Category Archives: Food

Yogurt Straining Awesomeness

Yogurt is yummy. 
For me it’s plain or, less frequently, vanilla, and it might be the base of a granola bowl, a fruit topping, a soup dollop, or a dip. I’ve strained yogurt in various messy ways and was happy when Greek yogurt became readily available, but I do prefer organic yogurt. (Or even better, yogurt from Seven Stars, which is organic and locally produced.) Enter the Cuisipro yogurt strainer. It’s actually called a “yogurt cheese maker” but that sounds wrong. It’s yogurt, not cheese.
Here is a two pound container of lowfat plain yogurt, in the strainer. It overflows a bit but that’s not a problem, I just snap the lid on and it’s fine. The yogurt is sitting in a mesh filter, which fits into the square container. 
It all goes into the fridge for a couple of hours…or until dinner…or until the next day…depending on how thick you want it be. An astonishing amount of liquid strains out of the yogurt. Here’s my container after more than a day, considerably reduced.
Here’s the liquid…kind of surprising.
The yogurt is as thick as cream cheese.
A few times a week breakfast is a scoop of thick yogurt with granola and a drizzle of honey. Good morning!

CSA Box Breakfast

My youngest son has been working evenings, necessitating a quickly packed peanut butter sandwich or a slice of pizza for dinner. I noticed that his breakfasts and lunches haven’t been all that substantial either, so I decided to make a good, healthy, sizable brunch plate for him today.

As I was rummaging around pulling things together, I realized that with the exception of garlic and orange juice, everything was from our CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture, specifically the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative) and my collection of herb pots. On today’s menu:

Scrambled Eggs
Asparagus
Red Potatoes tosssed with Dill and Parsley
Toast and Orange Juice
I used Mark Bittman’s awesomely good scrambled eggs method, without the cream, which gives the cook a little more time to prepare everything else. Steamed asparagus was set aside when the potatoes took their place in the steamer, while roughly chopped garlic and onion was softened (not browned) with olive oil and water to toss with the asparagus. A bit of butter and olive oil carried the chopped dill and parsley onto the potatoes, and we were ready to eat. The working boy had the lion’s share, which, it turned out, was a potato or two too many. 
Hooray for bunch, local food, and hungry sons!

Seitan, Raspberries, and Avocados

Gorgeous day, can’t wait to get outside, have just a few housekeeping chores to do….and I’m experimenting in the kitchen. Almost done.

My family likes seitan, even the carnivores. It’s available in nearly every local grocery store, frozen, fresh in a tub, or vacuum sealed, and sometimes available from local producers. The problem is that we have a vegetarian with a soy allergy (I know, right?) and technically seitan is wheat gluten made with soy sauce. What I’m after is a vegetarian “wheat meat” ingredient, similar to the awesome products from Field Roast. Their Apple-Sage Sausage is delicious whether or not you eat meat sausage, and the original Field Roast makes a great sandwich. That said, I really need a plain, versatile, not-too-seasoned ingredient to use in a variety of recipes. Periodically, I experiment. I have high hopes for the version in the oven now. It is kneaded, rested, rolled into a log and wrapped in foil. I took good notes and measurements and if it works, I’ll share!
Raspberries are simmering on the stove, for a sorbet later. The experiment here is to use agave instead of sugar syrup. I mixed a half cup of agave nectar with 12 oz. of raspberries and the juice of half a lemon. I’ll cool and strain and see what happens after it freezes. (A splash of balsamic vinegar will pick it up if needed.)
That’s just my lunch. I thought it looked pretty.

How Fresh is that Bok Choy?

This fresh.

Kale Chips. Trust Me.

Nobody ever believes this until they try it, then they eat the whole bowl. Kale chips are easy to make, amazingly good, and kale is the kind of dark leafy green you are supposed to eat. Every. Day.

Just trust me, trust everyone who has written the same thing, and make them!

Preheat the oven to 350.

  1. Take a head of kale – curly kale is super for this recipe but I’ve made them with other (flat) varieties as well. If you are new to kale, or to greens that need to have the stem removed, separate the stem by folding the leaf in half, holding the stem in one hand, and pulling the leaf away with the other. If the leaf doesn’t come away in pieces, then pull into into smaller pieces. 
  2. Toss the kale pieces with olive oil. You can do this by putting about a tablespoon of oil into a bowl and tossing the kale around with your hands, or by arranging the kale in a single layer on a baking sheet (or two sheets, depending on how much you are making) and then spraying the pieces with olive oil, if you use a sprayer. Turn them over, spray again. Toss with salt and pepper – not too much on your first batch, because the kale does shrink and concentrate the seasonings.
  3. Pop the sheets in the oven and – no matter what other recipes will tell you – check them after just 10 minutes. If some of them are crispy, take them off the sheet and return it to the oven. The are done when they scatter along the sheet, are crispy but still mostly dark green rather than brown.

Serve them warm at the table with a burger, warm or cooled with a beer, packed in a container with a box lunch, whatever. These are seriously good.

