Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thanks-Giving Kabocha Squash with Chestnut-Vegan Sausage Stuffing, Delicata Squash, Green Beans, Black Radish

We had something nice to celebrate; late this afternoon, the baby took her complete "meal" by suckling directly from her Mom, and didn't need any breast milk to be fed via bottle! We realize that the baby is probably still often going to need bottles, but this was a milestone that goes a long way to my wife's getting more rest!

In commemoration, I put together a dinner of thanks. As is common with Thanksgiving meals, squash was included; both kabocha and delicata. Like I usually do with winter squashes, I cut each in half and put them, cut side down, on a shallow plate or bowl with a little bit of water in a 375°F oven for about a half hour; the kabocha took maybe ten minutes more.

I had never made a stuffing from chestnuts, and had a big bottle of roasted, peeled, whole French chestnuts. I used a dozen (and have a bunch left so will probably make another stuffing in the coming days, probably with potatoes in acorn squash), that I cut into small chunks. I also cut one Field Roast Grain Meat Company apple-sage artisanal vegan sausage that I had left into small chunks, as I did with a small sweet onion. I started sauteeing the onion for a minute or two over medium-high heat in my cast iron pan, then added the sausage. As the sausage started to brown, after maybe three-five minutes, I added the chestnuts. Just a minute or two later, I added a little salt, paprika, and dried parsley (I wanted to add sage but couldn't find it in my cupboard), then, after stirring and letting sit for a minute or so, served in the kabocha squash.

I also served some green beans, briefly sauteed in macadamia nut oil (which is what I also used with the stuffing, instead of my default extra virgin olive oil), then topped with fresh lemon juice and salt (oops - forgot to also include freshly ground black pepper). Finally, I found black radish in the grocery store, and served it - I was happy to see that it wasn't too sharp at all, as I feared it might be.

Dinner was good! It ended up being too much food; my breastfeeding wife got through most of it, but I had to wrap up and save half of my kabocha squash.

Melissa's Cauliflower Soup, Whole Wheat English Muffins with Mushrooms and Pesto alla Trapanese, Orzo Salad

As I described on Monday, there is a local person who makes batches of soups for sale each weekend. This week, we got two quarts of a cauliflower soup. My wife should have plenty for lunches, so I used much of one quart.

It was great as it was, but I thought that I would spice it up a little and added most of the too-hot smoked Anaheim pepper left from the two that I had made last Thursday. I should have left a good thing alone as it turned out that the pepper, for my wife, was too hot! It was also a little on the hot side for me.

I also served the remaining pesto from yesterday on whole wheat English muffins, topped by prepared mushroom salad from Whole Foods, as well as their prepared orzo salad. Slices of sauteed tempeh and heirloom tomato rounded out the meal.

I feel so blessed to have this heavenly daughter in my life. I hope that she is thriving indirectly with the meals that I am serving to her Mom. My aim is to continue to provide unique, high-quality, nutritious, and visually appealing dinners to said Mom. I was joking with my wife tonight that I only had nine pieces of tempeh so her plate, not the one I photographed here, ended up with only an even number, four, of tempeh design elements :-) .

Friday, December 26, 2008

Conchiglie Pasta with Pesto alla Trapanese and Vegan Apple-Sage Sausage, Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Onions

Last September, I described Pesto alla Trapanese, a Sicilian pesto made with tomatoes, oil, almond, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, which I can sometimes find sold in small 200g bottles from a Sicilian company, Antichi Sapori di Sicilia. Tonight, I used most of a bottle, mixed with some chunky olives and sweet peppers, to make a nice pasta meal.

I had some prepared Brussels sprouts with balsamic onion from Whole Foods Market (ingredients: sprouts, onions, balsamic vinegar, canola oil, parsley, and salt and pepper - I should make something like this) and started that heating in the toaster oven over low heat. I cut up some olives and sweet peppers into big chunks and added to most of a bottle of the pesto sauce, and also got that warming up.

I started water boiling in a large pot then reduced the heat while I added seashell-shaped "conchiglie" organic pasta made at the Montebello Monastery in Marche, Italy. I then turned the heat back up and cooked till al dente, about 9-10 minutes. I served with the warmed sauce, as well as with a Field Roast Grain Meat Company apple-sage artisanal vegan sausage.

Christmas Dinner of Rice Noodles with Tempeh and Oyster Mushrooms, Salad with Golden Beet and Parsnip

We were hoping to get out and walk very nearby to have Christmas dinner with my parents, which would have been doubly good as my back currently makes it almost impossible to stoop down to get pots and pans out of cabinets (poor daughter of ours having a at-the-moment in-pain Dad and tired from pumping every three hours Mom!), but my wife didn't feel we could get out. But thankfully the preparation wasn't so bad on my back.

