Archive for Cooking

My Favorite Cookbooks, Part 2

I have 8 cookbooks sitting in my virtual shopping cart right now and I’m sitting on my hands. I don’t know if I told you here, but I’m relocating with my business, myself, my dog, and my handsome butch to western Massachusetts in February so adding heavy (beautiful) cookbooks to my collection at this time isn’t going to work. Shopping for them works, though, and I’ll tell you what I discovered: although I have a pension for always wanting more of them, I still believe you can do wonderful things in a kitchen with a skillet, an oven pan, a sauce pan, a soup pot and one little cookbook. You may love fancy gadgets, but you don’t NEED them to succeed with your food. Just like I LOVE collecting cookbooks, but really, you can just begin with one. And don’t forget your local library! Take them out and audition a few before purchasing. That shit is FREE. So in chorus with this sentiment, I am continuing on with Part 2 of my favorites list for your enjoyment. I’ll begin with my personal bible which I’ve spoken of maybe, like, a billion times.

6. The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters – I know you’re sick of hearing about this book from me by now but what can I say? It continues to bat 1000 from the plate. Since reading it, I have never again purchased salad dressing, mayonnaise or creme fraiche. I have a completely grounded understanding abut how to build my personal pantry of foods for the way I like to cook making whipping things up so much easier. The book not only taught me how to cook things but it helped me feel empowered to cook things. Ms. Waters clearly loves food and she has a more refines taster than I do, but she gives me a sense that as I move along, I too will develop into a person that detects the subtle taste and texture differences in the way a shallot might work vs. a red onion. Or why a lady might choose which oil to drizzle on a soup. Her care and yet simplicity is a combination I come back to over and over because it provides me with a kind of faith I can build in myself as a person who uses food to nurture my life and cooking to arrive as a place or creative expression. Plus, it’s a beautiful book, which I’m a sucker for every time.

7. Tender by Nigel SlaterSpeaking of beautiful books, I almost cried when this thing arrived on my doorstep. I’d been fondling it lovingly at one of the best places in America, Omnivore Books, and then while I was on vacation one time, I just couldn’t hold off and bought the thing online. British food writer Nigel Slater invites you into his garden and talks not just of cooking but of growing the food you cook and what it likes to do. Like Bryant Terry’s Inspired Vegan, this is also a tremendously personal offering. Mr. Slater is a wonderful writer and his attention to detail is actually emotional.When you sit down with him in his vegetable patch you feel encouraged to not only cook, but to go ahead and make a mess on your way. He’s all about the process of food, how things take attempt before they find their pinnacle and the pinnacle isn’t so much the point, but the journey there.The way he writes about pod peas made me want to kind of date them.

8. The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte and photographed by Hugh Forte - This is a whole foods book built around vegetables. Sure there’s a scallop here and there plus plenty of desserts, but the heart of the book is about vegetables and Ms. Forte clearly loves them. Her experience on the organic farm comes through in bright recipes that take beauty into account as an intrinsic part of the enjoyment of food alongside the taste. The photographs by her husband Hugh are fantastic and she makes it easy to go along with her. This is a fantastic place to start for beginner cooks or people who’ve felt intimidated in the kitchen. The introduction sets the scene, demystifies technique and invites you along for a gorgeous ride. The food is robust and healthy with fantastic pangs of flavor that punch each seasonal note. I think the beauty of this book as an object is a reflection of how this couple came together for the project. Something about their collaboration comes through and serves not just the recipes, but the readers beholding them as well.

9. The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter BerleyI got this book a few years back when I embarked on my first cleanse. I picked it in a haphazard way just because it had a fat gold James Beard Award medal on the front. I didn’t know Mr. Berley’s background as either the former chef of Angelica Kitchen in NYC or as a cooking teacher of many years. But his way with writing is telling of his teacher’s background. He speaks to both beginners and experienced cook at once somehow using his knowledge of technique and his experience to encourage his readers. It’s a really supportive book. It’s surprising to me I went with a book that’s got black and white photographs of food as I’m usually so easily seduced by the pictures in books, but this one was perfect for me. I found his work with whole grains in particular incredibly useful and come back to that over and over. Plus the drawings are wonderful.

10. Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson - I’ve been reading Ms. Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks forever. It’s been one of the best free resources my kitchen has ever had. I have to say, it’s maybe a little alienating to me in this way that has to do with money and what my friend Silas likes to call The Sheen of the Well-Off, and some days I can’t quite rise to the task of peeking in at what appears to be a perfect photograph of perfect food arranged in a perfect dish in a perfect kitchen in a perfect life. Now I’m not proud to say that reveals much more about me than it does about Ms. Swanson, but I like to level with you all. But I’ll tell you what, this lady knows her way around a vegetable. I have never made a recipe from this book I didn’t love. And I use it all the time. She makes food with great flavor, has no fear of richness, and takes you around the globe with her inspirations. (This is because she is often traveling around the globe.) This is her second book and it’s been out for a bit. Her first is just as lovely. In fact, most of the authors in Parts 1 & 2 have numerous books to check out so don’t be shy.

There you have it…. My top ten. I bet if I did it again in a month there would be some moving around, but I feel great about these.

 

My Favorite Cookbooks, Part 1

Some people might call it a problem. I call it a library. I know that there are so many cooking sites to visit online. The recipes are solid, they’re free, and you don’t have to pack them into boxes and lug them across the country when you move. (We’re MOVING in February!) But I’ll never get over books. I like the way the matte pages feel, I like the feel of flipping a page over, and with cookbooks, I love the photographs. I really feel wild about a good cookbook. People ask me all the time what my favorites are. I’m making a list my my ten more consulted here. I love many others, but this is part 1 of core group that I return to over and over. One of them is new and is an instant classic that I am currently in a deep love affair with. Since these are in no particular order, let’s start there:

1. Vegetable Literacy by Deborah MadisonThis book is the kind of book I always found myself looking for and could never find. But now here it is. Part encyclopedia, part cookbook, this volume tells you everything you might want to know about things that grow and then we eat them. She tells you how things grow and where, what kinds of nutrients they have to offer, how they like to be cooked and what they go well with. She tells you how to store things, what to look for when you shop. I read this thing like a novel, from cover to cover. The recipes range from incredibly simple to simple, but with some labor. Nothing is difficult and all her combinations that I’ve tried tend to sing. Her Red Lentil and Coconut Soup with Black Rice, Turmeric and Greens is one of the best soups ever. I could eat that jazz every day.

2. Clean Food by Terry Walters This book is the perfect introduction to clean cooking and eating. Ms. Walters has organized it by seasons. For people who are new in the kitchen, this is so helpful because the recipes match up with what looks good in the market. As you get accustomed to shopping and cooking, eventually your body will acclimate to its natural yens rather than feel confused by the general processed food that we often eat in the Standard American Diet. In addition to supporting beginning cooks and cooks new to this kind of cooking, Ms. Walters gives a great variety of choices for each season including desserts. Her sweet choices are always made with alternative flours and sweeteners making her recipes much easier on the system without skimping on flavor. She tends toward very simple preparations with pops of satisfying flavor.

3. A Year in my Kitchen by Skye Gyngell I would like to spend a year in her kitchen, too. This is one of my very favorite books for flavor. Ms Gyngell is from London so sometimes there are ingredients I can’t find in San Francisco, but WHO CARES?!? This is a woman who cooks like a painter. The flavors in each recipe hit all parts of the tongue and her preferences tend toward explosive color. She begins this book with her version of a toolbox, or what she believes are the staples a cook should have in their kitchens at all times. She talks about how flavors work together, what different components come together to work in shaping a taste experience, plus the book is gorgeous. It’s a small little thing with soft matte pages and dreamy photographs that make you want to follow all her directions to a tee. Her roasted tomatoes changed my life, even without the sugar, not to mention her pickled pear relish and her chilled almond soup.

4. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi This might be one of the most elegant vegetarian (not vegan) cookbooks in existence. The work in this book is so varied and covers so many different styles of cooking that it feels as much like a travel log as it feels like a cookbook. It’s downright romantic the thing is so gorgeous. The recipes range from simple to all day prep affairs. Some of these recipes will make their way into your No Big Deal catagory without even batting an eye, whereas others may stay on your When Company Comes list for a year or more. But even when the meals look over the top, they are so much fun to read and look at, that the very act of perusing them will ignite your creative kitchen fire. The Cardamom Rice with Poached Eggs and Yogurt just slays me and I’m not mad about the Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger either.

