A peasant meal

We might be without a kitchen, but we still can enjoy a dinner of homemade bread with nut cheese, fresh tomatoes, olives, etc. That’s right, we have no kitchen and I still make my own bread. #nom #notgoingtostarve

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Breakfast peppers

I’m weird. I’ll admit it. More often than not I would prefer to order another appetizer at a restaurant while others are indulging in dessert. And at home, I don’t think twice about eating vegetables for breakfast. This morning, I’m gaga over these little roasted peppers.

Vegetable for breakfast you ask? Absolutely!

I know that the more vegetables there are in my diet, the healthier I will be. (Ideally, we would all eat 2+ pounds of non-starchy vegetables each day.) I also have a really busy life that requires me to leave the house very early in the morning. Sometimes work and social engagements mean I’m coming home long after dinner. I started eating vegetables for breakfast on the recommendation of Chef AJ. A pound of cooked vegetables is only about 2-3 cups of food. I can easily eat that before walking out the door – half of my daily goal.

Starting my day with vegetables is also a little like exercising in the morning. It sets up the right mind set for the day. If I can workout and fuel my body with nutrient-packed goodness before 7:30 am, my brain pretty much knows I’m unstoppable. Bring it on. I mean business. I seek health. And I’m not afraid to be different.

What do you think? Would you eat vegetables for breakfast?

Butternut squash quinoa chili

Our first dinner from the micro kitchen – butternut squash quinoa chili. Oh so good!

I had to put the InstantPot on the floor while I chopped vegetables. That makes a for a bit of a mess if a stray bit of onion or piece of garlic falls on the floor when I’m transferring ingredients from the cutting board to the pot. We’ll just have to be extra careful about cleaning up after each meal.

I also found it a little challenging to drain the cans of black beans in the bathroom and then bring them to the kitchen without dripping on the floor. Next time I’ll bring the pot with me. Duh.

Now we have enough leftovers for lunches the next two days. The trick will be to reheat the chili at the office and fully clean the Tupperware container before coming home!

Whatever Kitty Cafe

On Tuesday, our kitchen remodel begins. It would be so easy to eat take out for the next six weeks, but that is not how Nick and I roll.

Here is our temporary kitchen, tucked in the corner of our living room. it has all the essentials: a hot water kettle, InstantPot, toaster oven, blender, and one set of dishes each. Well be washing up in a tub in our bathroom.

What do you think? Could you survive six weeks with a simple set up like this?

Yam Soup

I stood in front of the piles of tubers at the grocery store earlier this week, tapping furiously at my cell phone. The next recipe I wanted to try in the Health Promoting Cookbook called for “medium yams.” But what kind of yams and how big is medium?

The latter question was easy to answer – four ounces. So if I needed “8 medium yams” for the soup, that added up to two pounds.

The first question was completely open to interpretation, since we can’t actually buy yams in the US. The Oracle of Google told me that everything we label as a yam is technically a soft-fleshed sweet potato. (Read more here.) Everything we label as a sweet potato is usually a hard-fleshed sweet potato.

Ah, forget it. I didn’t really want a super sweet soup for dinner. I grabbed for the less-sweet, white-fleshed sweet potatoes. Two pounds, in the cart.

Once home, I realized I didn’t have an hour to cook dinner (20 min prep + 40 min cooking), so out came the pressure cooker!

Okay, so in the end, this wasn’t quite Dr. Goldhamer’s recipe. I subbed sweet potatoes for yams, modified the cooking technique, and doubled down on the ginger. Except for all that, I made the recipe as directed. And the results were pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself! I even got a seal of approval from my husband.

Here’s my modified version of recipe:

Yam Soup

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2″ pieces
1 medium onion, peeled & roughly chopped
6 cups water
2 cups frozen green beans
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
7 slices fresh ginger
1/4 tsp powdered ginger

Put the sweet potatoes, onion and 5 cups of water in a pressure cooker or InstantPot. Cook under high pressure for 4 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, measure out the green beans; chop the pepper, cauliflower, and ginger.

