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Archive for the ‘vegetarian’ Category

Summer Wrap Up

So here we are, summer is fading slowly and autumn is on our doorstep.  I want to take a pause before the warm afternoons slip away and share a few pictures and recipes that remind me of the summer that passed by so quickly (don’t they all do that?).  Please excuse my laziness at not writing out recipes, most are posted here as links and if not, I will post in the future!

 

I had a lot of great adventures this summer.  There was all that much needed time at my family’s place in Maine.

 

There were several visits with Madeline Rose, my favorite new niece.

There was a celebration to honor the 2nd anniversary of our book club, The Fabulous Ladies.  We also marked members’ birthdays and tearfully say goodbye to some members leaving NYC.

There was my five year college reunion, where I enjoyed the company of great friends.

 

There was a second round of goodbyes to Heather, leaving this time for Uganda and the Peace Corps.

There were goodbyes to our dear Rochambeau community in order to say hello to our new place in BK.

 

And along the way, there was good food (of course).

I made chocolate chip zucchini cookies for a coworker and his wife who have a new baby.

 

I made a beautiful, refreshing bulgar wheat lentil salad with feta and delicious zucchini pancakes I made last summer, mmmm.

 

I made a really yummy zucchini dish I’ve made before, courtesy of 101cookbooks (zucchini, feta, onions, dill, nuts–so easy and good!).

I made this roasted heirloom tomato sauce.

How beautiful are these tomatoes?

I’ve said it before, but there is nothing that says summer to me like a gorgeous tomato, thick and full from the summer sun.  Make this recipe while you can still find local heirlooms, it is so so very much worth the time and effort.  Your kitchen will smell amazing and I guarantee you have never tasted anything quite like it.  Satisfaction guaranteed.

 

I also made iced tea with fresh mint and candied ginger.  You should try that–just stick whole stalks of mint right in there and you can find candied ginger with dried fruit.  It’s really tasty.

 

And finally, there was the galette I made for my mom’s birthday.  According to wikipedia, the term “galette” is used in French to refer to any kind of free flaky cake.   I’d made it last summer, but I was still nervous about the undertaking.  It’s not the most intricate dessert I’ve ever made, but it does involve a homemade crust.  I also wanted my mom to love it since it was one of her birthday gifts.  Luckily, it turned out wonderfully (and tasted quite good too).

It’s raspberries and peaches and nectarines.  It’s heavenly, I promise to post the recipe soon in case you want to experience it for yourself.

 

Well isn’t it fun to take a little trip back to the summer gone by?  Wrapping up here, I feel a twinge of sadness at the thought of the summer produce, the vacations, the hot sun on my face, the lightness of my being, of all of that slipping by.  But a something else that is just as lovely is here to fill summer’s void–autumn’s colors and crisp air and happy traditions.  I hope your summer was relaxing and filled you up with enough memories to keep you warm through the winter.

 

Fiery colors begin their yearly conquest of the hills, propelled by the autumn winds. 

Fall is the artist.

~Takayuki Ikkaku

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What are you waiting for?  Sometimes I feel as though I’m constantly waiting for something.  I think as humans we are programmed to be forward thinking, always concerned with the future.  Maybe it’s what keeps us going, keeps us excited about life, all the good things to come.

Recently, I have been waiting for spring, and Mother Nature has kept all of us New Yorkers in suspense.  Hot then cold, sunny then rainy, but now it seems like it (might be) here!  In fact, I spent a good portion of my day out in a neighborhood park, attempting to read but mostly just sunbathing.

And now I am waiting impatiently, along with my entire family, for my sister’s baby to come along.  No one is more anxious for this event than my sister, as she has been on bed rest for a few weeks now.  The waiting is so difficult but as my sister has reported to me, an excellent exercise in patience.

