Monday, January 31, 2011

Real Good Food Swap: Zesty Quinoa with Broccoli and Almonds

I've recently joined an Ann Arbor-based online food sharing network, called Real Good Food. What is Real Good Food? I'll let the website explain it:

"Real Good Food is a community to share or trade your high-quality homemade food and/or homegrown produce.

We’re all self-selected members who like to eat and cook. As a collective, can we create more than the sum of our efforts and reap the benefits by cooking larger quantities less often and dramatically expanding our opportunity to enjoy unique food such as heirloom recipes, homemade specialties and authentic ethnic food.
First, we take advantage of the fact that most cooking can be easily increased for far less effort than actually making the same food another time. Second, by sharing our delicious efforts we remove the problem of perpetual leftovers and/or unfortunate waste.
For example: 
I can make a cheesecake as the urge strikes, or I can make 4 cheesecakes for a little extra time and cost.

Problem is, as much as I’d like to, I can’t eat a whole cheesecake, let alone four.
So, I tell the group about my four cheesecakes, when they’re available, how long they will keep and other details I consider relevant. If I get lucky, I’ll end up with only half a cheesecake, and several other passion-crafted foods in exchange."

Cool beans, right? I get emails every so often (multiple times a day to every few days) from people announcing some delicious something or another that they want to share and trade. I have definitely been enjoying observing from a far but someone offered up something I just could not pass up: a kombucha scoby! A scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is also known as a kombucha culture, a mother, or a mushroom. I will talk about this more extensively in a later post, I'm sure.

Anyways, I immediately emailed back this woman and in return I have made her a "grain and vegetable" dish. I hope she enjoys it! (This one's for you, Emily!)

Zesty Quinoa with Broccoli and Almonds
Adapted from Whole Foods Market.

1/2 c sundried tomatoes (1)
1.5 c vegetable broth water and 1.5 T soy sauce, divided
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (2)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 c uncooked quinoa (1)
2 c small broccoli florets (3)
1/2 c almonds, toasted and chopped (1)

Soak sundried tomatoes in hot water for 15 minutes, drain and chop.
Bring 1/2 c water and 1/2 T soy sauce to a simmer in a medium pot.
Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
Add sundried tomatoes, 1 c water and 1 T soy sauce, wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
Stir in quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. 

Place broccoli florets on top of quinoa, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.*
Remove from heat and gently toss with almonds to combine.

*I used broccoli that I froze in September so instead of this step, I steamed my frozen block of broccoli until thawed and cooked through. Then I just mixed the broccoli in along with the almonds.

(1) Bulk section of the People's Food Co-op
(2) Grown in Michigan but bought through the People's Food Co-op
(3) Bought this summer at the Ann Arbor farmers' market and frozen! I don't remember the exact farm though...

Take 20 minutes... learn the Story of Stuff

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

1) Busting into my freezer! I used "cheddar" cauliflower (that I bought and froze in the fall) for this recipe. ("Cheddar" because it's yellow)

2) Below is a terrible picture of the roasted cauliflower. My camera is unfortunately a bit funky after certain New Year's Eve shenanigans... Luckily, the recipe is so good that I made it again a few days later! Better picture here!

Roasted Curried Cauliflower
Poonam described this as having a "traveling flavor." I love this description. From A Big Mouthful.

2 T olive oil
1 t mustard seeds
1 t ground cumin
2 t curry powder
1 t salt
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into large florets

Preheat oven to 375F.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, until florets are evenly coated.
Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with oil.
Roast until florets are browned on bottom and fork tender, about 35 minutes.

Kale Chips: A Marcy Zatz Approved Recipe

Picture taken after Phase 1 Noshing.

Yesterday I woke up at 7 a.m. to walk a mile to the farmer's market in the snow. I would not say that this is a common habit of a college student on a Saturday morning, or the common habit of this college student. However, I was on a mission.

As I posted a few days ago, there is ONE farm at the Ann Arbor farmer's market that is selling leafy greens in late January. The market starts at 8 a.m. in the winter, and Goetz farm will sell out after about 1-2 hours. I got there a little after 8 and was able to take full advantage of the spread. Kale and chard and lettuce, oh my!

Kale Chips
You may have seen this recipe on the internet and heard the testaments about their truly amazing taste and texture (and nutrient density?) but you will not understand the magnitude of awesomeness until you make some of your own. Eat more kale!

We left our's in for a bit too long but still so good.
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375F.
Tear bite size pieces of kale from it's stem and place the pieces in a bowl.
Drizzle oil onto kale (1 T oil for 1 bunch of kale) and sprinkle with salt (1 t salt for 1 bunch of kale).
Massage oil and salt into kale until evenly distributed (I literally mean massage. With your hands.).
Spread pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer.
Bake for about 20 minutes.

