Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quick quinoa salad

Another no recipe needed quick summer meal. I had some cooked quinoa on hand (per Mark Bittman's suggestion, I made extra from the last time I cooked it, so that I'd have leftovers for just this sort of thing), and I just tossed it with some chopped orange and yellow bell peppers, store-bought baked tofu, fresh italian parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. I imagine it would also be great with summer squash, a little lightly steamed broccoli, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, or any other veggie/protein combination you like.

Raw pasta sauce

This is not really a recipe, but I made my first raw pasta sauce of the summer and it was soooo good. This will be a once-a-week dinner for sure. I just threw tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, pepper, a dash of sugar, and a splash of olive oil into the food processor (an appliance I love for things like this) for less than 1 minute. Voila. Perfect summer meal with a big green salad.

I had read you should not make sauce like this in a food processor - that it should be chopped or put through a manual food mill. Phooey. Just toss it in and eat it up. Yeah, maybe for company you should do it the "right" way, but for everyday, I don't need superb, just damn good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Banana Oat Pancakes

Certainly too rich for every day. But a lovely Sunday treat. Note - the recipe makes a lot. I cut it in half and it's still too much for my husband and me to eat alone.

A new use for an old appliance

As a follow-up to the yogurt maker post, I thought I'd mention a cool new use I've found for an old appliance. My 16-year-old Black and Decker Food Steamer (a going-away-to-college gift from my Aunt), designed to cook rice and steam vegetables, also does a great job for whole grains like quinoa (which I now know is pronounced keen-wa, thanks to the locavore on core,who I had the pleasure of meeting last week) and hard-boiled eggs. There is a newer version of the steamer available and I got some info about using a steamer for whole grains here. There are directions for steaming eggs in the book that came with the machine, and I tried that this morning. They were perfect.

A note about appliances - I love them lately and definitely could not cook as much as I do without them. Any appliance that prepares food without assistance, and then shuts off or "keeps warm", makes it possible for me to take advantage of those 5-10 minute moments when my toddler is otherwise occupied to get something started that I can eat or use in a recipe later. So I love the yogurt maker, bread machine, slow cooker, and now food steamer.

Though they're not "set and forget" appliances, I also love the food processor and hand blender. They make things like muesli possible - there's no way I'd grate an apple. Just wouldn't. And tonight I used the hand blender's cool chopper attachment to make pesto with basil from my garden.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

This eating real food project is really turning me into a hippie

In previous posts, I talked about making granola, starting a small garden, and visiting pick-your-own farms. Well, I've been making my own yogurt, too, with the help of this amazing device. Is this where I'm headed?

My toddler (with a little help from me and my husband) eats at least 3 quarts of really nice, organic, whole milk yogurt a week. That yogurt costs about $5-6 per quart. I guess I could give him a less expensive, sugary, brightly colored yogurt, but...

So I started to look into making my own yogurt. Even though it is really not that hard, I am unlikely to do anything requiring a thermometer and the iffiness of warm blankets, oven pilot lights, and such to maintain the right milk fermenting temperature.

Then I discovered the Miracle Yogurt Maker. And I am totally hooked. Here's how it works: buy a quart of milk. Open it. Add a couple tablespoons of plain store-bought yogurt. If you want a thicker yogurt, stir in a little powdered milk. Close carton (I use a small binder clip). Turn yogurt maker on. Leave on for 12-20 hours. Take carton out of yogurt maker. Put carton in fridge for 1 hour to set. Eat.

Now we have homemade yogurt several times a week for about $2-3/quart. And it is soooo good. We like ours with some fruit or a little maple syrup drizzled in. For breakfast, dessert, or a snack. Our toddler also eats it with no problem.

Andrew Weil's Basil, Corn, and Tomato Soup

Easy and perfect for summer. I cut the basil from my own plant! Later in the summer, maybe I'll be able to use my own tomatoes, too. Here's the recipe.

Mark Bittman's Wheat Quick Bread

This was on my cooking wish list. It came out beautifully. I froze the loaf, sliced, after 2 days, when I could see that we weren't going to be able to eat it quickly enough, and it freezes very well. Makes fantastic toast with jam in the morning. I did the "lighter" version featured at the end of the recipe, using honey instead of molasses and a mix of whole wheat and white flours. Note that "lighter" in this context refers to color/richness, not fat or calories. It's a pretty rich bread. But just one slice is very satisfying.

Nearly instant dinner

After a long day of cherry and peach picking, I hadn't planned on cooking, but managed to pull this together. Nava Atlas's Sesame-Soy noodles and a green salad with store-bought baked tofu and Paul Newman's Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing. I used whole wheat linguine, and it was perfect. Udon would be nice, but I don't tend to keep that around. Next time, I'll try it with some black sesame seeds on top, for flavor and appearance. Dinner in 20 minutes. Not exactly guest-worthy, and overly reliant on pre-made stuff, but a very passable dinner and a great option for busy, tired nights.

Brentwood, CA

Pick your own cherries and peaches in Brentwood, CA. Fun, healthy, and cheap. And we get to see where our food comes from. We're definitely gonna do this again soon. Pics taken in late May.

And by the way - that cherry picture - just luck. They're in a plastic grocery store bag, sitting on my counter.

My Garden

I've never had a green thumb, but I thought, why not? Just a couple of plants and herbs to start in pots on the deck. Pics taken in Late May - I'll post again in a few weeks.



Basil, Oregano, and Rosemary