Friday, September 22, 2017

Tofu with Vegetables, Brown Rice Capellini with Marinara (No Added Fat)

My wife is traveling so for a few days I get to use tofu, which my wife can't eat due to problems with digesting it. I cooked on a cast iron pan some tofu, fingerling potatoes, broccoli, mushroom, onion, and garlic. I mixed in some bok choy in the final minutes of cooking and served with coconut aminos (like soy sauce) and dried chives. I also made brown rice pasta.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Mixed Waxed Beans with Seitan, Shredded Cabbage Salad (No Added Fat)

I found nice purple and yellow waxed beans in the store and thought I'd cook them with seitan. Initially, I was going to cook the beans on a cast iron pan, but then I decided to make a waterless dish.

I put, in this order, a chopped shallot, maybe 25-30 beans (half yellow and half purple), and most (6 ounces?) of a package of seitan chunks into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 15 minutes, then opened the top and mixed in a little salt, garam masala, freshly ground black pepper, and salt.

I also made a salad with shredded cabbage, kalamata olives, freshly ground black pepper, salt, a generous amount of lime juice, a little balsamic vinegar, and maybe 15 small freshly picked oregano leaves. I serve with quinoa.
Results

Dinner was better than I had expected! It seems quite consistent that my waterlessly prepared meals are always good. The main dish was tasty and the salad was excellent!

Ideas for the future

I should try maybe chopping waxed beans into 1-1 1/2 inch lengths and pressure cooking with other vegetables for "zero minutes" (i.e., just bring to pressure then turn off) of low pressure. I should, of course, try more waterless waxed bean dishes, too. I like to prepare green beans simply like I saw in Italy - sauteed on cast iron then served just with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I should make waxed beans this way, too.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Grilled Vidalia Onion and Belgian Endive with Butternut Squash and Black-Eyed Peas (No Added Fat)

I was shopping at Whole Foods Market today and picked up some belgian endive. I didn't think that my daughter would like it, but was pretty sure that my wife and I would enjoy it grilled. I was tempted in the salad bar area with some thick grilled slices of onion; we've had Vidalia onions on sale, and I thought I'd grill some of them.

What I ended up doing is grilling thick slices of onion on a cast iron pan (with no oil); a few minutes into the cooking, I added slices of the endives. I also waterlessly cooked some black-eyed peas, butternut squash, kale, and a bit of garam masala; I mixed in a little lime juice, salt, and pepper, and served my daughter. For my wife and me, I then also mixed in the grilled vegetables. Some quinoa and thick slices of heirloom tomato on multi-grain English muffin completed the meal.


Results

My wife was in a rush to eat so I served rather quickly and didn't taste and fine tune the seasonings before serving. She enjoyed the meal, as did I - though I think it could easily be improved. I couldn't easily tease out the endives from the onion, so served the same meal to all three of us; my daughter, predictably, didn't like the endive, though she ate her meal.

Ideas for the future

Grilled onions - well, these sweet Vidalia onions - are great! I should cook with grilled onions periodically. I'm surprised that I hadn't thought of doing this before except maybe once or twice. I'd add some jalapeno or hot sauce and maybe a miso dressing in the future to a similar dish.

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Monday, September 04, 2017

Waterless Seitan and Peach with Mixed Vegetables (No Added Fat)

We have been getting good organic peaches from the store and yesterday I tempted my family with the idea of grilling some peaches, something I've not done in a while. As I prepared to work on dinner, I decided instead to try waterless cooking. Here is what I did.


Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" strips
  • 8 ounces of seitan (I used pre-cut strips but any size cut would be fine)
  • 2 cups mixed frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1T finely (1/8") minced ginger
  • 1 medium peach cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (about a cup)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
Process
  1. I put into a large Saladmaster stock pan these ingredients, in this order: onion, seitan, vegetables, ginger, and, finally, peach.
  2. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 20 minutes.
  3. I then mixed in the salt and garlic powder, and served, along with brown rice and a slice of heirloom tomato topped with kala namak (pink salt).
Results

Wow, all three of us loved the meal. I had wanted to use a not-yet-ripe peach but all of our peaches were just ready to eat. It turned out fine - the peach was nice and juicy. The flavors all complemented each other; a benefit of waterless cooking is that the peach could be cooked as small distributed cubes, instead of large grilled slices.