5. The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry Bryant Terry designs the meal for you. Each recipe comes with a drink and damn soundtrack. Mr. Terry made this book so that each turn of a meal is designed around an entire experience, born from the inspiration of jazz and hip hop. I love this book for its intimate invitation to hang out with your chef. You get stories, you get a radical kind of politic, you’ll find yourself jamming out to his ideas about sustainable food cultures and social movements. This book is so much more than a standard cookbook experience and his success with it is deeply moving. Not many chefs offer you justice and compassion with their entrees but for Mr. Terry, his ethic about life is not separate from his cooking. He understands that food is a right and healthy food is a gorgeous experience that supports artistic, beautiful and creative living for all people. Cooking from this book, for me, has been not only a creative and fun experience, but each time, it feels like an honor to connect with Mr. Terry’s world. Plus the sweet potato curry is fabulous.

 

Shakshuka: Fun to say, even better to eat.

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My Spring Fling Cleanse officially ends in about 90 minutes. Each season when I go through this process, I have an entirely different experience. Of course this is true for many reasons: I am a season older, the group I lead changes each season, the body wants different things at different times, and sometimes the mind is able to engage a commitment more than other times. But two things remain constant: I always want the nightshade family back when the cleanse ends and I never get over eggs. I will pretty much put an egg on ANYfuckingTHING. One of my all time favorite breakfasts is a bowl of an entire head of dino kale shredded and cooked down in ginger, lemon juice and coconut aminos with a fat scoop of Farmhouse Culture’s Smoked Jalapeno Sauerkraut and a skillet fried egg done in coconut oil on top with some kind of fancy salt. On a cleanse, I take some time to make space without the peppers in the kraut or the egg so usually the first thing I reintroduce are nightshades and then eggs. Everything else comes slowly. And then some things (sugar and mostly coffee) not at all. But the breakfast bowl, that’s a siren song for me. I love the colors and the faint sweetness of the coconut along the edge of the spicy and the sour. I like the give of the yolk all through the kale, done with still the tiniest bit of crunch left in the spine. And I love the way the day starts with such bold assertion there, breakfast greens and eggs in a bowl cupped in sleepy hands.

But this time, I took a bit of a detour with my return. I’ve been obsessed with Shakshuka. It’s a word that’s fun to say, but the meal, well, that’s where the good time really starts. The dish comes from east of me, some say Egypt, some say Tunisia. But wherever it came from originally, you’ll find it all over Israel, Yemen, Libya and it’s a staple in the breakfast world. I read a billion recipes for it. From the NYT to smitten kitchen and back through both of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes in the wonderful vegetarian Plenty, and the drop-dead gorgeous new book, Jerusalem. (If you love cookbooks, don’t waffle on Jerusalem. Just shell out for it.) There were a thousand other blogs and books that had an entry for this Comfort Jewfood and even a lady with a blog called The Shiksa in the Kitchen, which is fabulous.

This is my first attempt and I culled things I liked from all the recipes and went to work with my own new hybrid. The tang, the smoke, and the creaminess of the egg yolk were all exactly perfect for a late lunch on a windy day here in the fog belt of San Francisco. I can imagine this dish with plenty of variations including the popular addition of feta, but also with endless pepper combinations, spice tweaks, and maybe even a more Italianish flavor variation with a mozzarella basil situation. But here’s how mine went. And for a first try, I have to say, it was KILLER. I’m already looking forward to lunch tomorrow, as I am still loving my cleanse smoothies for breakfast. Until then, I leave you with some visuals and a recipe. It’s super easy and the payoff is big time.

Seinberg’s First Shakshuka

Serves 6-8

1T extra virgin olive oil
1t ground cumin
2t paprika
1t smoked sea salt
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
3 Anaheim chiles
1 jalapeno
1 red bell pepper
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes or four fresh tomatoes, diced.
4 eggs
Diced parsley for garnish

Preheat your oven to 375.

One thing you need for my version is a pan that can go from stovetop to oven. You can use whatever you like, but something relatively shallow and wide is best. I picked this cast iron skillet, which is a popular choice in the recipes I culled, plus it makes you feel like a cowboy. And personally, I like that feeling.

First heat the oil up in the skillet and add your onion, shallot, and garlic. After about 5 minutes, add in all your diced peppers and cook everything down for about 10 minutes. Then mix in your salt, cumin and paprika. Get everything all coated with color and cook for a few minutes. Pour in your can of tomatoes and mix it all together on a medium flame. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Make four little wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Let the mixture cook on the flame for another 2 minutes.

