a wee bit Irish with potatoes, cabbage, mustard and a twist


Indeed I’ve got a wee bit of Irish heritage, and more…. Of course at this time of year cooking a big pot to share is a fine thing to do, as it always is…

ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium sized red potatoes, cut into chunky cubes
  • 1/2-1 head green cabbage, chopped into 1/4″ ribbons
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 t black mustard seeds
  • 1 c walnuts
  • 1 c or so fresh cranberries

instructions:

Saute cubed tempeh in a large heavy bottom frying pan in 2 T olive oil until lightly browned and crispy outside but still moist inside. Set aside in a large serving bowl with lid. Add another 1-2 T olive oil to the pan, add the mustard seeds, then as they begin popping add the red potatoes, onion and garlic to saute until lightly browned; then add 1-2 T water, cover and steam on reduced heat until the red potatoes are soft but not mushy. Set aside with the tempeh. In the same frying pan over medium heat, saute the chopped green cabbage and yellow pepper for about 3 minutes, only until it brightens and softens just a wee bit. Add these to the other ingredients in the serving dish, mix all together well. When ready to serve, heat the 1 c fresh cranberries in just a little water in the microwave briefly or over low heat on the stovetop, only until they brighten and soften just a bit, slightly warmed. Serve these and walnuts generously as garnish. This will keep covered in the refrigerator well for a couple days.

Cooking the cabbage a bit reduces its goitrogenic factor when serving this to those who have low thyroid function. The tempeh and walnuts increase the protein sufficiently for vegetarians making this a “one pot” meal. I buy and freeze cranberries when they are plentiful and on sale during the holidays, then pull them out of the freezer for recipes such as this, to add a pop of tangy flavor and vitamin C.

thinking about succorance


Given that I love words, on any given day I find myself briefly referring to my dictionary app. Yesterday’s word of the day on Dictionary.Reference.com has long been one of my favorites. Today I’m thinking about how succorance is evidenced in my life… also how our food preparation choices can support or sabotage the dietary, health, and weight goals of our family, friends and colleagues when we share food with others.

succorance

 \ SUHK-er-uh ns \  noun;

1.the act of seeking out affectionate care and social support.

quotes:

  • Here, food in general, and the feeding of someone else in particular… are equated with love, succorance, with a bond between caring parties, with the largely selfless, human act,… and Chaplin uses food in motifs that point us toward what distinguishes a civilized society from a jungle.  Jay Boyer, “Cry Food: The Use of Food as a Comic Motif in the Films of Charlie Chaplin,” Beyond the Stars: Studies in American Film , 1993
  • Here Woolf returns to her metaphor of the outsider seeking warmth, shelter, succorance, yet courting danger.  Shirley Panken, Virginia Woolf and the “Lust of Creation,”  1987

pumpkin cranberry muffins


IMG_5358With one friend sick with a snotty head cold and another who is facing down a career challenge coming over for lunch, it’s time to make a big pot of carrot ginger root soup and some comforting muffins. Some days simply deserve a treat! I served these warm, with sunflower seed butter or cream cheese as options. Some fresh ginger root tea and pumpkin muffins– if any are left over– make a great breakfast to clear away a cement head. My pets love pumpkin too, so the rest of the can of pumpkin will be heartily enjoyed, with the fiber great for their digestive tracks.

ingredients:

  • 3 T butter
  • 1 1/2 T molasses
  • 1 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 1 c pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 c or so milk, as needed
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c oat flour
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/8 t clove
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 c or so fresh frozen cranberries

instructions:

Preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter over low heat, adding in the molasses and maple syrup. Measure flours and other dry ingredients and mix well together in a large measuring cup. Beat together the egg and pumpkin, then add in the melted butter mixture. Beat all together well. Add the dry ingredients, and stir decisively but briefly, to mix all together well. Be minimalist in stirring. Using unbleached muffin cups or buttered muffin tins, fill each 3/4 full, then depending upon size of fresh cranberries, tuck 3-5 cranberries into each muffin. Bake about 20-22 minutes until toothpick comes out clean, then cool on rack. Makes 12.