Ideas for the future

Thankfully, my daughter cleaned her plate in spite of their being ginger in the main course. However, were I cooking for a spice-happy audience, I'd also add some chunks of a mild jalapeno. I should do more waterless cooking with fruit!

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Jimmy Nardellos Peppers with Tempeh and Mushroom, Guacamole with Greens atop Thin German Bread (No Added Fat)

I picked up some nice looking Jimmy Nardellos peppers at the farmers' market today. I hadn't seen these before but read that they saute well. Here is what I made.


Ingredients
  • 8 ounces tempeh cut into thin (app. 1/4" thick) 3/4" squares
  • About 10 Jimmy Nardellos peppers, rinsed but with stems intact
  • 1 t onion, chopped into 1/4" cubes
  • 3 ounces mushroom cut into 1/4" or so slices (I used frozen but either fresh or frozen would be fine)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") chopped
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t lemon or lime juice
Process
  1. I sauteed the tempeh in a cast iron pan that I had put a few drops of oil onto then wiped clean first to leave a small oil residue. I sauteed for maybe 10 minutes on medium - medium-high heat, turning occasionally, till brown, adding the onion and mushroom about halfway through.
  2. In another cast iron pan similarly prepared, I sauteed the peppers on medium heat, stirring occasionally, till all peppers had a bit of blackening, about 10 minutes, adding the garlic about halfway through.
  3. I mixed the contents of the two pans together, along with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
My daughter came up with a good recipe from Ruby Roth's Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids that called for making guacamole (I just mix avocado, lime juice, onion, garlic, and, when I have it, rosemary - I used oregano instead today), then mixing in greens including kale. We did that, along with purple cabbage, and served atop heated thin German bread.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Pinto Bean with Spinach and Potato, served with Supergrain Garden Pagoda Pasta (No Added Fat)

I wanted to make a pinto bean dish today. Here is what I did.


Ingredients
  • 1 cup pinto beans, rinsed, soaked for at least 5 hours, and rinsed again
  • Enough water to just cover beans
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 1/2" cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1t finely chopped ginger
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped spinach (I used frozen but fresh would be fine)
  • 1 1/4 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 3/4 cups (large bell pepper) bell pepper cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (or lemon)
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt

Process
  1. I had my wife put the beans, water, potato, garlic, ginger, and turmeric into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and set it to cook for 30m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the spinach, onion, bell pepper, lime juice, and salt, and served, topped with a bit of salsa (no salsa for my daughter's portion).
I also made some "supergrain garden pagoda pasta" which has as all organic ingredients of corn flour, quinoa flour, dried spinach, and dried beet and/or dried red bell pepper. I served that on the side with a bit of nutritional yeast (marinara for my daughter).
Results

Dinner was good! We all enjoyed it. The potatoes added a nice soft but relatively neutral tasting texture.

Ideas for the future

I could have added more vegetables, such as possibly broccoli or corn, but the dish was good as I made it. My wife had forgotten to include a vegan bouillon cube when she cooked the beans; it would have added a bit more flavor. Were I not cooking for my daughter, some jalapeno would have gone well with the main course.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Pinto Bean and Red Lentil Stew (No Added Fat)


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups beans rinsed, soaked overnight, and rinsed again
  • 1/3 cup red lentil
  • Just enough water to cover lentils and beans
  • 1 1/2 cup Yukon Gold potato (medium potato) cut into 3/8" cubes - 23m
  • 2 cups eggplant (about 1/2 eggplant) cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups carrot (medium carrot) cut into 3/8" width and halved
  • 1/3 cup fennel cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 10-12 oregano leaves
  • 2t lime (or lemon) juice
  • 1 t garam masala (or 1/2 t turmeric)
  • (optional) 1/4 t fenugreek seed
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
Process
  1. I cooked the beans, lentils, water, potato, eggplant, carrot, and fennel for 23 minutes (20-25 would have been fine; I wanted a thick result, so went with 23m).
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the onion, oregano, and spices.
I served with a tomato salad (heirloom tomato and some grape tomatoes that our neighbor brought over while I was cooking, Kalamata olives, fresh basil, ume plum vinegar, salt, and black pepper), as well as a kale rollup from Fruitive from our Washington, DC trip that we returned from last night (that isn't gluten-free, but I am labeling this entry as such because of the main course).
Results

The main course was tasty! I love what pressure cooked eggplant does - it doesn't seem to add appreciable flavor (even my brother-in-law who doesn't like eggplant didn't notice when I served him an eggplant dish recently) but thickens a dish.

