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Real Food

February 20, 2013 2 comments
Baby Carrots

Real Baby Carrots

Oops, it’s been a few months since my last post. So, what are my excuses this time? The usual—holidays, sickness, family stuff, doggie drama, and work. I had a respiratory infection that lasted over seven weeks. During that time, I didn’t cook very much and when I did, it wasn’t inspired. Some of the results were downright dismal. Definitely not blog worthy. Unless, I wanted to write about my failures, which could be funny. I was beginning to think there was a curse in my kitchen. Maybe it was just my taste buds weren’t working. Thankfully, my taste buds are returning to normal and I’m cooking more.

Sautéed Baby Carrots

This weekend, I made something that was so simple; it was not even recipe worthy. However, it was divine. It all started in our backyard. We were clearing out the winter garden to make room for the early spring garden. I’m not sure if we are supposed to do this now, but the timing seemed right to get the onions in the ground. We’re learning what works for us. In the process of clearing space, we had to sacrifice some carrots. We harvested  the prettiest, most tender baby carrots I’ve ever seen. They were an organic rainbow mix – orange, yellow, white, and, purple. Beautiful and delicious.

I trimmed the stems and put them in the compost. Washed the carrots. In a skillet over medium heat, I steamed/sautéed the largest ones first in just a bit of water. Then added the next ones in size. I added the tiniest carrots at the end of cooking; they only had a few seconds on the heat. By this time, the water was gone, so I added a smidge of butter. I then topped them with freshly snipped parsley and a sprinkle of Kosher salt. Within 30 minutes, the carrots went from in the ground to on our table. To me, food doesn’t get much fresher or better.

It sounds silly, but they were so “carroty” tasting that it’s almost indescribable. If your only experience with baby carrots is with those little nubby things in the grocery store, then you are missing a treat. I would highly recommend buying some at a local farmers market or even better yet, growing your own. Carrots are easy to grow. You can even grow them in a deep pot if space is a problem.

Happy eating and happy gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

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Spicy Gold Smoothie

August 17, 2012 4 comments

Spicy Gold Smoothie

My last post featured a way to preserve fresh peaches – in frozen peach cubes. This post includes a fruit smoothie recipe that uses the peach cubes. The name, Spicy Gold Smoothie, is a little silly but it is descriptive. This smoothie has plenty of golden fruits (peaches, Rainier cherries, and pineapple) and a nice spicy kick thanks to generous pinches of cayenne pepper and ginger. Use as much or as little as you like. I like icy heat, so I add plenty of spice. This smoothie is a great way to kickstart your morning!  It also makes a nice afternoon snack.

Special thanks to my mother-in-law and father-in-law for the beautiful birthday table linens from Sur La Table. I love this store! We visited one when we were in Seattle. It is probably a good thing we do not have one near us. Thanks to my in-laws, we now have placemats, napkins, and beautiful dish towels! They are almost too pretty to use. But we will :-). I will also use them as photo props and decorative accents in the kitchen. Yes, I just wrote decorative accents. For those who know me, you know how strange that sounds! I am no Martha Stewart. But with these kitchen and table linens, I can pretend!!

Peach Cubes, Etc.

Spicy Gold Smoothie

4 peach cubes

½ cup frozen Rainier cherries (fresh would also work if you have them)

½ cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks or cubes

¼-½ cup water or juice (tangerine, apple, orange, white cranberry, carrot, pineapple etc.)

6 ounces yogurt or kefir (~½ cup, any kind works – soy, coconut, regular)

pinch of cayenne pepper

pinch of powdered ginger

pinch of turmeric

Optional add-ins: protein powder, fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves, ice cubes if you use fresh fruit (I like cold smoothies)

Pour contents into blender container. Cover with the lid. Blend until smooth and golden. Sprinkle with more spices if you want. Enjoy!

Servings: 2 snack-sized servings or 1 meal-sized serving.

1 Can of Coconut Milk = 2 Recipes

March 22, 2012 2 comments

I love coconut milk, but don’t have many recipes that use an entire large can.  Most recipes use a cup or less.  The large cans of coconut milk have almost two cups. When I find the tiny cans of coconut milk, I stock up.  But I don’t find them very often.  So, what to do with the leftover coconut milk?  Many possibilities: Thai coconut soup, smoothies, sorbet, rice pudding, coconut oatmeal, pina coladas, etc.  But, I thought it might be nice to have two recipes that go well together which use one entire can of coconut milk.  So, I give you Curried Coconut Spaghetti Squash and Coconut Pigeon Peas and Rice.  Coincidentally, each recipe also uses half an onion!