Now take the whole skillet and put it into your heated over for 15 minutes. The whites should be cooked through and the yolks will still be soft. You can serve it with parsley diced on top. Or cilantro if you like. You can also serve it with pita bread but I kind of feel like unless you make homemade pita that kills, fuck it. Just eat it with a spoon, friend.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

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I cook a lot. At home, I’d say about 90% of what I cook is vegan. But when it comes to old school Jewish Gr’ma family recipes, I usually don’t fuck around. I’ll get some chicken and render schmaltz and the whole Megillah. Or Haggadah, as it were. I put eggs in the matzo balls and the big fluffy things with dense centers float to the top of the soup like doughy halos. If it ain’t broke, not only does it not need fixing, but messing with 200 generations of Jews and their soups is no small undertaking. Still, like Haggadahs change, so too, do we all. As humans, it is our central JOB to change. Our priorities shift and move, our bodies continue to have changing needs, and our FAMILIES change as we grow as well.

Like many enthusiastically queer people, we have a long tradition of collecting chosen families. While I’ve been lucky and blessed to still be welcome and celebrated in my family of origin, this is not often the case. We sometimes leave home, leave our towns, and come together into new families we build out of a different kind of mortar. A sweetness that bind queers together, that binds all people who fight to live together. And in this way, we make new families, we make new traditions, and we make soup.

Last night I got invited to a seder of my best friend Schaefer and her lady. I’ve known Schaef since I was 23, which makes this year our 20th anniversary together. We’ve seen each other through a TON of transitions, often over BBQ. But some years ago, Schaef became vegan and brought me a whole new set of creative challenges. I kind of love when a set of dinner guests have extensively different food preferences and needs. It helps me off the beaten path to new ideas and riffs on things. It’s like jamming for a garage band, except I don’t have a band and well, my kitchen outfits are decidedly less metal than a good rock band. Whatever. I have some good aprons.

Last night I tried two* things. And this one was epic. Stepping off the flagpole for a vegan Matzo Ball Soup was kind of intense. But guess what: This shit is off the hook. And it will come as no surprise that I believe the reason for this is the hippie dust. Now before you even begin, I want to point out that you need several hours, if not overnight for the ball dough to chill in the fridge. I had mine in there for like 4 hours and that seemed fine. This recipe is a mash-up of many ideas and experiences but a driving force was this recipe.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

THE BALLS:

1c matzo meal
1/2c hippie dust (nutritional yeast)
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1t ground black pepper
1 package firm sprouted tofu
2T vegetable broth
1t coconut aminos, Bragg’s, or tamari

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then chop up your tofu into small hunks and put it in your blender with the oil, the tamari (Bragg’s or coconut aminos), and the vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. You can use a food processor for this, but since my blender is out, I thought I’d see if it had the power to pull this off and it does. Now take your blender of silky vegan fluff and fold it into your hippie mix. Everything will come together nicely. Form the dough into the balls like you see above. I like mine kind of small to midsized. I used to love to make them as big as my head like they do at Canter’s in LA, but as life happens, my preferences changed. Now put the goods up to rest in the fridge for many hours. At least 4.

THE SOUP

1 red onion
1T olive oil
4 stalks celery
1 parsnip
6c homemade vegetable stock
1 1/2T celery salt
fresh parsley

Heat your olive oil up in a big soup pot. Add your chopped onion, chopped parsnip, and chopped celery.  Cook on medium until the onion and celery are translucent. Add the stock and the salt slowly and taste to make sure you like it. Bring everything to a boil and then turn down and let simmer. Get your balls out of the fridge and place them into the broth. Cover the soup for a half hour. When your timer goes off and you look, your balls will have floated on up and you will feel victorious and incredibile. Now let your soup cook for about an hour on low. Add the fresh parsley about ten minutes before you wanna eat. BAM.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup: Dayenu!

*The other experiment I did was a gluten-free, sugar-free carrot cake. It turned out weird because I threw in some chia seeds and the flavor was off and whatever. The thing about experimenting is sometimes it doesn’t work and that’s FINE.

So here is my Passover offering to you. First some soup, and then this: May we all be free from the things that enslave us this Passover. And may we do what we can to free ourselves, and those that still suffer.

 

The Salad Dressing Compendium

Hello, Spring! Well, in California it’s Spring. I know many of you are still shoveling your cars out from under snow and I offer you my sympathies. I hold to the idea that when the crocuses and the daffodils finally push their valiant heads through the warming soil, the shock of joy you feel in your chests will be worth the wait. I swear, the earth is still spinning and the new harvest is on its way.