Ideas for the future

I should more carefully explore how lentils and beans cook well together. I just experimented with a third of a cup of lentil - I wanted to add more, but that's all of the red lentils that I had.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Baby Lima Beans with Roasted Pepper (No Added Fat)

I wasn't sure what to make tonight, but thought I'd try a waterless bean dish. My brother-in-law seems to be enjoying our meals, but was away tonight visiting a family friend.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 cup fennel root cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1/4 cup celery cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen black eyed peas (alas, I was out - so I used frozen baby lima beans)
  • 2 small bell peppers, flame roasted, then cut into 1/2" squares (about a cup)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
Process
  1. I put, in this order, the onion, fennel, celery, lima beans, and bell pepper into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 20 minutes.
  2. I mixed in salt and pepper and served, along with crusty seeded bread topped with heirloom tomato, and peas in a pod.
Results

The main course was a little disappointing - we all ate it and nobody complained, but it could have had more flavor. Black eyed peas would have been good with this dish.

Ideas for the future

I should try this again with black eyed peas, as well as a sauce or just more vegetables.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Split Pea Dhal with Plantain and Fennel (No Added Fat)

My wife's brother is visiting from India - it's the first time he's been to the U.S.! I thought that his first meal should be an Indian one. His wife is from Goa, so I thought I'd use a plantain, which grows there. I decided to make a split pea dish with mixed vegetables and plantain. Here is what I did.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups split peas (green or yellow - I used green)
  • 6 cups water
  • Medium plantain cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (almost 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2T fennel stalk chopped into 1/4" pieces (about a 6" length of a thin stalk)
  • 2 cloves garlic finely (1/8") minced
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (they come cut in small 1/4" or so cubes)
  • 1 1/2 cups onion cut into half moon slices approx. 1/4" x 1 1/4" (about 1/2 of a small onion)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1t kala namak (black salt)
  • 1/2 t salt (or just 1 1/2 t salt with no black salt)
Process
  1. I put the split peas, water, plantain, fennel, garlic, and mixed vegetables into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 10m (split peas cook in a 1:3 ratio for 8-10m and I wanted a thick stew, so went with 10m).
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the onion, lemon juice, and salt.
I also made brown basmati rice by soaking 2 cups of the rice for a while (maybe 45m but longer would have been better), rinsing, and simmering, covered, for 45m in fresh 4 cups of water, along with 6 cardamom pods and a pinch of salt.

Results

The dhal was good. Surprisingly, I didn't taste any fennel. The plantain flavor was subtle. Most importantly, my brother-in-law said that he liked the whole meal!

Ideas for the future

I should use plantain more often - but use it so the taste is more pronounced, such as via waterless cooking or cooking under pressure for less time and cut into larger pieces.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Riced Cauliflower with Tempeh and Brown Rice (No Added Fat)

I have never riced cauliflower and should try it sometime to use in making a delicate dish. However, I found frozen riced cauliflower at Whole Foods Market - what could be easier?! I decided to make a simple cauliflower rice dish.


Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 2 cups water
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 cups riced cauliflower
  • 8 ounces tempeh cut into cubes approx. 3/8" in size
  • 1t ginger, finely (1/8") diced
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into approx. 3/8" cubes
Process
  1. I prepared brown rice the normal way by simmering, covered, for 50m the rice and twice as much water, along with the bouillon cube and water.
  2. I quickly opened the rice pot when it was done, mixed in the cauliflower, and covered and let stand another 10 minutes till the cauliflower was defrosted and slightly cooked.
  3. While the rice was cooking, I prepared the tempeh. I heated on medium high a cast iron pan with a very little bit of oil (maybe 1/4 t), then rubbed the oil off, leaving a light glaze.
  4. I added the tempeh, onion, and ginger, and cooked, stirring occasionally, till the tempeh was lightly browned (about 8 minutes).
Results

Dinner came out well! The riced cauliflower had a subtle flavor and the small pieces of tempeh worked out well.