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fava beans with artichokes, bulgur, lemon and basil


It’s January again, and the gym is rocking full as so many earnestly begin their New Year resolutions to lose weight and live more healthfully. Days are shorter and work seems harder after leisurely time off over Christmas. So friends ask me more often at this time of year, “How do you eat a good fast lunch at work?” and “How do you get a good dinner on the table fast after work and the kid’s team practices?”, as well as the standard  “How do you manage to get enough protein not eating meat?” My answers are simple– cook ahead larger batches of simple whole foods with their own natural bright flavors. Keep basic staples in your cupboards and fridge. Include legumes, seeds and nuts in your diet daily. Try new ingredients, in new combos. Eat mostly local foods, in season, but allow yourself to enjoy too the occasional ingredient that may be from afar- or a season afar- if that makes your recipe pop. Enjoy!

After many days of winter root based soups, and potatoes or yams with dark greens combos, now that the sun is out and it’s clear and cold, I wanted something savory and bright…so decided to go to the Mediterranean for a sunny and heart healthy fava bean salad…

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ingredients:

  • 16 oz frozen fava beans
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 can artichokes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cup bulgur
  • black pepper
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • feta cheese

instructions:
Place bulgur in large casserole dish with lid. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, then stir into bulgur, cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Drain off any residual water, fluff with fork. Place frozen fava beans into saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil then turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until beans feel soft and you can readily peel away the inner skin. Drain, rinse in cold water, then enjoy popping each bean out of its inner skin. Place a couple tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet, then saute the chopped onion until it starts to become translucent. Add garlic, chopped celery and peppers, also peeled fava beans and artichokes (first drain the artichokes, then rinse and drain again); stir all together as the peppers cook just enough to turn bright and begin to soften. Remove from heat. Add finely chopped fresh basil, bulgur, and juice of 1/2 squeezed lemon. Stir all together well, add black pepper to taste, also dress with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or room temp for lunch at work, topped with feta cheese. Stores well in refrigerator in a casserole dish with airtight lid for several days.

savory crepes (holiday shared cooking fun)


ingredients:

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • dash salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • butter for frying

filings:

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4-12 medium jalapeno w seeds, diced
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 granny smith apple, chopped
  • 1 d’anjou pear, chopped
  • pecans, pistachios, or toasted pumpkin seeds
  • feta, gorgonzola or Toscano pepper cheese
  • raisins or chopped turkish apricots
  • cream cheese or soft avocado as garnish

IMG_5089Prepare the batter an hour or two before making the crepes, as the flour particles expand when the batter stands, which provides for lighter crepes. Sift together the flour and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs lightly with a wire whisk, then stir in milk. Beat the liquid gradually into the sifted dry ingredients. Beat vigorously for 2-3 minutes to make a smooth batter. The batter should be very light, the consistency of heavy cream. If any lumps remain, strain batter through a sieve. Cover and set aside in refrigerator to rest.

 

Ideally use a heavy bottomed iron pan with sloping sides (to make it easier to turn the crepes), of about 5-10 inches in diameter. An enameled 6.5in base cast iron skillet is what I happened to have, and it worked well, making a not too big, not too small sized crepe. Heating the pan evenly and thoroughly is the first secret to making a good crepe; success also is a function of using the exact amount of batter needed for the size of the pan, so it covers but is not too thick. Thin crepes are good crepes! Brush or rub the entire surface of the pan with butter, heating it briskly until hot but not smoking. Remove from heat, holding it in the air, while pouring a small amount of batter- about 2-3 T or a small soup ladle worth, in the middle of the pan, concurrently tilting to spread the batter to cover the pan surface. If you have too much batter and some is left over after the bottom surface of the pan is covered, pour it back into the batter bowl. Set pan over medium heat to cook, about 2- minutes, until the top of the crepe is dry and the bottom side begins to turn lightly brown (check this by lifting one corner of the crepe with a spatula.) Flip the crepe, then cook on the second side about 1-2 minutes. Tip the crepe out onto a serving plate. Repeat until all batter has been used; this made 12 moderate sized crepes.

