Thursday, 21 December 2006

Indian Dinner

Hibi really likes this meal, and it's becoming one of my favorites. Last night we had Lentil Saute with Indian Flavors, Indian sauteed cabbage, and brown rice.

Here's how to make it.

Start rice cooking (brown rice takes longer than white rice to cook). Bring to a boil two cups of water, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of rice. Stir until the water comes to a boil again, then lower to a bare simmer and cover. Let cook for...?...I think about 40 minutes or so.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 cup lentils and boil until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.

Chop one onion (yes, I know traditionally Indian cooking doesn't use those.....if you don't want them, use asafetida instead, or not at all). Saute at low heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until done and somewhat browned, about 12 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and two cloves minced garlic. Cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the cooked and drained lentils and cook until warmed through. To make a saucier lentil saute, add some water and cook for 5 or so minutes. You can add chopped mint to this dish if you wish.

Meanwhile, shred half a head of cabbage and wash thoroughly. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and add one tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon garam masala (a spice mix), and 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds. Laugh while the mustard seeds pop all over the place, or just add the cabbage before they begin popping. In any case, add the cabbage and cook until nicely wilted and smells wonderful.

I like to put all these on a plate, in separate thirds, and add a dollop of plain yogurt in the middle. They get mixed as I eat it. Yum! It's completely vegan except for the yogurt. I suppose you could use soy yogurt but Hibi doesn't care for it.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Almost there!

Man, I am exhausted. I'm getting too old for this! But it's a good exhausted. We closed escrow on our house on Thursday (yay!) and the seller is now in the process of moving out. He's supposed to be out by 5 pm tomorrow and we move in on Monday! We went over this afternoon and he showed us all the ins and outs of how the house works. We are all so happy to finally be HOMEOWNERS!

On Thursday evening, we were invited by a family from the church to come to dinner, then go to The Grotto to hear one of the daughter's high school Christmas concert. The Grotto has a big Festival of Lights every year and I'd wanted to get over there to see it this Christmas season, but I probably would have let busyness keep me away. I'm so glad this family invited us to come with them because the place was beautiful and the concert was wonderful. It was nice to get away from packing for an evening, too.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Vegan Cornbread

Happy Thanksgiving! I wanted to take a break from the dinner preparations to write down how I made some absolutely delicious cornbread last night. We're in Tucson at my in-laws house, and all the family is here. Last night Mom had the family's traditional Coward Lush (vegetable soup) for dinner, and she was making cornbread to go with it. It had eggs and milk in it, so I said I'd make some vegan cornbread, too. I thought I had a recipe for vegan cornbread in my Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which I brought along to make rolls from for Thanksgiving, but when I looked there was none. So I adapted my favorite cornbread recipe from that book and came up with the best vegan cornbread I've had!

So, here it is.

Vegan Molasses Cornbread

Stir together 1 3/4 cup cornmeal, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a medium mixing bowl.

In a quart-size liquid measure, mix together 2 1/4 cups soy milk, 3 tablespoons walnut oil(or other tasty oil), 3 tablespoons molasses (I used blackstrap--loading on the calcium, too!) and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

Stir the liquids into the dry ingredients and pour into a greased 8X8 pan or a round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out without wet batter. Cut into squares or wedges and enjoy!

Monday, 23 October 2006

Chile Relleno

Here's the recipe I burned my poor hands on. They're feeling better, though--I think I'm going to get away with no ice, this time. It came close, though!

First, start the poblanos (or other mild peppers, like Anaheims, but make sure they're suitable--have thick enough flesh for some handling, and not too skinny) roasting. I pop mine in the toaster oven. We usually eat two each, and Zac eats one or one and a half. But the number depends on how large your peppers are, too. Tonight, I did seven and we'll have a couple left over for tomorrow. :-) (I've offered to stuff Hibi's with soy cheese, but this is one meal she's not crazy about and she's okay with making her own.)

Start some brown rice cooking--I usually make one cup rice to two cups water. Brown rice takes longer than white rice to cook, so you need to begin it before you start with anything else.

