Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: January 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weekly Local Booty (late), Excuses, and Well, Let's Just Get On With It...

I didn't intend to go on hiatus, but it has been pretty stressful around these parts for the past while. I would expect things to be pretty sporadic for the next few weeks - I haven't really been cooking or doing much of note anyway. Let's just say things have been pretty out of whack. I have been doing an awful lot of reading and have created a Books J's Read - 2009 link under the Currently Reading element on the blogs sidebar. I read a lot of books, so I like to try to keep track and do a rudimentary rating scale. Perhaps this will be of interest to some of you; otherwise, you can see how big of a nerd I am. :-)

I did go to the Root Cellar awhile back and scored some grub, so I figured I would share it - hopefully inspiration hits me as to what to do with it all.

Starting from the bottom left: shiitake mushrooms, carrots, 4 yellow and 1 red onion, a huge head of cabbage, local pickled jalapenos (!!!!!), Sandhill mustard (!!!!!), Bonne Femme Honey Farm alfalfa honey, 2 organic avocados (not local), organic Sumatra coffee (not local), and a bag of shredded organic coconut (not local).

Not pictured are a dozen local eggs and two jars of East Wind peanut butter we picked up from the "regular" store. Making our own granola bars means we use a lot of peanut butter.

Sadly, there will be no Garden Update for December. I forgot to take pictures, well, the whole month. Things kept dying and I got jaded. I decided not to try starting anymore indoor crops and to focus my attention on our 2009 growing season. Surprisingly, the pepper plants are what are doing the best. One of our cayennes is even beginning to grow buds. It is the herbs and greens that have really been giving us trouble. Not what I expected. Our salad greens are doing wonderfully in the window and I think we will be having our first harvest soon, I will make sure to get a picture of our loot.

We've been pouring over our seed catalogs and visions of summers possibilities and I think we are getting narrowed down to the specifics of what we would like to grow. Once the seed order has been placed, I will post about what is (hopefully) on our horizons. I don't know when that will be, but I'll get around to it at some point.

I apologize that I haven't been commenting on blogs - I can't say that will change anytime soon - it will likely be sporadic as well. But who knows, right?

'Til next time.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Black Bean and Butternut Enchiladas with Spicy Tomatillo Green Enchilada Sauce

Happy New Years! All of us who spent the last 8 years wondering, "is it 2008 yet?" can start to let out that sigh of tentative relief. Everyone's favorite president only has a few weeks left to try to ruin anything left unbroken and we have someone with a modicum of intelligence and character getting ready to move in to that famed White House. This is not going to be an easy year - or likely few years - we have a lot of struggles to face, but for the first time in awhile, there is a small degree of hope. I am going to get all "John Ikerd" on you guys for a second and caveat that by hope I do not mean that I think things are going to work out and everything will be puppies and daisies - hope is rather the feeling that it could work out, that better decisions can be made, and that a more equitable, sustainable, and meaningful life are possible. I do not think a president can or should give us that, but it helps to have leadership that doesn't encourage all the worst aspects of human nature, a leader that will inspire us to serve, to give, to sacrifice. Those are things we all need. Again, I have no naive hope that Obama will save the planet and bring about world peace - quite the contrary - with all the people he has picked for his cabinet, I imagine More of the Same a la Clinton (which is better than what we've had), but I think we stand a chance with Obama. Under this administration things like "sacrifice", "service", "helping others", "making due", "doing right by the planet" will not be seen as bad words or get you put on some sort of list that keeps you from being able to fly.

Enough of my political tirade. We will see what this year brings; we know it will certainly be a lot different from the last few years. We can only hope that it is more pleasant this time around - even if it does mean sacrifice and doing with less, I think that would be good for most of us.

Whew! After all that, I still have food to post about!

It has been awhile since I have made enchiladas and it was about damn time! I love making my own enchilada sauce as I get to experiment and make things more to our tastes, so this recipe features a homemade sauce as well. Sadly, I had to use canned tomatillos, but I felt better about purchasing the canned than fresh at this time of year. I hope that next year, I will be able to can some homegrown tomatillos! I was able to get quite a few local goodies in this meal though, I have finally been busting into our frozen stash of local goodies from summer and I am so happy to have them.

A few of the ingredients in this meal are not only local, but things that Brett and I grew ourselves. I feel a rush of pride each time I pull out a butternut squash Brett and I grew in our community garden, or a container of salsa/sauce we preserved over summer, or a bag of peppers frozen from our container plants. Homegrown will always be better no matter what, and I think that sense of pride has a lot to do with it.

Well, here she be!

(I wish I was eating a plate of these right now, don't you just want to reach into your computer screen and grab this plate?! I know I do!)

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

Black Bean and Butternut Enchiladas with Spicy Tomatillo Green Enchilada Sauce

Spicy Tomatillo Green Enchilada Sauce
2 cans of tomatillos, drained
3 hot Hungarian wax peppers, stems removed *** (frozen from summer)
3 jalapenos, stems removed *** (frozen from summer)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled +
1 yellow onion, halved +
4 cups water
1 veggie bouillon cube
2 tbsp dried cilantro + (not sure if this is local)
1 tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
dash black pepper

Combine tomatillos, peppers, garlic, water, and veggie bouillon in a large pot and simmer for about 35-40 minutes. Allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add seasonings to taste.

Return sauce to pot on the stove and simmer on low for about an hour to an hour an a half until mixture has thickened.

Black Bean and Butternut Enchiladas
2 cups black beans, cooked ****
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced small (about 1 1/2 cup of butternut) ***
2 tbsp safflower oil
dash pepper
dash salt
corn tortillas
Spicy Tomatillo Green Enchilada Sauce

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat safflower oil over medium heat in a large-ish skillet. Add the butternut, salt, and pepper and cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the black beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Spread a layer of Tomatillo Green Enchilada Sauce in the bottom of a pan.

Layer filling in warmed corn tortillas. Roll up.

Spread remaining enchilada sauce over the tops of the enchiladas.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Oh man. This was one of the best new Mexican meals I have made for awhile and it is quite simple. I loved how the enchilada sauce was spicy but not overly so. Brett said that it was something he would happily feed to others even though we've only made it once. We usually make something quite a few times before we deem it "company appropriate". And for once, I didn't make it so spicy that Brett complained. :-) I have been getting better at toning the spice level down for him - besides, that is what ground cayenne pepper, crushed habanero flakes, and sriracha hot sauce are for right?

I hope everyone has a wonderful day and a wonderful weekend!

'Til next time.