Ideas for the future

I should make a more complex cauliflower rice sometime, like this promising-sounding recipe describes.

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Friday, July 07, 2017

Chickpeas and Split Peas with Beet and Kale (No Added Fat)

We're excited to be seeing one of our favorite dance troupes, Paul Taylor Dance Company, tonight (and twice tomorrow!) at American Dance Festival. We're friends with one of the dancers and she was interested in one of my home cooked meals, so I made extra tonight and packed food for our friend!

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed, soaked overnight, and rinsed again
  • Just enough water to cover chickpeas - about a cup
  • 1/2 cup split peas (I used green but yellow split peas would be fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups more water (so a total of about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cup beet (I used one medium yellow beet), peeled with ends cut off and then chopped into approx. 1/4" cubes
  • 2 cups crimini or button mushrooms (I used 14 crimini) cut into thirds so that each slice is about 3/8" thick (thicker mushrooms can be cut into quarters)
  • 2 cups kale leaves, stems excepted, roughly hand torn into approx. 1 1/4" squares (I used 12 lacinato kale leaves)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup dried figs (any kind) cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (I used 10 figs)
  • 3/4 cup onion cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (a bit less than 1/3 of a medium onion)
  • 1T chopped (approx. 1/4") ginger
  • 12 fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped into approx. 1/4" pieces
  • 2t lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 t turmeric
Process
  1. Iput the chickpeas, split peas, water, beet, mushroom, kale, garlic, bouillon cube, and figs into my Instant Pot pressure cooker. Soaked chickpeas cook in 20-25m, split peas cook in 8-10m, and everything else would cook fine in just a few minutes; I went with a 23 minute cook time.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then added the onion, ginger, oregano, lime juice, salt, black pepper, cumin, and turmeric.
I served (for us, and packed for our friend) the main course along with some mixed wild and brown rice.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Eggplant - Potato - Brown Lentil Stew with Madagascar Pink Rice (No Added Fat)

I've enjoy cooking lentil stews and dhals, as I described, for example, in December 2014. I thought that I'd make a double serving so that we could send half to our neighbors who just had a baby.

Lentils cook in a 1 part to 1.5-2 part water ratio for 15-20m. I wanted something thick, so initially chose 1.5x water for 20m, but I put a lot of ingredients in, so added another half cup of water (with 2 cups lentils, it ended up being a 1:2 ratio).

By the way, I recently got a third Instant Pot, the Duo Plus 60 and donated my original Duo 60. I've used the Duo Plus 60 in making yogurt but tonight was the first time I've used it for dinner. Here is what I did.


Ingredients
  • 2 cups brown (which I used) or green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • Approx. 4 cups potato in 3/8" cubes (I used 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes and ended up with approx. 4 1/3 cups chopped potato)
  • Medium eggplant cut into 3/8" cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots halved and then cut into 3/8" slices (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely (1/8") chopped
  • 1t ginger, finely (1/8") chopped (I ended up skipping as, alas, we were out of ginger)
  • 3/4 t fenugreek seeds (added in this small quantity to not add much flavor but to enhance lactation for our neighbors)
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • Medium bell pepper 
  • 2 cups onion cut into approx. 3/8" cubes ( maybe 2/3 of a medium onion)
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 4t lemon or lime juice
Process
  1. I put all of the ingredients except the bell pepper, onion, salt, black pepper, and lime juice into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 20m.
  2. While the pressure cooking was underway, I roasted the bell pepper by putting it directly on the gas range flame, turning occasionally till charred throughout (about 5 minutes), then I put in a brown bag that I closed.
  3. After the cooking was done, I prepared the roasted pepper by running it under cold water and rubbing the char off, cutting it to let the water inside drain in the sink, removing the membranes, and then chopping into approx. 3/4" squares (about 1 cup).
  4. I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the onion, salt, black pepper, and lime juice, as well as roasted bell pepper.
I served with some Madagascar Pink rice (1 part rice to 1 3/4-2 parts water, a vegan bouillon cube, and a dash of salt, simmered for 20m). Yesterday, for the vegetarian society 4th of July potluck party, I made watermelon gazpacho soup and had some leftovers, which I served as a kind of salad to complete the meal.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Monday, July 03, 2017

Waterless Seitan and Okra (No Added Fat)

We're so lucky - we have new neighbors a few houses down. We enjoyed starting to get to know them a few weeks ago when they were quite pregnant - and they had their baby a few days ago! I wanted to bring a meal over so made a larger quantity of tonight's dinner, knowing we'd be sharing. Here is what I did.