I made a simple saute of oyster mushrooms and finely chopped tempeh, along with a little onion. I had soaked some rice noodles in hot tap water, then, drained, added them to the last two minutes or so of the saute, along with a little port and soy sauce.

I also served steamed golden baby beets (which I had prepared last Thursday and saved), salad greens, heirloom tomatoes, parsnip, and whole wheat crackers. I think I'm hitting many of the foods recommended by my wife's Chinese medicine practitioner to encourage lactation!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Anita's Traditional North Indian Dinner

We continue to have kind friends who come by with meals ready to go, which helps with all that we are doing with the baby's feeding schedule. (Because the baby came early, her suck isn't quite strong enough to allow her to simply suckle, and my wife, even more commited to breast feeding than I, has to pump every three hours.)

Today, friends of ours stopped by to meet the baby and brought some homemade treats, including a dhal lentil soup, a particularly good cauliflower dish, and flat bread rotis. I simply heated, added some pickles to the breads, and sliced some heirloom tomatoes.

Their kind and tasty gesture was particularly helpful today as, unfortunately, I hurt my lower back earlier in the day! Since the baby was born, I haven't made it to exercise, something that keeps my back strong. Until a few days ago, we didn't have a changing table, so all those diaper and clothes changes required bending way over onto our bed. This afternoon when I went to put the baby down, my back complained, and I had to yell out for my wife to take the baby and then help me get straightened up. Unfortunately, my chiropractor is out of town, but I did talk with him and he is having me frequently ice my back and take, on an empty stomach 3 or 4 times a day, 1000 mg or so of bromelain, derived from the pineapple, as an anti-inflammatory.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Renee's Chunky Vegetable Soup, Homemade Bread with Almond Butter, Orzo Salad

We're so delighted to have a one-month-old baby and to continue to have kind friends coming by to meet their new friend. Many are so kind as to bring yummy vegan meals with them. Today, some of our friends stopped by and brought delicious soup and a loaf of homemade bread, thickly sliced, for us. Yum!

I had an appointment I had to get to today, and combined that with a few errands, so unfortunately missed seeing these friends. We loved their food that I simply served with almond butter atop their toasted bread, and with a salad plus a prepared (from Whole Foods Market) orzo-pesto salad.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Melissa's Butternut Squash-Vegetable Soup with Tempeh, Lemon Rice, Mushroom Salad

Our precious little daughter turned a month old yesterday! We intend on having a big 1st year birthday, but thought that we would have a small 1-month birthday. We could have invited many good friends, but decided to keep it low key since this would be her first "event" and just invited a handful of those who have been particularly helpful to her in her first days.

We had food from one of our favorite restaurants, Tower South Indian Restaurant, including two kinds of rice (tamarind and lemon), idli rice cakes, sambar soup, plantain bhaji and lentil donut vada appetizers. We also had grape tomatoes and baby carrots, and got a vegan chocolate birthday cake.

Suddenly we have so much food at home - leftovers from last night and now a new batch of friends are calling to bring food by the next two days. We even got some soup delivered to the home today.

My wife has been asking for more fresh cooked lunches, and I've been making soups and other items, but we also found out about a local woman named Melissa who makes soups every weekend for pickup. Though her "business does not have a vegan focus particularly; it just so happens that 95% of the soups are vegan, and all are vegetarian. Thus far, I have just made tiny herb dumplings for a couple of the soups, and these dumplings have egg in them. I will always let you know when that is the case. Thus far, I have only used soy once, when I made a vegetable soup that had edamame in it. Otherwise you can assume that the soups are vegan and soy free." The choices for this past weekend were Butternut Squash-Vegetable and Navy Bean-Leek-Tomato; she charges $3.50 per pint and $7 per quart.

My wife enjoyed the navy bean soup at lunchtime. For dinner, I heated the squash soup and thought it would be nice to serve with sauteed tempeh - it was good! I also heated the lemon rice from yesterday (with a dollop of coconut chutney), as well as a mushroom salad from Whole Foods Market and some raw broccoli and cauliflower.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cream Peas with Cremini Mushrooms, Leftover Soup, Fresh French Baguette

I don't think I've heard of cream peas before, but I found them at Whole Foods Market. They are fairly small and came shelled; I was told they probably need to be cooked. I made a simple dish by cooking them with cremini mushrooms.

