follow Ingredients on box. Waaaay too easy.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in saute pan.
Add onions and saute until softened.
Add sauteed onions, pickles, hummus, sauce, lettuce and tomatoes to pita bread.
Add falafil patties to pita sandwich and enjoy!

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c cooked garbanzo beans
1/8 c lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
1 T tahini
1/8 t cumin
1/8 t paprika
1 t dried parsley
dash of salt
dash of cayenne powder

Mix all ingredients in a food processor.

Dill-Tahini Sauce
1/2 c tahini
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 T fresh dill
2 T oil
1/2 c water
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients by hand or in food processor.

PS Max recently acquired two very cute kittens. Winnnn!

Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

I used this on a salad consisting of kale and diced yellow bell peppers. Yum! It's actually thick enough to be a dip or a sandwich spread as well.

1 roasted red pepper (below)
3/4 t maple syrup (or equivalent of sweetener of choice)
1 small white onion, diced (I roasted this along with the red pepper. My goodness if you've ever smelled a roasted onion you know why...)
a generous amount of salt and pepper, to taste
1 t Dijon mustard
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c olive oil

Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender, until smooth.

How to roast a red pepper:
You really can't go wrong with roasted red peppers. They add a unique sweetness to dishes that is simultaneously savory, unlike the sweetness of sugar. Great on fajitas and sandwiches, or salad dressing (above), and many other recipes (below)!

Preheat oven to 425F
Place whole red pepper on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.
Pop in oven and let 'er char (get excited for the wafting aromas of sweetness to fill your kitchen).
Roast until black and blistery, rotating every 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and place in a brown paper bag to cool (the steam of the pepper juices will loosen the skin!)
Peel off the charred skin.*
Remove the stem* and cut open the pepper to expose the innards.
Remove the seeds and white ribs.*
Use immediately or store completely submerged in olive oil in a glass jar.

*Don't forget to compost!

Other Recipes Containing Roasted Red Peppers:
Romesco Sauce from Happy Valley Locavore
Vegetable Fajitas from Broke 'n' Veggie
Bruschetta with Roasted Sweet Bell Peppers
Red Pepper Soup from Smitten Kitchen
Pizza with Red and Yellow Peppers from Smitten Kitchen
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from Pinch My Salt
Panini with Artichoke Hearts, Spinach and Red Peppers
Red Pepper Ravioli with Cream Sauce from BBC Food
Posted by Picasa

Vegan MoFo

It's Vegan Month of Food?? How did I miss this?!?

The Impossible Pumpkin Pie

The Impossible Pumpkin Pie
 No pie tin = saute pan. Ooohhh college...

We're talkin gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan. Take that in. It's happening. And oh so delicious.

Pie Crust
1 c walnuts (any nut would work)
1/2 c spelt flour (or white or whole grain... do what you do)
1 T maple syrup (or brown shuga)
1/8 t cinnamon, 1/8 t nutmeg OR 1/8 t cardamom
1/2 t ground ginger
Dash of salt

Freeze nuts overnight. (I skipped this step for the most part. Whoops?)
Preheat oven to 400F
Pulse nuts in food processor until meal forms.
Add other ingredients into food processor and mix until dough forms.
Bake in 9" pan for 8-10 minutes, until dry and golden.
Let cool and prepare filling.

Okay so it may not hold it's shape that well...

Pie Filling
Based off of Lexie's Kitchen recipe.
1.25 c + 2 T water
2 T Kuzu flakes (or agar agar powder)
1.25 c pureed pumpkin
3/4 c maple syrup
3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c walnuts
2.5 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t ground cloves
2 T arrowroot (or corn starch or tapioca flour)
1 T vanilla
1/2 t salt

Dissolve Kuzu in 2 T water.
Bring water to a boil and add dissolved Kuzu.
Reduce heat and simmer until clear and gelatinous, stirring constantly (unfortunately this takes a bit of time).
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Pour into baked crust (above).
Refrigerator for 2-4 hours, until chilled through.
Serve and enjoy, hopefully as much as I am!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkins Pumpkins Everywhere!

I cooked 2 pie pumpkins this morning and it put me in the pumpkin mindset. I have designated this to be the week of pumpkin flavored everything! If anyone has any good recipes please share. The second goal of the next few days is to perfect a egg/dairy/soy-free pumpkin pie. I'm excited for the experimentation because it means lots of pie mwahaha.
So my obsession with pumpkin continues. I am going to be very very sad when they are out of season...
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
My brother!
1 c pumpkin puree
2 c nondairy milk
2 T maple syrup
a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grilled Portobello Steaks with Balsamic Sauce

Grilled Portobello Steaks with Balsamic Sauce
Do not be fooled by the semi-unappetizing photograph below! These babies are loaded with flavor and while being pretty darn good on their own, I'd imagine them even tastier in burger form: On a kaiser roll with caramelized onions and leafy greens.

