The photo to your left is neither remarkable nor very good but it reminds me of the holidays. Fuzzy, warm, soft and bursting with color. This is a comfort dish that is meant for indulging between those very heavy holiday meals. I wasn’t convinced this list of ingredients would mesh well together but I should never have worried when the word “caramelized” is involved. Take anything anyone hates and caramelize it. No shit. It’s unbelievable. Onions? Caramelized? Beets? Caramelized? Brussel Sprouts? Caramelized. It’s like a magic wand for picky eaters. I kid you not, caramelized should really equal “fucking awesome”.
I guess that wouldn’t be so appropriate as titles in cookbooks. Fucking Awesome Onion Pork Chops. So this recipe was great. It is also a complete meal without a scarp of meat due to the power grain, quinoa. I think it would be a favorite in any home as long as you could get them to take just one bite. That’s no small undertaking but I have faith in you!
This recipe comes from an equally wonderful cookbook. This is the first recipe I have tried but the suggestions and ideas for having a family dinner is truly inspiring and motivating. It reminds me that the dinner table is a sacred space for connecting with one another and since this reminder we have taken action to remove all distractions from that opportunity to connect.
During the cooking process is also a great opportunity for kids to connect with parents and the food they are eating. Studies show children are twice as likely to eat their dinner if they are involved in the process of making it. Even if this means dinner takes a bit longer to make, it can really make a huge difference in your child’s willingness to consume their food. Think how much energy you will save at the dinner table when they happily chow down their meal instead of refusing to eat.
All of these ingredients are fairly seasonal as well, which means they will taste better and be less expensive, even as organic options. I got a huge bag of vegetables at the farmers market last week that lasted us two weeks and it was $9.50. That included carrots, onions, kale, spinach and beets.
Slice yams/sweet potatoes 1/4-inch thick. Toss with salt and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Place in well-oiled, nonstick baking pan. Cover tightly with foil, put in cold oven (this is important because gradual rise in temperature will bring out flavors) and turn oven to 400 degrees. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until yams/potatoes are very soft. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until caramelized (golden or amber on the edges, almost burnt).
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in medium pot and sauté onion. Add garlic, ginger, beets and curry powder/paste and sauté until sizzling and fragrant. Add greens and stir until wilted. Add quinoa to pot of greens along with 3 cups stock/water. Simmer, with lid, until all liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes). During this time DO NOT STIR THE POT. Quinoa is a grain that cooks by using up little pockets of water/air and stirring really screws with that process. To check if water has been absorbed just tilt the pot lightly and if water runs towards the edge then let it cook a bit longer.
Fluff quinoa with fork, season to taste. Add olive oil/butter and a squeeze of lemon. Put quinoa on platter, top with sweet potatoes and enjoy!
Adapted from “The Family Dinner”
4 medium-size yams or sweet potatoes*
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp peeled and chopped fresh ginger (optional)
3 Beets, chopped into small sticks
1 Tbsp mild indian curry powder/paste (optional)
3 cups leafy greens such as kale, chard, collards
1.5 cups quinoa
Ground pork/beef or chicken (optional)
3 cups water or chicken/vegetable stock
2 Tbsp olive oil or pat of butter
Squeeze of lemon (optional)
*A quick note on the difference between yams and
sweet potatoes. Yams are yellow. Sweet potatoes
are white. Yams are sweeter, meatier. Sweet
potatoes are lighter, fluffier, mildly sweet. Do not
be fooled by signs at the grocery store. Yellow
is yams, white is sweet potato.
This menu is missing it’s lead character, the turkey. I do have an incredible roast chicken recipe that I’m sure will translate wonderfully for turkey. I have never, and have not volunteered for, the job of creating the lead role for Thanksgiving dinner. Just writing about how I have not taken on this task makes my heart start beating rapidly, in panic, not excitement. I love bringing the side dishes, pie, drinks, anything really, except the main dish. I really dislike cooking meat as a main dish in general. This is not because I dislike eating meat, oh no, I do love my local meat, a lot. I just don’t enjoy cooking the stuff.
This role is usually handed off to my husband and he happily accepts. He also happens to make an incredible dish anytime he is in charge so why mess with a good thing? I am thankful for his willingness and patience in this area and so many others. I am thankful someone else has always taken on the grand task of roasting the turkey so I can enjoy my holiday without a mild panic attack. I am thankful for so many things it would take way to much of your time. I am thankful for you, my readers. These are suggestions for bringing seasonal, local ingredients to your table without too much time or money. Enjoy.
