black-eyed peas with kale, dijon mustard & thoughts on traditions


My mother was raised in Texas, and her parents were from Oklahoma and Louisiana, so  in keeping Southern traditions every New Years dinner my mother served black-eyed peas and ham. Black-eyed peas in the South are traditionally eaten at the start of the year to bring good luck in wealth; adding greens doubles down on wealth (and nutrients too.) I’ve adapted this recipe to include fresh kale (collard greens are the classic Southern side), and also some heat from the lemon drop pepper and texture from the fresh celery.

Throughout my childhood each holiday included food traditions– some which I enjoyed (especially the boxes of Van Duyn’s dark chocolates each December when we put up the Christmas tree!) and some not so much (the gamey lamb with sugary green mint jelly at Easter.)  Beneath this New Year’s tradition though the messaging I remember learning from my young mother includes “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” and “There’s never enough.” She was widowed at a very young age which fairly shook her confidence when she had two small children and no career plans other than being a wife and at-home mother. Yet we certainly never went hungry or lacked for anything we needed.

As an adult I’ve reflected on what I learned from my mother’s actions and words, incuding how food traditions are “baked in” to most of our lives, how we celebrate with food and alcohol, and soothe ourselves and others with food and alcohol “treats”. I think about how our core values are messaged through our choices of what and how we eat, both intentionally through holiday rituals and unintentionally in our daily routines.

I want to keep what’s good from my life experiences, and discard what is not supportive of my living mindfully, well, and feeling good in the years to come. So I’ve retained my mother’s black-eyed peas New Years good luck in wealth tradition– I’ve taken her recipe, and made it mine by deleting the ham, deleting the fear of loss and not having enough. I’ve added kale and hot pepper, self-reliance with a career to support myself and my daughter, also study of nutrition and exercise for physical well being, and thus confidence. Here’s to a healthy and wealthy, purposeful and productive, and happy New Year for all!

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, well rinsed
  • 1 T plus 1 t whole-grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 hot pepper, diced (I used hot lemon drop)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped into thin ribbons
  • scant 1/4 c olive oil
  • scant 1/8 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed juice with pulp
  • scant 1/2 t sea salt
  • fresh ground green or black pepper to taste

instructions:
Carefully inspect dried black eyed peas, discard any stones or misfits, then rinse well. Place dried peas in a large pot, cover with water and let soak to soften for 4-8  hours or overnight. Rinse well. Cover generously with fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until soft but not mushy, about 30 min-1 hour. Drain. Rinse to cool and drain again.

Place the chopped kale in a large bowl, drizzle with a little of the olive oil and salt, then massage until just softened. Add in the diced vegetables. Stir together well, then add the drained cooked black-eyed peas and mix those in gently. Whisk together the remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.  This can be made a day or even two ahead– refrigerated in a covered casserole dish, the flavors will meld. Serve hot over rice as Hoppin’ John, a traditional black-eyed pea dish, enhanced with veggies.

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cauliflower quinoa salad with caraway & pomegranate seeds, fresh cranberries


I wanted to think of a novel vegetarian and gluten free seasonal side dish that’s easy to make ahead, serve warm or at room temp, and yummy as leftovers, that complements a traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner…  This is my take for this year’s sharing. I made extra quinoa as it’s great with a little left over turkey to turn a simple green salad into a delicious dinner salad. Or the basis for a yummy breakfast with fresh cranberries, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and ground flax seed.

My thoughts turn to my childhood Thanksgiving dinners– my favorite dishes were my great grandmother’s fresh cranberry sauce simmered on the stovetop, my grandmother’s mashed sweet potatoes topped  with oven browned marshmallows, my Aunt’s perfectly browned scalloped potatoes with lots of onions and cheese, my uncle’s fresh pressed apple cider, then his apple sauce made from apple trees he planted on his farm. Oh my, goodness! although now of course I know marshmallows are not truly food.  My original family has died or scattered far apart, both figuratively and literally. I especially miss my daughter this year in a different time zone, both prepping in the kitchen with her and taking a long trail dog walk together as food cooks. Yet I’m happy to have a chosen family to join, my partner and his original and extended family. Several in my daughter’s generation of this tribe are now vegan and/or gluten free; the majority of this gathering are not. Traditions run strong here too– one daughter insists to another only her dad knows the proper amount of milk and butter to use to turn the hand mashed potatoes into their favorite dish, and a grandmother’s dark cherry jello with pear, apple, and pineapple chunks hidden inside the wiggly mass elicits a huge smile from a happy college athlete granddaughter. Of course jello is not real food either, but that is not relevant to these two this night. Bon appetite!