Today at Whole Foods they had freshly made baguettes and boy was the one I bought excellent!! I also heated up some soup - I've been making soups in the slow cooker for my wife's lunches.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Broccoli and Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry with Seitan, Eggplant Sticks, Corn-off-the-Cob

I made a simple stir fry, starting with half of a medium sweet onion, chopped to a fine 1/4" cube for a few minutes, followed by most of a tub of seitan, cut into long thin pieces maybe 1/4" thick X 1 1/2" long X 3/4" wide. Once the seitan started browning, I added about half a dozen baby bok choy, cut into thirds, as well as a handful or so of broccoli crowns. I cooked for a few minutes, then added a few tablespoons of Salpica Cilantro Green Olive salsa and a little salt. That was all this dish needed - it came out quite tasty! I also served corn-off-the-cob with Earth Balance margarine, salt, and fresh lemon juice, and Macabee Kosher Foods' eggplant sticks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Golden Beets with Tempeh, Mashed Potatoes with Flame-Roasted Anaheim Pepper, Steamed Green Bean

Tonight, I prepared another vegetable that was recommended for lactation yesterday, beets. I prefer working with baby golden beets over red ones, as they don't stain as copiously - I hope that they are as good for the blood as red ones. I steamed six baby beets, after removing the thin root ends, that I purchased loose, without greens (alas, as beet greens are supposed to have have more nutrition than the roots!), for about 25 minutes; in hindsight, they could have used 5-10 minutes more time. I also included green beans in the steamer - 25 minutes were fine.

I put the beets under cold running water then cut off a half inch or so from the thick end. I attempted to use my hands to peel off the skin but ended up having to use a peeler to complete the job. The beets weren't quite done, but that worked out okay as I had a saute of thinly cut tempeh and most of half of an onion going. Reserving three of the baby beets for an upcoming dinner, I cut the other three beets longitudinally into eights or tenths, and added them to the saute for about 5 minutes, adding a tablespoonful or so of fresh rosemary needles a minute or two after the beets. I served with a little salt, and served the beans with lemon juice and salt.

I had the idea to serve mashed potatoes with flame-roasted Anaheim peppers. I roasted two peppers, simply by charring over the open gas flame till they were more or less black, then put them in a brown paper bag. I crumbled the bag close and let it sit while I was preparing the rest of the dinner to let the smoky flavor embed itself into the pepper's flesh. I then ran the peppers under cold water, stroking them with my hands to let the black char slip away. I cut off the stem end and removed the seeds. Thankfully I then sampled - these Anaheims, usually mild, were hot! I used just one and mixed it, as well as olive oil and salt, into mashed potatoes. I loved it, but my wife found the potatoes too hot.

Lactation Special - Rainbow Chard with Stewed Tomato, Pumpkin Seed-Dried Cherry-Spinach Salad, Cincinatti Radish

My wife and I went today to a Chinese medicine specialist as we had been referred there for
acupuncture to increasing lactation. Among recommendations for diet are to eat whole and natural foods, sourdough vs. yeasted breads, lacto-fermented vegetables (like the organic raw cultured vegetables -- carrot, beet, and daikon radish -- tha we had found this past February in Savannah, GA by Bio Lacto / Deep Root), vegetable stock, steamed or fresh fruits and vegetables (though the practitioner told us to go light on raw), fermented soy products (in addition to tempeh, miso, soy sauce, and natto - something that I discovered in Japan); and to avoid things that we naturally don't eat, like refined sugars, white flour, caffeine, soft drinks.

Specific foods that we were encouraged to eat (I'm hilighting the ones the practitioner particularly called out) for blood included beets, unsweetened cherry juice, cherries, apples, beans, spinach, sprouts, tomatoes, carrots, pine nuts, Jasmine tea, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, watercress, and marjoram; for lactation, radish, leeks, celery, black sesame seeds, lemon, saffron, peppermint tea, Jasmine tea, vinegar, pickled ginger, garlic, black pepper, marjoram, coriander, and chili; and additionally for blood, capers, chili, cayenne pepper, eggplant, chestnut, chives, onion, and vinegar. Not on the lists they sent us home with, she also recommended chard, soups, and pumpkin seeds.

Sorry for the long preamble! Anyway, we stopped at Whole Foods Market on the way home for me to replenish my supplies, and I came up with a dinner hitting home on a lot of the recommendations. (She is also now taking Chinese herbs to help with increased lactation - Ba zhen tang, chuan lian zi, wang bu liu xing, pu gong ying, and tong cao - all of which are plant-based.)