Make the ranchero sauce: In a large-ish saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon peanut or olive oil, 4 medium tomatoes, chopped, 1 small chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, one minced jalepeno (make sure to wear hand protection!), 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Cook for around 15 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are soft and everything is well blended.

Chiles: after the peppers have roasted and cooled, peel the skin off. Make a slit (or use one that appears naturally) and carefully remove as many of the seeds as you can.

Grate some Jack cheese, about a pound. You could use cheddar or muenster but I like jack for rellenos. Take a handfull of cheese and squish it into a cylinder. Insert it into a pepper. Fill the peppers until they have plenty of cheese, but aren't over-full. Close them as best as you can, and squeeze them gently to keep them closed.

Sprinkle the peppers with flour to coat them.

Separate three eggs, and beat the whites until stiff. Beat in 1/8 teaspoon salt, then the yolks, one at a time.

Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Dip each pepper into the egg and then put it in the pan, as many as will fit without being crowded. Fry until golden on the bottom, then turn and fry on the other side.

Serve the peppers with rice alongside, with ranchero sauce over the peppers or over both.

Saturday, 30 September 2006

Campfire Stew

And now, after all that bread science, a completely fool-proof recipe.

Here's how I make vegetable stew: I go to the store or farmer's market or to my CSA box, whichever one has the best veggies at hand, and select one white starchy veg, like potatoes, rutabega, or turnips; one green, probably leafy veg, like kale, collards, chard, chicories, etc.; and one red or orange or yellow veg, probably carrots, but could be a winter squash. I'm thinking of a winter stew here, so I wouldn't be using tomatoes or peppers or any of that. I might throw in one bonus vegetable, from any of those categories.

Anyway, here's my campfire stew method: chop coarsely one or two onions. Throw them into the dutch oven with a good dollop of olive oil and cook over hot coals until the onion is cooked. Add the chopped vegetables. Add a container of vegetable broth plus water to cover, salt, pepper, and whatever herbs you have on hand: rosemary is a personal favorite. Cook, with only bottom heat or both bottom and top heat, checking and stirring often, until the vegetables and tender and the stew is creamy and thickened. Enjoy as is or with grated cheese on top. Also wonderful with a dab of butter.

Dutch Oven Raisin Walnut Maple Bread

Guess I'd better get posting if I want to get this recipe up here! And it was a good one. But I think I'd suggest it only for folks who already bake bread, and therefore already know what to expect and the science of baking bread and all that. Otherwise it's likely to be a frustrating experience and then you'll never make bread. But if you're not daunted, and decide to go ahead, let me know how it turns out!

I made this one completely vegan, so that poor Hibi could eat something truly yummy (on the theory that it was, indeed, going to turn out truly yummy) and to prove that I'm not an all mean mom. I'm only somewhat mean, like tonight when I just whipped up batter for Chocolate Snaps, full of butter and eggs. Heh.

Campfire Bread

Okay, I didn't do any measuring, or very little. So I'm just gonna tell you how I made it. I have made the Deluxe Raisin Bread recipe from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book so many times I think I've internalized it. So, first I started about a cup of raisins, maybe a bit more, to cook in a couple of cups of water. As soon as it boiled I turned off the campstove and let them sit for a bit.

I poured warm water from the tap which at most campsites you wouldn't have, so you could heat it until it is *warm* but not hot. Anyway, about 1/2 cup warm water, then I stirred in two teaspoons of yeast (approximately). In a large bowl, I put a bunch of whole wheat flour, maybe 4 or 5 cups. Added 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, perhaps, and stirred.

I poured the water off the raisins into a measuring cup, or maybe a large yogurt container. I added some cold water and then stirred maple butter (but you could just as easily use regular maple syrup) in, I don't know, a couple or three spoonfuls. Hmm. I'm realizing that I don't think I used any oil. Well, that's interesting. Or maybe I did, but it would have been olive oil because that's the only kind I took camping. Maybe I did the first time and didn't the second and that's why it didn't turn out as well? Who knows.