So my offering to you this Spring is the hope that you will NEVER BUY SALAD DRESSING AGAIN. This will save you money, which is nice, but also it will contribute to your health even more than you know. When we finally integrate the practice of fresh salads into our lives, incorporating more vegetables into our diets that way most health care professionals ask us to, often we then dump a bunch of bottled dressings onto them that are kind of like a bully’s kick to the newly found courage of the skinny kid on the playground. Name brand shelf-stable dressings are packed with crappy quality oils, preservatives, MSG and all manner of shit that has nothing at all to do with the goodness of eating food some nice farmer took the time to grow. Here: let’s take a look at what the Wish Bone people like to call “Italian Dressing”. Suffice to say, if I was Italian, I would be deeply offended by this kind of representation.

It’s hilarious to me that they are waving the Gluten-Free flag but really, I love the part where they say “CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (USED TO PROTECT QUALITY). What they may have meant to say goes something more like, “We like to call this Calcium Disodium  EDTA because it sounds like it might mean salt. But really it’s short for Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, which is actually made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine.” And that, my dear friends, is how corporations like to phrase Quality Control. I won’t get started on the maltodextrin because I’d rather get to the part where we make delicious things.

The first exciting thing is to share with you what readers are making! Let’s start with my friend Becky who is basically the hottest eyeliner butch in Los Angeles. She makes crazy art sets for things and obviously, she makes dressing. Becky says, ” I like a little twist on the typical balsamic for warmer weather, adjust for taste, of course:

2 parts WHITE balsamic
1 part grape seed oil
1/2t spicy brown mustard per serving.

The white balsamic/grape seed substitution really lightens up the flavor and tang” One of the great lessons Becky gives us here is that dressings can be made with general guidelines. Here she has a 2:1 ratio for vinegar to oil. Now our friend Alice Waters, the goddess who often watches over my kitchen experiments, always goes with a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. Does this make her right? Nope. It means that from Becky to Alice, people like their salads all kinds of ways. And you can too.

By now you know that one of my favorite food blogs is Laura Silverman’s Glutton for Life. I love it over there. She offers us a dressing of the ocean with anchovy paste. While you vegans and vegetarians may want to stay away, I say NO NO NO! Just substitute salted capers for the paste and you’ll still have that feeling of the sea. She mixes up anchovy paste, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard powder, chile oil, sea salt and garlic. Why are there no measurements? Because you, my friend, get to try them all out. You’ll notice she doesn’t use vinegar here and the lemon juice flies the sour flag for this recipe. Go easy on the chile oil as you experiment as a little bit goes a long ass way. This is a robust bangin’ dressing that will be able to handle dark spicy greens as well as steer the ship with lighter lettuces. I also think the color of some sliced radishes would be fantastic to highlight the contrast of flavors here. Don’t be afraid to cook by color. I have been known to assemble salads to go with the table linens. And it’s always just lovely.

What about when we are looking for a more eastern flavor, something from a Japanese kind of note? Well, one of my fantastic new clients sent me this one:

Miso Lime Dressing:
1/4 c white miso (you can use chickpea if soy is your nemesis)
1/4 c oil of choice
1/4 c water
2 T unsweetened rice vinegar
1 T honey (optional)
juice & zest of one lime
Blend in blender and keep refrigerated.

For me this recipe kicks some serious ass. Plus you can use it on a rice bowl as well. I would have at least 1T of toasted sesame oil as part of my 1/4 c and combine it with maybe a walnut, but that’s just me.

Up in the capital of the beautiful state of Washington, Olympia, food really does it’s thing. It’s not just where my Riot Grrrl youth sprang from. Although I’ve never lived in Olympia, in the shadow of the gorgeous Mt. Ranier, I’ve spent many a fine week entrenched in its never ending DIY spirit. Aside from getting my toes tattooed there (they say Lucky Devil), doing one my first ever Sister Spit shows there, and reveling in curating the spoken word for the legendary HomoAGogo for a few years, I have also watched people there just cook their asses off. My friend Sash Sunday (who is also presently my teammate for the upcoming Hood to Coast this August) grew up there. She lives outside of town now but blesses the town with the award-winning OlyKraut she co-founded. And never one to let anything go to waste, she uses the kraut brine for her veggies (that she grows). It’s simple she says.  Original Sauerkraut Brine, Grape Seed Oil, and one clove of crushed garlic. Mmmm. To me this clearly asks for some lightly steamed broccoli, blood orange, spinach, and toasted walnuts.