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ingredients:

  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 ripe pomegranate, seeded
  • 1 cup or so fresh cranberries
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t caraway seed
  • 1/2 t sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 T fresh lemon juice

instructions:

I use two pots to cook the quinoa separately as the red quinoa likes to simmer for several minutes longer than the white quinoa. Rinse each of the quinoas very well, then cover each in 2 cups fresh water. Add a dash of salt to each pot, bring just to boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered until water is just absorbed and quinoa is fluffy, about 18-20 minutes for the white and 22-25 minutes for the red. Remove from heat, fluff with fork and allow to rest uncovered as you chop veggies. Then using a large bowl, stir together your desired mix of white and red quinoa. Saute diced shallots in 2 T olive oil in a large frying pan until lightly browned and just starting to caramelize, then add to mixing bowl. Using same frying pan and a pat of organic butter if you dont have vegans joining in the meal, add caraway seed and stir for a minute, then add garlic to saute briefly, then chopped cauliflower. Stir for 2 minutes or so to lightly brown the cauliflower and coat in the spices, then add a couple T fresh water, salt and black pepper; reduce heat and cover to simmer for 2 minutes. Lastly add fresh cranberries to steam too for about 2 minutes until cauliflower and cranberries are just softening. Add to mixing bowl together with pomegranate seeds, and dress with a couple T of fresh lemon juice. Cover with foil when warming in oven. Stores well for two days refrigerated in an airtight Tupperware container.

yellow squash and kale salad with figs, pumpkin seeds, ginger & lime


Indian Summer hot days and quickly cooling evenings, plentiful summer squash and ripe figs were my inspiration for this turn of season main dish salad. Bright yellow and deep green, the sweet figs and tart lime, the crunch of the seeds– yum! This is a full and satisfying healthy meal, with good protein from the tempeh and pumpkin seeds, lots of vitamin C, A, and K from the yellow peppers and kale, minerals potassium and calcium from the figs, magnesium and zinc from the seeds.

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ingredients:

  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1-2 medium yellow crooked neck squash, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • about 6 black mission figs, thinly sliced and halved
  • 1/2 cup raw or dry roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 t black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 inch fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 lime, juice and pulp
  • black pepper to taste

instructions:

Pour 2 T olive oil into skillet and heat over medium flame. Stir black mustard seeds until they begin to pop, then add cubed tempeh and saute until lightly browned. Set the tempeh aside in a casserole dish with lid. Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet and saute the coarsely chopped yellow squash and minced ginger root for 3 minutes or so, then add the chopped yellow pepper, a splash of white wine or water, reduce the heat and simmer covered for 2 minutes until squash and yellow peppers are bright and softened, but not mushy. Add this to the tempeh.

Cut the thick stems from the kale, then cut the leaves lengthwise in half, roll and slice into thin ribbons. Place kale in large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a scant 1/8 t salt, then massage the kale with your hands for about 3 minutes to soften it.

Mix the tempeh with squash and yellow peppers into the softened kale, adding in your chopped red onion and pumpkin seeds. Lastly gently add the sliced figs. Dress with juice and pulp of lime. Refrigerate in covered casserole dish. Serve chilled or warmed.

yellow split pea dal with garden hot peppers and rainbow chard


An Indian Summer cool morning then bright sunny hot day with a breeze, ahhhh. “Another trip around the sun”. The changing season and the ripe peppers and chard in my garden told me it was time to revisit making spicy yellow split pea dal– I started in my garden and moved to my kitchen sink.

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Then I looked for a prior recipe post with this as a lead in:

“One of the many great things about yellow split pea dal is that dried split peas don’t require soaking before cooking, and they cook in 30 minutes, a much shorter time required than for dried beans. They’re high in protein and dietary fiber, satisfying and healthy; I did the math and calculated this recipe has 310 calories per cup served over a cup of rainbow chard. I made a large pot of the dal, and served it on a bed of rainbow chard leaves cut into ribbons topped with 1/4 cup of Bhutanese Red Rice for an easy “one bowl” meal. Leftovers taste great, and it freezes well.”

