Butternut Squash and Kale Mash with Toasted Walnuts and Sage (gf, veg, v option)

Greetings, hungry blogosphere! Today’s post is sinfully tasty vegetarian feast and a retooled version of a recently republished Ree Drummond recipe. That Ree Drummond? The accidental country girl-slash-Pioneer Woman? Yep, that one, I luh her. I’ve subscribed to her blog for years (haven’t seen the show so I’m absolved if it’s terrible). She’s a very funny writer who cooks like a real person who feeds other real people in real situations and really loves real food. No “poached quail eggs in nests of freeze-dried seaweed” from The Pioneer Woman. Phew! “Thanks, Ree!” cried happy stomachs everywhere.

another reason I like Ree: she occasionally  punctuates her posts with cheeky pictures like this one

another reason I like Ree: she occasionally punctuates her posts with cheeky pictures like this one

The Pioneer Woman’s butternut squash and kale recipe is no exception to her practical/delicious formula. It’s simple, fast, healthy, hearty, and can be used in roughly one bajillion ways. Get a load ofof Ree’s fabulous suggestions for using the mixture: in quesadillas! stirred into risotto! in a grilled cheese sandwich! in a pita with chicken! puréed with broth to make soup! tossed with bowtie pasta, olive oil, and Parmesan! as an appetizer, on crackers with goat cheese! alone, on a plate!

kale 10

Basically, regardless of which of the bajillion ways you serve this dish, it will be delicious, so make a big pot. I added onion, sage, and walnuts to my version and we enjoyed it with turkey cutlets Dave made. He was the Marlboro Man to my Pioneer Woman as we cooked. Ree Drummond joke. NBD.

kale dinner

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND KALE MASH WITH TOASTED WALNUTS AND SAGE

Inspired by The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:kale 1

  • 1 12-oz bag chopped kale, or 1 head kale, roughly chopped with stalks removed
  • 1 bag cubed butternut squash or 1 butternut squash, cubed and peeled with seeds removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • a few grates of fresh nutmeg
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup raw walnuts

Directions:

In a deep saucepan or cast iron skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium. When the butter has melted and is slightly foamy, add the onion and sauté until translucent. I love this smell.

kale 2

Add the butternut squash, salt, sage, nutmeg, and chili powder and saute about 5 minutes, until all sides have had a some time with the direct heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover with a lid, steaming for 5 more minutes until the squash is soft. The steaming makes this dish a mash; if you’re looking for a more caramelized consistency, be patient and sauté until golden brown.

While the squash steams, toast the walnuts in a small nonstick skillet over medium, tossing so they don’t burn. They’re done when they’re a fragrant, toasty brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

kale 4

When the butternut squash is soft, remove the mixture to a large bowl and return the pan to the stove, turning the heat back up to medium high. Add 2 tablespoons water and bring to a simmer. Add the torn kale leaves and stir around for a few minutes, letting them wilt. If they get dry, add another tablespoon water.

When the leaves have wilted and broken down (break them! break their spirit!), stir them into the squash, tasting for seasoning and grinding in as much pepper as you’d like. Top with the toasted walnuts and serve!


Creamy Crockpot Pinto Beans (gf, v option) and Gluten-free Cornbread (gf, veg)

The Missouri November weather was spectacular last weekend. Dave and I went on an epic, 3-hour, 10+ mile hike around the Weldon Spring area to enjoy said Missouri November weather, beginning and ending at the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell. What is the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell, you ask? Well, we wondered the same thing. It’s a 45-acre mound of rocks covering layers of nuclear waste. And you can walk to the top! How’s that for a bizarre tourist attraction?

beans 15

view from the top

The Us Army Ordinance Works purchased the site and adjacent land (17,232 acres- whoa) in 1941. The Army contracted the Atlas Powder Company to manufacture trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dinitrotoluene (DNT) at a sprawling factory complex on the site until 1945 to support World War II efforts. After the war, the Army started selling off the land but kept about 2,000 acres to house the Weldon Spring Uranium Feed Mill Plant, which was just what it sounds like- a uranium ore processing plant that operated from 1955 to 1966. Uranium ore processing plants produce well, radioactive waste, and that, kids, is what’s tucked beneath the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell.

