Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: November 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dumb or Smart

(This was a post published on my old blog Parade of Rain. Jennifer really likes this piece and insisted that I republish it here on Veg*n Cooking.)

I am about to discuss a theory of mine regarding the relationship between intelligence and stupidity. First off, I should be clear about terminology because such things are easily confused. When I talk of ignorance, I refer to a lack of knowledge or information. Stupidity, on the other hand, is in reference to a lack in capacity to obtain, understand, and properly apply knowledge. Intelligence, therefore, is the opposite of stupidity as it refers to the capacity to obtain and understand knowledge. Knowledge is the possession of information and is the natural opposite of ignorance. Knowledge is a product of intelligence as is implied by my definition of intelligence. So, just to clarify knowledge is not intelligence, and ignorance is not stupidity. It is possible to be both ignorant and intelligent, being unaware but not incapable of awareness. It is also possible to be both knowledgeable and stupid, having awareness but lacking the wit to understand or properly apply it. It is this last aspect that is of interest to me. It is my assertion that knowledge increases the capacity for stupidity. In other words, intelligence and stupidity are just two sides of the same coin – knowledge. It is a product of intelligence, but it is also the precursor to stupidity.

The potential for stupidity itself is surprisingly more difficult to recognize than one might think, but ‘acts of stupidity’ produce results which can be clearly identified. For the purpose of my argument, I will define ‘acts of stupidity’ as behaviors that result in undesirable or unintended consequences. That may seem broad, but let’s face it; we’re not as smart as we’d like to think. The absolutely ignorant being which knows nothing – knows how to do nothing – it presents little potential for harm to itself. (Whether it holds potential for harm to others is not so much a question of intelligence but instead a question of morality. Although, failing to see that harm to others could potentially harm oneself is ignorance or stupidity – take your pick). A being must have some knowledge to act upon in order to act stupidly in the first place. Anything else would simply be a reflex which, in no way, implicates stupidity as the culprit; it would instead implicate a mixture of ignorance and/or lack of self-control. The knowledgeable being, on the other hand, has a vast amount of information to act upon. For it, the possibilities are endless and, in them lies the potential for acts of gargantuan stupidity.

Take nuclear fission, for example. Here is perhaps the greatest achievement of human intelligence to date, and it is, at the same time, perhaps the stupidest thing humanity has ever done. Nuclear power may be nice, but the weapons and wastes that result are just plain stupid. Our use of fossil fuels is another great example. I mean, who decided it would be a good idea to create a massively overpopulated society that is utterly dependent on finite, irreplaceable resources? Well, we may all be to blame for that one, but it should illustrate my point that many of the features of modern society we hold up as testaments to our intelligence are the very things that are likely to do us in: automobiles that spew pollution and greenhouse gases; weapons that flat-out kill anything in their path; electricity produced in ways that affect the environment in much the same way as vehicles; industrial agriculture that poisons land, sea, and animal, inflating the food supply and setting us all up for serious population overshoot; genetic engineering which promises to destroy what little adaptivity is left on this planet; you get the picture.

Now, I do not wish to be misconstrued as saying that people who are knowledgeable are inherently bound to do stupid things. Knowledge and intelligence do at least tend to correlate with one another (Remember, knowledge is a product of intelligence). What should be evident here is that those with knowledge of any sort should always proceed with caution. Intelligence could then be marked also by one’s capacity to accept that their knowledge is extremely limited and, therefore, should not be acted upon at all. Recognizing and admitting to one’s own ignorance is a clear sign of intelligence. Intelligence begat knowledge, and knowledge begat stupidity. Ignorance is just ignorance – ever present and inescapable.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 11/23-11/29/08 & A Local Veg*n Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. I enjoyed seeing my family - and the weather was beautiful and fairly warm, but we're happy to be back home. I will talk a little more in depth about our Thanksgiving (and will include recipes!) at the end of this post.

Brett is loaded down with homework this weekend - the professors didn't give any leniency for the holidays and so, due to our being out of town, he has close to a week's worth of homework to get done by Monday. Needless to say, I want to make sure he is well fed and as comfortable as possible - I've been there, and it is no fun, especially when there are important term papers in the mix. I will likely go to graduate school in a few years, but have really enjoyed not having to do homework all the time, Brett still being in school reminds me why I decided to take a few years off and work full-time before going back.

Anywho, The Root Cellar made it easy for me to plan some tasty meals. We were there earlier in the week to get produce for our Thanksgiving meal and noticed a lot of really good looking options for when we came back to get stuff for our weekly meals, so I already had some ideas in mind.

We didn't get anything from our garden this week. The outdoor container plants are really struggling, and the pepper plants started indoors just aren't big enough to produce yet. The greens are moving along, some better than others. I will discuss this more in the monthly garden update - I should be able to get that up by Tuesday.

Here is this week's haul from The Root Cellar. This ran us $48.

Starting from the bottom right: spinach, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, 2 Herbal Oats granola bars, 5 ripe serranos, small yellow potatoes, leeks (!!!!!), an orange bell pepper, a green bell pepper, 2 pears, a container of firm tofu* (not local), a jar of dairy-free pasta sauce made in St. Louis, 4 tomatoes, fair trade organic chocolate chips (dairy-free and not local), and a spaghetti squash.

* I have mentioned on this blog a few times that I dislike tofu. Both Brett and I do. And we have tried to like it more than we do, but there are things about it that neither of us can get past. But there are at least two things we like tofu in: one is tofu sour cream (only in moderation and not very often), and the other are our Tofu and Potato Burritos. It has been a really long time since we've had the burritos, so I decided to get a block since we had everything else on hand that we needed.

Here is this week's loot from Uprise Bakery:

Of course, a loaf of ciabatta, and this week we also picked up a granola bar.

I have the rest of the cookie posts scheduled to go up later in the week. This week's menu is compromised of many favorites including, of course, the Tofu and Potato Burritos, Smashed Yam, Black Bean, and Spinach Quesadillas, and Leek and Potato Soup (for soup and bread night).

We will be trying spaghetti squash served with the local pasta sauce pictured above, and I have something up my sleeve to use some of the peach jam in. So there won't not be as many non-sweets food posts this week because things fell into place for us to enjoy some of our old favorites!

My Nanny, an excellent canner and cook, sent us home with a nice treat that I plan on putting to use this week:

A jar of peach jam! The peaches came from my mom and aunt's yards, and they are even from within our 200 mile foodshed!

Onto our veg*n Thanksgiving. I am sorry to report that I didn't get many pictures - in fact, only one picture of the food I made for Thanksgiving (the other picture is from the trial run of the soup I made for the dinner). Things were really hectic in the kitchen and my initial prep schedule didn't pan out because my mom - I love her but she is such a clean freak I could scream sometimes - tried to renege on my being able to cook in her kitchen (because I could make a mess, what is a kitchen for anyway?!), I was finally able to convince her that I could make the soup and bread at her house without making too much of a mess, and that I would finish at my Nanny's house the next day.

The menu ended up being as follows:

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Uprise Bakery Ciabatta (of course)
Black Bean, Brown Rice, and Local Veggie Stuffed Portobellos
Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Shiitake Mushroom Gravy
Pumpkin-Walnut Bread

I spent a lot of time trying to come up with something at least quasi-traditional, that I thought my family would actually eat. Sadly, I was wrong on those counts, well except perhaps the traditional part. After many hours in the kitchen, a lot of thought and planning, the only things my family ate were the ciabatta from Uprise Bakery, the Pumpkin-Walnut Bread, and I think someone beyond Brett and I had a stuffed mushroom. It all turned out really well, I just don't think I will put in as much effort or make as much food next time.