I prepared rainbow chard as I often do, by cutting the stems into 3/4" or so pieces and sauteeing them with half moons of a half onion. When the stems were softened, after about 8-10 minutes, I added the chard leaves, roughly hand-torn into approximately 1 1/2" squares. Just a few minutes later as the leaves cooked down, I added about a third of a small can of stewed tomatoes, salt, and tarragon. I served the chard with a spinach salad that had dry roasted pumpkin seeds and dried cherries. Some Miche bread with peanut butter and Cincinatti radishes rounded out the meal; I also served some unsweetened cherry juice.

I ended up putting the rest of the stewed tomato, some pieces of the chard leaves, fingerling potatoes cut into thirds, some onion, wheat berries, a vegan bouilloun cube, salt, water, and a few other items I'm currently forgetting into a slow cooker so that my wife could enjoy a nice lunch tomorrow. I'm blogging "tomorrow" and am delighted to report that not only was dinner a hit, but she loved the soup!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shredded Butternut Squash and Spinach

I had some cubed butternut squash left, and thought of something unique to try with it. I love hashed brown potatoes, and sometimes make them for brunch. I used my electric shredder to shred the squash like I would shred potatoes for hashed browns. I sauteed the squash, which, shredded, made for a much shorter cooking time because of all of the surface area, along with some red onion and shallot, adding spinach in the last 2 or 3 minutes, plus salt, tarragon, and chili powder. I also served some prepared chickpea salad that I had purchased from Whole Foods Market, and thick slices of a huge heirloom tomato.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lemony Asparagus Spears with Tempeh and Leftover Dhokla

Tonight (our due date, but of course the baby came three weeks early) we had a short window for me to cook and for us to then eat in between my wife's breast milk pumping and feeding the baby. I popped Saturday's khamman dhokla in the toaster oven and heated it. In the meantime in my cast iron pan, I sauteed tempeh slices and served them with a little soy sauce. I then cooked in that cast iron pan some asparagus spears over medium-high heat, also in olive oil. I served with a lot of fresh lemon juice (about a quarter of a small lemon for both servings in total), as well as a little salt and pepper. Finally, heirloom tomato slices rounded out the quick but tasty and nutritous meal (my wife told me that asparagus is good for lactation).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Butternut Squash with Seitan and Rice Noodles

I made my first solo shopping trip, leaving baby and Mom behind, yesterday, and enjoyed buying a new compost bin that has charcoal filtration for smell and looks like a nice pottery piece that can sit on the counter. But the bigger news is that Whole Foods in Chapel Hill had just a few days ago opened up new construction and the produce department is now huge - disorientingly so!

One item they had, which they often don't, is cut up squash. I purchased some of the chopped butternut squash and used about half of it in today's meal. I started sauteeing half of a red salad onion, chopped to approximately 1/4" or slightly larger cubes. Two minutes or so later, as the onion started getting a bit clear, I added a box of seitan, chopped into medium chunks, as well as the large chunks of squash.

I continued cooking for another 12-15 minutes or so over medium heat, stirring occasionally and watching the squash cook and become deeper in color. Once the squash was cooked, I added maybe a tablespoonful of fresh rosemary needles, a little salt, maybe a teaspoon of jerk seasoning, and about a half teaspoonful of fenugreek, useful for a mother's lactation (I added it for that reason; it didn't add much to the flavor of the dish), and some rice noodles that I had soaked for about 5 minutes in hot tap water. I stirred everything together, then added a few tablespoonfuls of Baja lime marinade. After a final stir, I served the dish a minute later - it was tasty!!

On Friday, some friends brought over a nice meal for us of stuffed Indian parathas, tabouleh, and excellent fresh fruit. That same day, another friend also dropped a meal off, which we heated up yesterday. That friend is from the Gujarat region of India and is an excellent cook - we think she should open a catering business or restaurant. She had an amazing curried potato dish, as well as khamman dhokla.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friends' Curried Potatoes and Khamman Dhokla

A friend dropped off an amazingly tasty curried potato dish and traditional Gujarati khamman dhokla. Wow! I simply served some raw carrots, spinach, and Cincinatti radish, as well as a slice of whole wheat bread.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friends' Stuffed Paratha and Tabouleh

Some friends of ours stopped by, including their sweet 3-year-old, and kindly brought stuffed Indian parathas and tabouleh, which we served with tomato, coconut milk yogurt, and some condiments another friend had given us, plus tomato. They also brought excellent fresh fruit that we enjoyed for dessert!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cooked Mung Bean Sprouts, Homemade Bread, Creamy Tomato Soup

Apologies in advance, as I am making this blog entry on December 18th, so will be a bit vague, based on my recollection.