When the sweet potatoes are done, release the pressure. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a blender or food processor and add the remaining cup of water. Process until smooth and set aside.

Add the remaining vegetables and ginger to the water in the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the processed sweet potatoes and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Serve as is or over hot grains or potatoes.

Chinese Cabbage Salad

The first recipe I made out of the Health Promoting Cookbook – Chinese Cabbage Salad – was quick to make, but ultimately not as good as I’d hoped. The idea of it sounded good – a simple mix of cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, and avocados with grapefruit juice as a salad dressing. In the end, I couldn’t taste the juice much and I just had a bowl of plain-tasting chopped vegetables. Not much to write home about I’m afraid…

I ate a bowl of it last night, then sauteed the leftovers this morning with a couple eggs. (The second preparation was much better IMO.)

So this morning, I grabbed the book, prepared to tell you all about my first failure. I read the recipe again and realized I made it all wrong! Argh! Instead of mixing the peppers, tomatoes and avocado and putting it on top of the cabbage leaves, I chopped the cabbage up and just made a big cabbage salad! Oops!

I’m going to have to try this again sometime and make it correctly.

Here’s my slightly modified version of the recipe. The original calls for too much grapefruit juice, I think. I also enjoyed it better when I put a liberal amount of freshly ground pepper in. Some may also enjoy a bit of salt, but I didn’t add any. If you make it, let me know what you think!

Chinese Cabbage Salad

2 yellow peppers, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 avocados, diced
juice of 1/2 a grapefruit
salt and pepper, to taste
16 leaves Savoy cabbage

Mix the peppers, tomatoes, and avocado in a bowl and toss with grapefruit juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon onto cabbage leaves and enjoy!

Goldhamer Project: Introduction

In 2002, Julie Powell began her now-famous blog: The Julie/Julia Project. You remember the one in which she cooks her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She became famous, wrote a book, got a movie deal, and now lives a relatively quiet life.

I have no images of fame or fortune. I simply want to increase my repertoire of guilt-free (no sugar, oil or meat) recipes. I’ve owned a copy of The Health Promoting Cookbook for years, but never cooked out of it. Facing a kitchen remodel and the inevitable culling of cookbooks, I figured it was time to crack the spine, spill on the pages, and see if this is worth keeping or not.

According to the leading doctors who treat disease through nutritional intervention, the principles behind most healthful diet in the world are pretty simple:

  • eat a plant-based diet with an abundance of fresh vegetables, fruits, unrefined whole grains and legumes
  • avoid meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and dairy products
  • avoid added oil, salt, and sugar

Each of the recipes in his book meet this criteria. (The author, Dr. Goldhamer, is a staff physician at True North Health Center and pretty much a god of healthy eating. Of course these recipes are perfect.)

The recipes are pretty simple though, so the question is: Will they taste good? Will I enjoy the subtle flavors of natural food with minimal spices?

Only time in the kitchen will tell…

Big happy announcement!

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Earlier this month I taught another sold-out seminar on food dehydration for climbers and backpackers. It was my fifth time teaching this class in four years. I kind of thought I wouldn’t do it this year, then I ran into the former chair of the Mountaineers climbing committee who told me it was one of the best seminars he’d ever taken at the Mountaineers and that I have to teach it again. He was so emphatic, that I promised on the spot that I’d teach it again.

As usual, the students and I had a great time talking about our plans for the summer, what kinds of things we love to eat at home, and how to dehydrate and rehydrate food. They sampled the food I’d made and exclaimed with delight when they discovered it was possible to dehydrate pie, olive tapenade, and other delicious treats.

I’d been meaning to compile my lecture notes and recipes into a book for some time. Happily my schedule is a little lighter right now than normal, so I’m officially committing to getting it done.

DIY Guide to Instant Backpacking Meals

Right now my focus is on getting the word out to as many people as possible to gauge interest and build some excitement. I’m also outlining all that will go into the book and testing recipes.