I poured the water and the yeast mixtures into the flour and stirred, the usual Laurel's Kitchen way, making a batter with the stuff in the middle, then pulling more and more flour into the mix until it's all incorporated. I added some water because that's what it needed, but perhaps it'll need more flour for you. You want to end up with a nice, knead-able lump, but not too wet and not too much flour, either.

I never figured out a board for kneading on. I was thinking about washing the lid to one of my Rubbermaid containers really well, but it seems more trouble than it was worth. In the end I just kneaded it in the bowl, and it worked just fine. Just kind of a lazy way to spend a half hour or so, with friends walking by saying, "oh, what are you making???" So yeah, knead it for a while, until you can stretch out a piece into a paper-thin, or almost, sheet, without it tearing too much. Add the walnuts (or pecans), maybe about half a cup. I didn't even chop them, just broke them up with my fingers. And add the raisins. Knead in very well, then make the dough into a ball and then cover and let rise until a wet finger poked in one finger-joint deep makes a hole that doesn't return right away, probably about 1 1/2 hours, but outside in the cool air it can take much longer. If you don't need to, don't worry about warming the dough to rise--it'll have much better flavor if you leave it in the cool. If you need it to come out faster, go ahead and set it near the fire, but not too near!

When it's ready, wet your hands and push it down to expell all the air. Then pick up the mass and wrap the top part of the dough around to the other side, making a tight ball using all the top layer as a wrap around the ball. Let it rise again, about 45 minutes, and use the same test for doneness.

When it's done rising this time, put it in your dutch oven that's got a thin coat of shortening on it. Push it down to fit the bottom of the oven. Put the lid on and let it rise again, about 1/2 an hour. Toward the end of this rising time, take some maple syrup and brush it over the top of the bread. When it's done rising, bake in the methods I described for the apple pie below, using both bottom and top heat. Take care not to let it get too hot--the first time I made it, there was a huge log on the fire, that wasn't burning yet. I set my oven on the other side of that, and it shielded my oven from the intense heat. I think that's why it turned out so perfectly that time. Turn it often and check it often that it's not getting too much heat. When it is a nice, deep brown color and the edges have pulled from the sides somewhat, you can check to see if it's done. Take the oven away from the fire and tip it out onto a clean towel. Give it a thump on the bottom and if it sounds hollow, it's done!

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Meatless Pastitsio

Someone from another blog asked about favorite meals, and I said this was one of ours. Since I have the recipe on my computer I thought I'd just transfer it to my blog. Pastitsio is a Greek dish that probably was originally Italian. You can find pastitsio at Greek festivals everywhere, but this version came originally from Food and Wine Magazine and had meat in it. I made it meatless and I think it's so much better (sorry, heresy!) than the kind you get at festivals.

I use penne instead of ziti, because I can't ever find ziti. And nowadays, I always make a small dish of vegan pastitsio alongside, for Hibi. I just make a small amount of bechamel using soy milk and olive oil, and either omit the cheese or use soy cheese.


1 quart milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
� cup plus one tablespoon all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Two tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
� teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
� cup dry red wine
2 � cups chopped canned or fresh tomatoes, with juices
� cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound ziti or penne or rigatoni
� cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (4 � ounces)
2 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan or in the microwave, heat the milk until bubbles appear around the edge. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderately high heat until light golden, about 1 minutes. Gradually whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, � teaspoon of pepper, and � teaspoon of nutmeg. Press plastic wrap directly onto the sauce and let cool.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, but not brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and then add the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is nearly evaporated. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano and sugar. Season the tomato mixture with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, until flavors are well blended and the sauce is thickened slightly.

