I don’t much like Facebook engagement gimmick challenges and games, but when I saw the “Seven days, seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation.” challenge, I knew one of my family or friends would tag me. And I didn’t dread it, as I enjoy taking my camera out several times a day, most days. There are so many interesting and beautiful things to really look at and engage with through a lens. Naturally one of the first photos I took as a black and white composition had to do with cooking. I was thinking about the cauliflower soup I wanted to make that day…
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red potato, chopped
1 turnip, chopped
1 head cauliflower, including stems, chopped into small flowerettes
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 t black mustard seeds
1 t caraway seeds
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 t sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
6 cups fresh water
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Meanwhile, using large soup pot heat a couple tablespoons olive oil over medium heat then add black mustard seeds. Stir until seeds start to pop, then add caraway seeds and chopped onions and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Add red potato and minced garlic and continue to stir for about 2 minutes, until onions and red potatoes have started to brown. Add chopped turnip, cauliflower, celery, and carrot, then about 6 cups of water just prior or post boiling. Add salt and reduce heat to simmer covered for about 10 minutes; simmer until all veggies are soft, then remove from heat to cool. After cooled, puree soup in batches carefully in a half-full blender, then return to soup pot. Add fresh ground black pepper, and salt to taste. Serve hot.
This soup is both savory with a hint of natural sweetness, the caraway a pleasing and comforting following flavor. I thought initially I’d serve this garnished with pomegranate seeds, but decided against that. I chose to garnish my soup with fresh cranberries and my partner had his “straight up”– delicious with a salad of romaine and radicchio, daikon radish, roasted pumpkin seeds and feta.
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!
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
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.
What to do when the heat wave wears on and on, and the garden is full of big delicious ripened bounty? I’ve been steadfast about watering daily– even when I really wasn’t eager to be out in the heat anymore– and I’ve lost little to the crazy heat. I made several loaves of buckwheat zucchini bread during brief cooler cloudy day breaks, also cold dinner salads with just-picked zucchini, cucumber, mint, and the first of my ripened tomatoes and hot peppers. But I’ve got LOTS of zucchini… and now a flavorful and satisfying chilled zucchini soup recipe to enjoy.
1 medium large leek, chopped
2 medium red potatoes, coarsely chopped
6 c coarsely chopped zucchini
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium Serrano pepper, diced, with seeds
1 t caraway seeds
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 t fresh lemon thyme
5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
l lemon, juice and pulp
scant 1/2 t sea salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste
several T fresh dill, chopped, for garnish
Discard thick and dark green ends of leek. Coarsely chop zucchini by slicing in half lengthwise, perhaps in quarters if large, then chop into 1/4 inch slices. Chop tender leek and saute over medium heat in 2 T butter, adding caraway seeds to toast. Add 2 T olive oil, the red potato and minced garlic, stir for 2-3 minutes until red potato just begins to brown. Add diced Serrano, a couple T water, reduce heat and cover with lid; steam until potatoes are just beginning to soften. Add grated carrot, chopped celery and zucchini, spices except dill, and a splash of white wine, continue to steam covered for about 5-8 minutes until potatoes and zucchini are pleasingly softened but not mushy. Remove from heat and allow to cool some before pureeing in half full blender. Add freshly squeezed lemon, salt and ground pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with plenty of fresh chopped dill, perhaps a dollop of plain European style yogurt. I served this on a hot night with Triscuit rye crackers and a fresh salad with walnuts, feta and fresh tomatoes.