Melt-in-your-mouth good.

Black Bean Brownies

Wait what? Black beans? In brownies?? Yup. I throwin it out there. This is actually a fairly well-known way to make vegan brownies! The black beans make the brownies dense and moist (and at least makes you think that they're not horrible for you...)

My gaggle of taste-testers gave the brownies rave reviews, even a "These are the best brownies ever!" (Ms. Hadas Corey, January 29, 2011) So take THAT eggs, we don't need you! Milk? You are nothing to me!

Black Bean Brownies
Recipe is for a 8x8 pan. All of these ingredients can be bought in bulk!
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 c sugar sucanat (AKA dried pure cane juice)
1/2 c + 2 T cocoa powder
2 t espresso powder ground coffee 

1 can 1 scant cup cooked black beans
1/2 c + 6 T water
additional 1/2 c water
1 t vanilla

3/4 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and grease 8x8 pan with oil.
Puree beans and water in food processor.
Mix dry ingredients together and add them to beans.
Puree with additional water and vanilla.
Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips and pour into pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until you can pierce center with a fork and it comes out clean.

A message for my roommates...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Remember in summer when tomatoes were everywhere you turned at the farmer's market, heaped on tables, farmer's essentially giving them away for free because there were so many of them? This is the time to buy tomatoes.

But as many of us who buy local and organic produce know, tomatoes go bad quickly. An enzyme in them naturally starts breaking down the cell walls (causing them to softened and ooze) because natural selection taught them that this would help disperse their seeds quicker, increasing the livelihood of the species.

Solution: Oven roast those bad boys! Slow roasting tomatoes dehydrates them, concentrating their flavor and preserves them (think sun-dried tomatoes). This way, we can enjoy the summer sweetness of local tomatoes well into winter! And at the cheap price of a vegetable at the peak of their season.


Attempt #1: I forgot they were in the oven and
ended up baking them for like... 20 hours. Oops!

Attempt #2: Perfection!

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
Two methods: Low-and-Slow and Fast-and-Hot. The first dehydrates the tomatoes retaining and intensifying their flavor (this is the method I used), while the second retains more moisture and adds a crispy-charred flavor.

Wash tomatoes and cut them in half.
Place halves, cut side up, onto a cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 150-175F.
Slow cook for 4, 6, 9 hours, to your desired degree of doneness.
You'll know they're ready when they've withered, seem plump, and have a wee bit of juice left.
Preheat oven to 400-450F
Place tomatoes in oven and they'll finish in less than an hour!
Pay attention towards the end because smaller pieces/edges can burn...

Tossing the tomato halves with oil, salt and other seasonings (oregano, thyme, tarragon...) before baking transforms them into tasty snacks and great additions to pastas and other dishes!

Sauerkraut Update

Remember how I made sauerkraut in December? Well after almost two months of fermentation, it's AMAZING.

 December 6, 2010

January 25, 2011

About 2 weeks into the process, I sampled it and it just tasted like overly salty cabbage and I was disappointed/let-down but just left it on my counter to do it's thang. I'm so happy that I did because it tastes exactly like sauerkraut should! Plus I made it myself (so gratifying) and it's not pasteurized so all that good bacteria is alive and flourishing and will soon be in my tummy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

[Don't waste food] Pumpkin and Squash Skin Crisps

There are so many times that people throw away perfectly edible (and perfectly delicious) food scraps just because "a recipe doesn't call for it," they just don't know what to do with it, or it just doesn't occur to them! Considering that 29 million TONS of food thrown away every year we should all be a little more conscious, and a little more creative, in our cooking habits.

Enter pumpkin and squash skins. Ok, so you've roasted a pumpkin or a squash, spooned out the meat and there it is, the lone skin. Though normally neglected when not attached to it's innards, pumpkin and squash skins are just as flavorful. When faced with this dilemma, my roommate came up with an ingenious idea: roast them again!

Pumpkin Skin Crisps
Crispy, delicious, healthy, beautiful, resourceful... Everything I want in a snack.
the leftover skin from roasting a pumpkin or a squash
spices of your choice (I used cumin, paprika, and ground ginger)

Preheat oven to 400F
Cut skin into desired shape (I obviously did strips) and spread onto a baking sheet.
Sprinkle with salt and spices.
Bake until edges get brown and crispy and curled, about 15 minutes (Keep an eye on them, the time depends on the type of squash!)
Nosh away.