I also hadn't prepared myself for the disappointment that I wouldn't be eating the other food prepared. Comments like, "It's just chicken broth" and "You can have just a taste can't you?" I don't blame them for not understanding and I don't expect them to accommodate, I mean, my great grandma is 86 years old, but I've been a vegetarian for awhile, they all knew this. They didn't prod or harass me about it too much, but I could tell it was more of an issue than I thought it was going to be.

Anyways, Brett told me he really enjoyed the stuffed mushrooms, and he and I ate a huge bowl of the mashed potatoes and gravy later on while watching a football game. I ended up leaving all the pumpkin bread with my grandparents and mom.

On to the recipes, don't let my family’s aversion to vegetarian food or anything non-traditional deter you from trying these recipes, they really were good.

The mashed potatoes we made were based on our Garlicky Mashed Potatoes recipe, we used red potatoes instead of russet (reds are so much better), hempmilk instead of soy, and I added a little dried basil and oregano to the mixture (the potatoes and garlic were local and the hempmilk was purchased from a local store). The shiitake mushroom gravy was essentially Veganomicon's Mushroom Gravy with shiitakes subbed in and maybe a few other modifications, but to be honest, I made it on the fly, so I can't really remember (I do know that I used local shiitakes, garlic, and onions).

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (5-6 cups) ***
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used local Gala apples) +
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thick rounds +
1 yellow onion, chopped +
1 tbsp Earth Balance
5 cups water
1 veggie bouillon cube
1-2 tbsp maple syrup

Melt Earth Balance in a large soup pot. Add the carrot and onion and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the squash, apples, water, and bouillon.

Simmer for 40-45 minutes or until veggies very soft. Let cool for a few minutes.

Blend in a food processor until very smooth, add a little more water if needed to get desired consistency. Add maple syrup and spices to taste.

Serve with warm crusty bread.

Black Bean, Brown Rice and Local Veggie Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Makes 12 stuffed mushrooms

12 medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed and cleaned
1/2 cup black beans, cooked ****
1/2 cup brown rice, cooked ****
1 carrot, peeled and chopped +
1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced +
4 cloves of garlic, minced +
1/2 yellow onion, minced +
1-2 tbsp safflower oil
black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat oil in a small skillet. Add the carrot, bell pepper, garlic, and onion. Cook for about 10 minutes or until veggies are soft and starting to caramelize a little bit.

Combine veggies with black beans, brown rice, and seasonings to taste.

Spray a baking sheet with oil.

Stuff a tablespoon or so of the filling in to each prepared mushroom.

Roast for about 30 minutes.

Whole Grain Spelt Pumpkin-Walnut Bread
Recipe adapted from here.

1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup organic raw sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree +
1/2 cup safflower oil
2 eggs (or replacer) ++ (local)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped +

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray a bread pan with oil.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, water, and spices in a small bowl.

Slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients in the large bowl.

Stir in the walnuts.

Spread batter into a prepared bread pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a knife or toothpick in the center comes out clean.

The Pumpkin-Walnut bread is really, really good. We didn't get to bring any home with us, so I am going to be making a loaf this weekend, sans walnuts (Brett doesn't like nuts), so Brett and I can enjoy some of it.

Well, I'm off to enjoy a relaxing night of reading, soup making, and perhaps some cookie baking. Those Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies were really good and didn't last long around here. I also thought that reading a textbook might not seem as bad if you had a yummy cookie to go along with it.

'Til next time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Super Yummy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

We have been using what both Brett and I consider a fairly subpar chocolate cookie recipe for awhile. It wasn't that they didn't taste good - they did - it's just they were thin and crispy, when we both wanted a thicker and chewier cookie. I'm just pretty lazy and not really the biggest baker, so it took me a long time to get around to it. I wanted to find something that was whole grain, but still tasted decadent and, well, like a chocolate chip cookie is supposed to taste. I found a recipe that sounded promising, made a few modifications (such as making it whole grain and dairy free), and can now happily say we have a much, much better chocolate chip cookie recipe.

These were so yummy. Brett wouldn't let me take any to work, and they were gone the day after I made them. Even I found myself eating 2 or 3 in one sitting, they are addictive! I think I should have doubled the batch, I will make sure to do that next time. ;-)

This recipe was modified from here.

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Super Yummy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 16 cookies

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup organic raw sugar
1/2 Earth Balance
1 egg or egg replacer ++ (local)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Tropical Source. Neither Brett or I like lots of chocolate chips in our cookies, I put half a cup in our batch, but I know others might like more than this, so I suggested a range.)

Preheat oven to 300.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Using an electric mixer, combine the sugar, Earth Balance, egg (or replacer), and vanilla.

Slowly add the flour to the wet mixture.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons a few inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cook for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Maybe I'm just out there, but these were some of the best chocolate chip cookies we've ever had. If you get a craving for some, try these out.

'Til next time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I did a lot of baking over the weekend for a project that I am working on. I've gotten a few spiced bread recipes down (nothing special, just basic pumpkin and zucchini bread recipes, I just used whole grain spelt flour), have worked on brownies and blondies (they need a little work before I blog about them), so over the weekend, I focused on cookies. And who doesn't like cookies?

These are really good - but really, really rich. I was only able to eat one and I was more than satisfied. I love dark chocolate and this is a great way to highlight an excellent, high quality bar of the dark stuff. I took some of these, and the other cookies I will be posting about over the coming days, to my coworkers. They seem to be enjoying them so far!

This recipe was modified from here. I made the recipe dairy free and whole grain - oh, and I halved it because I was making tons of other cookies too.

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies

Makes about 12 large cookies

6 tbsp Earth Balance
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 cup organic raw sugar
1 egg or egg replacer ++
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
6 tbsp dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 +1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 ounces 71% cacao fair trade organic chocolate (I used 3/4 of a 3.5 oz bar), chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine Earth Balance, vanilla, sugar, and egg (or replacer) with an electric mixer.

Slowly add the remaining ingredients except the chocolate, cherries, and pecans.

Once dough well blended, stir in chocolate, cherries, and pecans.

Drop by rounded tablespoons a few inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Brett also had a great idea on how to "up" these cookies' visual appeal. He thought it would be neat to make the cookies a lot smaller, and rather than mixing the cherries in the batter, putting one in the center of each cookie like a thumbprint cookie. I think we might have to try that.

I will leave you with this...

J's Playlist of the Day (the best songs I heard from our music collection today)
"Out of Love" Aberfeldy
"One with the Freaks" The Notwist
"Original Spies" Karate
"Drenched" Calexico
"How We Breathe" Pinback
"Back on the Chain Gang" The Pretenders
"Blackbird" The Beatles
"Subdivisions" Rush
"Don't Ask Me Why" Billy Joel
"Green River" Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)
"Sultans of Swing" Dire Straits
"Goin' Mobile" The Who
"Strange Brew" Cream

'Til next time.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Two Bean-Pumpkin Chili

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I am a bit beat from my weekend, but I had a lot of fun nonetheless. I am working on a baking project, whose purpose will be revealed at a later time, so my weekends have been filled with quite a bit of baking (and dishes too of course). This weekend my focus was cookies! I made a few different kinds and they all turned out wonderfully. I'm not sure if I will get to it due to Thanksgiving this week, but if I have time, I might schedule at least a couple of them to go up over the holiday. I have a very short week at work this week, and a lot of prep and planning to do for Brett and I's contribution to Thanksgiving, oh, and then there is the whole going out of town thing - so needless to say, I will probably be absent from commenting on everyone's blogs for the rest of the week. If I can, I will schedule some cookie posts, otherwise, you will get them next week in addition to pictures and recipes from our Thanksgiving meal.