Curried Coconut Spaghetti Squash

I originally found this recipe on an interesting paleolithic diet website: (http://www.paleoeffect.com/recipes/paleo-coconut-curry-spaghetti-squash-a-delicate-vegan-side/)

I don’t eat paleo so I took a few liberties with the recipe. Ok, I took a lot of liberties with the recipe.  Wasn’t really in the mood for green curry or cilantro so I used red curry and hot pepper flakes.  Also, added some orange peppers because it sounded like a good idea. I was craving sunny orange and yellow food.  This certainly fit the bill!

This is a nice, light vegan side dish that is great served with Coconut Pigeon Peas and Rice. 

Curried Coconut Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash

6 ounces coconut water or plain water

1 tablespoon coconut oil

½ a medium-large onion, chopped (or 2 large shallots)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon red curry paste

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon salt

1 medium red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon honey (or agave)

½ cup coconut milk

¼ cup cashew pieces (raw or toasted)

You can bake spaghetti squash in the oven at 350º F for 45 minute to an hour.  However, it is mid-March and we are experiencing record temps in the mid to upper 80s here in  North Alabama.  Do not want to turn on the AC yet so I used the microwave to avoid heating the house.   

Some people bake or microwave spaghetti squash whole, but I prefer to cut them.  Wash the outside of the squash.  Dry it thoroughly.  The rind is tough so it can be a little tricky to cut, so use care when cutting it.  Wrap it in a towel, place it on a cutting board and use a large knife to slice it lengthwise from stem to end.  Then use a spoon or a sturdy ice cream scoop to scoop out the seeds and the stringy stuff.  This is similar to how you clean a butternut squash or a pumpkin.

Place the two halves cut side up in a microwave safe container (I use a Pyrex pie plate).  Fill the cavities with either coconut water or regular water.  Pour a little extra water in the bottom of the container.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Rotate the squash halves and pour a little more of the liquid over the cut edges – this keeps them from drying out.  Microwave another 5 minutes.  Let them rest for about 5 more minutes.  Then, use a fork to shred the squash so that it looks like strands of spaghetti.

In a large sauce pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger.  Sauté for about 3-5 minutes. Add the spices, salt, and the bell peppers. Sauté for another 2 minutes.  Stir in the honey and coconut milk. Turn the heat to low, add the spaghetti squash and the cashew piece.  Mix and serve immediately

 

Coconut Pigeon Peas and Rice

Pigeon peas are one of my favorite legumes.  They are also known as tropical green peas or gandules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeon_pea).  You can buy them canned or dried in most major grocery stores or international markets. In Huntsville you can get them at Publix, Garden Cove, Kroger, and Earth Fare. If you use dried, just soak them for a few hours, rinse, boil for until tender, and then drain. If you use canned peas, drain them for this recipe. 

I have a friend and former neighbor, from Puerto Rico, and his specialty was pigeon peas and rice.  It was one of my favorite meals and I looked forward to the days when Hector cooked.  Over the years, I’ve tried to replicate Hector’s recipe, but nothing can top the original.  Therefore, I decided to create my own version of Pigeon Peas and Rice.  This is a vegan, curried version with coconut.  It’s totally different, but I still like it.  Hope you do too.

Coconut Pigeon Peas and Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil

½ a medium-large onion, chopped

¼ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon curry powder

1½ teaspoons salt (or less if you want to keep the sodium low)

pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1½ cups rice, rinsed (basm­­­­ati, jasmine, or brown long-grain rice)

¼ cup dried unsweetened coconut

1 cup coconut milk

2¼ cups water

2 cups cooked pigeon peas

Heat olive oil and coconut oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, turmeric, curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Cook until onions are translucent and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and coconut. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and water.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Then, gently stir in the pigeon peas. Cover the pot. Turn the temperature to low. Leave it alone for 20 minutes (no peeking!). Remove from heat and let the rice sit for another 5 minutes.  Fluff/stir the rice and peas. Serve.