Ingredients
  • 1 cup onion cut into half moon slices approx. 1/4" x 1" (app. 1/2 or a bit less of my medium Vidalia onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") minced
  • 1 cup thin okra (I found beautiful about 3/4" length thin red locally grown okra and cut a few pieces that were bigger into halves; if using thicker okra, try 3/8" slices)
  • 15-20 small crimini or button mushrooms sliced into thirds (about 1 cup)
  • 16 ounces seitan as thin strips or cubes up to 3/4" thick
  • 1 medium green (unripened) tomato cut into 3/8" cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup bell pepper slices (approx. 1/4" x 3/4") (I might have used 1 1/2 cups but pepper can cause gas, and I wanted to be careful for the new mother)
  • 1 cup (compressed) kale leaf pieces (I hand separated kale into approx. 3/4" squares from the stems; I used 6 lacinato kale leaves)
  • (optional) 1/2 t fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1t fresh lemon or lime juice
Process
  1. I put, in this order, the onion, garlic, okra, mushroom, seitan, tomato, bell pepper, kale and fenugreek into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 20 minutes.
  2. I then mixed in the salt, black pepper, and lime juice, and served (or packed for the neighbors) along with brown rice and tomatoes.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Brussels Sprouts with Seitan, Kale Chips (not shown) (No Added Fat)

We had a visitor from Mexico City coming tonight to spend two nights with us. He's not vegetarian, so I thought I'd make something with seitan to let him try a food he likely hadn't had before. I made a waterless Brussels Sprouts dish. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 1 cup onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" half moons (I used about half of a medium Vidalia onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8") diced
  • 2 cups (12 small-medium) Brussels Sprouts, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups button or crimini mushrooms cut into quarters (I used 8 crimini)
  • Kernels stripped from one cob of corn (maybe 3/4 cup?)
  • 3 leaves bok choy, each leaf halved and then cut into 3/8" pieces
  • 8 ounces seitan, slices or cubes
  • 10 leaves fresh oregano, roughly chopped into approximately quarters
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
Process
  1. I put, in this order, the onion, garlic, Brussels Sprouts, mushrooms, corn, bok choy, and seitan into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 20 minutes.
  2. I then mixed in the remaining ingredients and served.
I also served brown rice (which our friend loved), watermelon radish, and heirloom tomato. My daughter made kale chips, which I served separately just before serving the rest of the meal.

I recently gave my daughter an excellent book by Ruby Roth, The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth. It's colorful with easy and healthful recipes. She loved making kale chips a few weeks ago and did that again. It's really easy - kale is roughly hand torn into 1 1/2" or so squares, patted dry, then hand mixed with some nutritional yeast and salt in a preheated 400 degF oven for 20m (I found that 15-17 minutes was enough tonight).

Results

Dinner was great - our guest seemed to enjoy it all. I was quite pleased with the main course; it came out even better than I had hoped.

Ideas for the future

I am always happy when I cook waterlessly. I should do it more regularly! A few days ago, I took my daughter to Remedy Diner in Raleigh, NC; they had an interesting special Brussels Sprouts sandwich. I want to try a sandwich with Brussels Sprouts sometime soon.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Jumbo Artichoke with Fig Balsamic Dip, Black Beans with Corn (No Added Fat)

I couldn't believe that Weaver Street Market, a local coop, had so many great prices and items on sale a few days ago. They had, for example, jumbo artichokes for 99 cents apiece! I wonder how they could make money at this price!

Even more exciting, they had this hybrid melon called a melonade. Folks at the coop said that it tastes like lemonade and offered my daughter and me samples - wow, they're right!