How can we make peace with waiting, with the fact that we simply cannot control everything and often must wait for life to unfold as it should?  Maybe the key is to enjoy the waiting itself.  After all it is part of living, and if we never had to wait or work for the beautiful things in life, I doubt they be as sweet upon arrival.  Enjoying the waiting, certainly easier said than done!  But perhaps somewhat less painful when we are surrounded by good company and good food.  And that has been the case with my sister as she has luckily had many visitors, often bringing food and treats, by her side during this time.

When I was last visiting, I made one of my favorite springtime soups for my sister and her husband.  I love making soups and stews and have discovered that they are not just for winter.  In the spring, I switch to lighter soups, clear broths, and enjoy incorporating springtime vegetables.  Now is the time for truly fresh, local asparagus, peas, and broccolini (a cross between the broccoli we all grew up with and a type of Chinese broccoli, it is sweet and tender and delicious).

This recipe is honestly one of the top 5 most delicious (and easiest!) soups I have ever made.  Seriously.  That is a pretty big deal considering how many soups I’ve made!  Here you go:

-8-10 spears of fresh asparagus sliced on the diagonal OR the same amount of broccolini
-1 cup snow peas
-1/2 cup frozen or fresh green peas
-3 medium carrots sliced thinly
-3/4 c. uncooked brown rice (Heidi called for brown basmati, but all I had was regular so you can go with either)
-6 cups of vegetable broth
-2 shallots chopped (or 1 medium-sized yellow onion)
-3 cloves of garlic
-ground black pepper
-dash of red pepper
-parmesan cheese to taste (if you like)


Chop up the onions or shallots.  In a soup pot, heat olive oil or clarified butter over medium heat.  Toss in the onions and garlic and once it is soft and smelling beautifully, toss in the rice and stir for a minute.  Add in the broth and bring to a boil then turn the burner low and cover.  Cook rice as you normally would–depending on which kind you use it will take about 35-40 minutes.  You want the rice to be tender but not too tender since you will cook it a bit longer once you add the vegetables.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the other veggies….the asparagus or broccolini should be cut on a diagonal into about 1 inch pieces.  Cut the the snow peas in half.  Carrots should be sliced in half or thirds and then sliced very thinly.

Once the rice is tender (but not too soft!)  add in the asparagus (or broccolini) and the carrots, 2 minutes later add in the frozen peas and snow peas.  Stay by the stove and let it simmer for about 3-4 more minutes.  The important trick here is that you do NOT want the vegetables to get too soft.  They are yummiest and have the most nutrients in them when they are still somewhat crunchy.  The asparagus or broccolini will turn bright green and you’ll know you can turn the burner off.  I enjoy this soup with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, but you can dress it up as you like.

A great dish for any springtime table and an especially lovely dish to enjoy while wasting the waiting time away. Enjoy!

(Also, I must wish a big Happy Mother’s day to everyone who is a Mom, or a mother to be, or plays a loving, maternal role in someone’s life.  I am at once all of my Mother’s experiences and my own, my Mother helped me grow my wings and let me fly and I thank her for that.)

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I just got back from spending 5 days in San Fransisco with some lovely friends.  What a rejuvenating time but how difficult to come back to cold, snowy New York.  I’d love to share more about my trip but I’ll save that for later.

Right now, I’m making some roasted root vegetables but I’m so very hungry I just can’t wait for them to be done.  Luckily, a few weeks ago I made some nice soup that I froze and am presently enjoying to tide me over until my veggies are done!  This is not just any soup, this is the first recipe I’ve tried out of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I got the cookbook for Christmas.  Not this Christmas, but last Christmas!  I don’t know why I never got around to making any of the recipes I had dog-eared during my first read through of the book.  There are so many yummy recipes and despite what you might think after seeing Julie and Julia, several are simple and require few ingredients.

Perhaps I was inspired to finally make a recipe from the cookbook after my Mom and I watched Julie and Julia for the second time over the holidays.  It is a sweet movie but the books it is based upon are much much better (isn’t that how it always works though?).  What an incredible thing Julie Powell did, cooking her way through the whole book.  I’m not sure I would survive that task, given how much meat is in the book and how long the book is, so I truly admire her feat.