beans 14

beans 17

I’m hesitant to believe that the waste isn’t harmful to the surrounding communities or people walking all over the cell, but so far, I feel no strange after-effects. I can see better, though. Strange…. Anyway, we were starving when we got home and had breakfast-for-lunch, with the addition of these warming, slow-cooked, creamy pinto beans and leftover cornbread to dunk in them. I’d soaked the beans overnight the night before and put them in the crockpot before we headed out, so only finishing touches were left to be made when we got back. The cornbread originally accompanied some white bean chicken chili we’d made and heated up well to go with the beans. So, without further ado, creamy crockpot pinto beans and gluten-free cornbread!

beans 12

CREAMY CROCKPOT PINTO BEANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dry pinto beans, rinsed and sorted
  • water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped, or 2 tbsp olive oil for vegan beans
  • 1 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

Directions:

Rinse the dry beans after you pick them over for any rocks or clumps of dirt. Finding rocks and clumps of dirt in bags of dry beans isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, but it is every bit as gross as it sounds, so look ’em over good. Put the beans in a bowl and cover with an inch of water, soaking at least 8 hours or overnight. How retro-frugal you are, soaking beans! Good for you. The WWII-era Real Housewives of Weldon Spring would be proud.

beans 1

RHOWS

When the beans have had a good soaking, dump their soaking water, rinse them again, and put them in your crockpot. Cover with water, up to 1/2 inch above the beans. Keep in mind that when cooking in a crockpot, the water added to a recipe will stay put, so add as much as you’d like or not like. Cover and set to low for 8 hours or high for 4. Take a hike.

When you return from your hike/nap/workday/classified mission, chop the 2 pieces of bacon and cook them over medium in a small skillet until crispy. If you’re omitting bacon, heat the olive oil over medium. Remove the bacon once it’s crispy and add the onion to the bacon fat or olive oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Salt and pepper the onions, and add the onions, bacon, and 2 cups of beans to a food processor. Whir that sucker until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir the mixture back into the pot of beans.

You’re all done! The beans are even better the next day. They’re rich and creamy and make a perfect partner for a few hunks of….

OLD FASHIONED GLUTEN-FREE CORNBREAD

Adapted from Gluten Free On a Shoestring

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow cornmealbread 1
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 4 tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups room-temperature plain yogurt
  • 4 tbsp raw honey

Directions:

Grab two bowls and preheat your oven to 400. In the larger bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

bread 2

In a second, smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: egg, butter, yogurt, and honey.

bread 3

Now make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the large bowl. See where this is going? Now you know why the dry ingredients got more bowl-love than the wet ones. Pour the wet ingredients into the center well and mix until just combined.

bread 4

Grease a cast-iron skillet or 9×13″ pan and spread the cornmeal mixture in evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown.

bread 6

This celiac husband-friendly side was quite tasty. It held together well but was also crumbly, and would be great with the addition of cheddar cheese or chopped green chiles. It was great with the white chili and stood up to the beans.  What will you serve with yours?


Spicy Thai Coconut Quinoa & Veggies (v, gf)

qunioa 9

OMIGODYOUGUYS Somehow, allez! gourmet, my beloved little hobby blog (hobblog?), has been visited over FORTY THOUSAND times and today marks my HUNDREDTH post!

little miss sunshine gif

a hundred, shaZA-yum!

I started the blog in January 2012 as a new year’s resolution to share recipes on a regular basis, which I’d previously been doing via Facebook. Sharing on FB was neither pretty nor enjoyable. Remember Notes? Ew. Realizing how much I loved to write about cooking and food, I thought I’d better give a proper blog a try. I’m so glad I did! I have had so, so much fun working on a!g. Posting has been an exciting challenge, inspiring me to try new recipes and put my voice out into the great unknown. Putting myself out there was an intimidating prospect! “Who will read this?” I wondered. “Will anyone find it? Will my blog have critics?… Is this thing on?” Mysteriously, the interwebs worked their googly magic and people other than my mom started visiting the blog, unprompted. allez! gourmet’s biggest hit by far has been 2013’s peanut butter & cinnamon greek yogurt dip. It’s probably the simplest recipe I’ve posted and it’s viewed over 100 times a day. A day. Crazy!  So, instead of learning from the peanut butter dip’s lesson that readers love simplicity, today’s 100th post is multi-stepped (but quite representative of my kitchen). Ha! Enjoy and, as always, thanks for reading!