Meanwhile, cook the ziti in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well, blot the pasta dry with a clean towel, and let cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with half of the ziti. Spread two cups of the white sauce on top of the ziti and then cover with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with � cup of the cheese. Top with remaining ziti. Stir the egg yolks into the remaining white sauce and spread the sauce over the ziti. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges of the ziti are golden and the sauce is bubbling. Let the pastitsio stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Monday, 25 September 2006

Campfire "Spicy" Apple Huckleberry Pie

Here's the first of a couple of recipes I'll share that I made while we were camping. I found our "new" dutch oven at a garage sale. I think they were asking 8 bucks, and Paul offered 5, which they accepted. You can find these great cast iron babies at thrift stores or buy new at or a good camping store near you. Also essential are some other tools to use with your dutch oven, but if someone else has them at camp you can bum off them as I did. They are: a lid lifter and a shovel. Also helpful is a pair of fire tongs to move logs around. Oh, and don't forget a good pair of gloves, or at least a pot holder. Working around the fire gets very hot!

Prepare the dough: Mix 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Cut in (with pastry blender, two knives, or your clean-as-you-can-get-them fingers) 1 cup of butter (two sticks). Add cold water (at home I use ice cubes, but none at camp! Just fresh cold water) in small dribs and mix, until dough holds together. Form a disk and put in your ice chest to chill until you're ready to use it.

Prepare the filling: Pare, core and slice about 5 pounds of good apples (Paul found organic local apples for me to use, and they were tasty!) and put in the dutch oven. Add 1 1/2 cups huckleberries that your kids picked. Ah, they're so pretty, stemmed and washed they look like jewels. Here's the "spicy" part: add a couple of handfuls of candied ginger, minced. I kept saying "spicy" when I was telling what it was, to try to deter the kids--whenever a dessert came out, the kids would devour it in seconds. I wanted to give the adults a chance!

Put a stick of butter in the mix--you can use less, but I was daring and used a whole stick and it was *delicious*...and sugar, maybe about 3/4 cup. Put the lid on and cook in the campfire. Here's how you cook in a dutch oven in a campfire: Pull some hot coals out of the fire (still in the fire pit) and make a little bed with them, about as big as the bottom of your dutch oven. Put the dutch oven on top, then top with more hot coals. You can use just bottom heat or just top heat, and I think I used just bottom heat for this part.

Cook until the apple mixture is bubbly and has cooked some. Then take your pastry and roll to the size of your dutch oven. Cut steam vents in it....not really necessary, I suppose, but it's cute if you do. Then just lay it over the apple filling and cook. You need top and bottom heat for this part. Rotate the dutch oven periodically, and replace hot coals as necessary. We had mostly pine this year, which burns hot but the hot coals are soon cold. You have to adjust for different kinds of wood, considering how they burn. You'll know when this pie is done by the pastry being nice and brown and the gorgeous deep pink juices bubbling up over it. Trying to keep the kids from devouring it will take willpower, and will cause much guilt on your part and many sad faces on their part. Ask me how I know.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Squash Blossom Soup

Still no camera--I'll be going on vacation without it, unless it comes in tomorrow....but I had to share this soup for all of you with squash plants that are bearing a little too exuberantly! Slow them down by using up the little tiny ones and the blossoms. If they aren't bearing as exuberantly as all that, just use the male blossoms--the ones that don't have a little bump (or squash) behind it.

Squash Blossom Soup

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add one chopped onion, two minced cloves of garlic, and 1 teaspoon marjoram or oregano. Saute until barely wilted, about a minute. Stir in two chopped tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften, about a minute. Stir in as many coarsely chopped squash blossoms as you can find (recipe says 3/4 pound but I never have that many) and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Add 4-6 tiny zucchini or other squash, halved lengthwise (I use the tiny ones and the larger ones, just cut to be uniform), one minced jalepeno, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 8 cups of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook until squash is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and serve.

We had this tonight with cheese slices and home-fried tortilla chips. Just cut corn tortillas into wedges and fry in oil. Let them drain on a paper bag and salt them. Divine!

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Mediterranean Meze Dinner

Mmm, we had a yummy dinner tonight. It was inspired from our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, Ya Halla, and my new cookbook (which I have a post in process about). I found the recipe for Baba Ganouj in Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables and I just had to try it.

This meal is completely vegan!

I planned a meal consisting of baba ganouj, pita wedges, hummus, olives, and fried cauliflower (we've only eaten the latter at Ya Halla, but I understand it's a Lebanese treat). I had to abandon the hummus because Paul had to leave at 6 for a meeting, and the garbanzo beans weren't done cooking in time. But I did manage to get the rest done, even though I'd never made it before.