In the meantime though, I hope you will not be disappointed with this week's Dark Day's 90% local meal, a two bean chili with pumpkin! I think I mentioned before, chili is one of the first things I learned how to cook, as a result, Brett and I ate far more chili than I care to mention, we were so burnt out on chili - poor Brett more than myself. Long story short, we are both, particularly Brett, very picky about chili now. Most of the time I make it, it gets an "eh" from both of us, and doesn't get blogged about. The last "hit" I had in the chili department was the Two Bean and Lentil Chili and then this.

This was my first attempt at using pumpkin in a savory dish and it is really good. This chili was really good. It was hearty, and had a deep, rich tomato flavor, was just spicy enough, it had hints of sweetness and creaminess from the pumpkin, and even a meaty quality from the oyster mushrooms. And with the two beans, you know it was filling.

The only thing I would do differently with this chili next time would be to chop the pumpkin up a little smaller. We like to eat our chili with tortilla chips and the chunks were hard to scoop up.

(Not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but so, so tasty.)

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Two Bean-Pumpkin Chili

4 cups black beans, cooked ****
2 cups pinto beans, cooked ****
4 medium to large tomatoes, chopped +
1 habanero, seeded and minced +
1 hot Hungarian wax pepper (ours was ripe and red!), seeded and minced ***
1 serrano (this one was ripe and red too!!), seeded and minced ***
1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced +
1 purple bell pepper, seeded and minced +
4 cloves of garlic, minced +
1 red onion, chopped +
3 cups fresh pumpkin, chopped +
8 oyster mushrooms, minced +
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely minced +
5 cups water
chili powder
Mexican oregano

Combine all ingredients, except the beans, in a large soup pot and simmer for about 2 hours.

Add the beans, and more seasoning if desired, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes to an hour.

This makes a lot of chili. I froze the portion we didn't eat and we will thaw it for a quick meal when we get back from visiting my mom.

I hope everyone has a wonderful (and as local as possible) Thanksgiving!

'Til next time!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 11/16-11/22/08

Happy Saturday everyone. I am happy to say it is a lot warmer today than it was yesterday - yesterday was cold! We got ourselves some good local grub to work with this week. You might notice it is not quite as much as usual, and that is because of Thanksgiving. I will be going back after work on Tuesday to get the stuff I need for our vegetarian contribution to my families Thanksgiving meal. I am taking the day off Wednesday, and we are going to be spending Thanksgiving with my mom and grandparents in the Lake of the Ozarks. For our contribution, we will be bringing a traditional butternut squash soup (vegan of course), local Uprise Bakery ciabatta (to go with the soup), black bean and brown rice stuffed mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, and pumpkin walnut bread. I will do a post about it when we get back, with recipes too, of course. I will try to get good pictures; I've never tried to take a picture of food at my mom or Nanny's house.

Anywho, we got some garden booty this week - though not for the best reason. Our second year serrano is dead, and it still has aphids too, so I pulled the peppers and we're getting rid of it. I hate to do it, but I don't think it is coming back, and I don't want our other plants to get aphids.

There are a few serranos and a ripe hot Hungarian Wax pepper.

Here is this week's booty from The Root Cellar, I remembered to pay attention to the total, it was $38. Doesn't seem bad for all we got, eh?

Starting from the bottom right: cilantro, a locally produced Patric 67% cacao dark chocolate bar (I'm going to bake with this bad boy!), local chopped walnuts, habaneros (I reserved one for use and froze the other four), 2 purple bell peppers, a green bell pepper, 2 red onions, 3 yellow onions, spinach (!!!!!), 4 tomatoes (!!!!!), 4 bulbs of garlic, a Fitz's Root Beer (brewed in St. Louis, Missouri 125 miles east of us, it fits our 200 mile local foodshed), and oyster mushrooms.

A little aside about the garlic: the weather was such this summer that we had a really hard time getting local garlic. There was a time during the summer when we had to buy store bought garlic, which was really not cool. Anyways, I went to The Root Cellar a few weeks ago and noticed they had local garlic; I got really excited so I bought quite a few bulbs. Well, each week I've gone back, I've picked up a few bulbs, out of habit, and now we have quite the stash.

This whole bowl is full of just garlic. We have been unintentionally hoarding local garlic. :-)

Here is our "usual" from Uprise Bakery - I didn't pay attention here to how much it cost (in my defense, I was there at 7:30 a.m.). Not pictured here is a spinach and goat cheese croissant I bought for my co-worker Kathy. She so kindly gave us an extra Hepa filter she had for our apartment, so I got her a little local treat to say thanks (I think they might even use the local Goastbeard Farm goat cheese too - I should have asked).

Our beloved ciabatta (you can probably assume it is a given that we will get one of these most weeks) and a half pound of fair trade organic "Love Buzz" coffee. I'm actually not sure Brett was even out of coffee, but it doesn't hurt to pick it up, we buy it in small amounts.

In fantasy football news, we won last weeks game, are now 5-4, and again lead our division. I am having a hard time gauging this week's match up. If the guy doesn't make any moves, we could eek out a win, if he does, I'm not sure. Willie Parker played on Thursday Night Football, didn't have very many yards, and also got hurt again, so that isn't very promising. The rest of our games are against teams in our division.

In football pick news, if you remember (those of you who have the slightest interest in this) I was 7 games ahead of Brett and we split on quite a few games. Well he picked up some and I now only lead by 5, I believe. We didn't split on as many games this week, but we'll see, the ones we did split on really could go either way. Ah, football, joy.

Well, I have a lot to do today, house chores, errands, baking adventures. Brett just got a Play Station 3 (aka Crack for Men) so he should be pretty well occupied. I have to admit, the thing is pretty cool, the machine itself actually looks a little "retro", but the graphics are really neat. I've never really been too into video games - I love classic Nintendo games, Sim City, and things like that. (Brett's never really been too into reading either, and I can sit down and read for hours, just like he can play video games, so we understand each other that way. I get to read while he plays too. Wahoo for reading!) Most of the new games are violent, and I don't like that. I am campaigning for Brett to get the Hot Shots Golf for the new system, as I love that game, and we can even play it together. I'm also looking forward to the new Gran Turismo coming out, that game is fun to watch. I tried to play it a few times and damn, it is hard, I was awful.

Have a great weekend!

Update: In a previous post, I mentioned something about the garden update being posted this week. I obviously wasn't paying attention to the calendar, because the last day of November isn't until next weekend. So I won't actually be posting the update this weekend, it will be sometime after next weekend. Sorry about the confusion.

'Til next time!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Honey Chipotle Garlic Glazed Delicata Squash and Kidney Bean Burritos (Vegetarian)

I do still cook Mexican, it might not seem like it with what I have been blogging about lately, but we have really been enjoying some of our favorite "oldies but goodies". With all the squash around though, I am really enjoying playing with ideas for how to "Mexicanify" winter squash. Surprisingly, it isn't as hard as one might think. What I love is that most of the Mexican meals I have made with winter squash end up having the delightful sweet and spicy combination that both Brett and love so much.

I also apologize to the vegans who read this blog about all the honey I use. We strive to eat as locally as possibly, and living lower on the food chain, for environmental, social justice, and other reasons means that for us, honey fits in with our principles more than agave from far away. I imagine most of the recipes I have that call for honey could have agave subbed in without too much problem. I do also still have some agave, so I plan on using that up too - so you will see some of that in the coming weeks/months as well.

This might seem like an intensive dinner, but I made this last night, after work. I think it took about an hour, but half of that time I did other things (I read more of The Shock Doctrine). When I told Brett what I was making, he gave me this look like "are you sure this is going to be good?" I wasn't of course, this meal was just an idea I had, but as we were eating it, all questions of whether it was good or not quickly faded away. It was good - really good - this is one of the best new things I have made in awhile. And I really think that I could just eat the glazed delicata squash plain like candy. It was just that good. Oh my!

