Making every bite count

30 July 2007

retro tupperware

I scored this set for $12 at the Brass Armadillo at Tri-County. Hot, hot, hot!
They now live on top of my fridge, keeping my cookbooks company.

blueberry-zucchini bread experiment

I picked up this monster of a zucchini at Findlay Market. At a foot long and too big to wrap my hand around, it ended up yielding six(!) cups shredded. It's the right time of year to start baking with zucchini. Mmm, with the leftover zucchini, maybe I'll splurge on some brownies!
I'm altering this recipe...
3 eggs, lightly beaten (2 eggs, 1 tablespoon flax seed plus 2 tablespoons water)
1 cup vegetable oil (2 bananas)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups white sugar (1 cup)
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour (2 cups white-whole wheat flour, 1 cup oat bran)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 pint fresh blueberries (plus a couple of handfuls of red raspberries)
Bake at 350 until a knife comes out clean.
I know that sugar is necessary when baking. It helps baked goods brown, obviously adds sweetness and is necessary to maintain the proper balance. But 2 1/4 cups?! It negates all the goodness that the zucchini is doing in this recipe. Sigh. I subbed the fat with bananas, mostly because I only have olive and sesame oils right now.

It turned out well. The bananas are nice and sweet but still retain their flavor. The berries held together nicely, as did the zucchini. It's dense but not too dense, moist and chewy! Yum!

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party people

Fred participated in the 48-hour film project a couple of weekends ago, and the screening was on Saturday. We hosted a small wrap party with the cast and our friends. I made a few odds and ends, but I didn't take pictures... chunky guacamole with yellow pepper, red onion, quartered cherry tomatoes, a cilantro pesto, and of course, avocado.

I got some beautiful local cherries and blueberries, along with some figs. I stuffed them with rosemary and goat cheese, then roasted them and drizzled local honey over the top. They were good, but I remembered that I'm not a huge fig fan.

I got some great stringless jade beans that I'm going to serve with roasted garlic and pistachio-crusted salmon. A while back, I made pistachio-crusted salmon for Fred, and he loved it. I made too much of the crust/coating, so I froze half of it. I'm so excited!
Pistachio crust
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup pistachios, crushed
1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted and crumbled
salt and pepper
Mix together and dredge salmon filets in this, pressing firmly. I'll post pics tomorrow.

Forgive me again, blogger, for the neglect.

I've been a bit busy. I decided to make a video for "The Next Food Network Star." Fred taped it. It was a lot of fun, but I'm not putting all my cage-free, vegetarian-fed eggs in one basket. It's fun to watch, at least. Like any normal woman, I hate watching myself on camera/seeing myself in pictures. But I think I did a pretty good job. Move over, Rachael Ray! I made Technicolor pasta, which is one of the freshest, most vibrant recipes I've ever created. It's sure to cheer you up and make you feel healthy and full of life.
Technicolor pasta
(This is a variation on the pasta with potential I blogged about earlier in the summer.)
It's a great way to clean out the crisper.
2 leaves Swiss chard, stems and leaves chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 yellow, red or orange pepper, chopped
handful black olives, pitted and chopped
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 package whole-wheat penne
salt and pepper
olive oil
Bring pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package, until al dente. Saute garlic and onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook about two minutes, then add the chard stems and yellow pepper and cook another two minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano and swiss chard leaves along with two spoonsful of starchy pasta water. Cover and turn up heat for one minute. Remove from heat, mix in pasta, olives and feta. Season with salt and pepper.

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15 July 2007

Birthday dinner planning

Fred's mom's birthday is tomorrow, and we're having her over for dinner, along with Fred's sister and her boyfriend.
His mom lived in Italy and Egypt for quite a few years, so I think we're going to do something Mediterranean-inspired.
But today, I stopped by an Indian grocer, so now I feel like I want to make something Indian. Hmm...
I experimented with a green chickpeas hummus this afternoon. Trader Joe's sells frozen green chickpeas, and I had a bag in the freezer. They taste a little more like peas than traditional chickpeas.
I think that tomorrow I'll make baked samosas with hummus inside. Yum!
Now for the rest of the meal... Hmm...

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Whole Foods envy

We have the fabulous Findlay Market here. Unfortunately, I slept really late yesterday and didn't have time to get there. Thankfully, I went to Columbus for the day.
I love my life here in Queen City, but I envy my parents' proximity to Whole Foods. A friend of an ex calls it "Whole Paycheck" because it's a foodie's paradise. I can't get out of there without spending at least $40. I load up on (preferably local and organic) produce, wine and bulk food when I visit my parents.
Today's trip yielded a plethora of goodies. I'm so excited for the upcoming week. I've got a lot of cooking to do!

(Above, left: Ohio-grown tomatoes! Yay!)

Pattypan (front) and crookneck yellow squash from an organic farm in Athens, Ohio.
Swiss chard (yum!) and dinosaur kale (below, right)

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Meet my babies...