Grilled Portobello mushroom disguised as a mud patty...
2 Portobello mushrooms
tamari or soy sauce
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T Balsamic vinegar
2 T tamari or soy sauce
2 T water

Heat grill plate or fry pan to high and brush it with oil.
Remove stems of mushrooms and wipe off dirt.
Marinate mushrooms in a bit of tamari, a few minutes each side.
Grill or fry mushrooms until golden, about 3 minutes per side.
Remove mushrooms from heat and allow mushrooms to rest for a few minutes, wrapped in foil.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan.
Add onions and garlic and saute until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add liquids and bring to a simmer.
Allow sauce to reduce for 5 minutes, until rich and dark.

Plate steaks and drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper to taste.

RoosRoast Coffee

I am currently enrolled in a absolutely phenomenal PitE course called Food: The Ecology, Economics, & Ethics of Growing & Eating (ENVIRON 302). For any UM student interested in sustainable food systems, you really have to take this course. There are so many things that I have learned in this course and after every lecture I want to share the knowledge but I don't think that I will do that right now...

The course has three overarching objectives:

  1. Provide context for the contemporary food movement.
  2. Imagine "good work" in the growing and eating of good food.
  3. Identify elements of a sustainable, economical, and just food system.
One way that the professor, Thomas Princen, has been helping us imagine "good work" is by bringing in guest speakers to talk about their work in the current food system. So far, John Hochstetler (a local farmer and ran for the 18th District state Senate seat in this past election), Jessica Roberts (the head chef at Beanster's at the MI League) and Kristen Gelino (senior kitchen manager at the People's Food Co-op).

Today, Brian Barch from RoosRoast Coffee came and talked about his work. It is run by John Roos and obviously the coffee beans are not locally grown but locally roasted instead. RoosRoast is currently at about 80-90% fair trade, depending on the specific roast, but they are working towards 100% fair trade/organic. You can buy their coffee at every Ann Arbor farmer's market as well as a few local businesses, including Cafe Verde and Sparrow Market.

Brian said one thing that really hit me, which is the reason that I am blogging right now. Concerning the expansion of RoosRoast as a business:

"Grow to a certain point, until it feels right. And then stop."

In a society that promotes growth as the ideal action, the concept of sufficiency falls to the wayside. RoosRoast has no aspirations of franchising or going national. Right now, Ann Arbor is enough for them. What a perfect example of staying local in a global economy. Importing coffee beans while processing and distributing in Ann Arbor.

One benefit of having a graphic designer in the family...

A super cool logo!

Thanks Mom!

Celeriac Pear Soup

Celeriac Pear Soup
Adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe.
Celeriac (AKA celery root) at the farmer's market means more soup for me! The combination of the salty goodness of vegetable stock and the warm sweetness of pear is intriguing in the best sort of way.

Pre-exam sustenance
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1" of ginger root*, finely chopped
1 celeriac, peeled and cubed
4 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cubed
4.25 c vegetable stock
handful of chopped parsley for garnish

Heat 1 T oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add celeriac, pear and stock and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and do so until celeriac is softened, about 30 minutes.
Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

As always I froze the extra in a muffin pan for easy future thawing.

*The last of my fresh ginger! What a sad day. Now I have to turn to powdered ginger which JUST ISN'T THE SAME!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Warm Mushroom Salad with Roasted Chestnuts

The time has finally come. My brother, Max, has moved into his new Ypsilanti apartment! Eastern Michigan University has lured him to Washtenaw County and I am far from complaining. Last night was our first "family dinner" in quite a while and everything turned out splendid! Plus, my brother is quite the fast food king, so I'm giving myself a pat on the back for his winning his approval...

I think that this is the start of a wonderful thing. I do love cooking, no matter what, but it is so nice to be able to share the experience with someone else. It becomes an event, that always has a satisfying end product (unless you forget to turn off the oven and char a batch of sweet potato fries... Sorry brother!).

Roasted Chestnuts
I found locally grown chestnuts at the Birmingham farmer's market. Hill's Chestnut Farm is located in Saginaw, MI and they drew in quite a crowd, having set up a grill in which they were freshly roasting chestnuts on site!
Chestnuts post-shelling. Which was quite a process...