Oh, and it made our apartment smell wonderful - just wonderful. This was a mostly local meal that even included some of the tomatoes we picked green from the community garden plot that have ripened. In fact, the only non local things in this meal are the chipotle chiles, the spices, the kidney beans, and the tortillas.

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Honey Chipotle Garlic Glazed Delicata Squash and Kidney Bean Burritos

Honey Chipotle Garlic Glazed Delicata Squash:
1 delicata squash, halved, seeds removed, peeled, and chopped *
1/4 cup honey +
1 clove of garlic, grated (I used a microplane grater) +
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, sliced in half

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine honey, garlic, and chiles in a bowl. Toss with the delicata making sure to coat completely.

Roast for 30-35 minutes, or until tender. Be sure to stir a few times, and "baste" with any leftover glaze.

Remove chiles before serving the squash.

Kidney Bean Mixture:
2 cups kidney beans, cooked
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and minced +
2 Anaheim peppers (or Hungarian Wax, pasilla, New Mexican chile, etc), seeded and minced +
1/2 yellow onion, chopped +
2 cloves of garlic, minced +
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped ***
ground coriander
ground cumin

Heat a few tablespoons of water in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the veggies and cook for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Add the beans and seasoning and heat through.

The Rest of the Schtuff:
salsa (we used the local Hot and Smoky Tomatillo Salsa) +

Layer bean mixture and glazed squash in a warm tortilla. Roll up and serve with salsa.

Sadly, we only have two delicata squash left. I think I had mentioned it in an earlier post, but this is the first winter we are trying to eat as locally as possible. We wanted to stock up on as many things as we thought we could before winter, but didn't get a boiling water bath canner until quite late in the season, and also didn't know how much we would need to put away. After some discussion, we decided to just get what we thought might work, if we have to buy produce from the grocery store, so be it, we will try as hard as possible to source from at least within the US, and start getting a gauge on how much we need to put away. With all that said, it is looking like we will maybe make it to late January with the winter squash we have. I think we might be able to pick up a couple from The Root Cellar too though. We've been tearing through the delicata, the hubbard has been eaten, and we are working down all those many butternut squash we got from our community garden. We still have a few butternut, acorn, buttercup, and two delicatas. We haven't really had to break into our freezer "stash" yet as there have been peppers and such at The Root Cellar. Anyways, long story short, we are still learning, and when I looked at how low our winter squash stash was getting already, I realized that we are probably going to need more next year. But who knows, if we only eat one or two squash a week, we might make it longer than I think.

I don't know if anyone noticed the banner on the sidebar, but Brett and I are participating in the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge. This challenge entails eating and blogging about one 90% local meal a week. If you are up to it, please consider participating! Now, I actually seek some advice, by what criteria do we decide if something is 90% local? Brett and I thought of looking at it in terms of the number of ingredients (this didn't seem very good though as some of the ingredients are small and inconsequential really), calories (this would be incredibly difficult to figure out, especially since we work with mostly whole foods), and weight (this seemed like the best way to go about it, but even still, there are meals that have TONS of local stuff in it, but the weight is mostly comprised of rice, would this be a 90% local meal?). If you have any suggestions as to how to figure this out, please let us know.

I am going to consider this meal our weekly Dark Days "entry" as the local ingredients outweighed the non locals significantly.

Well, that's all I have for now. I will post tomorrow on the local booty I score from The Root Cellar after work tonight, and early next week I will post October's Garden Update - which I'm pretty excited about, I really enjoy the garden updates.

Anywho, have a great Friday!

'Til next time!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Whole Grain Spelt Pizza with Peanut Sauce, Black Beans, and Local Veggies

I don't want to take anything away from this pizza since I haven't even told you about it yet, and it was actually really good - but I have a little bit of trouble with pizza toppings now that I no longer eat cheese. I haven't found any non-dairy "cheese" that I have really been sent by (and no, I've never had Teese, I've never seen it at the stores and don't really want to get in the habit of buying something online). I especially don't like non-dairy "cheeses" in the quantities used on most pizzas, so I always try to do some "weird" pizza, something that you wouldn't want to put cheese on any way. But I don't have too many ideas in that department either. Maybe I'm being dense here, or making something like pizza a lot more difficult than it should be, I just wish I could think of some more "normal" ways of having pizza that is dairy-free by not reliant on dairy-free "cheese". Maybe I should wish upon a star....

Now that I have probably made you think this pizza was bad - let's talk about it! ;-) I actually thought this was really good. I love peanut sauce, and made a spicy-sweet version for a whole grain spelt pizza. I had lots of good veggies around to choose from for toppings - including oyster mushrooms. This was the first time I had ever had oyster mushrooms and man do I hope they have some at The Root Cellar again when I go later this week, they were amazing! They have a great texture when cooked and have a meaty quality, in the way that portobellos do, but they don't taste the same at all - if that makes any sense. Needless to say, they are wonderful and you should try them if you get a chance.

The only thing I am going to change next time is the size of the pizza. This pizza is much too large for two people and it doesn't keep for more than a day - at least well that is. I think I am going to halve the recipe and make a half sized crust. Whole grain spelt is so filling even Brett can't eat more than a couple of pieces and he can usually easily eat an entire one on his own (and somehow he's still really skinny, either he has a tapeworm or it is all that walking).

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Whole Grain Spelt Pizza with Peanut Sauce, Black Beans, and Local Veggies

Creamy Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter +
1/2 cup plain hemp milk ++
2 tsbp shoyu
2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp agave
2-3 tsp sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp flour (to thicken)

Combine all ingredients in a sauce and mix well. If not thick enough, add 1 tbsp flour and stir while sauce thickens.

The Rest of the Stuff:
1 cup fresh butternut squash, sliced thin
ground ginger
safflower (or other) oil in spray bottle

1/2 cup black beans, cooked ***
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced +
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced ++
6 oyster mushrooms, chopped

1 recipe of whole grain spelt pizza dough

Preheat oven to 400.

Spray a small baking dish with oil. Toss butternut with just a few dashes of ginger and a pinch of salt.

Roast, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, or until mostly soft.

Reduce oven heat to 375.

Top crust with peanut sauce and toppings.

Bake on a pizza stone for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

To make this even better - put a little more sriracha on top while before you eat it. Spicy!

'Til next time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hubbard Squash and Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Red Onions, and Fresh Parsley

I go through our "stash" of winter squash each week to pull out anything that either needs to be used or catches my eye for use during that week. Late last week when I was going through the squash, I chose the mini hubbard squash. I decided I wanted to make soup out of it (big surprise) but I wanted to do something a little special. I don't cook with fresh herbs a lot, I don't really know why, but I found some fresh parsley at The Root Cellar and this soup came together for a delicious and satisfying soup and bread night.

I promise I plan to make more than just creamy smooth soups, we've just been on a ciabatta kick lately, and to be honest, I'm not sure what to serve with a chunky soup. But I have lots of ideas for the soup itself. Any pairing suggestions would be much appreciated.

Anyways, this soup came together surprisingly quickly. By the time the squash and potatoes were done boiling, the garlic was roasted and cooled, and the onions were caramelized, so all in all, this is about a 45 minute dinner. Not too shabby. And as always, this makes about 6 or so cups, I take the leftovers to work with me during the week for yummy lunches.

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Hubbard Squash and Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Red Onions, and Fresh Parsley

Squash and Taters:
1 mini hubbard squash, halved, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4 cups)*
2 medium new potatoes (or other brown or yellow potato), peeled and cubed *
4 cups of water
1 veggie bouillon cube (you could just use 4 cups veg broth)

Combine ingredients in a large pot. Boil until squash and potatoes are tender, about 35 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

Caramelized Red Onions:
1 large red onion, sliced +
2 tbsp safflower oil
dried basil
dried thyme
garlic powder

Heat safflower oil in a small pan over medium heat.