And me? I’ll leave you with this photograph for some inspiration. Do with it what you will. But please, don’t buy any more dressing. 


Fresh Garden Herb Salad

I am always tricked into thinking that if I don’t have lettuce, I don’t have ingredients for a salad. And no one is trying to trick me, it’s just how I grew up.

Salads. Are. Anchored. In. Lettuce.

Unless they are pasta salads in which case vegetables are only tiny studs on long stretches of starch, and that is not the kind of salad I am talking about.

I happen to be well-endowed in salad possibilities on several fronts. Not to brag. But first of all, I live in California so the climate makes all kinds of produce pretty beautiful and local all year round. Secondly, I fell in love with a dashing Southern butch with many charms, not the least of which is that she’s been a produce worker at the incredible Rainbow Grocery Cooperative for 17 years. Not only is she handsome and handy, She can really hold down a job. PLUS, she knows her vegetables. Which brings me to my third salad bonus which is that Ginger made us a garden in the back yard. So today when I thought that I wanted a salad and I didn’t have anything to make a salad with, I realized that was a thought lodged in my mind from 1982. Greens are much so more than just a three-pack of romaine hearts.

Here we have our rapini, mint, bergamot, oregano, a coupla beet greens and arugula from the garden. I added in some basil and cilantro I had in the refrigerator, plus three purple radishes and a half a red bell pepper. And look:

A big winter salad without a lettuce in sight. I dressed it with a mustard and balsamic vinaigrette and had quite a tasty experience with it. The greens hit so many more notes in a salad like this with bitter and astringent as well as sweet and rich. When a dish hits that many places on your tongue, you can be sure it is packed with that many different micronutrients as well. Here’s a little sampling:

Arugula: It has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties as well as a great source of Vitamins A, C, and K. Plus it makes a good go at copper and iron.
Basil:Contains essential oils that are proven to be both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. It’s packed with a stunningly high amount of Vitamin A, is an excellent source of iron, and contains a specific flavonoid, zea-xanthin, that helps protect eyesight in elders.
Beet Greens:A fantastic delivery of carotenoids, anti-oxidants, and vitamin A arrive with your beet greens. Vitamin A aids in maintaining healthy mucus membranes is a huge player in healthy vision.
Bergamot and Mint: Help with neusea, gas and hiccups by relaxing stomach muscles.
Cilantro: One of natures richest sources of Vitamin K. This unsung hero builds bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. In addition, this vitamin has been worked into the protocol of the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Oregano: Anti bacteria, anti-fungal, rich in fiber, smells great, and improves gut health through its enzymatic facilitation in our systems. Basically awesome.
Rapini: Huge help in the gut health department delivering a phytochemical known as I3C. This kills the Candida yeast that often overgrows when we ingest antibiotics. It’s also anti-inflammatory for our systems plus it’s sulphur content aids our heroic livers in the detoxification process.

You could also flash saute this mix of greens and serve it with all manner of lovely legumes or grains.

Kale Chips: Cheap and easy, yo.

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It was pretty much love at first bite for me. Kale chips had so much more to offer than potato chips. Healthy oil and not too much, protein from the nutritional yeast (and you know how I love the hippie dust) and of course, everybody loves kale. What I didn’t love was the heart palpitation I experienced when I turned over the feather-light bag to find that my new true love cost like 10 bucks a bag! WTF?!?! And entire head of organic kale is only like $2.99 to $3.50. I really hoped this wasn’t another case of my belief that only unicorns and Cabbage Patch Kids could make such magical healthy snacks. But I figured if I could learn to make almond milk, I could learn to make this snack from heaven.

Now I don’t have a ton of gizmos in my kitchen, and the ones I do have were mostly given to me or scored at estate sales. One thing is that I live in a city where the rent per square foot is pretty much like living inside a turquoise Tiffany box, so that means my counter space real estate rivals that of a maxi pad. Not to brag. Because of this, I need my gadgets to do more than one thing, and so, alas, I have no room to store a dehydrator or counter space to just leave the thing hanging out. Plus, they are kind of ugly and I’m kind of shallow, so there’s that.