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Then I considered, how would I like to make this today? I tweaked the spices and used coconut milk given how hot and dry the weather has been– following is my revised recipe today.

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  •  large jewel yam, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red Nardello pepper, diced (these are sweeter savory)
  • 1 small Lemon Drop hot pepper, diced with seeds
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 in fresh ginger root, minced
  • 3/4 t cardamom
  • 3/4 t coriander
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t salt, black pepper to taste
  • 1 6oz can Thai coconut milk
  • 1 lemon, juice and pulp
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard

instructions:

Cull through then rinse split peas well, cover with 4 cups fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer covered for about 25 minutes, until quite soft. Drain then set aside.

Cut thick stems out of rainbow chard. Chop the stems and set aside. Cut the chard leaves into thin ribbons and set aside.

In a large soup pot with 1-2 T olive oil over medium heat, add the mustard seeds and allow them to heat up til they just start to pop. Add onions, garlic, and all spices, and stir until onions just begin to turn translucent. Add the chopped yam, stir to coat well with spices, add severak tablespoons of water, reduce heat and cover to simmer until softened, about 4 minutes. Add coconut milk, yellow pepper, celery, and chopped chard stems, cover and simmer another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. When split peas are soft, drain their water into a measuring cup to use later. Add split peas to large pot of spiced vegetables, stir to mix all together well, then add the cooking fluid from the split peas to obtain your desired consistency of dal. Serve over rainbow chard ribbons, dress with fresh squeezed lemon. Serve in a bowl with Bhutanese red rice for a more substantial meal.

chilled garden gazpacho soup with spicy lemon drop peppers


Well I’ve got bowls of fresh picked tomatoes, zucchini, and now also several new-to-my-garden varieties of hot peppers ripe and ready to harvest. And it’s still too hot to cook. Well then, I haven’t had a wonderful bowl of gazpacho since I took a trip to Tulum, Mexico many years ago. Looking at my favorite old cookbooks from my young adulthood and early vegetarian cooking years– Moosewood cookbooks by Molly Katzen, The Good Herb by Judith Hurley, The Greens Cook Book– also a quick look online, I found unappealing gazpacho recipes that rely on V-8 or tomato juice. Not for me. I wanted most of my gazpacho ingredients to be fresh from my own vegetable and herb gardens.

I decided to get out the blender, begin coarse chopping and dicing, creating my own recipe as I chopped. The result was delicious, every bite as wonderful as my happy memories of a meal shared in a Mexican ecological paradise. What follows is all the ingredients and an approximation of their quantities– I didn’t measure much as I worked. This made 4-6 satisfying dinner sized servings.

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ingredients:

  • about 6-8 cups mixed variety of ripe red tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini (about 1 1/2 cups), 2/3 coarsely chopped and 1/3 diced
  • 1 cucumber (about 1 1/2 cups), 1/2 coarsely chopped and 1/2 diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 medium yellow Lemon Drop pepper, including seeds, diced
  • 4-6 leaves fresh basil, diced
  • about 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar
  • about 3/4 c water, from carafe with mint kept chilled in the fridge
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1/4 t sea salt, black pepper to taste
  • cilantro, chopped, for garnish

instructions:

Using a large cutting board and a blender, coarsely chop tomatoes and place in blender until it’s about half full, and puree til smooth with a half cup of the mint infused water. Transfer to large soup pot. Again fill blender with coarsely chopped tomatoes, the minced garlic, diced basil, diced hot pepper, the olive oil and rice wine vinegar. Pulse until you achieve your desired consistency: some like gazpacho silky smooth, but I like mine with some texture. Transfer to soup pot. Again fill blender with coarsely chopped tomatoes, about 2/3 of your coarsely chopped zucchini and about 1/3 of your coarsely chopped cucumbers, and the lime juice, and pulse to your desired consistency. If necessary, add either some of your previously pureed soup or a little more mint water to have enough fluid initially to allow you to achieve your desired texture. Add to soup pot. Also add to soup pot your minced red onion and celery, the reserved diced zucchini and cucumber, a little sea salt and black pepper, also more lime juice if desired. Chill for at least half a day before tasting and fine tuning the seasonings. Serve chilled with plenty of cilantro garnish.