Add the onions and sprinkle the seasonings on.

Stir-fry until onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

The Rest of the Stuff:
1 small bulb of garlic, roasted +
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped +
3 cups plain hemp milk ++

Blend everything in a food processor until very smooth. Return to large pot (used for squash and potatoes) and heat through.

I love soup and bread night. This weekends soup and bread night will feature yet another creamy soup - this is a trial run of the soup I would like to make for my family over Thanksgiving (I will be making a mostly local veg*n spread!).

'Til next time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 11/9-11/15/08

The weather certainly is here today in Mid-Missouri. It is a cold, blustery day, and we have now had our first flurries of the season. Thankfully (and thanks again to whoever suggested them, I can't remember who it was and am too lazy to try to go track down the comment), the SmartWool long underwear I ordered came today, along with a nice pair of warm socks, so I am now doing a lot better than I was before. I was also excited to find out that, though the wool comes from Australia, the company is in Kansas City, Missouri, so it is almost a local business (KC is about 125 miles west of us).

Brett and I went downtown today to get our local booty for the week - he had a midterm to take at his university (for a class on international relations - fascinating), so I decided rather than going in the late part of the week (which is what I will do from here on out), I would go grocery shopping today so we could ride the bus home together. I went to three local places downtown, Uprise Bakery, The Root Cellar (a great local grocer that carries mostly Missouri grown/produced products), and The Peace Nook (a great alternative store) - we are going to be eating like kings this week!

Now, I did notice that shopping at the local stores, as opposed to the farmer's market or "regular" grocery store, is a little more expensive, but it isn't unmanageable.

In terms of J&B produced veggie booty, things are going well in some areas, not so well in others. Our One Ball Squash died (more about that in next week's monthly garden update), our tomatillo has been attacked by spider mites (we seem to have gotten rid of them on the plant, but it isn't looking so hot), and otherwise, everything else is doing pretty good, but going slow. Our salad greens are taking off nicely, the basil and spinach are coming along, and it looks like I am going to have to sow some more cilantro, chard, and kale seeds - the kitties got a hold of the nice tender green shoots.

Oh, and we also pulled out our stored mini hubbard squash, a butternut from the community garden plot, an acorn, and a delicata squash for use this week.

Enough yammering, check out our small, but very tasty load of booty from our indoor winter garden (courtesy of our container garden plants brought in for the winter):

Three ripe serrano peppers.

Here is this week's haul from The Root Cellar. This local grub ran us around $60.

I'm going to do the best I can here with this picture. Starting from the bottom right: shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, "b-sized" potatoes, a summer squash (!!!!!), a small eggplant (!!!!!), some long hot peppers, locally produced Sunflower Savannah Hot and Smoky Tomatillo Salsa, Green Hills Harvest local milk for Brett (the jug is returned to the farm to be cleaned and refilled), a large jar of Bonne Femme Honey Farm alfalfa honey, a yellow and two green bell peppers, 2 jars of organic, sea salt added East Wind peanut butter (from an intentional community in southern Missouri), a small head of cabbage, garlic, fresh parsley, carrots, and two habaneros (one yellow!!!!!).

Here is our booty from Uprise Bakery. I don't know how much this was to be honest with you, it was less than $10.

A loaf of ciabatta for our weekly soup and bread night (aka tonight!) and a half pound of "Love Buzz" fair trade organic coffee.

And finally, our haul from The Peace Nook. I don't remember how much this cost either. It might seem odd that we just buy food without really paying a whole lot of attention to the price, and this is because we "sacrifice" in other areas (we don't go out often, don't buy a lot of stuff, or much beyond food and books really - but do not in any way feel like we are living without) and so we spend a larger portion of our income on food than many other people in this country. I feel that making sure that we have high quality, sustainably, and locally produced food is far more important to than video games, nights out, magazines, and all the other stuff there is for people spend their money on. This is our personal preference, and I do not judge others for what they chose to do with their lives or money, I am just explaining why I don't pay much attention to the cost of food. I am not made of money by any stretch of the imagination (thanks student loans!), but not owning a car (using public transportation instead), living in a very affordable neighborhood, and not really buying much are how we are able to make it all work.

Anywho, starting from the back: 2 cartons of plain hempmilk (not local, obviously), a dozen local eggs, incense (the "purple" variety, I really need to start paying more attention to things), The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein (I can't believe it has taken me this long to getting around to reading this book!), and Small is Possible: Living in A Local Economy by Lyle Estill. I will post a review of these books when I am done reading them. I have read Voluntary Simplicity and will do a review on that as soon as I can get around it. I also finished World Made By Hand but will not do a review about it. I am very touch and go with fiction, and for most of the book, I thought it was really good, solid characters, easy to read, enough context - a little too detailed in the descriptions of things like buildings, but from Kunstler, that is to be expected. But then towards about the last 50 pages of the book something happened, I don't know if it was Jim trying to wrap up "loose ends" that perhaps would have been better left "unwrapped" or what, but wow, it wasn't that great. Overall, it was a pretty good book, I just wish some of the side story lines would have just been dropped.

Anyways. In fantasy football news - we ended up getting beat bad last week in our game and are now 4-4 and second in our division. When I had looked at the roster match up late last week, things were looking pretty good for our team. Then our opponent made some moves, dropping players and adding some new ones, and a lot of our stars didn't have their best week. This week - at least so far - looks to be better than last. We have to do really well throughout the rest of the season if we hope to make it to the "playoffs", I'm really happy we even got to this point!

In football pick news, nothing has changed. Brett and I split on an even number of games and split the wins and losses. I hold a seven game lead, but we split on a lot of games this weekend - ones that could really go either way, so he may have a chance to catch up a little. Football makes Sundays one of my favorite days of the week in the winter!

Well, I'm going to go bake and start one of the books I have. Now I have to decide where to begin! Eeek!

Have a great weekend everyone!

'Til next time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Whole Grain Spelt Lamington's

Baking, admittedly, is one of my weaker cooking skills and something I have been trying to remedy. Now, I am not the biggest fan of baked goods, I enjoy them yes, but there is always too much, and I am truly satisfied with a simple piece of fresh fruit. However, I enjoy the act of baking, and since Brett and my co-workers happily eat the goods I make, I continue on trying.

This weekend I made Lamington's. I had never had a Lamington until making them over the weekend. These little cakes covered in chocolate and rolled in coconut originate in either Australia or New Zealand; apparently there is some contention between the two nations as to where the Lamington is "indigenous" to. After making them, I can understand why they would want to fight over the bragging rights to these delicious cakes. I decided to make them as I thought trying my hand at coating a cake with frosting would be a good way to improve my skill, I had some organic shredded coconut still hanging around from the rice crispy treats I made over last winter, and Brett is a chocolate fanatic - up to this point I have been mostly working with spiced breads and pumpkin - so chocolate seemed the way to go.

I modified this recipe from Joy of Baking to make it whole grain, dairy free, and more to our tastes, so I might have taken away from the authenticity of the Lamington's, but we thought they were super good. The original recipe yielded 16 Lamington's, but after cutting my cake into 16 pieces, I realized that Lamington's were a lot bigger than I thought they would be. I was imagining little bite-sized treats, but after cutting them into 16 squares, I realized I was going to have something more on par with the size of a Little Debbie Snack Cake. So I decided to cut the pieces smaller, which I also believe made the chocolate dipping and coconut rolling easier than it would have been with the larger cakes. Not to mention they are more of a finger food this way.

These would be great to take to a holiday potluck or family gathering, or even on a Sunday when you have folks over for football. Who doesn't like bite-sized treats?