Saute the onion and jalapeno pepper in a little olive oil, then add 1/2-1 Braeburn or Granny Smith apple. Add a little rosemary and balsamic vinegar, turn heat down, cover and reduce for several minutes. Remove from heat.

IMG_5086We played with different combinations of filings using the onion and apple balsamic mixture as base filler, including feta with roasted pumpkin seeds; apricot with pistachios; pear and gorgonzola with pecans; pear with Toscano pepper cheese and raisins. Place filled crepes in warming dish, warm all before serving. Both the soft avocado and cream cheese were wonderful garnishes at the table. (I would omit the last minute addition of cheddar garnish next time.)

Served with an arugula, pomegranate, feta and walnut salad, this was a hearty brunch. Also a very happy and fun Christmas morning shared cooking…new tradition. (Crepe cooking instructions found in The Crepe Cookbook by Paulette Fono & Maria Stacho 1969 found on my mother’s kitchen bookshelf when I closed down her house this last year.)

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Apple Crisp with lots of spices, nuts & seeds


Our holiday traditions include apple crisp for breakfast on Christmas morning. When my apple crispdaughter was little, I’d prepare this the night before so that in the morning when she awakened, I could simply turn on the oven and move the pyrex baking dish from the refrigerator to the oven as it pre-heated, turning my attention fully to her joy of sleigh bells and the stockings that Santa had filled….

Ingredients:

  • 4-5  medium granny smith apples
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup or so each walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunfllower and or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins
  • 1-2 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cardamon
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1/4 t clove
  • 1/4-1/2 t sea salt
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 1 T molasses and 1 T maple syrup

Instructions:

Melt butter, mix with oats, nuts, seeds, spices, molasses, and maple syrup. Stir together well.  Pare half of apples into large baking dish, top with half of oats mixture. Pare remaining apples into baking dish, top with remainder of oats mixture. This can be stored in refrigerator overnight to bake in morning. Immediately before baking, add 1/4 cup of apple cider, water or orange juice. Cook covered in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until apples are soft but not mushy. May cook last 5 minutes uncovered. Serve topped with plain non-fat yogurt and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. This smells divine, makes a wonderful hearty vegetarian breakfast or dessert with generous protein.

quinoa tempeh salad with cranberries, jalapeno & mint


Too many deaths in the family recently, and thus too long since I posted here… It’s time now to prepare for a Winter Solstice gathering– time for me to create again, and for new traditions to come into being.

My thought with this recipe was to incorporate the heat, light and brightness of summer– with the hot pepper and cooling mint, bright yellow bell pepper– and also the traditional winter bright cranberry– in the grounded base of a quinoa and tempeh salad. I found this to be both light and satisfying; feta would compliment and add additional protein if desired, or pistachios to remain vegan.

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ingredients

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (include seeds for heat)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 10-12 leaves mint, diced
  • 1 lime, freshly squeezed

instructions

Rinse quinoa well, then cover with 1 1/2 cups water, add dash of salt, bring just to boiling then reduce heat and simmer covered for 18-20 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with fork. Saute chopped tempeh over medium high heat in a couple tablespoons olive oil for 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to medium low and cover, checking and stirring frequently; cook until browned and cooked through, but not dried out. Add tempeh to quinoa. Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil to pan, then saute shallots, hot pepper and celery until fragrant and shallots start to become translucent. Add yellow pepper and fresh cranberries, stir well, cover and simmer about 3-4 minutes, just until yellow pepper and cranberries are bright and just beginning to soften. Combine all well. Dress with freshly squeezed lime.