There are quite a few ways to roast these babies but step 1 is always the same: cut X's into the shells.
This is super important because roasting them can cause pressure and lead to them exploding!
Don't make little chestnut bombs!
In a pan
Place scored nuts into pan on high heat.
Roast until shells begin to char, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool, peel, eat.
Cook nuts on High for 30s*
Cool, peel, eat.
*Cooking time depends on individual microwave, overcooking makes for a rubbery nut.
Preheat oven to 375F
Place scored nuts on a cookie sheet.
Place sheet in center of oven.
Roast until cut part of shell starts to peel back, about 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool, peel, eat.

Warm Mushroom Salad with Roasted Chestnuts
3 c of leafy greens (I used a "spicy mix" from Tantre Farm)
1 T olive oil
2 T mirin (or sherry or white wine)
1/2 t salt
2 T almond oil (or other high-heat oil)
1 lb of maitake mushrooms (a. any type will do b. 1 lb is a total guess, I would say it was 6"x8"...ish)
1 t dried thyme
3 T tamari
1/4 c roasted chestnuts, chopped

Wipe dirt off of mushrooms and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Heat the almond oil over medium-high heat.
Add in the mushrooms, thyme and tamari and cover.
As liquids evaporate, pour about 1/4 c water into pan and cover.
Continue until mushrooms are soft.
Uncover and allow tamari/water mixture to reduce.
Prepare greens by washing and ripping into bite-sized pieces.
Place sauteed mushrooms on top of greens.
Sprinkle chestnuts on to salad.
Whisk together olive oil, mirin, and salt and pour over salad.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sesame Spelt Crackers

Go oven, go!

Sesame Spelt Crackers
Another great recipe from smitten kitchenHow can a mixture of not much more than flour and water taste so good??
1.5 c spelt flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 c cold water
salt, garlic powder, sesame seeds, other toppings of your choice (poppy seeds, onion powder, dried herbs...)

Preheat oven to 350F
Mix salt and water.
Stir flour into water mixture.
Knead dough a few times.
Flour an upside-down cookie sheet.*
Roll dough out on floured surface AS THIN AS POSSIBLE.
Brush dough with water and prick with a fork.
Sprinkle on toppings and gently press them into the dough.
Lightly cut into desired cracker shapes (for easy breakage).
Bake until golden brown and crispy, around 20 minutes.

*I had a bit of trouble getting the crackers off of the cookie sheet. Next time I think I will roll the dough out on parchment paper instead.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guest Blogger: Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

Another delicious recipe from MJ found its way into my inbox. Thanks Mom!

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower
Ever notice that rich yellow color in some Indian dishes? That would be the turmeric. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, antiseptic AND antibacterial agent just to name a few of the spice's health benefits (but the list goes on and on).

Photo credit: Mama Bear
1 head of cauliflower
olive oil*
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F
Cut cauliflower into florets.
Spread florets in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish.
Toss with olive oil, turmeric, salt and pepper.
Roast for 25-30 minutes, until fork tender and brown.

Although I am personally not a fan of it myself (I detest it, in fact), cilantro would make a pretty stellar garnish, both visually and gastronomically.

*Mother dearest does not really measure anything (gosh darn all those years of cooking experience...) but I am going to go ahead and guess that 2 T olive oil and 2 t turmeric would make life golden and delicious.


Ann Arbor is truly a special city. There are not many places in Michigan that is embracing localization like we have.

At the beginning of my challenge I had thought that there would be little more than some gosh darn home cooked meals for me for quite a while but having stepped into the local foods culture I am learning that there is more than peas and carrots being sold at the farmer's market and certain establishments may have values that are pretty aligned with my own. I think that I know all of the players in this movement but nevertheless they just keep poppin up! And each time I learn about that new locally-sourced, sustainably-made product or conscious business, I a) get super jazzed, and b) want to join in!

I have about a dozen business cards and flyers from said places pinned to my bulletin board and I am really looking forward to talk about them all in due time (for a quick peek, check out my A2 Highlights) but the purpose of this post is to gush over EAT, a fairly new Ann Arbor catering company.

Let's EAT!
I had been eying the food cart for the last two weeks, slowly building up the courage to figure out if I could make the jump from intrigued passerby to consumer. This past Saturday it happened, I indulged. But not without a little research first. Walking past that cart time and again I had acquired 2 business cards, a sticker, and a Thanksgiving menu, with no further pursuit. But glancing at the menu left me wanting more. When I see references to the specific farms that produce comes from my heart skips a beat. To the Internet!

This is the point that I learned that EAT is not just a food cart at the farmer's market, it's a catering company committed beautiful, delicious, locally-sourced food. Helen Harding and Blake Reetz are carrying out such a wonderful mission in this business and it really makes me yearn to be apart of it.