Note: The assembly process is a lot easier if you have two people working on it. I enlisted the help of Brett for this part, and I must say, he did a far better job of dunking the cake pieces in to the chocolate than I did. I would have made quite the mess had I done this all on my own. Also, using my method of making bite-sized Lamington's you will yield far more than 16. I cannot even count how many Lamington's this made - tons - so make sure you have plenty of willing mouths to feed these too - these being cake covered in chocolate, I doubt that will be too difficult.

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Whole Grain Spelt Lamington's


2 cups whole grain spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup safflower oil
2 eggs (or egg replacer) *
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain rice milk

Chocolate Frosting:

4 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 tbsp Earth Balance
1/2 cup plain Hempmilk ++ (not local, but from a local store)


2 cups organic shredded coconut

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray an 8x8 pan with oil spray.

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Using an electric mixer, slowly add in the wet ingredients.

Spread into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick or knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Allow to cool completely.

Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into large squares.

Cut each square in half, then in half again length-wise, then in half on more time.

Put in the fridge to cool for a few hours, this will make coating them easier.

For the frosting:

Prepare a pan of boiling water.

Get a smaller, stove safe bowl and mix together sugar and cocoa powder.

Add the Earth Balance and milk. Stir well.

Place in the pan of boiling water, carefully stirring until well blended.

For the coating:

Spread the coconut out on a plate.

To assemble:

(Brett and I did this together, it might be a slightly difficult one person project, but I think it can be done.)

We started an "assembly line" to do this part. We had our cold cake bits, chocolate, and coconut spread out, with a wire cooling rack at the end of our counter.

Using a toothpick, grab a piece of cake and carefully dunk it into the chocolate.

Trasfer to plate of coconut and roll on all four sides. Move to the wire rack to cool completely.

Once completely cooled, place in airtight containers between layers of parchment paper.

Did I mention these are whole grain? While this isn't health food by any stretch of the imagination, you can at least rest knowing that you are getting some good fiber into your system while enjoying a tasty snack cake!

'Til next time!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Black Bean and Cilantro Lime Rice Tacos

I don't think it had, but it seemed like it had been awhile since Brett and I had a taco night, and when looking through the cabinets to inventory anything that needed to be used up, I found some blue corn taco shells. With that discovery, a taco night was in order - this time, rather than creating something completely novel (at least to us), I decided to try (again) to recreate cilantro-lime rice.

I know Chipotle has cilantro-lime rice, but the first place I had it was at a Mexican restaurant when Brett and I visited Washington, D.C. a couple of years ago. Not long after our trip, I tried to recreate it, and it was horrible. Well since then, I've had cilantro-lime rice a couple more times, and decided to try again. This time the rice turned out great and our taco night was a huge hit.

I've been avoiding buying fresh limes unless they are grown within the US (and even then doing it sparingly). After some thinking, I decided that using bottled lime juice might be the best way to go in terms of food miles (not sure if this is faulty logic or not, but until it is pointed out that this is the case, I am going to roll with this logic). So we bought a bottle of organic lime juice awhile back and I finally decided to break into it. I decided to make this meal a really special treat, so we got an organic avocado (from California) and made guacamole to go with our tacos. Since we had so many tomatoes lying around, I decided to chop up one of the small ones and throw it in there as well.

Now that I know how to make cilantro-lime rice, my head is spinning with all sorts of complimentary burrito and taco salad fillings to pair with it. Don't you just love when you make something and then realize how versatile it is? I still feel that way about the Green Chile Taco Sauce - I think calling it a "taco sauce" was a bit of a misnomer, as the sauce can be used for much more than that.

Note: I had to buy the cilantro for this from the "regular" store. With the farmer's market season quickly coming to an end here in Mid-Missouri, the market last week was pretty short on vendors, including the one who normally has plenty of cilantro. So we bought some organic cilantro from the store that appears to have been grown in California. The COOL labels (country of origin labels) now required on most fresh produce in the US (and some other items) are not always the easiest things to comprehend.

A side note about the COOL labels: When Brett and I were at the "regular" grocery store the other day, we scoped out the first of the clementines we've seen for the year, to see if they were from California, and thus within our self-imposed winter eating local guidlines, and the package listed the USA and Canada as the country of origin. I doubt that clementines are grown in Canada, unless in a greenhouse, but because of the confusion, we decided to pass on the clementines until we could find some that were more clear about where they came from. Argh. Is it too much to ask to be able to know where our food comes from? It's hard to claim that this is a free country sometimes, especially when something so basic as where our food comes from is treated in such a secretive and "need to know" manner.

Anywho, rant over. On to the food!

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Cilantro-Lime Rice:
1/2 cup raw long grain brown rice, rinsed ****
1 cup water
pinch of salt for water
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
1 tbsp lime juice
more salt, to taste

Combine rice, water, and salt. Bring water to a boil.

Simmer on low for 40 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.

While rice is still warm stir in cilantro and lime. Taste. Add more salt if necessary.

2 cups of black beans, cooked ****
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and minced *
1/2 red onion, minced +
2 cloves of garlic, minced +
adobo seasoning (we use Goya brand with cumin)

Heat a few tablespoons of water in a small skillet.

Add the pepper, onion, and garlic and cook for 10-15 minutes or until veggies are soft. Drain any excess water.

In a small bowl, combine veggies, beans, and adobo seasoning to taste.

blue corn taco shells
2 medium tomatoes, chopped ***
simple guacamole (with a small chopped tomato stirred in for an extra treat) (garlic in guacamole = +; tomato = ***)
local salsa (though not necessary) *

Layer rice and bean mixture in warmed taco shells. Serve with fresh tomatoes and guacamole.


We ate these while we watched the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles game on Sunday Night Football. Wahoo and WAHOO. Sadly it looks like we got whipped in our fantasy football game this weekend.

'Til next time!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Everything" Granola Bars (Vegetarian)

My first attempt at making granola bars was a few weeks ago. It went so-so - hence why I never blogged about it. The granola turned out and tasted fantastic, but it didn't really work as "bars". I pressed them, let them set, and then removed them from the pan to cut them, at which point, it all fell apart. I was a little disappointed, but it was tasty homemade granola, so I enjoyed it as is, and decided I would try again...sometime...

Time got away from me a little bit, I had other endeavors I wanted to try and honestly, I kind of forgot about them, and got into the habit of buying Herbal Oats granola bars from the farmer's market or The Root Cellar to have for work. Then last week, I picked up a granola bar from the local Uprise Bakery (where we usually get our beloved ciabatta from), and it was the best granola bar I had ever had - seriously - so good. So I saved the label with the ingredients listed on it so I could try again, this time using Uprise's combination of seeds, nuts, and other goodies.

I am happy to say that they not only set and held together, they taste almost just like the granola bars from Uprise. These are a lot cheaper than the $2.50 a pop Uprise granola bars, and I was able to use some local ingredients to make them. And we all know that local ingredients make everything better, right? :-)

I have been enjoying these for my breakfasts at work and Brett has been enjoying them at home - though it seems he is also eating them as snacks too. And Brett isn't a huge nut/seed fan, so his eating them for snacks says a lot about how good they are. I think I might start making my own granola bars for work breakfasts - at least until some California clementines become available. Between the months of November and February, Brett and I almost turn into clementines. I kid you not when I say I was bringing 6-10 to work with me a day and eating them all last year at this time. Now I know clementines are small, but that is a lot of fruit! No wonder I didn't get sick very often last winter!

There I go, off on a tangent again. You would figure I talk people's ears off - Brett yes - but pretty much everyone else gets a fairly mute Jennifer. I guess when I am typing my long-winded nature really shows through. If I wasn't so shy and didn't have such "out there" opinions, I would likely talk it up more, but alas, that is not the case, so you all get to deal with my long-winded typing.

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

"Everything" Granola Bars

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped pecans *
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 ground flax seeds
1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup honey *
1 cup smooth natural peanut butter +
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400.