quinoa 5

mmm, nutrition…

SPICY THAI COCONUT QUINOA AND VEGGIES

Ingredients:

For the dressing

  • 1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves, washed and stems removed
  • 3/4 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • 2-3 cloves garlic or more if you’re so inclined
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup sriracha
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp hot water

For the quinoa

  • 1 3/4 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup water and 1 tsp vegetable base, or 1 cup veggie stock
  • generous sprinkle kosher salt

For the tofu and veggies

  • 1 block firm, organic tofu, cut into large dice
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 bag fresh broccoli florets, or the florets from 1 head broccoli

Directions:

This is a classic vegan grain and veggie bowl. Make the grain, boil veggies, cook the tofu, then toss it all with a raw and incredibly flavorful dressing. You will feel healthier just by smelling this stuff. Prepping the dressing is the best part of this meal: add all dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Voila! Set aside. If you’d like the peanuts to have a bit more oomph, toast them in a skillet first.

On to the quinoa. As the quinoa cooks, you’ll have plenty of time to par boil the veggies and cook the tofu. In a saucepan fitted with a lid, add the quinoa, water and base or broth, can of coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer over medium low for 20 minutes. Stir this once or twice as it cooks.

quinoa 1

riveting photo, eh? I barely remembered to snap a pic of the quinoa at all…

While the quinoa bubbles along, dice the tofu and set the chunks on a plate lined with paper towels to drain a bit. I put two paper towels under the tofu blocks and one on top, which absorbed a good amount of excess moisture. Chop your veggies as the tofu drains. In a deep saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium high. When hot, add the tofu chunks in a single layer, and cook for about 3 minutes before flipping. Flip each piece over and cook another 3 minutes until the tofu is a pretty golden-brown color.

Remove the cooked tofu to the same plate it was on earlier, lined with a clean paper towel, salting the tofu to taste. Add hot water to the saucepan you cooked the tofu in (no need to clean it out- hooray!) and bring to a boil. Add the red bell pepper, broccoli, and carrots, and boil for 3 minutes. Drain the veggies in a colander when three minutes is up. All done! Now to mix it together! In a large mixing bowl, mix the quinoa, drained veggies, and dressing. Fold in the tofu blocks and garnish with scallions, cilantro, or additional chopped peanuts… and serve. Delicious! A complete meal in one dish. This yummy bowl is fabulous hot and works at room temperature as well, making great picnic or packed lunch fare.

The meal was so tasty, I didn’t take any photos of my plate. Instead, enjoy two unrelated fall-themed pics from last night.  November is in full swing! Thanks again for reading, and I raise my pumpkin ale to you!

Update! Here’s a picture of the next day’s lunch: 

quinoa 11


Culinary Bucket List, West of Maine Shrimp Rolls (pes), and Watermelon Crush Smoothie (v, gf)

Hey there! In last week’s post, I mentioned my “dying wish” meal: Dominican beans and rice. “What would your last meal be?” has got to be my favorite food-related question out there- it can reveal so much! Last week’s post got me thinking about the rest of my culinary bucket list- the foods and restaurants I want to try before I kick the you-know-what. I put pen to paper on these and here’s what I came up with:

bl5

  • Chili from Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C.
  • A lobster roll in Maine
  • Pho in Ho Chi Min City
  • Pizza in Italy (or NYC! had as a child but don’t remember too well)
  • Tapas and jamón Ibérico in Madrid
  • A Jucy Lucy from Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis
  • Spam musubi and poke from Da Poke Shack in Kailua-Kona, HI
  • Feijoada and a caipirinha in Brazil
  • Spicy, spicy street food and dou hua in Chendgu, Sichian province
  • Moules frites in Brussels
  • Korean food with a table full of garnishes, anywhere
  • Dim sum in San Fran’s Chinatown
  • Ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Vermont
  • Brewery stops in Seattle and Bend, OR
  • Wine tasting in Napa Valley