Easy Cinnamon Rolls if you are still hungry the next morning. I hope everyone enjoys their holiday and many thanks to all those who read this blog. Food is such a vital and central role in connection during the holidays. Thank you for connecting.
This is very close to the last in the series on what to do with a whole pumpkin. I started with a pumpkin roasting 101 and guts bread, moved on to making soup and now curry. This is one of those recipes where the quantity and type of vegetable really doesn’t matter all that much. I happened to have carrots, spinach and potatoes on hand so I threw it in with the mix. You can follow this recipe to the letter or add your own random vegetables looking sad and lonely in the drawer. This is the perfect recipe for shriveled carrots, droopy greens or that last bit of wrinkled onion you have yet to use from last weeks groceries. The flavor of the pumpkin is subtle and if you don’t have pumpkin, any squash will do.
Another note: If you don’t have time to roast your pumpkin or squash then throw it in early, with the carrots and let the whole thing simmer a little longer until it’s soft. I just so happen to be roasting pumpkin like crazy around here due to the three whole pumpkins staring me down. While this recipe was astounding, I think I may be done with pumpkin for at least a week.
I can now see that when people choose to eat what is in season, they eat so much that they become tired of the food until it is in season once again. The ability to restrain yourself from buying strawberries in December means they will taste just that much better in March and April. The fact that they won’t have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles just to get on your plate will also help satisfy your desire.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not at my best after I have traveled a while. I’m sure those strawberries aren’t much different. In terms of self restraint, I’m probably one of the worst. When I want a food item, I want it today, now, right this minute. I’m learning, however, sometimes it’s better to wait. While I may want a strawberry in the warmth of my heated home in the middle of December, I know it will not taste nearly as good and thus leave me unsatisfied, until I can pluck it from my own garden in April.
While I know that I can’t begin to wait for all things to come in season, I can choose to hold off on at least a few. This choice, helps me support my local farmers and decrease the amount of fuel and energy that will affect the planet for my son. It may just be a pint of strawberries in December, but it could mean one less farmer in my neighborhood gives up. One extra breath of fresh air for myself and my family. Just one. While I will always be far from perfect in any area of my life, I try to make at least one choice like this every day.
Heat 2 Tbsp oil in large pot. Add peanuts and sauté until roasted. Remove peanuts from pot and set aside. Sauté chicken breast in 2 Tbsp oil until no longer pink in the middle (about 5-8 min). Remove from pot. Sauté carrots, potato and onion in pot with more oil until softened. Add garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Dump in can of coconut milk and add curry paste/powder.
Bring to boil. Turn down heat and let simmer about 10-15 minutes, covered, or until all vegetables are soft. Add pumpkin and spinach and simmer another 5 minutes. Serve in bowls and top with roasted peanuts. Enjoy this curry and your choice to eat in the season.
6 Tbsp oil (I used coconut)
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1 chicken breast, chopped (can omit for vegan)
1 carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 potato, chopped
1 can coconut milk (15oz)
1-2 Tbsp curry paste or curry powder
1 bunch spinach, chopped
2 cups pumpkin, roasted and chopped
I began my series on pumpkin last week with a 101 on roasting the flesh and making bread from the guts. We continue with soup and later this week, I will feature a recipe for pumpkin curry and put up a suggested menu of recipes for a Thanksgiving meal. The recipe featured today, was actually my first introduction into the concept of local and seasonal foods. A few counselors met in the winter of 2007 to watch a training video for couples counseling. The person who hosted the event made us this soup on a very cold fall day. While we were all there for a training, conversation easily shifted to the food we were eating and the afternoon crept into the night.
Along with the recipe, she later emailed after we all raved about both, she began talking about her experience with local and seasonal foods. She was attempting to source her food and become as close to her farmers and products as possible. After reading a few of her adventures and experiences, I got curious and started educating myself. It’s amazing how little I knew.
Take those two carrots in the picture above. One is from our garden and the other from the co-op. Both are carrots but different varieties. Incredible how the selection of seed changes even the structure of a basic item like carrots. So this recipe is pretty special. It signifies a new beginning, warmth, comfort and friendship. I hope this blog and these recipes can do for you what this recipe started for me.
In a stockpot over medium heat, melt butter and saute carrot, onion, and apple for a few minutes, then stir in pumpkin and sage. Saute until all are tender (I found I needed to add a little of the broth to moisten it). Add broth and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Puree all or half of the soup (I just pureed half and left in some chunks of carrot, apple, onion). Then add the cream and simmer for another 5 minutes—do not boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, although I found it was already delicious on its own!