Layer all the nuts and oats except the sesame seeds on a baking sheet.

Toast for 5 minutes. Shake pan and add sesame seeds.

Toast another 3-5 minutes, keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

Meanwhile, combine honey, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt over low heat in a small sauce pan.

In a large bowl, combine the dry and wet mixtures.

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.

Spread mixture in pan and press down firmly to get the granola to stick together.

Cool completely and cut into squares (ours made about 12).

Store in an air tight container for 3-5 days.

These rocked and have made excellent breakfasts. Yum!

'Til next time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spicy Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup

Each week, we have a routine of going through our paper bag filled with community garden tomatoes in various stages of ripening, as well as through our winter squash "stash" to pull out anything that needs to be eaten. After getting an "inventory" as to the ingredients we have at home to work with, I can then plan our weekly menu. This week, on top of all those tomatoes you saw in the Weekly Local Booty Update, we also had a butternut (from our community garden) and a delicata squash (from the farmer's market) to work with. The delicata is reserved for a meal later in the week. The butternut was featured in this week's installment of "soup and bread" night, also informally known as Saturday night. :-)

After last week's thick soup, I decided another thick, hearty soup was in order seeing that it has gotten a lot more seasonal (aka cold) this week. This was a very easy soup to make - which was a good thing, I spent all of Saturday doing gardening work, baking, and doing some dishes. Poor Brett was inundated with homework. Sunday, when I should have been cleaning the apartment, I watched football instead. Brett worked on more homework, and watched a full game and part of the evening game with me. I hope everyone had as lovely of a weekend as I did.

Now, enough of the small talk, on to the pictures and recipe!

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Spicy Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash, halved, seeds and "innards" removed, peeled and cubed ***
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed *
1 red onion, quartered +
4 cloves of garlic, peeled +
3 dried cayenne peppers, stems removed and seeded ***
4 cups of water
ground cumin
ground coriander

Combine butternut, sweet potato, onion, garlic, peppers, and water in a large pot.

Simmer for 30-35 minutes, or until veggies are very soft.

Let cool for a few minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and add cumin and coriander.

Blend until very smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This went really well with some crusty bread. I love how sweet, spicy and creamy this soup turned out. So yummy!

'Til next time.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 11/2-11/8/08

It was a downright cold trek to the farmer's market this morning. The market was quite a bit sparser than usual, in terms of both vendors and patrons. We were able to get most of what we needed (sadly I had to buy organic cilantro from the "regular" grocery store because the vendor who usually has it wasn't there and our cilantro plant isn't nearly ready). We found out that there will be another market next week, but there are doubts as to how many vendors will be there. Brett and I discussed it and since The Root Cellar is spilling over with produce now, and Uprise Bakery is also downtown (and they weren't at the market today either), that we will begin going there - starting next weekend.

We actually made a trip to The Root Cellar this week too, as they had some of the staples we needed that haven't been available at market. Between The Root Cellar, the farmer's market, and our gardens, we are brimming over with tasty local produce, even in cold November.

Well, let's start with garden booty for the week:

A ripe hot Hungarian wax pepper. I saved the seeds out of this pepper, and it made a killer batch of beans for our Spicy Smashed Kidney Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos. We had those last night with Green Chile Taco Sauce and found out that if you use the sauce, no avocado is needed!

This isn't necessarily something new per say. These are some of the tomatoes we picked green off our plants at the community garden before our first freeze a couple of weeks ago. As you can see, they are ripening up nicely and we have lots of tomatoes to work with. Wahoo for garden tomatoes in November!

Here is the load of produce we got from The Root Cellar. I don't remember how much this ran us.

Starting from the bottom right: 2 Herbal Oats granola bars ("Energy" and "Focus" varieties), carrots, lots of garlic, organic fair-trade Ethiopian coffee, a large pie pumpkin, and red and yellow onions.

And here is our haul from the (well at least our) last farmer's market of the season. This ran us $34.

Starting from the bottom right: spinach, Missouri-grown pecans (!!!!!!!!!!), beef patties for Brett*, a variety of bell peppers (green, red, and purple), eggs, mild and hot salsa, and lots of sweet potatoes.

* = Brett does not eat this much meat in a week. The purveyor he got this from is going to be working with Danjo Farms (our CSA farm) next year and he wanted to have a good sample of their meat to see if he wanted a small meat share next year. Since this is our last weekend of market, he wanted to make sure he got enough to really be able to assess if he likes it enough to get the share. So we stocked him up a little bit.

In some really exciting, though fairly unrelated news, our spinach seeds finally arrived!

We got 5 packets of organic spinach seeds from Park Seed. I don't generally like to buy seed from a large seed company, but the time of year I decided I wanted to buy seed wasn't the greatest. When we buy our seed in January/February, we will be getting mostly heirloom seeds from places like Seed Savers.

In fantasy football news (I know you all probably don't care, but this is a form of entertainment I really enjoy), we beat the undefeated team last week and now move to 4-3 and lead our division. This is the second time our team knocked off an undefeated team. I must admit that I am a little surprised as I didn't really do the fantasy pick thing too well. I didn't really understand how the games were scored before setting my draft choices, and I gave my highest picks to defense and other areas that don't score too many points in a fantasy football games. However, we ended up with a surprisingly good quarterback in Aaron Rodgers (from Green Bay), great receivers in Plaxico Burress (from NYG) and Greg Jennings (from Green Bay), our "third string" wide receiver, Vincent Jackson (from San Diego) hasn't been too bad either. We ended up with a surprise breakout running back in Matt Forte (from Chicago) and though injured for most of the season, the always reliable (when there) Willie Parker (from Pittsburg), we also have Chester Taylor (from Minnesota) as our "third sting", or "second" while Parker has been injured. Though Taylor backs up Adrian Peterson, he still gets points, especially in short goal line situations. Defense, obviously, isn't really a problem for us - we have both the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers defense/special teams. Our tight ends are alright I guess, we have Tony Scheffler (from Denver), who, before injured, was looking to have a pretty good year, but our back up Desmond Clark (from Chicago) hasn't done too badly in his place. Our kicker David Akers (from Philadelphia) is pretty reliable. Most of our players have had their byes - which is a really nice advantage when things start to "come down to the wire", and things are shoring up pretty good this week too.

In football pick news, if I were a gambling girl, I would start betting on football games! I am now 6 games ahead of Brett, and had an 11-3 "record" for last week. Wahoo! I love football - well, except for all the violence, trash talking, and off the field stuff. Anywho, it is a nice break from reality each week. I think it helps to be able to have a balance of "fun stuff" to counter the serious stuff in life. For me it is cooking, music, reading, football, the occasional video game, gardening, and outdoor activities.

Well, I've got a lot of gardening work to do today. Things to be started, things to be transplanted, and I need to organize the "plant room" to be a little more accommodating to both plants and people (oh, and critters too!). I also plan on making some granola bars, other baked goods, and soup today. Wahoo!

Stay warm everyone and have a great weekend!

'Til next time.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leek and Potato Soup!

After last week's delicata squash soup, and my first (and very pleasant) experience using leeks in soup, Leek and Potato Soup was mentioned a couple of times in the comment section of that soup post. Now, I had never had leek and potato soup, but with everyone raving about it, I decided that would be the "soup of the week" for last weekend (I am a little behind on posts). As you can see from last week's Local Booty Update, we had all the necessary ingredients, so last Sunday, I concocted a tasty Leek and Potato Soup. I must agree, so far, out of all the soups I've tried, this is the best one. And it is so simple too!

My only complaint was that it turned out a little thicker than we like our soup, so next time, I will add more liquid. With the weather cooling down here in Mid-Missouri again, I am really looking forward to soup, salad, and bread night this weekend; I have another soup idea in the works!