Get creative! You might as well try making dinner with leftover stems, peels, seeds, and all those other tasty "leftovers." And don't forget, you can always simmer food scraps with other veggies, herbs, and spices to make homemade vegetable stock.

In the end, the LEAST you can do is compost your food scraps. By doing this you are keeping the nutrient cycle alive; feeding other animals or our bacterial friends. The city of Ann Arbor picks up compost weekly (check to see if your city does too!), create your own compost bin, or go with the Darshan Karwat Composting Plan of The-World-Is-My-Compost-Bin and chuck that apple core right out the window!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fancy Multilayer Disposable Carcasses

"The really great thing about finding an alternative to commercial soymilk is that most commercial soymilk has such wasteful packaging. Do-it-yourself seed milk just goes in a jar, no fancy multilayer disposable carcass required." -Sandor Katz, Wild Fermentation

These words strike me deeply. When I hear "carcass" I think of the remnants of an antelope rotting on an African plain after a lion feasted on it's innards. Gross visual? Probably. But the depressing thing is that the antelope carcass scenario is much more beautiful than that of the soymilk carcass.

How can an antelope carcass be beautiful? Well think about the energy flow of that system. Lion gets energy from eating the antelope, followed by scavengers like vultures. After that bacteria will feast on the leftovers to decompose the rotting flesh into compounds that will nourish the soil below it. And guess what comes from healthy soil? Plants. Grasses may grow from the soil, feeding more antelopes and helping the cycle start over again.

Let's compare this to the soymilk carcass. The "fancy multilayer disposable carcass" will most likely be thrown away (probably can't be recycled because most soymilk carcasses are foil on the inside and paper on the outside...). The carcass will then be transported to a landfill to make friends with other carcasses, where it will decompose after many years and nourish nothing. The end.

But this isn't the story of one carton of soymilk. This is the story of everything that you "throw away". Just because your trash goes "away" does not mean it disappears. Each item that is thrown away continues on, and the consequences of this effects everyone (See Great Pacific Garbage Patch).

Why should the responsibility of the consumer end when the garbage truck arrives?

Herbal Ice Cubes

This is a project I did back in October! Not sure why I haven't posted it yet but as I clear away the cobwebs of blog drafts, here it is!

How to make herbal ice cubes
What you need:
Lots of (local, organic) herbs
An ice cube tray


Prepare (i.e. separate leaves from stems) and wash the herbs.
Pulse herbs in a food processor or blender.
Add enough olive oil or water until the herbs and liquids blend together well.
Plop spoonfuls of herb mixtures into ice cube trays and freeze.

Once herb cubes are frozen solid, pop them out and store them in a zip lock bag in the freezer.
LABEL THE BAGS. This is a step that I forgot to do and I am regretting it; all the cubes look the same!

I am so so happy that I did this, I can just thaw out a cube and have fresh parsley, mint, and rosemary in anything that I cook!

Quinoa, Sweet Potato, Kale Patties

Pre-bake but still pretty!

Based off a recipe from YumUniverse. Serious yum is happening. No, seriously.

1 T ground flax seeds, 3 T water (optional)
3 c cooked red and gold quinoa
3 small sweet potatoes
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
2 t sea salt
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
2 LARGE cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F
Roast sweet potatoes for 25-35 minutes, until soft.
Remove skin from potatoes.
Whisk flax seeds into water.
Finely chop kale by hand or pulse in a food processor.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.

For baking
Form into patties and put on cookie sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

For frying
Coat patties in flour, cornmeal or bread crumbs.
Heat 1 T oil in a saute pan.
Fry coated patties until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side.

This recipe makes quiiiite a few patties, especially for one person... I ended up freezing uncooked patty balls on a baking sheet and then transferring them to a tupperware!

Mexican Fiesta (with Sunflower Seed Cheeze)

Before holiday break last month, Matt allowed me to express my culinary creativity in making dinner for the two of us. I chose Mexican as the theme and going along with my inability to make a decision, this resulted in me making 6 different kinds of salsa...

 Mexican Sweet Potato Risotto
 Pumpkin Seed Mole
 Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Sunflower Seed Cheeze
 Peach Salsa = Absolutely fantastic.
 Bosc Pear Salsa
 Roasted Corn and Zucchini Salsa
 Butternut Squash Salsa

Sunflower Seed Cheeze
Not eating dairy did not pose a problem due to the wonderful world of seed cheeses. Salty and delicious, this is a perfect spread for... anything, and it worked great in our quesadillas!

1 c sunflower seeds, soaked for 6-8 hours
1/2 c water
1 T unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon (I just added in 2 more T apple cider vinegar...)
1 clove garlic
1/2 t salt
Additional water to blend

Put all ingredients in the food processor and blend!
Add more water for the desired consistency.