When I arrived back in the Bronx, I remembered we had some leeks from our CSA that were languishing away in the vegetable drawer.  All I had to do was pick up some potatoes since luckily the recipe only calls for a few ingredients and I had the others on hand.  This soup freezes pretty nicely although it does separate a little bit when it thaws–just add a little extra milk or butter and heat it up, it tastes great!

This is an easy recipe that really any cook of any skill level can complete.

-2 large russet potatoes

-3 cups chopped leeks (both white and green parts), about 2 medium leeks

-3 small shallots or onions, chopped

-4 carrots diced***

-2 quarts of water

-salt and pepper, to taste

-rosemary, to taste**

-3 TBSP butter or 1/3 c. heavy cream

***I added this to the recipe as per Julia’s suggestion.  She includes several variations on the basic recipe, this is something I just love about her cookbook.  Aren’t all of us cooks always adding our own twist and experimenting?   It is one of the joys of cooking!  Check out her book to see this and other variations on the potato leek soup.

1.     Chop all the veggies and put them in a big soup pot with the water and some salt and pepper and a few pinches of rosemary.

2.     Simmer partially covered for about 45 minutes or until they pass what I call “the fork test”—are they soft when you stick a fork in each type of veggie?  The carrots take the longest.

3.     Using a blender or food processor, blend everything until smooth and return back to the pot (this is where an immersion blender would come in handy!).

4.     Add in the butter or cream (or milk if you’d like) and adjust seasonings.  (I added butter.  You have to know that Julia LOVED real butter, remember when I posted about how much I love it to?  Mmm!)

What could be more simple than that?!  You don’t really need to stand over the pot watching it so you can set the veggies to boil while you do other things around the house.  I hope you can make this recipe or run out and buy Julia Child’s first cookbook.  It is worth the cost—the illustrations are gloriously detailed and the manner in which the recipe flows is helpful and clear.  The soup is a delight and even better when you have a cold.

Enjoy!

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won·der·ment

noun

Definition of WONDERMENT

1: a cause of or occasion for wonder
2: astonishment, surprise
3: curiosity about something

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the days leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  When I was small, although I enjoyed December because it promised presents and cookies and staying up late, I mostly loved this season because the air seemed heavy with mystery and magic and wonder.

The reality of the adult December is often the whirlwind of holiday shopping, the onslaught of corporate messages reducing the holiday to dollar signs, the stress of pleasing friends and relatives, the overeating of treats, etc, etc, etc!  All of this can slowly drain December of any trace childlike wonderment.

So what are you doing this month to take back December?  A while ago, I decided that the specter of “The Holiday Season” would only overshadow the beauty of this month if I allowed it!  Though many of us cannot shirk the responsibilities of present buying or cookie baking, we can all take a bit of time to slow down, turn inward, and perform a little self-care.  When was the last time you took a deep breath and felt a sense of wonder about life?  Now is the time!

Here are some things that are helping me maintain a sense of wonder through this entire month, I hope they inspire you:

 

Nourish yourself, body and soul

I just wrote this post on Circle of Food about my love for soup-making this time of year.  Now is the time to make sure you are eating healthfully.  Holiday shopping and low blood sugar do not mix!  I am a big fan of Christmas cookies and treats, but at mealtime I like to fill my belly with hot soups.  It not only fuels my body but it seems to nourish my mind and soul!  Enjoy the lentil soup recipe I wrote about–it freezes really well so you can make a double batch and have the rest on hand for later.

 

Spend time with friends, but take the stress out of the equation

My roommates and I threw a Hanukkah party.  Although we did prepare quite a spread of food, we asked friends to provide the drinks.  This took some of the stress out of it.  We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the company of great people.

