Monday, November 14, 2022

#23 of Things To Do Besides Write: Make a Big Tasty Bowl of Vegetables

#24: Eat it.

Hello. I bet you thought you'd never hear from me again here. I am as surprised as you are!

But I took advantage of my updated iPhone camera, checked to see that my Flickr account was still valid, made a delicious salty, spicy pile of kale and potatoes, and figured all that was enough to check in.

It is snowing today in Minneapolis and I like it. We shall see whether I still feel that way later when I'm having shoveling-plus-perimenopause-plus-tail-end-of-flu-induced hot flashes, or tomorrow when my bum left shoulder flares up as a trade-off for clear sidewalks.

Here's what's new:

1. Two of my children are now big brave skiing, running, mountain biking, algebra-crushing, day-brightening, urban middle-schoolers. On the food front, the older is vegetarian and her brother continues peanut immunotherapy and has outgrown the vast majority of the allergies. The peanut thing is cool: he eats two peanuts every day and - more importantly - the tolerance he's built protects him against death by chocolate-made-in-peanut-facility, e.g. KitKat and regular M&Ms. So Halloween was extra fun this year. Rounding out the bunch is my kindergartener. He is the most like me: a little bananas, needs a lot of attention, feels both beat and emotion in the music, enjoys the thrill of a battle and security of making up. Sugar addicted, prone to respiratory illness. Abso-f*!@ing-lutely hilarious. He is allergic to eggs and always hungry and eats like four things. Super fun.

2. I resigned from my law job this summer and am trying to become a writer. Goals are (1) to one glorious day get paid for this thing I do, and (2) to write a novel. In the meantime I am wrapping up a short story that I started last January, and I dabble in highly melodramatic poetry.

3. I'd like to make a new blog - a container for my random poems, things I read and really like, scenes whose deletion makes me cry a little bit, reflections on God and prayer and children and public education and monogamy and lost dreams and finding new ones and writing and theater and all those things that preoccupy me besides food.

4. Until then, here is a deleted scene from my story:

Ellen hears about the film from Allie. It’s January and a Friday. Ellen’s family is wrapping up their first week back to normal life after a jam-packed winter break. Ellen can almost taste the Rombauer Zinfandel she and David will share when the children finally go to bed tonight. She polishes off the soy milk she pours over her kids’ whole grain cereal, preps lunches, collects socks, gloves, and permission slips hiding beneath couches and radiators. David is on outdoor duty this morning, testing the limits of their recent splurge: a cordless snow blower. They manage to get everyone fully bundled and out the door by 7:30. Ellen stands by the door to the garage, waves good-bye to David as he backs out of the driveway with their three kids, snug in their barely-family-friendly Nissan Leaf. She ignores the sink full of breakfast dishes and their preschooler’s ripe, sweaty flannel pajamas on the kitchen floor, and sits down for a minute with her coffee. She wraps her hands around the warm oversized mug and enjoys the silence, keenly aware of its brevity. She admires a ray of long-lost morning sunlight coming through her east-facing picture window, and wishes it didn’t shine quite so deliberately on her dust-coated wine rack. She checks her phone, re-reads Allie’s text. OMG. METADATA. YOU WILL DIE. She makes a list on the back of one of the eight glittery masterpieces that came home in Luca's backpack yesterday:

soy milk
shovel
dust - kid chore?


5. My days look a lot like that scene except no one named Allie ever texts me and we upgraded from the Nissan Leaf a few years ago and I don't want to talk about it.

I do want to talk about the delicious veggie stew I just devoured though! It's all the things your body wants when it's on the mend from the flu, gearing up to spend the next two weeks fighting for its life to shed middle-aged columnar epithelium and the stubborn stroma to which it's attached, and relishing its first full-day break from children in twelve boogery days and as many clammy, croupy nights. Hooray for school and wellness and hand sanitizer!

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What a treat to use hot peppers and make the house smell of garlic and ginger and know that nobody will complain because the hot peppers and house are all mine for at least a few hours.

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The recipe is inspired by The Wednesday Chef, which was inspired by a recipe in Meera Sodha's East cookbook. I have forgotten all my rudimentary HTML skills and apologize for the layout of this post. This is all v. humbling indeed.