Children? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Nope, my babies are little green monsters, packed full of flavor and life...
I'm so proud of them, my little herbs. They are the first plants I've ever raised. They were toddlers when I got them. I haven't yet braved growing anything from seeds.



Basil Lemon thyme

Oregano Parsley
I know, I know. I'm like those annoying parents with their endless parade of photos about their beloved little angels. This is the first time I haven't killed plants. Humor me !


A kid at heart

I love to make messes. I love piles of odd things, gooey messes in the kitchen, quirky craft projects, arts projects that are destined to be left undone. I'm a kid at heart.
Lately I've been pursuing some strange culinary projects: One Saturday night a few weeks ago I made seitan. Yeah, so it took a whole bag of flour and about four hours. Then I simmered it in broth for a couple of hours, and it was a bit too tough. Do as all the smarter-than-I vegetarians and vegans out there do: Buy wheat gluten ready-made!
By the end of the night, Fred's kitchen was covered in starchy flour-water and sticky bits of gluten, and I was left with a pot full of "brains" as Fred and his friend John called it.
My next two projects are a bit less messy.
I bought soybeans at Whole Foods today. (I was in Columbus visiting my dad and seeing a friend, Erin, and her husband, who were in fro England.) Not edamame, but soybeans.
Guess what I'm going to make?
Tofu, yes, eventually. But tofu requires more equipment than I currently have. (molds, mostly)
I'm going to make my own soymilk. I'll soak the soybeans after I finish blogging. In a couple of days, I should have rich, creamy, delicious, fresh, homemade soymilk. Or I could have a giant mess of beany water.

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11 July 2007

The Dirty Dozen

According to, these are the dirtiest plants, with the most pesticide residue:
  1. apples
  2. bell peppers
  3. celery
  4. cherries
  5. imported grapes
  6. nectarines (the highest)
  7. peaches
  8. pears
  9. potatoes
  10. raspberries
  11. spinach
  12. strawberries

The "cleanest" produce is:

  1. asparagus (seriously, don't buy asparagus out of season though. It's just not the same as that fresh, green, spring crop!)
  2. avocados
  3. bananas
  4. broccoli
  5. cauliflower
  6. corn
  7. kiwis
  8. mangoes
  9. onions
  10. papayas
  11. pineapple
  12. peas

* From "The Ethical Gourmet"

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The Ethical Gourmet

This book, "The Ethical Gourmet," is one of my favorites right now. It's so chock full of info.

  • 70% of all h20 in the U.S. is used for growing feed/livestock.
  • Dagoba chocolate: Check it out -- organic and fair-trade chocolate.
  • Note to self: Eat more spelt, oat groats.
  • Focus on eating 1. organic local 2. local 3. organic 4. ethical methods
  • The first GM food was the FlavrSavr tomatoes in 1994. (They were later banned because research claimed they caused stomach lesions.)
  • GM food can cause unintended cross-pollination. Think about the impact it can have on helpful species that come in contact with GM species.
  • Corporations often own patents on seeds.
  • We really don't know the consequences of these foods!
  • Ex: Insect-resistant corn could hurt monarch butterflies.
  • A farmer in Candad was sued by Monsanto for accidental (wind-blown) cross-pollination.
  • GM seeds can't be saved. Many have a termination gene.
  • Breaking up the ground to till weeds is a major cause of soil erosion and greenhouse gases.
  • Look up: conservation tillage
  • in the 90s, they invented crops that were resistant to Roundup! 90% of soybeans are "Roundup ready"

Nutrition notes: Whole Foods Encyclopedia

So in the three weeks I was without a computer, I had plenty of time to read. I'm typing up my notes (yes, I take notes when I read nutrition books.) so I don't forget things!
I spent the first weekend evening sans ordinateur reading "The Whole Foods Encyclopedia" by Rebecca Wood. It's not about the grocery store.
Rebecca Wood is a macrobiotic and whole foods expert who originally wrote this book as a handbook for health-store workers. This version was a bit old, 1999, but it was brimming with useful information:
  • She's not a fan of processed soy products, and it really opened my eyes to the inferior products I was using as protein. Soy isolate, for example, is part of TVP. (Texturized vegetable protein) It's made from soybean oil meal. To eliminate the carbs, it's bathed in chemicals!
  • Soy milk has the same protein as milk, a third of the fat, fewer calories. It's high in B vitamins and has 15 times the iron. But milk has more calcium unless soymilk is fortified.
  • Tempeh is 19.5% protein; more than 50% more protein than beef! It's high in omega-3s. (Tempeh is an Indonesian food made from split, cooked, fermented soybeans.)
  • Tofu is a high-quality protein, a good souce of calcium. It's a great source of iron, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.
  • Toxins accumulate in fatty acids. Therefore, if you're going to buy organic, focus on (in descending order): meat, dairy, oils, nuts, seeds, grains.
  • Chickpeas are unlike a legume. They're wrinkly, with only one seed and pod. They are higher in vitamin C and iron.
  • Flax seed rocks! It's less than 40% oil. Flax strengthens immunity, help prevent cancer, clear the heart and arteries. Flax is a superior source of lignan, which helps regulate menstrual cycles. Lignan has anti-cancer, antibacterial, anti-viral and antifungal properties.
  • 3T flax seeds and 1/2 c water=2 eggs
  • Macrobiotic cure-all: 1 1/2 T kudzu powder; 1 1/2 c H20; 1 t umeboshi powder; 1 t soy sauce; 1/2 t ginger juice. Boil, stirring constantly and simmer until it goes from milky to opaque.
  • Quinoa is 16% protein. It contains all the amino acids. The UN WHO says it's nutritionally equal or superior to milk. It's at least as good as milk when it comes to protein quality. It has more calcium; is high in lycine, iron, phosphorus, B vitamins and vitamin E. Wash quinoa well to rid it of the bitter covering.
  • With seeds such as quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat, presoaking and light toasting enhances flavor and digestability.