Dreaming is wonderful but being grateful for what you have seen and done is where it’s at.  Here are some of the standout culinary moments I’ve been fortunate enough to experience:

  • Dinner at the Signature Room of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago
  • Brunch at the Army Navy Club in D.C.
  • Crab cakes oceanside in Maryland
  • Burgers made the same way as they were when my grandparents were newlyweds at Whisler’s Drive-Up in Carthage, MO
  • Cuban food in Little Havana
  • A hot Krispy Kreme donut right off of the conveyor belt
  • Fried chicken and fireworks by the Potomac on the Fourth of July
  • Hot, fresh apple cider feet from where it was made at an orchard
  • Oysters and Yuengling at the Old Ebbitt Grill in D.C.
  • Hot dogs at various MLB ballparks and Chicago dogs in Chicago
  • Sushi at Station Sushi in Solana Beach, CA and fish tacos in San Diego
  • Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ in Kansas City
  • Street tacos in Acapulco
  • Fette Sau BBQ and momofuku milk bar cookies in Brooklyn
  • Jerk chicken and Red Stripe from shack kitchens in Jamaica and home-cooked creole lobster with coconut rice and peas on the beach in Negril
  • Café au lait and a croissant in Paris
  • St. Louis roll call: Ted Drewes frozen custard, toasted ravioli, dinner at the chef’s counter at niche with Gerard Craft at the helm, cocktails made by Ted Kilgore, pho at Mai Lee, Sunday dim sum at Lulu Seafood
  • NOLA roll call: Beignets and chicory coffee at Café du Monde, hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s, boozy Friday lunch (complete with sing along) at Galatoire’s, oysters at the Acme Oyster House, a Pimm’s Cup at The Napoleon House, pecan-crusted fish and champagne and bread pudding at Commander’s Palace, a Sazerac at the Roosevelt Hotel, Abita and Zapps on Frenchmen Street, cocktails [everywhere]
  • Dominican Republic roll call: sancocho, fresh fish and boiled crabs, limoncillos, sweet-sauced and oregano-sprinkled cheese pizza from Pizzarelli, road stand ice-cold Presidente, juicy mangoes I climbed for and plucked myself, mofongo from Adrian Tropical, red snapper from the ice chest at Capitan Cook’s, and many, many more…

Sounds like I’ve got my priorities straight, right? My memories have always been punctuated by food- what I ordered when we went here or there, what we ate the day that this-or-that happened, what so-and so cooks so well. Today’s recipe is an approximation of one of the dishes on my list- the lobster roll! My OCD prevents me from trying this recipe with lobster- I’m holding out for the real thing in the right place- so I used shrimp. Didn’t heat up the kitchen too much and loved every bite. Bonus recipe below for a cooling summer smoothie!

shrimp4

WEST OF MAINE SHRIMP ROLLS

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup light mayo or Greek yogurt
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • celery seed
  • butter or olive oil
  • hot dog buns

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the Old Bay seasoning, the lemon, and the peppercorns. When the water is boiling, add the shrimp and boil 2-3 minutes, until opaque and cooked through. Strain and set aside, tossing the lemon and peppercorns. I recommend chilling the shrimp for a while to bring to room temp or cooler.

shrimp1

Meanwhile, dice the onion, celery, and tarragon. When the shrimp are cool (or warm, your call), toss the veggies and tarragon with the mayo, a sprinkle of celery seed, and some cracked black pepper. Fold in the shrimp and taste for seasoning.

Toast hot dog buns and drizzle with a bit of melted butter or some olive oil. Pile high with the shrimp salad and enjoy! Serve with a refreshing:

WATERMELON CRUSH SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups watermelon
  • a handful cilantro
  • 2-inch knob of ginger
  • juice of a lime
  • a handful of strawberries
  • 24 oz coconut water

Directions:

Toss all ingredients in a blender a whir away. Serve over ice. Crazy straw optional, but recommended.

Would be quite tasty with a bit of coconut rum… Hmm. Rum is good for pondering. Sip your smoothie, ponder, and tell me….

 What have YOU checked off of your culinary bucket list? What’s left to be tasted?