It's worth seeking out good pita bread. I sometimes make my own, and if I'd had time today I would have used the rest of the pizza dough from yesterday to do just that. But I had store-bought that is good--it took me years to find a good brand. You might look for a middle eastern grocery for good pita. Here in Portland, I buy the Dinar brand that can be found at the food coops and at New Seasons. There's also a good Lebanese grocery right next to Ya Halla.

Olives: I used a Meditteranean blend, Pelloponese brand, from Greece. Though I usually like to buy non-imported foods because of the issue of burning up fossil fuels to get food so far from it's origin, and if possible I like to buy very local, within 100 miles. I've been heard to say, to my kids in the grocery store: "No, we won't buy that fruit, because it's from California. We'll wait until it's in season here in Oregon."

Baba Ganouj

Rub two whole eggplant with olive oil and place on a pan. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees until eggplant is very soft, about 30-45 minutes. Let cool. (Or not, if you're in a hurry! Just be careful.)

Meanwhile, toast 1/4 cup pine nuts in a dry skillet. Be careful not to overtoast, as they burn easily.

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about two lemons), 1/3 cup tahini, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

When the eggplant is done, cut each in half and scoop out the flesh. Put it through a food processor. Add to the mixture in the bowl and stir until well combined. Serve garnished with the pine nuts and chopped parsley or cilantro.

Fried Cauliflower

I found a beautiful yellow cauliflower at the farmer's market. I cut it into large-ish florets and put them in a bowl. I cooked them in the microwave for 4 minutes (could boil instead) just to par-cook them.

Heat enough olive oil in a skillet to completely cover the bottom. Add the cauliflower and cook, turning every few minutes, until nicely browned on each side. Hibi especially loves fried cauliflower!


I suppose I should post just how I make pizza, because I know my adoring masses (all 5 of you) are dying to know. First off, I use the whole wheat pizza dough recipe from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. I always make half again as much as the recipe calls for--when I'm making bread, that equals three loaves instead of two. So I do it for pizza dough, too. Last night I put 1/3 of it in the freezer for future pizza, or to make pita. One recipe was plenty of pizza for five of us last night, plus good leftovers today.

Before preparing the pizzas, I preheat my baking stone, at 400 degrees.

Use a cookie sheet, or a pizza peel, to transfer the pizza on and off the baking stone. I prepare the sheet with coarsely ground wheat....but I have a grain mill, so it's easy for me to get different grinds of grain. Cornmeal is often suggested, but I find it's too hard, and biting down on a grain of corn isn't always pleasant. Another alternative is steel-cut oats. Oats are nice and soft and you can buy them ground to the correct coarseness.

But don't put too much on the sheet! Too much loose grain is what makes the house all smoky when you're using a baking stone. But you want enough that the pizza will be able to slide off easily.

So, after the dough is all ready to go, I pat it into small rounds--last night I think I made 9 small rounds-- and lay it on the prepared cookie sheet (I don't have a pizza peel). Put salt and pepper on the dough, then add olive oil. (I've also done this last--but last night I did it first. Seems I can remember to do it better at the beginning.) Then add whatever toppings you want. There's a nice pizza sauce recipe there with the dough recipe, but in the summertime I rarely use pizza sauce as there are so many more interesting things to put on pizza. For the fig: slice figs in half, and just lay them on. Add toasted pecans, chopped, crumbled blue cheese, and onions that you've cooked on low heat for half an hour or so. For the pizza margharita: Slice wonderful tomatoes (no supermarket varieties!), chop fresh basil, mince garlic, and slice fresh mozzarella. Put them all on the dough.

Transfer, carefully, to the baking stone. Use a metal spatula to aid getting the pizzas onto the stone. Bake until the crust is fully cooked. You can tell best from the underside--it will be all nice and mottled with dark brown.


Fig Pizza and Peach Crisp

Darn, I'm really missing my camera.