But guess what? They are easy as hell to make. And once you do it with basic ingredients, there’s nothing that can hold back the variations of possibility. So if you choose to continue reading, get ready to have kale chips all the friggin’ time. Since my first try I have had about 6 different versions. This one features purple kale because I could not resist the color plus onion and celery. Also I make mine vegan but you can make them with parmesan as well.

 

Kale Chips

1 head kale, de-ribbed
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery
1/4c nutritional yeast
*1/2 t gomasio
1 T olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt

For any version, preheat your oven to it’s lowest setting, which is usually between 180-200. If you are making plain chips WITHOUT the onions and celery, just pull the ribs out of the kale and put the puffy leaves into a big ass mixing bowl. Pull them into what seem like good sized chip pieces. Sprinkle on the hippie dust and the gomasio. Now drizzle the olive oil onto it and mix up thoroughly. You want all that goodness to get on every leaf. Spread the kale out evenly on a baking sheet, just one layer deep and pop in the oven. Bake it until it’s dry. I toss mine  about every 30 minutes to make sure that the moisture all takes its turn being exposed to the heat source. Takes like 2 hours. You can cook it faster at a higher heat, but they never come out as good.

If you want to use the onions and celery, put those in first because they have more moisture to dehydrate. After 30 minutes, join it all together.

Other ingredients I have added: Indian flavors of cumin, coriander, and turmeric. I’ve done a harissa version, a chipotle adobo version, sour version with red wine vinegar and garlic powder, and a white pepper and ginger version.

*The gomasio in the recipe above is special. It came from the genius herbalists at Portland Apothecary. Kristen and Ellie put it in their Community Supported Herbalism Share. They do one every season and you can order yours for Spring right now. I’m excited and honored to write the recipes for this upcoming share!

Now, go make your snacks.

5 uses for Pot Liquor. This post brought to you by a reader’s comment.

After my bean post, a great colleague and health coach, Renee Martin, asked me about some things a person can do with the pot liquor after cooking the beans. I was going to just answer her, but I realized there are so many great things to do with the stuff that I’d just make a separate post about it. So here you go:

1. I love to use it a base for soup. It adds some texture and thickness to the base of the soup. In the way of this process, it can also be used as the base for a stock to then go into a soup later for when you have a hankerin’. I like to make stock as I go and I freeze it and throw a label on so I know when it went into the hopper. So take all your leek tops, onion skins and ends, carrot butts, parsnip heads, ginger skins, broccoli stems, kale spines and egg shells for you non-vegans (My friend, the artist, gardner and fantastic cook EE Miller taught me this. It adds calcium to the mix!) and boil them up in the liquor. I put it all into cheese cloth but you can also strain the liquid out after. any way that works for you. A vegetable stock doesn’t really need to cook down for a very long time, while a bone broth can simmer for a few hours.

2. Add it to your cornbread mixture and other savory baking adventures.

3. I sometimes cook my rinsed rice in it to bring richness and balance to a meal.

4. You can use it as a liquid for savory dips and hummus. I read about this someplace and haven’t tried it yet.

5. Use it in gravies and such. Especially tasty in a vegan gravy with hippie dust.

What else have ya’ll done with it? I imagine there’s a ton of stuff I haven’t even imagined. I bet you could even make a great Bloody Mary with it, although I am prone to a Virgin these days. I know I left that wide open for comments, and let the record reflect, I am not afraid.

What’s so great about a bean, anyhow? Plus, a recipe.

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Just because the little bite sized superheroes might leave a bit of a scented side-effect doesn’t mean a person should throw these babies out with the bathwater. Of course, to throw out the COOKING water will cut down vastly on the old gas. You lose a bit of minerals that way, but it will help you out at the beginning stages of romance. Another trick to cutting down on the farts is to cut off a 2 square inch hunk of kombu seaweed and cook it with the beans. Now, if I’m making beans as the main course and not cooking them off as an ingredient in a stew, I really like to save the pot liquor, so I go with the kombu. I think the liquid has a ton of flavor and I often cook my beans with a bunch of goods in the broth itself. Some people also swear by the herb Epazote as a cooking enzyme aid.

But let’s get past the farting, shall we?