Secret Ingredient Black Bean & Quinoa Chili (v, gf), Quickie Caulifower “Rice” (v, gf), and BeckyAmyLew

happy feet, happy place

After a lovely, relaxing 4th of July weekend spent fishing, reading, and sleeping at the cabin of some dear family friends, Dave and I came home happy and calm… and in dire need of a s’mores and hot dog detox. It was a vegemergency. While running through the grocery store on a typical post-holiday “we have no food in the house” weekday evening, I racked my brain for a vegan meal that would take little prep work and would allow me to get a few things done while it cooked.  An enticing Fit Foodie Finds recipe I’d Pinned recently popped in my mind and thought I’d give it a whirl.

I’M SO GLAD I DID.

chili split

ignore my ominous, hulking shadow… Lauren hungry, Lauren want food

This chili hit the spot, despite the 95-degree St. Louis summer upon us. Use any veggies you have lying around for your version; edit and add to use what’s in your pantry. Whatever you toss in will add bright, veggie goodness. We had a beautiful home-grown zucchini my in-laws gave us over the weekend (thank you!) and decided to add it to the mix; carrots, broccoli, potatoes, different beans, different peppers, or more or less of the ingredients listed below would all work well. I do recommend keeping the secret ingredient, though…

SECRET INGREDIENT BLACK BEAN & QUINOA CHILI

Adapted from Fit Foodie Finds

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped into large dice
  • 3+ cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water + 3 tsp vegetable base, or 3 cups vegetable stock + 2 cups water
  • 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
  • juice of one lime
  • 3 tbsp good-quality chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • avocado, green onion, sour cream (obviously not vegan), hot sauce for serving
  • And…… 

The secret ingredient is…. a cinnamon stick!! BOOM! Vegan chili mic drop.

Directions:

OMIGOSHYOUGUYS. The chili was so very easy to throw together. There are just three little steps: chop veggies, sauté veggies, simmer chili. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy stock pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, green pepper, zucchini, and poblano pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent- if you want to. You could very easily dump all ingredients into the pot and crank up the heat. If you’re sautéing, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add all other ingredients (gah! so easy!). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and cover, simmering for 50 minutes. Put chili in face. 

chili simmering

The genius addition of a cinnamon stick gives this chili a smoky, sweet quality that’s hard to pinpoint and plays well with the other spices and veggies. The cinnamon flavor isn’t overwhelming and having a secret ingredient to add makes this dish even more special.

hearty veggie goodness

hearty veggie goodness

Now- for the cauliflower rice, which you can whip up while the chili is simmering. I adapted this recipe from BeckyAmyLew, my old friend Becky Lewis’ paleo-friendly recipe and running blog. Cute site name, huh? Becky is a talented and creative home cook with international influences and lots to share. She describes herself as an:

“amateur Foodie and social media enthusiast living in the middle of America, USA. An expert in nothing. Simply aspires to inspire people through the gift of sharing.”

Check her out, especially if you’re looking for clever paleo recipes. In her cauliflower “rice” post, Taiwan-born Becky describes the globally important grain as a favorite and as what she misses most in her no-grain paleo diet; I completely relate and was drawn to this recipe instantly, as my Dominican bones also pine for white rice with each meal (damn healthy choices, depriving me of diabetes and the joy in life…). Rice is such a love of mine, my “dying wish” meal is my aunt’s habichuelas con arroz blanco, Dominican beans and rice. Becky’s cauliflower substitute was so satisfying, I just may update that wish.

CAULIFLOWER “RICE”

Adapted from BeckyAmyLew

Ingredients: 

  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • Seasonings to your taste, optional (I used Goya Adobo)

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, pulse the cauliflower in batches. You’re looking for a rice-like shape and size, small but not ground into meal. This is a surprisingly easy consistency to achieve. Just pulse, pulse, pulse and keep an eye on it as you go.

cauliflower in blender

Set the cauliflower aside and sauté the diced onion in the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium until the onion is translucent. Add the cauliflower and salt and pepper to taste, stirring well to combine. Cover the mix and let steam for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently and checking often.

"rice, rice," baby

rice, rice, baby

 There you have it! Cauliflower “rice!” Pairs perfectly with chili, stir-fries, and other saucy foods. What other grain alternatives have you tried?