Recipes for the salsas:
Peach Salsa (this one was the best.)

I obviously adapted the recipes for what I had (no pomegranate seeds for me, surprise surprise) but I have to give a special thanks to Locavorious for providing me with so many frozen Michigan fruits and veggies! Pear, peaches, zucchini, corn, red peppers all from them. <3

Carrot Bakes

Carrot Bakes
An extra healthy version of french fries, these puppies are pleasantly sweet and satisfying. However, if I would do this again I would season the carrots with some cayenne or something...


Preheat oven to 400F
Peel carrots and cut them in half lengthwise (and again if using fat carrots).
Toss carrots in oil and salt.
Place carrots cut-side-down on a cookie sheet.
Bake carrots for about 30 minutes.

Oat Crackers

Not gonna lie, I am a little embarrassed with the amount of crackers I have been making... They're just so easy to make and delicious! These babies were so good that they were eaten before I could even think of taking a picture. Delightfully (and surprisingly) sweet. Props to Whole Food for the Whole Family.

Oat Crackers
3 c oats
1.5 c sunflower seeds
3/4 c spelt flour (or whole wheat)
1.5 t garlic powder
1 t ground cumin
3/4 t salt
1/2 c melted coconut oil
1/2 c brown rice syrup (I think molasses or honey would work as well)
6 T water
3 T sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350F
Grind oats and sunflower seeds in food processor.
Add remaining dry ingredients and pulse until thoroughly mixed.
Stir in wet ingredients.
Roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper until they are 1/8 inch thick.
Remove top sheet and place parchment sheet with dough on baking sheet.
Cut dough into squares (or whatever shape you want your crackers to be).
Sprinkle seasonings on top (I did sesame seeds).
Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Almond-Herb Crackers with Spicy Lentil Dip

Must. Try. Crackers.
Almond-Herb Crackers
Something about using ground almonds instead of flour makes these melt in your mouth. Holy cow. Amazing. Adapted from Elana's Kitchen.

2 c almonds
3/4 t salt
2 T dried herbs (I used thyme)
1 T oil
2 T water

Preheat oven to 350F
Grind almonds in food processor (or blender) until it reaches the consistency of flour.
Add salt and herbs and pulse until combined.
Whisk together oil and water and mix into almond mixture.
Form dough into a ball and roll out between 2 pieces of parchment paper, until about 1/8" thick.
Remove top piece of parchment paper and transfer onto a baking sheet.
Cut into rolled out dough into squares (or whatever shape you want your crackers to be).
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
Devour. Or enjoy with a dip (like the one below), but I found this to be unnecessary. Yeah, they're that good.

Spicy Lentil Dip
1 c cooked lentils
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground turmeric
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
Cook gently over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Allow to cool before serving.
*All of these items can be bought in bulk. Except the garlic cloves, I bought those from Tantre Farm when they still came to the farmer's market (which they stopped doing after November, tear tear)

I'm back!

I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. But I'm back and it feels oh so good.

Some updates on my food life:

It's January. And you know what's in season in January according to Sustainable Table? Nothing. That's right, us Michiganders are supposedly not able to find anything growing out of the earth until late March.

Well luckily ST does not have it's facts straight. This week I got sunflower sprouts, daikon, carrots, beets (and their greens), and sweet potatoes. It was a bountiful harvest in my book! I also picked up my January share from Locavorious which included corn, blueberries, whole tomatoes, cauliflower, green beans, and peaches. Add that to all the goodies that I've already froze from earlier in the season and by golly I have quite the spread!

And word on the street is that there is one woman that sells a small supply of leafy greens (oh how I miss you!) but they run out quick, for obvious reasons. That means I plan on being at the farmer's market next week VERY early. I will be one of the special few that gets local Michigan greens in late January.

I'm sprouting like a mad woman. After a few months sprout-free, I am back on the bandwagon. This is mainly because I was unable to attend the farmer's market the other week and I was yearning for something with life. If you have not sprouted before then now is the time to try. All you need is some beans or whole grains, water, and a cup. Nothing more. Learn how to sprout here.

Wild Fermentation is my new Bible. I posted a goony video of the author, Sandor Katz, last month when I made sauerkraut, but over break I got his book (Wild Fermentation). It is amazing and it Sandor Katz (AKA Sandorkraut). I can tell that he has a beautiful, loving spirit.

I am growing so many Lactobacilli bacteria cultures (that's the bacteria that is in your gut, you know the one that all the overpriced yogurt advertise about?) that my kitchen has turned into a bit of a chemistry lab. I love it. I call them my pets (specifically my sourdough starter since I have to feed it everyday...).