I was already planning to make fig pizza (though I didn't get to use any of those great figs we were given for it--summer camp intervened and I didn't get to them in time--ate most of them, though) last night, and when a. it was cool enough to turn on the oven without getting roasted ourselves and b. we had a friend over for dinner, I knew it was the perfect time to make pizza! I made fig, pecan, blue cheese, and carmelized onion pizza, along with tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella pizza. It was good, and it didn't even smoke up the house this time. I'll have to figure out what I did right this time.

Now, we love berries in this house. For years I've been thwarted from actually *baking* with berries, because they all get gobbled up before I can do anything with them. But I bought seven baskets of them at the farmer's market last Thursday, and the kids were still at camp until Friday, and we had a busy weekend, and....somehow, there were still a bunch of berries in my fridge on Sunday night. I knew I had to do something with them or they'd mold. So, I took the 1 1/2 baskets of blueberries, 1 basket of red raspberries, and a bunch of peaches, old ones that were going bad* (just cut off the bad parts--or more accurately, cut off the good parts) and threw them together to make a crisp. It was so yummy I knew I had to make another crisp for when our friend came over, so I just bought peaches and used those. It was better with the berries, I think, but the peach crisp was darned good. This is a recipe that was very easy to make vegan and non-vegan versions of--the only non-vegan ingredient is butter, and that's literally the last ingredient you add.

Fresh Fruit Crisp

Take whatever fruit you want to use and put it in a shallow glass baking dish. Add some sugar and some spice--the first night I used fresh ginger, but candied would have worked well, too. The second one I used cardamom and that was good but more understated. Stir those together.

In a bowl stir together maybe a cup of flour, half a cup of chopped almonds, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Cut in cold butter, about 3-4 tablespoons (my preferred method is with the fingers) OR oil or margarine or shortening. If you don't care about vegan, use butter. Really. You won't regret it.

Spread the flour mixture over the fruit and bake at 350 for, oh, at least half an hour, until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is beginning to get brown.

Understand that these measurements are guessed at--this is the first time I just made a crisp without looking at a recipe. And I just kind of threw stuff together. Seems to me that crisps are very forgiving.

*How in the world did peaches go bad in our house? Well, seems they were doomed from the start. First off, they were exceedingly ripe when I bought them at the farmer's market. Second, it was Zac's job to carry the bag they were in, and they got, uh, somewhat bumped around. And then, I bought them on Wednesday and found, on Thursday evening, that they were still in my car! Arg! A wonder they were still usable at all after all that.

Monday, 21 August 2006

Farm Workers

So, here's the promised food politics on this blog. This just arrived in my inbox:

Farm workers who pick tomatoes for McDonald's sandwiches earn 40 to 50 cents
for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has not risen
significantly in nearly 30 years.Workers who toil from dawn to dusk without the
right to overtime pay or any benefits must pick two tons of tomatoes to earn
$50 in one day. Worse yet, modern-day slavery has reemerged in Florida's fields;
since 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted five slavery rings,
freeing more than 1,000 workers.As a major buyer of Florida tomatoes, McDonald's
high-volume, low-cost purchasing practices place downward pressure on farmworker
wages, putting corporate profits before human dignity.

+ Click Here to Tell McDonald's to Ensure Fair Wages for Farmworkers:

Source: Sojourners e-newsletter

Sunday, 6 August 2006


Oh, my gosh, *three* different parishioners gave us figs from their trees! We now have about 6 pounds of figs, the green kind, in our fridge, and a couple more that we've been eating off of since yesterday. I think it's definitely fig pizza time. Also, I found a couple of interesting recipes.....a fig tart with custard, in a Deborah Madison book. I think I'll try to replicate the fig recipe from The Farm Cafe, stuffed with gorgonzola (I'll use Rogue Creamery's Oregonzola--dontcha love that name!) and a balsamic reduction. Paul says the figs were baked. I'll have to see about that.

If anyone has any must-try fig recipes, let me know!

Friday, 4 August 2006

The Farm Cafe

We went to a restaurant we hadn't been to tonight, and it was a winner! It was enjoyed by all of us. It's called The Farm Cafe, on SE 10th Ave, just south of Burnside. It focuses on fresh, local, organic foods.