In general, the darker the bean, the more antioxidants the suckers have to guard your cells against attack. Black beans, adzuki, Anasazi, kidney beans, and red beans all do a great job as warriors of this order. Beans are also a great source of fiber, which keeps everything moving in our digestive systems. Keeping up with digestive health impacts the entire body from mood to energy level. Beans prevent constipation, keep the path clear for a steady production of Serotonin in the gut, and improve the steadiness of blood sugar levels (especially important for those suffering from diabetes). A diet rich in fiber also lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the system (LDL). This keeps our hearts safer as we age, cutting down on the fat gathering in our vessels and making it easier for us to maintain a health blood pressure for delivering nutrients throughout our bodies.

And that’s not all: Beans contain chemicals called isoflavones that have been rumored to reduce the risk of heart disease, ease the myriad symptoms of menopause and improve the strength of your bones.

PLUS, beans are a powerhouse source of vegetarian protein. Sometimes you’ll hear someone scoff at a bean, bad mouthing it for being an incomplete protein, but that’s where ancient food wisdom comes in. Beans have been served with rice in so many cultures FOREVER: bowls of rice with adzuki beans all over Asia, basmati and mung beans, red beans and rice in South America and on and on. We humans have done a pretty good job historically of being able to hear what our bodies have wanted. Then industrial chemicals came along and kind blew static into the conversation. When we made choices to combine different beans and rices over the years, what we did scientifically was to join two different proteins to create a perfect one. The essential amino acids that either dish lacks alone, come together as a perfect team.

From Flickr user monkeycat62

I do my best to always use dried beans. I am somewhat obsessed with Rancho Gordo beans in particular. Not so much because I’m an irritating foodie, although I certainly have my moments, but more out of urges stemming from my Libra rising. Easily swayed and emotionally moved by physical beauty, this ends up working out way better for me in the kitchen than it ever did in the world of dating. The Heirloom beans from this outfit are such a gorgeous array of colors and shapes, it’s easy to see how artists were drawn make portraits from them. Anyhow, I either soak them overnight rendering a quicker cooking time, or if I have all day I actually love to do a long slow cook to infuse them with flavor. Canned beans tend to fall apart and also they, well, come in cans generally lined with toxic BPA. Eden brand organics DO NOT use that lining so I do keep a couple cans of that on hand for quick situations.

So, how about a nice recipe? You can mess with it until the Super Bowl and perfect your own version to do a healthy dazzle for your guests.

Spicy 3 Bean Stew

1c kidney beans                                                    1 large yellow onion
1c pinto beans                                                      1 sweet potato
1c giant lima beans                                               1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced                                         ½ t cinnamon
2T olive oil                                                          4 cloves garlic
2 carrots, diced                                                    1t ground chipotle
1T ground cumin                                                   1T dried oregano
2 in hunk of kombu                                               handful fresh cilantro
5c vegetable broth                                                salt to taste
1t chile powder (New Mexico if you can find it)          1 splash cider vinegar
2 lbs self-canned tomatoes from this summer OR 20 oz + 14oz Eden brand cans stewed tomatoes (BPA free cans)

Rinse and soak all your beans the night before. Start your beans cooking in water with the kombu about an hour before everything else in the pot happens. Skim any foam from the top.

Meanwhile, get a heavy bottomed pot, and sauté your chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add your bell pepper, carrots and all your spices and let everything cook for about ten or fifteen minutes. Add your cider vinegar to soften and stew it all. Add in your tomatoes, your cubed sweet potato. Strain your beans and dump in to the veggies with your vegetable stock. Cook everything in the pot, covered for about another hour and taste as you go. Salt to taste as you go. If the stew is too spicy or too thick, go ahead and add in more vegetable broth.

Top with diced fresh cilantro and enjoy. Other toppings: shredded cheese, a dollop of crème fraiche, apple chutney, sour cream, diced scallions, arugula pesto.

 

Just Some Photos from the Latke Shin Dig

Like I said, I know latkes are not the height of healthy eating, but my coaching is about healthy living, not just eating. And getting loved ones together to enjoy 6 versions of latkes, 4 toppings, and wildly wonderful conversation is EXACTLY the kind of healthy emotional living I like. With about 40-50 people coming through, over 200 latkes taken care of, and as wide a variety of food issues, we humans: the vegans and the gluten free, the Paleos and the plant-strong, the lovers and the fighters, all lit menorah candles together, caught up, laughed our heads off, and enjoyed our meal.

Come on in:

Traditional version with my new Swedish apron

Cast Iron skillet, best man for the job

Vegan, gluten-free, fixings for the sweet potato version.

Leslie’s photo of the table.