Produce Basket Weeknight Curry (v, gf)

Well, hello! It’s time for a curry. This dish is a great way to either add veggies to your diet, celebrate a meatless Monday, or use up the sad veggies withering away accusingly in your fridge. Grab the veggies! It’s not too late!

veggie curry

PRODUCE BASKET WEEKNIGHT CURRY

Ingredients:

  • brown rice, cooked according to package directions (or a microwaveable package of brown rice)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

    you saved us!

    you saved us!

  • 6-8 cups of any combination of vegetables you may have, or:
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 eggplant, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms

              And:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp red or green curry paste, your choice (or 1+ tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp kosher salt)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • extra credit: 1 kaffir lime leaf and 1 tsp grated lemongrass
  • cilantro, for serving
  • bean sprouts, for serving 
  • sriracha or other chili paste for serving

Directions:

Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium high heat. When the oil has melted and is hot- you can test this by tossing in an onion- add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes, until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass, if using, and saute for another minute. Add the rest of your spectacular veggie combo (excluding cilantro and bean sprouts) and saute, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes more. Leave the stove on and skillet hot.

veggie saute

Remove the veggies to a large bowl and add the coconut milk to the  skillet and bring to a simmer. When the coconut milk is simmering, add the curry paste or powder, the brown sugar, and the fish sauce or salt. Stir to dissolve and combine, then add the veggies back and the kaffir lime leaf to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 3-5 more minutes.

veggies cooking

That’s it! Taste a bit of the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary. You may like it a bit more salty. Serve over brown rice and pass sriracha. How good of you to eat so many veggies at once. Yum.


Food for Thought: The Environmental Impact of Eating Meat

We’ve all heard the myriad health benefits of reducing our meat consumption, but what about the benefits to our planet? Mother Earth News published a great article succinctly summarizing the environmental impact of our monstrous American meat consumption, and I wanted to share it. It goes without saying that raising, preparing, and eating meat is deeply ingrained in our culinary identity as Americans, but aren’t American innovation and ingenuity a greater source of pride? What would be so revolutionary about an American shift to a fiscally responsible, sustainable, self-preserving plant-based diet? Wouldn’t that shift put us ahead of the curve? Food for thought.

veggie cow

Here are the facts that jumped off the page at me from the Mother Earth article:

  • Nearly all supermarket beef, chicken and pork — the three most consumed types of animal protein in this country — are produced on enormous industrial-scale farms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines these huge farms as “agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. [Such operations] congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing in pastures, fields or on rangeland.”
  • On these factory farms, animals eat commodity crops — primarily corn and soybeans — that are subsidized by taxpayers via the Farm Bill. Half of all North American cropland — about 149 million acres — produces animal feed from genetically modified (GM) crops designed to resist weedkillers such as Roundup. These crops have spawned an epidemic of herbicide-resistant “superweeds.” In 2012, superweeds infested 61 million acres of farmland growing GM crops. The result: An increase in herbicide use rather than a reduction, as well as “stacking” of genetically modified traits in seeds to allow cocktails of potent herbicides to be used on crops.
  • Beef cattle are given anabolic steroids as well as estrogen, androgen and progestin — commonly called “growth hormones” — to make them put on weight more quickly. Although the European Union banned the use of these hormones in 1988, they’re still commonplace in the United States. “Measurable levels of…growth-promoting hormones are found at slaughter in the muscle, fat, liver, kidneys and other organ meats,” says the Organic Consumers Association in a position paper. “Every beef-eating American for over 50 years has been exposed to these hormones on a regular basis.” Pigs, too, are fed growth hormones. The use of growth hormones in poultry, however, has been illegal in the United States since the 1950s.
  • Animal feed includes low-level (sometimes called “sub-therapeutic”) doses of antibiotics to promote growth and offset unsanitary, overcrowded conditions. About 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are administered to livestock, a figure acknowledged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. These drugs pass through manure and leach into the soil and groundwater, ultimately polluting neighboring rivers and streams.