Warm veggies on a cold morning really do hit the spot.
Photo Credit: The boy who lives downstairs

The food cart, that hits up the Ann Arbor farmer's market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, is more of a traveling slider joint. The chalk written sign in front of the grill boasts four burgers, made from four different locally-grown animals, that are far from traditional (Korean BBQ with The Brinery kimchee? Bison sloppy joes?...).

However, I went with the grilled veggie pita (surprise surprise). Grilled eggplant, onions and bell peppers, topped with mustard greens and wrapped in a pita. Also, with the option of (meaning typically served with) raita, an Indian-inspired yogurt sauce. Not the most inventive vegetarian meal but who can really complain when you know that it is locally-sourced, organically-grown and tasty!

EAT, you have found a fan in me. Of your food and your practices. If you need any extra hands, I got two and they love to cook! And perhaps you can let me in on that tahini sweet potato salad recipe that I see on your menu?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup and Crispy Rosemary Flatbread

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup
Adapted from gluten-free goddess' recipe
Rosemary flat bread too!
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t curry powder
1/4 t cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of pumpkin puree (or a can of pumpkin)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
6 c vegetable broth (or 6 c water + 6 T soy sauce)
3 t white wine

Heat oil over medium heat.
Add onions and saute for 5 minutes, until soft.
Add carrots and celery and stir in spices.
Reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes (don't let the onions brown!)
Stir in pumpkin, sweet potatoes, vegetable broth and wine.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until veggies are tender.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Ladel soup into food processor or blender (do not fill more than halfway or else you will be seeping soup)
Puree until smooth.
Adjust seasonings to taste.
Spoon into a bowl and garnish with rosemary flat bread (below).

I spooned the leftovers into muffin tins and froze to prevent the insufferable 1 L frozen block of soup.

Frozen soup muffins!

Crispy Rosemary Flatbread Adapted from smitten kitchen, a blog that I recently ran across and deeply fell in love with.
This was a very satisfying recipe to make because of the ease of putting it all together. Plus, I would choose this crispy treat over a softer bread any day. I'm really looking forward to make it again with other spices; thyme, cinnamon and sugar for a little somethin sweet, cayenne for a little kick...

1 3/4 cups spelt flour (I think any flour will do)
1 t dried rosemary

a few shakes of garlic granules
1 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 c water
1/4 c olive oil plus more for brushing

Preheat oven to 450F with a baking pan inside.
Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl.

Gradually stir in water and oil.
Knead dough a few times.
Divide dough into 3 sections.
Brush top with a bit more oil and sprinkle on a little rosemary and salt.*
Slide round (still on parchment paper) onto preheated baking pan.
Bake about 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove flatbread from oven and parchment.
Reuse parchment for the next 2 rounds (whaddup waste reduction!)
Break into pieces and devour.

*I regret not lightly pre-cutting the rounds before baking. The breaking process was a bit messy and resulted in many crumbs. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Homemade Vegetable Broth

This weekend was a weekend of soup for me. And I couldn't be happier! Tis the season for warm things on the stove and in my stomach.

I have been meaning to make veggie broth for a while now since it is a base for so many recipes (and not just for other soups: grains and stuffing and roasted mushrooms, oh my!) so I turned to my girl, Lolo, for a way too simple recipe.

Definitely check out the original recipe at veganyumyum.com (she has the best photography) but here are my actions just to show my sheer delight in following the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach.

Homemade Vegetable Stock
Basically boil some vegetables in a pot and add some salt and you're good to go!


3T oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
about 10 carrots, not peeled but chopped
3 cloves of garlic, left whole
1 bay leaf
10 peppercorns
(and here's where I go frugal)
broccoli stalks
celeriac greens
2 dried shiitaki mushrooms
2 c frozen tomato puree*
a few sprigs of thyme

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and start dicing the onions.
Once the onions are diced, move on to the next item on the list and start chopping that.
Keep chopping and adding until there is no more to chop.
Add 1 gallon (16 cups) of water, cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and leave it alone for an hour.
Add 1/4 c tamari and 2 t of salt (adjust to taste).
Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Strain vegetables out in a large pot.

At this point you can really do what you want with your homemade, (hopefully) locally-sourced, organic, delicious vegetable broth!

Personally, I ladled 1 cup amounts into glass cups (ice trays or muffin tins would have the same effect) and froze em for easier measuring in the future. It was a bit of a pain trying to get the frozen broth free from the cup, I kind of felt like some sort of archaeologist ice picking an ice-age specimen out of a glacier (is that weird??), but applying pressure to a knife in between the broth-block and the glass eventually worked itself out.

*I did this back in September to preserve some summer lovin. And now I have about 4 gallons of that lovin ch-ch-ch-chillin in my freezer for who knows what recipe!