My wife enjoys sprouting, but found that raw bean sprouts was bothering her stomach as a nursing Mom. She suggested cooking sprouts that she had made, and I did that today.

We were lucky because a friend and his (understandly decidedly uninterested in our baby :-) !) cute 2-year-old son came to meet our new baby and bring some soup and bread by. They were both very good - tasty bread and very good chunky, creamy tomato soup. Wow! Unfortunately, my wife doesn't tolerate unfermented soy very well (it sometimes bothers me, too), and soy milk was the base of the soup. I couldn't resist, so had a serving of the soup - I'm so glad I did because it didn't seem to bother me and it was excellent!

I also made a simple saute with finely cubed zucchini and the sprouts. I mixed in a variety of Indian herbs, like turmeric and mustard seeds. I thickly sliced and toasted our friend's bread, served some prepared mushroom salad from Whole Foods Market, and took advantage of a great sale of avocadoes for $1 each to enjoy more avocado tonight. I gave my wife a larger serving of everything else to compensate for her missing out on the soup.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Curried Potatoes with Beets and Friends' Rasam

One of our friends, from South India, has been so helpful with the new baby. She dropped off some spicy rasam soup. I served as well some prepared beets, plus curried potatoes and pepper with some Indian spices.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Whole Foods Dishes - Roasted Root Vegetables, Cactus Cake with Avocado Vinaigrette, Pecan Rice

Monday, December 08, 2008

Curried Potatoes and Kale, Corn-off-the-Cob with Tarragon

Life is busy but so fulfilling with our new baby at home with us. We're on a 3-hour feeding schedule; because the baby was early, her suck is still weak, and my wife has to pump. Poor her, having to work so hard! I help by feeding the baby with pumped and banked breast milk in the afternoons through late at night.

Luckily, my Mom has been bringing lunches over for my wife and several friends so far have brought dinners. My wife needs to be kept well fed and, indirectly through her, so does my darling daughter!

I found a very tasty curried potatoes and kale prepared dish at Whole Foods Market made with potato, kale, ginger, garlic, crushed red pepper, curry powder, canola oil, orange juice, carrot, tomato, coconut milk, onion, corn starch, salt, and water. I heated it up today - it was delicious! I'll have to try to create something like this.

I also flame-roasted two ears of corn, stripped the kernels, and mixed in salt, tarragon, and Earth Balance margarine. I served some heirloom tomato chunks, avocado, and sauteed tempeh slices.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Squash and Lentils with Rice and Flatbread

Tonight, I used up the leftovers from our homecoming meal that friends had brought by. I sauteed some summer squash and mixed it in with the lentils from that meal. I also served the rest of the spinach salad and rice that they had so kindly brought, and also had a piece of flat bread. We're lucky to have such caring friends - getting used to our schedule with a newborn, it's very helpful having such meals dropped off!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Friends' South Indian Delicacies

A great cook and friend of ours from South India dropped off a good variety of very tasty food! I simply made a salad and served some Italian crackers. We're lucky to have so many kind and caring friends!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thanksgiving Leftovers

My wife was in the hospital with the baby on Thanksgiving and, though I made arrangements for others to cover for me if necessary, our big Thanksgiving (again I believe the country's largest such event - almost 600 in attendance with a long wait list!) is also "my baby", so I was there. The chef made up a takeout container for my wife, so she could enjoy great Thanksgiving food in the hospital.

I had saved leftovers and, though it was getting a bit beyond Thanksgiving, heated it all up tonight for dinner. Yum!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Friends' Lentils, Rice, and Spinach Salad

Wow, we had a second homecoming today, again marked by generosity and kindness of friends! Our baby was born on November 21, about three weeks early. They sent us home on the 24th but the baby was readmitted on the 26th with jaundice. The jaundice cleared up quickly, but they turned their attention to her weight, which got down to 4 pounds even, and immature suckling, and kept us in the hospital till we were released late this afternoon!

When we came home on the 24th, a student of mine came over to photograph our homecoming -- the baby's first introduction to her new home! Tonight, another couple, friends from the vegetarian society, were just too kind - they had prepared a full meal for us, ready to be eaten. They came very soon after we arrived home, got to meet the baby, and we got to enjoy a nice lentil dish over brown rice, and a very good spinach salad with dried cherries and almonds. Wow! And they brought plenty, so we can enjoy some leftovers and/or lunches! We're so happy to be home!