My decisions as a consumer are weighing more heavily on me as I become aware of their rippling consequences (I think this is called “maturing” in some cultures. hmm). I love the occasional taste of meat and am by no means scolding…. but this is shocking stuff. If you’re considering reducing how much meat your family eats but you’re not sure how to approach the change (most of us are programmed to cook with meat), try introducing meatless Mondays or Mark Bittman’ wonderful flexitarian approach: VB6. Vegan before 6pm!

What are your thoughts on the effects of excessive meat consumption across our country?

You can read the entire article, Try a Flexitarian Diet for Better Health and a Better Food Budget, here.

Earthrise

Earthrise. I LOVE ya and I want to take care OF ya!


Baguettes! (v)

At the top of the rustic, earthy, lovely food to eat and make list- baguettes!

bags crispy

On the yeasty, satisfying, work with your hands list- baguettes!

bag and butter

Put on your berets and Breton striped shirts– let’s make baguettes!

THREE BEAUTIFUL BAGUETTES

Adapated from Food52

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flourbag ingreds
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 /2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • You will also need parchment paper, two kitchen towels, a rimmed baking sheet, a pair of scissors, and a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet

Directions:

This recipe is very simple. If you can knead dough (you can, the ability is buried in your genetic code) or have a stand mixer to knead dough for you, you can make these beautiful baguettes. There’s a lot of waiting involved as the dough rises; hands-on time is minimal. Baking these lovely parcels of dough is a rewarding, foolproof venture. Let’s get to it.

Faisons baguettes!

Faisons baguettes!

In a large bowl or your stand mixer’s bowl, whisk the hot water into the yeast. Let it sit for ten minutes, until foamy.

bag yeast water

When ten minutes has passed, mix the flour into the yeast and water with a fork, until a shaggy dough forms. I did this in four pour of flour for even mixing. Let this sit for 20  to allow the flour to hydrate. You’re getting the hang of this waiting stuff by now, aren’t you? Good. There’s more to come.

bag dough shaggy

After 20 minutes, add the kosher salt. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and knead with the hook attachment for 4-5 minutes on speed 2, until the dough has climbed up the hook and is smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead the old-fashioned way: turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes with the heels of your hands. “A good knead is better than an hour of psychotherapy, and it’s free.” There’s your motivation. Exorcise the demons.

bag dough salted

When your dough is smooth and shiny and elastic, oil a large glass bowl with the half tablespoon of canola. Pat the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in an oven or microwave until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

smooooth.

smooooth.

Once doubled, remove the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into a 6×8 inch rectangle, then fold the long sides into the middle, followed by the short sides. Basically, double fold it into a little bundle. Pop the bundle back into the oiled bowl and let double again, another 45 minutes or so. I hope you have a good book to read, what with all of this sitting around, sheesh. Consider this AbeBooks list of food memoirs if you don’t. Just looking at the covers makes me hunger for a memoir marathon… I’ll need a rainy Sunday, a cozy blanket, and a LOT of supplemental food.

bag dough folded

Now we get to play with the dough! Turn the lovely bundle onto a very lightly floured surface and pinch off into three equally sized sections of dough. Roll and pinch the rounds into 14-inch logs; these will be the base shapes for your loaves.

bag dough three

Grab your rimmed baking sheet and flip it over. Arrange a piece of parchment paper 3 inches wider than the sheet and fold two pleats into it. Lightly flour the pleated parchment paper.

bag pleated parchment

Put the loaves in the spaces you’ve created on the parchment paper and pull them close together- we’re using the pleated paper to allow the loaves to rise up, not out. Roll the two kitchen towels up and place them on either side of the three loaves. Let the loaves rise until doubled. LAST TIME, I promise.

bag dough towels final

Place the cast iron skillet on the very bottom rack of your oven. Arrange a rack right above that and preheat the oven to a blazing hot 475. To make the baguettes look like baguettes, cut slices into the tops of the dough at 30 degree angles with your scissors (add that to your baking bag of tricks!). Very pretty. Flatten out the parchment paper and pop the baking sheet, still inverted, into the oven. Immediately add the 1/2 cup of ice cubes to the cast iron skillet and close the oven door. The ice cubes will sizzle away and release steam, producing a crisp crust. Bake for 20 minutes, until a deep brown. Let cool and serve! They will be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Slather with butter and kick back. Bon appétit.

bags complete cooling