 

chilled carrot ginger & sunflower seed coconut balls for your sweet tooth


Yesterday I saw a facebook post from a friend out for a cool treat– an awesome looking seriously chocolate mousse-like cake with an icy adult beverage topped with whipped cream. Oh my, taste bud envy! Mindful of the impact of a super cold and sugary ice cream treat on the gut, I reflected on what would be a healthier option to satisfy my sweet tooth as this heat wave wears on and on…  and remembered this recipe. Ginger, coconut and lemon tropical cool sweetness! I’ll make this again, and keep looking for new treat options…  Here’s that recipe as originally posted:

Dinner and dessert at my friend Sharon’s house led to my discovery of the Living Candida Free cookbook by Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN…. and thus to this, my first attempt making my own modified version of her Carrot Balls recipe. Yum! My guests and I devoured these fast, and I think even my hardcore chocolate loving, non-vegan, non-gluten free, unabashedly desert centered sister would like these. A lot.

ingredients:

  • 3/4t fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 c raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t cardamon
  • 2 t ground flaxseeds
  • 2 T coconut for balls, plus additional 6-8 T coconut for rolling balls in.
  • 1 T plus 1t lemon zest
  • 3 t lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 t blackstrap molasses
  • 1 t water, as necessary or skip the water and increase the lemon juice
  • 6-7 T fresh finely grated carrot

instructions:

Using a food processor, finely chop fresh ginger root, then add sunflower seeds, spices, ground flaxseeds, and coconut. Process until medium fine. Then add finely grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and molasses until it just comes together as dough– it will be rather heavy. Add carrot and pulse to mix evenly. Don’t be frightened by its dense texture! Form into small balls, then roll each ball in a small bowl of the additional coconut to coat well. Refrigerate in an airtight Tupperware type container until firm and chilled. Makes 18-20 balls, with 2-4 balls being a perfect dessert serving.

My guests and I all thought these were a great dessert. I think they’d be wonderful too for a light breakfast snack if I need a little energy before going to an early morning yoga class.

chilled broccoli soup with zucchini, caraway seed, basil, and lemon


While I had my morning coffee, I opened my house to cool with the morning breeze and quickly made this soup, chilling now for a refreshing dinner and lunch tomorrow during this heat wave! It was my first attempt at a vegan chilled broccoli soup, and I think it’s going to be very tasty, even better after the flavors have melded while chilling today. This made enough for 6 good sized bowls, next time I’ll try doubling the recipe and freezing some.

ingredients:

  • 1 medium head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup or so of zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped or grated
  • 1 medium leek, chopped
  • 1 t caraway seed
  • 1/2 t black mustard seeds
  • 1 t fresh ginger root, diced
  • 4 medium fresh basil leaves, diced
  • 1/4 t salt, black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 large lemon, juice and pulp
  • 5 c water

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instructions:

Pare away any tough outer skin from broccoli stalks, then chop stalks and flowerets. Chop and dice all other ingredients. I happened to have some left over fresh zucchini, so I added that too, and I think looking back it was a good addition for both taste and texture. Saute leek and red potato in 2 T olive oil for 2 minutes, then add caraway seed and ginger root, continue to stir for 3-4 minutes until potato just begins to almost brown. Add chopped celery, carrot, zucchini, basil, and broccoli stalks and flowerets along with 1/4 t salt and 5 cups of fresh water brought first almost – but not to- a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered to retain nutrients until potatoes, carrots, and broccoli stems are soft, about 5 minutes. Add juice and pulp of 1/2 lemon and black pepper. After taste testing, I added another 1/4 t salt, for health given that it is so hot now, and to complement the taste of all these veggies when served chilled. Remove from heat and cool — not wanting to add any unnecessary heat to my kitchen, I literally took my hot soup pot and placed it outside on a hot pad on my wooden deck bench to cool for a bit. Once cooled some, blend in batches until smooth.

This soup has a nice texture and fragrance. Refrigerate and serve chilled. I may try this garnished with a dollop of organic Euoropean style plain yogurt, for flavor and some protein, or garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.  I may serve it with a small dish of chilled blueberries and walnuts? Yum, light and also satisfying.