Mushroom Miso Omelet

I love miso, especially miso from South River (still shipping through May 25, if you can’t buy locally or want more selection) and use it as a seasoning in lots of recipes. I was making a basic spinach & egg white omelet and remembered I had fresh mushrooms in the fridge. When I pulled them out the jar of Dandelion Leek miso jumped out with them, and a really tasty omelet combination was born.

4 – 6 egg whites (I use organic liquid whites if I have them, fresh if not)
pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper
a handful of baby spinach
fresh basil, if available
1/3 cup of crumbled chevre
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1.5 tsp of dark miso

Begin browning the onion over medium heat in a small skillet that has been filmed with olive oil. When they are golden, add the mushrooms. Stir frequently and add small amounts of water to prevent sticking as the onions and mushrooms brown.

Prepare a second small skillet or omelet pan with cooking spray. Add salt and pepper and a splash of cold water to the egg whites. Beat until soft peaks form, preheat the skillet for just a minute, pour in the whites. Cover the pan, turn to low, and cook until the egg whites are set in the middle.

Uncover and top with crumbled cheese, spinach, and basil. Either fold the omelet in half and cover for another minute or pop it under the broiler for a minute to melt the cheese slightly and lightly wilt the spinach. Take the mushrooms off the heat and stir in the miso.

Top the omelet with the mushroom-miso mixture and serve.

Fast Food

There were three of us home, all vegetarians, it was time for dinner, and I didn’t really feel like cooking. We all did, however, need a good meal; one skipped lunch, one had a small lunch, and one had Mexican Chain Food for lunch. I gave it a few minutes thought and pulled these convenience foods together:


A tube of precooked polenta, maybe the handiest thing to have in the pantry.
A bag of Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glazed Grilled Sweet Onions. Delicious.
A small freezer container of chopped collard greens from our CSA at the end of last season. A little icy, but fine.
Melissa’s Fava Beans, fresh. I love fava beans, and fava beans that are already cooked and waiting in the fridge are even better.
I sliced the polenta thinly into about 18 rounds and started them on the griddle. The frozen greens and a bit of water simmered in one skillet, the frozen onions in another, and in a third I simmered the favas in olive oil with a few leaves of sage and plenty of fresh garlic.
Obviously I had a hunch it was going to taste good, since I took pictures along the way. The combination was a fantastic, fast, healthy, whole meal:
The onions and polenta are a good starting point and I will restock them. If DH had been home, a little of the (already grilled and sliced) chicken in the freezer would have completed the dish for him.

Yum.

Vegetarian Breakfast Skillets

Two breakfast diners, two skillets:

Both have onions, peppers, vegetarian apple-sage sausage from Field Roast, and a handful of packaged broccoli slaw. An egg for DS2’s and leftover peas & mushrooms for mine and we were good to go –  – with the addition of a few slices of leftover baked tofu and blueberry/mango smoothies.
 
Yum.

Why Haven’t I Made This Before?

Vanilla roasted pears in their own caramel sauce served with goat cheese and walnuts….

This was delicious! I’m sorry for the glare on the picture, but seriously, I just wanted to hurry up and taste it!

As DH pointed out, this would make a light meal with some salad greens, a very nice start to a meal, and yes, a great dessert, as served. He was thinking ice cream, I am thinking about tomorrow morning’s bowl of steel cut oats. The recipe is here, and you could absolutely do it without the vanilla bean, although your house won’t smell like mine does right now! You’re all going to thank me.

I’m going to try a balsamic roasted pear with honey and pepper next time, but I’ll definitely repeat this.

AeroGarden Happiness

I love this!

I started the herbs in this AeroGarden on January 15 and in the last few weeks have been judiciously harvesting here and there, but  today…look!

They are big – perhaps as much as 8 or 9 inches for the tallest.
I generally enjoy something about every season (except the Season of Humidity, but even then I try to be grateful for “indoor project” time.) but I really miss gardening and fresh herbs. I grow many herbs in pots right outside the kitchen door and find the lack of herbs-at-hand during the winter distressing. While this can’t count as gardening, it certainly is delightful to have something edible growing right in the dining room. (I think this is why I sprout seeds and legumes, too.) I will pay the price for herbs in the winter market but can’t always have exactly what I want on hand in the kitchen. There comes a time, too, when there aren’t big bunches of herbs in the stores but sad little stems in plastic boxes. No.
This herb garden has three kinds of basil as well as thyme, dill, mint, and oregano. The whole hydroponics setup is neat, and when researching whether or not to buy one I found that people have multiples of them set up over the winter. Some people, of course, build their own hydroponic systems because they are clever & handy people who have figure it all out, but I have not. All I have to do is add water when the indicator light is on, and add liquid nutrients when the other light tells me to. Next fall, around the beginning of October, I will start another set of herbs that will be ready by the time a freeze really really takes my herbs. 
I ordered mine from Amazon and found that they are not nearly as expensive as when they first appeared on the market. After this initial set of herbs that were included, I’ll buy ala carte and choose the ones I want.
Fun, and it smells like summer in the dining room.