Untitled Spicy Kale and Potatoes
One bunch kale thick tough ribs discarded, leaves roughly chopped
Oil or ghee
Half an onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated ginger (about an inch chunk to start with)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Half a can of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or chili powder (I used Kashmiri chili powder)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar or sugar or honey or whatever
1/2 cup something creamy (I used cottage cheese; original recipe calls for coconut milk)
1/4 cup water
1 large potato, chopped into 1 cm cubes

Note from a former cooking class instructor: This is a recipe where salting as you go makes a difference! Measure out your teaspoon and then add a quarterish of it each time you add something flavorful or something that needs salt in order to be flavorful - onions, then ginger/garlic, then tomatoes + spices, and then finally with potatoes before covering.

1. On a medium flame, heat 1 teaspoon ghee or oil in a pan or pot with a lid and add the onions. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium flame, until soft and sweet.

2. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring. Add tomatoes, spices, salt (if you are doing your salt all in one go, now is the time), and sugar.

3. Add the kale to the pan and stir to wilt. Add the cottage cheese or cream or coconut milk plus water, stir. Add the potatoes and stir to submerge them as much as possible, then cover. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

Makes 2-3 servings.

I hope you like it. I'm so glad we're both here!
xo E-NC

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Worth Making

Here are some recent successes worth both making and sharing. You will notice that we trend simple and big-batchy here lately (except for the smoothie, which makes one stressed-and-starving-mama-sized serving).

Best Veggie Burgers. These are vegan, nut-free, and delicious. They remind me of an old-school GardenBurger. They are made of primarily quick oats, onion, and mushrooms, but my mushroom-hater spouse nonetheless approves. We eat them on English Muffins with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and quick pickles. Tastes like '98 - a pretty great year.

Cumin Tofu Stir-fry. (Link will only work if you're a NY Times subscriber, sorry.) Crunchy tofu with a dry-spice crust, heady portions of fresh garlic, ginger, and cilantro, and al dente cauliflower bites. The leftovers were even better, heated up in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. A dollop of salted plain yogurt on top doesn't hurt.

Trail Mix Cookies. These are infinitely adaptable and invite experimentation and resourcefulness. I make them with seeds instead of nuts and have substituted cassava, tiger nut, and oat flours for the almond and they all work. No matter what flour I use, taste is earthy like trail mix; texture is soft like an underbaked cookie. 

Snickerdoodle Smoothie. Post-workout food of champions! I don't work out right now, so that was an inside joke with myself. (You crack me up, Self.) But it's delicious and has some vegetable in it, so obviously super healthy.

Peach Brown Betties. Heck yes I'm linking to my own blog! Perfectly-portioned pies without the fuss of pie dough (which, candidly, I have yet to master). 

And an array of vegan pancakes for the aspiring vegans and egg-allergic in our home:

Food52's Fluffy Vegan Pancakes. Makes hands-down the best diner-style fluffy pancakes I've ever seen without eggs. Graciously accommodating of any blueberries or chocolate chips that find their way into your batter. 

A Couple Cook's Nut-butter Vegan Pancakes. Still allergic to nuts here, so we use sunflower butter (though I bet almond or peanut butter would be even better). This recipe offers something a little different from the Food52 version; a little more depth. They brown beautifully albeit quickly - watch out with cast iron!

Banana-Oat Pancakes. These are amazing. Four ingredients plus pantry staples. Quick, quite filling, and - if you make silver-dollar-style ones - they are a good lunchbox addition. If you are feeding more than you or two, I recommend doubling the recipe. And you need a VitaMix or similar high-power blender.

I suspect we eat more pancakes than the average family.

Missing you all. Hope you're eating okay and finding occasional comfort in your kitchen.

xoxoE-N


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Day 4 of W30 #2

Yesterday went well - zucchini-kale scramble for breakfast, chicken-veggie bowl for lunch - until I went out to dinner for a friend's birthday. I feebly abided until everyone else had alcohol and spring rolls and then I cashed in my 8% leeway and had a glass of wine and some fried things that definitely contained gluten, soy, and heaven knows what all preservatives. Everything was delicious and I had a fantastic time and all was not lost. And today I was stricter.