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Some things have been immediate hits, like the vegetarian Midsummer Risotto. The Vanilla Almond Cookies pictured at the top of this post didn’t quite work out, though, so it’s back to the drawing board. (I know how I want to tweak the recipe, thanks to insightful feedback from a climber heading to Denali in a few weeks.)

I anticipate the book being finished by mid-summer. If you are interested in keeping up to date on the launch, receiving occasional recipes to test, and more, please visit the book’s launch page and sign up. (I promise no spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.)

Provencal Tomato & Fennel Soup

fennel

Growing up, my mom used to serve us this delicious tomato-based Provencal fish soup. I loved it and wanted to recreate a vegan version the other day. I remembered the soup having fennel and orange zest in it. I also wanted the soup to still have that salty-briney character of the sea, so I reached for some olives. Fresh rosemary rounded it all out.

If you eat fish and want to include some in the soup, you can add 1/2 to 1 pound of white fish, cut into 2-inch pieces, to the soup in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. It will cook in the soup.

Provencal Tomato & Fennel Soup

Serves 4

1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
2 medium fennel bulbs
⅔ cup pitted kalamata olives
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 orange
1 tablespoon tomato paste
28-ounces canned diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water

Prep | Cook

Trim, peel, and chop the onion; add it to a large soup pot. Peel and mince 2 garlic cloves; add them to the pot.

Turn the heat to medium, and cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and turn brown. If they stick, use a splash of water to loosen them from the pan. (By splash, I mean a tablespoon or two.)

Trim the stalks and fronds off the fennel bulbs, saving a few fronds for garnish. Core and chop the fennel bulbs.

Add the fennel to the pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the fennel begins to soften.

Roughly chop the olives. Strip the rosemary leaves from 2 sprigs and chop. Grate 1 tablespoon zest from the orange; refrigerate the remaining fruit for another use.

Add the olives, rosemary, and tomato paste to the fennel, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring constantly until the tomato paste darkens slightly – a minute or 2.

Add the canned tomatoes and their juice and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add 4 cups stock or water and raise the heat to high.

When the soup comes to a boil, add the orange zest and adjust the heat so it bubbles gently but steadily. Cook, stirring once in a while until the tomatoes break down, 5 to 10 minutes. (See note above about adding fish at this point, if you want.)

Chop the reserved fennel fronds.

Taste and add salt/pepper as needed. Divide the soup among your serving bowls. Garnish with the fennel fronds and serve.

provencal tomato soupPhoto by Alice Henneman, used with permission

Asparagus & Kale Caesar Salad

asparagus

It seems like everywhere I dine out these days, I find kale Caesar salad on the menu. And for good reason! Everyone loves it – that garlic bite, the unctuous dressing, and the virtuous feeling that comes from eating dark leafy greens.

This riff makes the most of the season’s fresh asparagus. Leave the anchovy paste out to make the recipe vegan.

Asparagus & Kale Caesar Salad

Serves 3-4

1 large bunch of asparagus
1 bunch kale
1 garlic clove
1 lemon
1/2 avocado
2 tsp anchovy paste, optional
1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds

Prep | Cook

Turn the broiler on high; place the rack 4″ from the broiler

Trim the asparagus.

Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Broil, turning as necessary, until tender and slightly charred, 5-10 minutes.

Trim and slice the kale into ribbons and place it in a large bowl.

Check on the asparagus.

Peel and mince 1 clove of garlic; add it to a small bowl. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the small bowl with the garlic. Roughly chop 1/2 an avocado and add it to the bowl with the anchovy paste, if using.

Lightly mash together the garlic, lemon juice, avocado and anchovy paste. (You can also use a small food processor or blender to mix the ingredients into a smooth dressing.) Add the avocado mixture to the bowl with the kale and massage it into the kale, using your hands, until the kale appears slightly wilted.

When the asparagus is cooked, cut it into 2″ pieces and add it to the bowl along with 1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds. Toss and serve.

kale&asparaguscaesar

Photo by John, used with permission