Bulk food is playing a major role in my diet. Whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, spices, oils, vinegar, sweeteners, sea vegetables, etc. and lots of them. I can honestly say that I have never made more crackers before in my life.

What I am learning... AKA what I need to do to prepare for next winter.

I love vegetables, excessively so. I think that they are beautiful, they are delicious, they make me feel good, and that the process of growing from a tiny seed to such magnificent living organisms is magical. I miss them, not gonna lie. I am trying to suppress the little voice in the back of my head that is telling that I should be eating more vegetables (yes I am a little afraid of scurvy!) but that's what I get for not preparing better.

That's the beauty of living, you never stop learning. There are many things that I am regretting not having done in the fall but I know that it is just a lesson for next fall. To prepare for next winter, I want to make vats of fermented vegetables to preserve them, figure out how to keep a porch garden throughout the winter, and see if leafy greens will grow in a pot inside!

Well anyways, get ready for an onslaught of blog posts to make up for my unnecessary absence...

Hummus and Crackers


Everybody loves hummus. Everybody.
2 c cooked garbanzo beans (2)
1/2 c water
3-5 T apple cider vinegar (traditionally lemon juice) (2)
2 T tahini (3)
2 cloves garlic, minced (4)
1/2 t salt (2)
2 T olive oil (2)
1/4 t cumin (2)
1/4 t paprika (2)
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Add more water to achieve desired consistency.
Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, paprika, and olives.

Basic Whole Wheat Cracker
These where not the best. I ended up just reverting to my tried and true pickles-dipped-in-hummus habit. So good. (Plus McClure's Pickles are made in Michigan and delicious!)
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour (1)
1/4 t sea salt (2)
2 T oil (2)
6 T of water
sesame seeds (2)
garlic powder (2)
dried thyme (2)
Preheat oven to 325F
Mix together first 4 ingredients.
Knead for about 5 minutes.
Roll out onto oiled cookie sheet.
Sprinkle on herbs of your choice (sesame seeds, garlic powder, and thyme for me)
Score crackers the size you want for easy breakage post baking.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.

1. Earnst Farm
2. Bulk section of the People's Food Co-op
3. Pre-challenge stash
4. Tantre Farm

California Christmas: Chopped

I am not sure if anyone else watches Chopped but it's a show on the Food Network where people have to make an appetizer, main course, and dessert using specific ingredients. The challenge is that the ingredients are not always "normal". I have to use candy canes in my appetizer? Or bacon in my dessert?

Needless to say, watching it is a guilty pleasure of mine. And my aunt and uncle are fans of the show as well. As entertainment on a blustery evening in Northern California, we created a chopped challenge of our own!
The Rules:
My aunt and I had to make appetizers using cucumbers, my foraged chanterelles, and persimmons; a entree using salmon, asparagus, and (I can't remember what else); a dessert using pomegranates, quinoa, and chocolate.

Appetizer: Cucumber Disks with a Roasted Red Pepper-Walnut Spread, Wild Chanterelle Crostinis, Spicy Lime Tortilla Chips with Persimmon Chips and an Orange-Persimmon

Roasted Red Pepper-Walnut Spread
Also known as muhammara (I LOVE this word). Recipe from the NY Times.

3/4 c walnuts, toasted and chopped
3 red bell peppers, roasted
3/4 c fresh bread crumbs*
1 jalapeƱo or other small hot chili pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T pomegranate molasses
1 T lemon juice
1 t ground cumin
salt and pepper
2 T olive oil.

Put all ingredients (except oil) in food processor and pulse until smooth.
Slowly pour in olive oil into running food processor.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Eat with anything and everything: cucumbers, pita bread, your hands...

Entree: Asparagus and Red Onion Salad, Miso-glazed Wild Alaskan Salmon, Sweet Potato Latkes with Cranberry Relish, garnished with mixed salad greens.

Sweet Potato Latkes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 T ground flax seeds, whisked into 3 T water
salt, pepper, smoked paprika

Grate the sweet potatoes (my aunt had a fancy grater feature on her food processor which made this process VERY easy)
Mix together all the ingredients, except the oil.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
Take a handful of sweet potato mixture and form a patty.
Fry in oil until dark brown, about 5 minutes.
Flip to fry the other side.
Allow to cool on a rag (to wick away excess oil)
Serve with cranberry chutney!

Dessert: Spicy Chocolate-Dipped Date-Walnut Truffles, Pomegranate Quinoa Patties
My first pomegranate! Too pretty.