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07 July 2007

Back, after an Internet diet

Finally, my computer is fixed (thanks, Dad!) so I'm back online with renewed energy and a slew of new recipes and favorite ingredients. I awoke early last Saturday and drove to Findlay Market to find something to make for a work barbecue. I planned on getting some feta and tomatoes for a pasta salad, but instead I retirned home with two paper bags bursting with produce and local goods: tomatoes, yes, but also shallots, garlic scapes (see below), massive zucchini, lemons, fennel, local honey and organic eggs, plus a whole-grain multigrain boule from Shadeau Bakery.

I get so excited for breakfast on the weekends. I love big brunches or breakfasts, especially frittatas and omelets. Since I no longer eat meat, a lot of the traditional dishes are out, but it opens up such a world of delicious flavor combinations. Eggs -- always vegetarian, free-range, certified organic for me -- are a great blank slate. They're full of protein and high in omega-3 fatty acids. I sauteed half a large zucchini with garlic and olive oil, then chopped tomato and some red onion. With Fred and a really good cup of strong coffee and the multigrain bread, it made for a perfect weekend morning. The only thing missing was a newspaper.

What I love about omelets is how versatile they are. They're fabulous for breakfast, obviously, but also with salad for lunch or dinner. Just about any vegetable goes well in them.
On Fourth of July, I threw together broccoli kale, rainbow chard, garlic and tomatoes with organic cheddar. Yum! Other favorites are spinach and tomato with feta, potatoes with Dijon mustard and kale.

One Friday night in early June, actually the night that my computer died, Fred and I came home starving and pressed for time. I'd seen a recipe for chickpea pasta -- spaghetti alla ceci -- and played around with it. It turned out to be a really easy, tasty dinner. With white wine, a sprinkling of parmesan and fried garlic, oh, rich and simple!
Pasta alla ceci
1/2 package whole-wheat pasta (cook according to package)
1/2 c white wine
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 t red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper
3 T olive oil
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Heat oil over medium-high heat in large saute pan, then add the garlic and cook until brown and toasted. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Next, add the chili flakes and chickpeas. Turn heat to high and saute chickpeas for 2 minutes, shaking pan frequently. Add white wine, reduce heat and stir. Mash a few chickpeas to create a sauce.
Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the pasta. Thin with reserved cooking water, if necessary. Sprinkle with parmesan and the fried garlic. The garlic gets sweet and crunchy. And it's only friend in a bit of olive oil, so it's not that bad for you.
I am mentoring a 13-year-old girl through Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and last month I taught her how to cook. Well, we made dinner together. It wasn't really a cooking lesson. She was more interested in watching Disney Channel than cooking. Who can blame her? She's 13! She's a meat-eater, so I made this Rachael Ray chicken recipe, modified a bit.
We went to the grocery store and picked out things for dinner. I let her choose which vegetables we ate. She tried for the first time mushrooms and broccoli.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 T dried tarragon (I didn't have any rosemary! Now I grow a pot of it!)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 package button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large shallot, chopped
1 T flour
1/2 cup soymilk
Heat iron skillet over high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then place in skillet. Cook five minutes each side.
In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat then add garlic and shallots. Cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Add flour and tarragon and cook one minute. Flour should be browned and coating the mushrooms. Add broth and soymilk and turn up heat to medium-high. Cook until sauce has thickened, about five minutes.
Serve with rice, steamed broccoli and the chicken. I ate mine over a veggie burger; Tabitha had chicken.

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05 July 2007

Hey, remember me?

I've been gone, but I haven't forgotten you, dear blog! You see, it wasn't my fault. My computer's hard drive died, and my dad has been nursing it back to health. IN the mean time, without the distraction of Internet, I've been cooking up a storm. (And, unfortunately for my waistline, eating up a storm!) I'm ready to blog all about it now. But tonight, on the painfully slow but greatly appreciated laptop Fred's mom has loaned us, I don't have the patience. So you'll have to wait for one more day.
But until then, I'll leave you with this: rainbow chard, red onion, tomato and portobello caps with fresh oregano and sheep's milk feta over whole-wheat spaghetti. That was our dinner this evening.