Here are Danielle and Caitlin preparing latkes!

Latkes are time intensive, but well worth it!

Mmm, cupcakes!  Danielle brought out her battery operated menorah–nicknamed Manny the menorah 🙂  She also said the prayers over real candles in her other menorah.

Here we are with friends from our building who just had a baby!

Take time to meditate in the company of candles or the lights from a Christmas tree

For many years of apartment living, I have had a teeny tiny fake tree.  The other morning, I was passing the bodega on our corner and I smelled the beautiful scent of freshly cut trees.  There were several for sale, just waiting for a loving home.  I decided then and there that I would buy one and put it up in our apartment.

Why postpone happiness?  A simple thing like a real tree has brought me so much joy in the short time I’ve had it up.  I was a little worried that I didn’t have many ornaments, but I soon discovered that there were several decorations around the house I could hang on the tree.  For instance, I had some Tibetan prayer flags and some angels that are hanging on my wall and I am using those as ornaments.  Though they aren’t traditional looking, they are beautiful nonetheless.  I also cut out some stars from cardboard and covered them in tinfoil and hung those on the tree.

Isn’t it a beautiful little tree?  I’m trying to spend at least five minutes in the quiet with the twinkly lights every day from now until January.  If you do the same, I guarantee you will find some December serenity.  I like to use that time to cultivate gratitude for all the good things going on in life.

Relive or recreate some of your favorite December childhood memories

The other night, I went to see New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker.  The crowded theater was packed with smiling faces.  Although many of those faces belonged to lucky children, there were countless adults of all ages who wanted to relive (or experience for the first time) a classic holiday experience.  Here we are outside the theater:

And inside the theater:

I’ve also been trying to enjoy as many Christmas movies as possible!

 

 

Wherever you are, I hope something here has inspired you to take a little time today to cultivate December wonderment.

 

 

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Here I am in wordpress format!  For a while now I’ve been thinking about switching to wordpress.  I like the look a lot more than blogger.  We’ll see how this experiment goes….in the meantime, I also will be doing a guest blogger spot on Circle of Food.  Check it out!

Have you seen the City Critic article in the NY Times today?  All about picking out and slaughtering your own turkey.  I don’t know if I could do the actual killing part, but I think it’s really important to be connected to your food–this is one of the reasons I try not to eat meat since I think we are so cut off from any knowledge of how the animal was raised and killed.

For a long time, it was really hard for me to give up the Thanksgiving turkey although I had stopped eating meat for a while.   However, the more I learned about the way Thanksgiving turkeys are raised and killed, the less I wanted to eat of it.  For the past several years now, I’ve opted to stay away from the turkey.  The other side dishes are kind of a different story.  Last year I still had gravy; what are mashed potatoes without gravy?!?  This year, I am going to make vegetarian gravy.  I’ve got a few recipes to choose from, right now I’m leaning toward the NPR recipe.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97137098

Note: The gravy thickens up quite a bit, so keep some warm water or vegetable broth on hand to thin it out before serving, and for leftovers.

Makes 2 cups.

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup chopped onion or shallots

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and soy sauce to form a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the broth.

Season with sage, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.

From Martha Stewart: Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy – Martha Stewart Recipes

Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 portobello mushroom
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms
4 cups organic mushroom or vegetable stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Marsala wine (optional)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon thyme leaves

  1. Remove stems from portobello, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms. Place stems and mushroom stock in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes. Strain; set aside.
  2. Finely chop portobello cap, and set aside. Thinly slice shiitake and cremini. Place 3 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium heat; add shallots, and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped and sliced mushrooms, and cook until mushrooms are soft and browned, and all liquid has evaporated. Add Marsala, if using, and cook, stirring to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  3. Place the remaining tablespoon butter and flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook until browned and fully combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the enriched stock; bring to a boil, whisking until thickened. Add the reserved mushroom mixture and thyme, and stir to combine. Serve hot.

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