When we first drove up, Paul was quite reserved about it. He said, well, we'll look at the menu. It looked like just a big old house with a placard out front. It looked quite dead, actually. But when we opened the door it was like entering one of those tents in Harry Potter--it was completely different inside, a bustling, busy, happy place.

The Farm Cafe isn't a vegetarian restaurant, but it does cater to vegetarians and vegans. There were two entrees for Hibi, our resident vegan, to choose from, which may not sound like many but she had a hard time choosing because both sounded so good. She chose a tofu and herbed mashed potato offering. She enjoyed it greatly and I enjoyed the one bite I had of it. I ordered goat cheese ravioli and it was also stellar. It came with fresh cherry tomatoes that were *so* flavorful and fresh basil on top. Zac ordered the Farmhouse Veggie Burger, which he grudgingly allowed me to have a bite of, and it was very tasty, though a bit messy. He didn't eat his salad, though, so Paul and I split it. Paul ordered just an appetizer, with a mind to share mine and thinking that entrees are usually quite large. It was a delicious three figs stuffed with gorgonzola cheese dressed in a balsamic vinegar reduction. *So* good!

The only problem we had with it is that the portions were probably more suited to how we usually eat, so Paul wasn't left a whole lot to eat. The ravioli was only about 5 squares and the other two dishes weren't really enough to share, either. We had expected more figs than just three. Still, when you think about the fact that it's all organic it really wasn't overpriced. So, we decided to sate our remaining hunger by ordering a cheese plate. There were four different kinds of cheese, paired with tasty crusty cheesy bread, some fruit, and a quince paste of sorts. (I didn't catch the actual name of it.) It was very tasty, and a nice finish to the meal. After that we weren't hungry anymore. We all sent it to the top of our favorite restaurant list!

We came home and made mojitos....we're diligently using up all that excess mint. ;-) The kids enjoyed them without rum, of course.

Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Pasta with Sauteed Tomatoes, Zucchini, Potatoes, and Mint

Tomorrow is grocery shopping day, and I didn't have a meal planned for tonight. That's okay, because I am loving focusing on what's growing in the garden. I had more tomatoes, zucchini, and all that mint I wrote about on my regular blog. So I devised a pasta. The pasta itself was vegan, and I served fresh mozzarella balls, the tiny kind, alongside, and also bread crumbs toasted in butter. The breadcrumbs were an afterthought, but as we were eating I thought I should have toasted some in oil for Hibi, because they really added to the meal. But she enjoyed it a lot, nevertheless.

Pasta with Sauteed Tomatoes, Zucchini, Potatoes, and Mint

Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta (I used one pound of angel hair).

Slice four small tomatoes into quarters, four tiny zucchini (with blossoms still attached, if available) into quarters, and two small potatoes (we had the purple-fleshed kind!) into small cubes. Chop an onion or a couple of green onions, and chop four cloves of garlic. Heat a tablespoon of good olive oil in a skillet. Sautee all vegetables until almost tender.

Melt a teaspoon of butter in a small skillet. Crumble one or two slices of good bread into the skillet and toast, stirring every couple of minutes, until crispy.

Add a pound of pasta to the boiling water.

Add to the vegetable mixture 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until the leaves are wilted. Toss with the drained pasta and serve with fresh mozzarella and toasted bread crumbs.

Summer Garden Stew

Harvest a bunch of vegetables from your garden and make your own stew. Here's what I found to cook with: 5 small tomatoes, three tiny summer squash with blossoms still on, one large squash, a handful of snap peas, a few leaves of basil, a sprig of rosemary and a few escarole leaves. I added some broccoli that had been in my fridge. I left most of the veggies whole, chopping only the broccoli and the larger squash. I started by sauteeing a fresh spring onion--the big red kind with greens still attached that I got at the farmer's market--along with four cloves of garlic. Then I added all the veggies at once and let them cook until they were tender and there was some liquid in the pot. Very easy. I served it with polenta and parmesan cheese.