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Leek and Potato Soup
4 medium new potatoes (or other yellow potatoes), peeled and cubed *
3 large leeks, sliced (white and light green parts) *
4 cloves of garlic, peeled *
1 tbsp Earth Balance
1 veggie bouillon cube
4 cups of water
1 cup of plain hempmilk

In a medium pot, melt Earth Balance over medium heat. Add leeks and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, veggie bouillon, and water. Cook for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are very soft.

Allow mixture to cool a little bit.

Transfer to a food processor and blend until very smooth. Add hempmilk and blend again.

Return to the pot on the stove and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy with a loaf of crusty (preferably local) bread!

Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Well, I have some baking and indoor gardening adventures in the works for this weekend, so I am pretty stoked that it is Friday. I'll be back tomorrow with the weekly local booty update, sadly, I also believe that tomorrow is the last weekend of the local farmer's market for the season. :-( However, The Root Cellar is overloaded with local produce and will be for at least a month or so. Then, there will be some staples, so we'll see how well we meet our goals for local eating this winter.

Happy Friday everyone!

'Til next time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Black Bean, Brown Rice, and Red Chile-Sweet Potato Burritos

Happy Election Day! I hope all our readers from the US go out and cast their votes today!

I thought some of the readers of this blog might be starting to wonder where all the Mexican food was. Don't worry, we've been having plenty of it, we've just been having some of our "tried and true" meals lately while some of the yummies of the growing season are still around. I have all sorts of ideas on how to "Mexicanize" a lot of the local food we put up for winter - I'm pretty excited about that.

This meal was really good, albeit, with the sauce, it is a little involved, so this probably isn't a weeknight meal (unless the sauce is already made, then this would be a 45 minutes or less meal). The sauce that I used for the potatoes, Chile Colorado, is often also used as an enchilada sauce. I really like the way the semi-spiciness of the sauce complemented the sweet potatoes, and they managed to get a nice glaze too.

The sauce isn't really all that spicy, at least not to me. New Mexican Chiles are very mild, so if you don't like things spicy, omit the cayennes and just use the New Mexican Chiles. The pepper and onion studded beans, some plain brown rice, and Chile Colorado smothered roasted sweet potatoes came together to make one of those meals where there isn't a whole lot of talkin' just a lot of shoveling food into one's face. Not a pretty sight I'm sure, but it lets you know that we really liked this.

The local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = The Root Cellar
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Chile Colorado
Makes about 3 cups.
Adapted from this recipe at Pepper Fool.

3 oz. dried New Mexican Chiles, washed, stems removed and seeds discarded (I saved them to plant next year, it is how I got the seeds for the plant we had this year)
3-5 dried long red cayenne peppers, washed, stems removed and seeds discarded ***
3 cups of boiling water
1 vidalia onion, cut in half *
2 cloves of garlic, peeled *
a few dashes of Mexican oregano
a few dashes of cumin
a pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer on low for about an hour. Make sure to add water if needed throughout the process to keep the chiles covered.

Remove from heat and let cool.

Puree in a food processor until well blended.

Some people will then strain the sauce for a smooth sauce, but we don't mind a little chunkiness so we just ate it as is.

Black Bean, Rice, and Red Chile-Sweet Potato Burritos
2 cups of black beans, cooked ****
1/2 cup long grain brown rice, cooked ****
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced *
1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced *
2 cloves of garlic, minced *
1 small yellow onion, minced **
ground coriander
black pepper

Heat a few tablespoons of water in a small skillet. Add the mushrooms, peppers, garlic and onion. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until veggies soft. Drain any excess water.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.

Red Chile Potatoes:
safflower (or other) oil in a mister
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed *
1 cup Chile Colorado * and ***

Preheat oven to 425.

Spray a baking dish with oil.

Combine all ingredients, cover with foil, and roast for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes soft.

Layer potatoes, beans, and rice in warmed tortillas. Fry if desired.

Oh my Mexican yumminess - so, so good. Thankfully, I have 2 cups of Chile Colorado frozen now, so we'll be able to enjoy this over winter as well. Wahoo.

'Til next time!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 10/26-11/1/08

We actually got quite a bit of booty from our gardens this week, so our farmers' market trip was a little smaller than usual. With the three days of freezing weather last week, we had to pick all the peppers and tomatoes off our plants. There were a lot of tomatoes. As is the case with Missouri weather, it has proceeded to warm up, and we are experiencing temperatures in the 70s. It's gorgeous, but it is also frustrating since our plants our dead from the freeze.

Check out this week's container and community garden booty:

Petite bell peppers. I washed, destemed, and froze these.

A poblano and a ripe New Mexican chile.

We've got hot banana peppers and lots and lots of tomatoes. The banana peppers have been used in cooking. The tomatoes that were partially ripe were placed in the window in our computer room to finish ripening. The green ones were placed in a paper bag where they will ripen over time. I've been picking through them every few days, taking out any that are soft or show any signs of spoilage, and moving the ripening ones to the top of the bag. As you can see, the tomato plants were making a valiant effort to produce another large round of fruit, it just froze earlier than usual this year. The Roma was covered with tomatoes, we had thought it was pretty well done for, but since it no longer have to compete with the squash, it got a "second wind". I'll be using a few of the green ones to make fried green tomatoes. Yum!

Check out this week's farmers' market booty. This ran us $33.

Starting from the bottom right: new potatoes, a turnip (the purveyor we got the sweet potatoes from threw one in and told us to eat it raw), 2 "Energy" Herbal Oats granola bars, a loaf of our beloved Uprise Bakery ciabatta, 3 leeks, spinach (!!!!!!!!!!), a large jar of dill pickles, and sweet potatoes.

I also got some other awesome "local booty" today. I got a few books from a local alternative store, The Peace Nook. I don't buy books very often as we have a great library in Columbia, and I also have a university library system at my disposal. But occasionally, books come along that pique my interest that aren't available through these resources. These are the books I buy, and The Nook generally has them (or they will order it for you) - 'cause they have a lot of my kind of reading material. I've had a list of a few books I've wanted to pick up, and this is what I chose:

I know you all can see the titles - though the picture is horrible (I had to use the flash) - but let's start at the bottom. World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler. Kunstler also wrote The Long Emergency, and I've been a long time fan of his blog, Clusterfuck Nation. This is a novel he wrote about the post-oil world (with a little climate change thrown in I think), I don't read fiction very often, so I'm pretty excited. The next book is Crisis & Opportunity by John Ikerd. I had the privilege of meeting Ikerd at a book reading/signing of one of his other books, A Return to Common Sense. Ikerd is a professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri - where I work. This book is a collection of essays about the opportunity for sustainable agriculture in a peak energy/climate change future. The last book is Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin. This is a fairly "old" book. It was first published in 1981 and revised and reprinted in 1993. The title of the book is pretty self explanatory, and I've never read any of Elgin's other work, so I can't say much beyond that.

I am a huge nerd, I adore books - especially non-fiction - so this was the highlight of my weekend!

I wanted to share a picture of Gabby. She has a "thing" for bags, and was quickly interested in the bag the potatoes from the farmers market came in. Luckily I was snapping farmers market booty pictures so I was able to get a few of her playing in the bag. I love this one - check out at that smug look on her face!

I'm looking forward to a day of football tomorrow, with some cooking and laundry thrown in for good measure. Brett and I do informal "weekly picks" and I am 3 games ahead as of right now. We split on a few more games than usual this week, so we'll see how it pans out. I'm sure none of you really care, but my fantasy football team is 3-3. We are currently second in our "division". A lot of our players were on a bye last week so it was pretty ugly. We appear to have a better chance this week - I hope Plaxico Burress has a better game - we are "playing" an undefeated team. Football makes winter better.

Have a great weekend everyone!

'Til next time.