For breakfast: mug of homemade chicken stock, pulled pork, sautéed vegetables
Usual lunchtime when I couldn't get away for proper lunch: banana bread larabar
Actual lunch: leftover chicken curry, carrot, apple
Dinner: leftover chicken curry, greens, riced cauliflower, cup-o-kombucha

Fortunately the leftover chicken curry is absolutely outstanding so it's not bad eating it several meals in a row. Would you like to see some pictures of our food?

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It's been a long time and photography has never been my strong suit, but you get the idea. That there above is the "paleo bowl" from Greenfield, one of I think three restaurants downtown where I can find a meal that is consistent with all the W30 rules but doesn't make me sad I opted for not making my own lunch. And that there below is documentation that MC's contribution is quite meaningful in 2019!

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Are you impressed? Even though curry - essentially a pot of pressure-cooked mush - is not that photogenic? I am delightedly impressed. Being occasionally delightedly impressed is helpful in sustaining a longterm marriage.

And finally.

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Nomnom Paleo's Spicy Tuna Cakes for my Ash Wednesday supper. The two in the corner are eggless (aquafaba as a binder) for my toddler to try.

I looked into my recount of my last Day 4 and evidently I'm doing much better this time around. It must be last night's sauvignon blanc and fried tofu. Ha! No regrets - even imperfect effort counts. Onward! Enjoy your Fat Tuesday - maybe eat an extra pancake for me. xoxo

Monday, March 4, 2019

Day 2 of Whole30 #2

MC and I are Whole 30-ing it this month - it's his first time ever and my first since 2015. This go already feels loads different, not only because I know what to expect and whether it's worth it, but also because I have a live-in partner committing to the program alongside me, and - wonder of glorious wonders - that partner's kitchen skills have vastly improved since 2015. So it's not just me prepping all the food (and then prepping an entirely separate table of food for my grain- and cheese-loving family). It's also MC and his trusty Instant Pot! I have no doubt that seasoned W30-ers (and all primary-food-preparers) will appreciate this new development without further explanation. Another development is that everything about my life has changed since 2015! I rarely blog or teach cooking classes these days, I work outside the home full time, and I have a toddler (allergic to eggs and tomatoes). We are mostly vegetarian and I barely ever cook or bake anything interesting. And worst of all is that my creative writing skills are super rusty. But I thought I'd try to keep a record here nonetheless, since 2015's record sure has come in handy and I know other W30s out there like this kind of anecdotal data.

This time, I'm not doing it 100%. I'm doing it like 92%, meaning, e.g., we snacked on Trader Joe's absolutely delicious vegan jackfruit "crab cakes" last night even though they had rice bran oil as an ingredient; I ate some soup with lentils in it for lunch today because I needed to finish it up from earlier in the week and I didn't want to postpone our W30 start date. Like everyone else, we've got a lot on our plate, including but not limited to: three children, jobs, school and church commitments, endless laundry, and a gazillion feet of snow outside of our house. So we are doing our best but accepting that what our best is right now will result in a somewhat modified W30, but will still serve as a functional reset for us.

We are on Day 2. We are a little hangry but hanging in there.

Yesterday we ate:

Scrambled eggs and sautéed kale and grated root veggies for breakfast
Shredded chicken with stir-fried red peppers and zucchini + carrot-squash soup*
Instant Pot Shrimp Curry, cauliflower rice, mixed greens, and Trader Joe's jackfruit "crabcakes" for dinner. MC made the curry and it was great, though it did not meat his expectations, which I just learned were recreating Chino Latino's Coconut Shrimp Curry.
Both of us snacked on fruit and nuts and/or sunflower butter.

Today we ate:

Eggs and veggies (MC) and chia-hemp smoothie (me)** for breakfast
Leftover shrimp curry (MC) and veggie-lentil soup + fruit + celery + sunflower butter (me)** for lunch
Instant Pot Sweet Potato-Chicken Curry with green beans and greens for dinner - this is another MC creation and it's outstanding. I wish I had taken a picture of his v. impressive mise en place, but I didn't realize I wanted to blog about all this until after the fact. Next time!

More later. xoxo

* Subbed three tablespoons ghee for butter

**  Smoothies aren't "Whole 30 compliant" but see above; this falls into aforementioned 8%.