I could only find two references to melonades online; one describes this as "sweet with bright notes of citrus, the Melonade Melon is a new variety melon. This crisp, juicy melon is one of the most refreshing we’ve ever tasted" and the other, apparently from May 2015, characterizes the melon as being of "Round shape, Tart-sweet, Tones of citrus". Surprisingly, its PLU code of 4325 searches in the International Federation of Produce Standards website as a "French Breakfast" melon.

Anyway, we're loving this melon and quickly finished 1 1/2 of them. I made "ice cream" out of the melon tonight for dessert! More on that soon, but first let me describe dinner.

It's been a while since I've served steamed artichoke hearts; I can find notes from 2012 and then, before that, 2009. I used to make a simple sauce out of melted Earth Balance margarine, either rosemary or oregano, salt, small bits of onion, and maybe garlic powder, plus lemon or lime juice. I did just that for my daughter so that her first experience with eating a freshly cooked whole artichoke would be more traditional, albeit with a bit of fat.

I had a bottle of no fat fig balsamic vinaigrette on hand. We rarely use salad dressings, but I wanted to try this for its flavor in a dish. Today was a good opportunity!



Ingredients
  • 3 jumbo artichoke hearts (raw)
  • Small piece of cut lime or lemon
  • 1 cup of water
  • Per serving (I had two - one for my wife and one for me):
    • Approximately 1/8 cup no fat balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (I used the fig one referenced above)
    • 5 leaves fresh oregano, finely minced (less than 1/4")
    • 1/2 t onion chopped into approx. 1/4" cubes
    • Pinch (or to taste) of salt
    • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
    • Pinch of garlic powder
Process
  1. The cooking process was trivially simple - in the case of eating fresh artichokes, the eating process is what is complex! I started by rinsing the artichokes, being careful to direct water into the artichoke.
  2. I removed the stems, a handful of discolored and smaller outer leaves, and about 1/3 of the tops.
  3. I put 3/4 or 1 cup of water in my Instant Pot pressure cooker, put in my steamer trivet, and made sure that the water level was below that of the trivet.
  4. I put the artichokes atop the trivet and pressure cooked for 25m. I had considered pressure steaming, but food shouldn't touch the pot when pressure steaming; I was fortunate that all three artichokes fit, and was originally thinking that I'd need to use two of my three Instant Pots.
  5. While the artichokes were cooking, I mixed the dipping sauce.
  6. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then served.
I also had made some black beans (soaked for about 5 hours initially with boiling water and then cooked with enough water to cover plus about 1/4" for 25m). After the beans were done, I transferred them to a pot and mixed in a little corn, bell pepper, onion, garlic, garlic powder, ground cumin, and salt, then heated gently till ready to serve.

For those who haven't eaten artichoke prepared from scratch, the initial goal is to dip the heart (deep) end of each leaf into the dip and enjoy, scraping off the little bit of white flesh in the mouth, then tossing the leaf onto a pile destined to be composted. Outer leaves often have little flesh and can just be composted.

When one gets near the heart, the sharp immature leaves need to be removed and, with the help of a spoon, the "hair" beneath also removed. What's left is the yummy heart, which is dipped and enjoyed. My wife actually took her time and found more than the deep ends of the leaves to be enjoyably edible.

I served "ice cream" for dessert, as I had mentioned. I froze some of the Melonade after cutting it into maybe 1 1/2" chunks. I put the chunks into my Vitamix blender, along with a little bit of Califa Farms brand creamer. Using the blender's "pusher", I pushed the fruit and creamer into the spinning blades on high; within seconds, I had "ice cream". (N.B.: This is an application where a standard blender would not work. Most blenders could not blend large chunks of frozen fruit, so this "ice cream" should only be made in this manner with a high-powered blender like the Vitamix or Blendtec.)

Results

We all loved dinner! I was surprised by what my daughter said at bedtime. I always ask her to recap her day and describe her favorite activity - she had a lot of fun today but claimed that dinner was the hilight!!

Oh - the ice cream was divine! We all loved it, served with an organic strawberry atop. My daughter said that this is the best ice cream that I've ever made!

Ideas for the future

It's a fun and tasty process eating artichokes cooked from scratch. I should explore other no fat dips, such as perhaps miso-based. I might want to try a low fat dip, such as a nut-based "cheese" sauce.

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