2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced or sliced
1 apple, diced
2 cups fresh pumpkin, roasted* and diced
1 Tbsp sage leaves
3 cups vegetable broth/boullion (or chicken stock)
1 cup cream or Silk plain soy creamer
This is the first in a series on using a whole pumpkin. I mean the whole darn thing, well maybe except the skin. This is for all those who still have their little pumpkins lingering on their front door step long after the last fall leaf has turned yellow, orange, red and fallen to the ground. Am I the only one in this category? That’s embarrassing. To be honest, I didn’t even get a pumpkin for Halloween. We went to the pumpkin patch with my son the weekend before Halloween day and left with our hands empty. Out stomaches, however, were full of apple fritters and caramel apples. It was the real reason we went to the pumpkin patch. There may have been some motivation to take adorable photos, but the fritters were really our focus.
My mother was on her way to visit my sister the weekend after Halloween and noticed the farm stand she stopped at was giving away their pumpkins for free. She knows how much I love things that are free, especially food, and picked up a few for me. I had grand plans to use them right away but one weekend turned into the next and those orange globes were still staring me down. I had to admit, I was fairly intimidated. A whole pumpkin? What do you do with a whole pumpkin?
I took a deep breath and started doing what I always do when overwhelmed. I googled that shit. Turns out you can do a lot with a whole pumpkin. After poking around for a bit I got fairly excited. Then I stumbled on a recipe for bread you can make out of the guts of the pumpkin. I am the type of person to cut the mold off cheese or bread just so I don’t waste food. So the thought that I could make something edible out of a part of the pumpkin most people just toss out, was way too tempting to pass up.
With a focus, I found my drive and dove in knife first. The original recipe for the guts bread had way more sugar, eggs and white flour than I prefer, so I fiddled with it until I found my ideal recipe. Let me tell you, it’s incredible.
Before we jump ahead of ourselves, lets talk about what to do with the roasted flesh of the pumpkin. You can make a puree and freeze it or make pumpkin curry or pumpkin soup. I will have recipes for the last two in the next few posts. You can also just freeze the flesh as soon as it cools and let it thaw before using whole in recipes.
To roast pumpkin: preheat oven to 400. Cut whole pumpkin in half and then each half into several pieces. Scrape out the insides, saving the seeds for roasting and the guts for bread. Place pumpkin on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive or canola oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until tender but not falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool, peel skin off, and dice.
While the pumpkin is roasting, make bread. Preheat oven to 350 F or just turn it down once you remove the roasted pumpkin from the oven. Use your fingers and a pair of scissors to separate the pumpkin guts, making sure they’ll be able to mix well into the batter. Mix flax and chia with maple syrup and let sit for 15 minutes.
Combine flours, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar in large mixing bowl. Add flax/chia mixture, applesauce and pumpkin guts. Stir until blended. Pour into two 9×5″ loaf pans. Bake 50-60 minutes. Cool slightly and take out of pans to let cool on a rack. I made this bread last night and one loaf is already demolished. So unbelievably good. As a bonus? The guts have the same nutritional value as the pumpkin flesh itself!
Makes 2 loaves:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 cups white flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp Chia seeds
1 cup applesauce or 2 ripe bananas
2 cups pumpkin guts, seeds removed
There is this story about the creation of play-doh. When coal was the original heat source for homes, it often left black soot on wall paper. Play-doh was originally created to clean wall paper of the soot. When the industrial revolution, occurred, and people began relying on other forms of energy to heat their homes, the creator of play-doh thought his product was obsolete. His sister, a teacher, brought some of the play-doh to school to try with her children, as modeling clay was very firm and somewhat toxic for kids. Turns out, as you know, they loved it. So why the hell am I talking about play-doh on a cooking blog? When we think we may be headed for failure, often we just need a way to get new perspective to find success.
This happened the other night, when I was making dinner. I had found the recipe on her blog and was excited about the flavor combinations. It was Halloween, I knew we would be out late so I prepared many of the ingredients ahead of time. My son was dressed as Steve Jobs and we stayed downtown for the afternoon because he is so little and it was fun. We got home right around dinner time and as I began assembling the ingredients I realized, to my dismay, I had completely forgotten to make the rice. Key ingredient in my opinion.
My excitement quickly turned to self abuse and words like “stupid” and “idiot” flew out of my mouth. I was just a click away from dialing for sushi when I told myself to just stop, breathe, and think. Within a few moments, I realized I could make quinoa in just 15 minutes and it would have a much greater health profile than brown rice. As the recipe does not have much in the way of protein, it would also boost that number considerably. Success. Oh and it tasted damn good.
Preheat oven to 425F and line a large glass dish with tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil on squash and give a shake of salt and pepper. Coat with hands. Roast chopped butternut squash for 45 mins. or until tender. You can also buy frozen bags of cubed squash.
Heat burrito shell in microwave for 15 seconds. Top with beans, spices, squash, cheese, quinoa and other additional toppings of your choice. I added avocado and spinach. Wrap. The original recipe has you sauté it all with garlic and onions. I think this would also be a great idea. In the interest of time, I skipped this step.
Just in case you were curious. This is my son, as Steve Jobs.
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed, & roasted
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika or to taste (optional)
One 15-oz can black beans (about 1.5-2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
3/4 cup cheese
4 tortilla wraps (large or x-large)
Toppings of choice: (avocado, sour cream, spinach/lettuce, cilantro, etc)
I’m torn. I am mourning the loss of daylight in the evening hours for a multitude of reasons. Cold season, long walks after dinner, playing with my son just before we do our bath time routine in the warmth of the sunlight, trips to the park to get out that last burst of energy and the natural light that makes my photos for this blog look decent. I am celebrating the coming of fall in just as many ways. The leaves changing color and falling to the ground; making the world burst with life, soups, cider and comfort food. While these photos are in no way my best work, the recipe is. I am ordering you to forget whatever ideas you had for dinner tonight and make this, now.
If you are plagued with a cold, even more reason. It is seriously quick, easy and just brimming with incredible flavors. The curry and cayenne will knock the snot right out of our sinuses. I was very pessimistic about this recipe but needed something warm, bright and easy to make this last week. I also happened to have all the ingredients on hand. I had canned soup as a back up but it was completely unnecessary. I’m actually fairly devastated I ate the last of it two days ago and already planning in making more this weekend.
Melt oil/butter in large saucepan over high heat. Cook onion, garlic, curry paste, cayenne, and salt until fragrant, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add carrots and broth, coconut milk and cook, covered, until carrots are very tender. Puree soup with immersion blender or regular blender until smooth. I left some carrot chunks as I like that in a soup. You can add yogurt, cilantro or nothing at all to finish it off.
Adapted from Sunset Magazine March 2011
1 Tbsp coconut oil/butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp curry paste (or 1 tsp for more mild flavor)
1/4 tsp cayenne (or less for less heat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb carrots, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 (15oz) can coconut milk
I have long had an aversion to making fish. There has never, however, been an aversion to eating it. As a good friend would say, I can pound that stuff. Unfortunately, my consumption of said scaly friend has been limited to restaurants or trips to Mexico. It wasn’t until recently that I really started to feel like I was mastering this skill with enough precision that I could make it a regular spot on our weekly menu. While feeling particularly uninspired in the cooking arena last week, I took it up on myself to peruse my pile of recipes I have torn out of magazines. These recipes are torn with the intention that I will cook them for dinner that week, then inevitably, I wind up making this or this and the recipe goes into “the pile”.
I sorted through that pile with a mission and found several recipes that made me curious and salivate. Necessary requirements when in a cooking slump. This took very very little time or planning but did require a few ingredients you may not have on hand at home. I tell you it’s worth whatever extra trip you need to make to the store to make this happen in your house this week. The original recipe is a meal on its own but I also made coconut greens to add additional vegetables and taste.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make crust: Whirl ingredients in food processor or blender until nuts are finely chopped.
Make fish: Brush fish with 3 Tbsp butter/coconut oil, pat nut mixture all over fish, and set on a greased baking sheet. Cook just until fish is opaque in center, 10-15 minutes. The thicker the fish, the longer it will cook. When it flakes easily when prodded a bit with a fork it is done.
Make salsa: Heat 3 Tbsp butter/oil in medium frying pan over medium-low heat, add shallots/onions and apple, and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes; remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and remaining ingredients; stir into apple mixture.
Serve halibut with apple salsa and sprinkle with a little more thyme.
Adapted from Sunset Magazine September 2011
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
Fish and Salsa
4 white fish fillets
6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter/coconut oil
2 tbsp minced shallots/onions
1 3/4 cups chopped apple
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp mustard (Dijon, Honey, Yellow)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne