My friend Lisa's mom used to lament that dinner would be so much easier to make if she could put a hibachi grill in the trunk. Then, when she was hanging out at soccer practice, she could be making dinner. Then when she got home from taking Lisa and her brother to wherever - swim practice, soccer practice, piano - dinner would be served. The opposite of tailgating, I guess, where you drive to cook, here you'd drive and magically dinner would cook en route.
I had a similar experience on Friday - not that I was driving around with nicely charred zucchini, but that the rice and beans I'd made for dinner were cooking as I walked in the door at 6pm- a combination of my slow cooker and my rice cooker and some work earlier in the day made all the difference. All I had to do was chop cilantro to go on the beans, take the cabbage slaw out of the refrigerator and cube some jicama to nibble on. Full recipes for the menu here, courtesy of January's Meatless Monday class.
Do you have a tale of a great last minute dinner? Or when work you did in advance paid off for you? Do share- via the comments below here or on Facebook or email.
After all of the cookies and cakes, who feels like cooking? That's why I love soup. It smells up the house. It clears my stuffy nose. And it's fun to eat!
Simplest soup recipe? Start two pots on the stove. In one, put water for boiling pasta. In the other, a box of broth, a smashed garlic clove, a whole green onion or a half of a yellow onion and a whole carrot and maybe a spring of parsley, a stem of celery. By now the pasta water is boiling. Let the soup simmer while you cook the pasta. Then drain the pasta, pull the vegetables out of the broth and cut them up, or add different vegetables. Serve the noodles with the hot broth on top. Call it feel-better soup.
Kids in the kitchen? Try making homemade pasta for the soup, or bread to go alongside. My kids' favorite is these homestyle potato rolls that I end up making with whole wheat pastry flour and baking as pull apart bread on a cookie sheet.
Pull out those dried split peas and cook them up in water with a pinch of cumin seed, (maybe a chipotle chile?) a handful of rice, some salt. An hour later, you're ready to add some chopped cilantro and green onion and call it lunch. A more detailed explanation on PETA's website. Learn more ideas for yummy soups and have some fun in class January 12 at the Palo Alto Adult School.
Need some inspiration for 2016 on new ways to prepare vegetables that you and your family will love? I'm teaching a lunchtime class on Mondays beginning January 11 in my home.
Wishing you joy in food for the holiday season.
PS I'm working on my kids' summer cooking camp schedule now. Right now the dates for the four one-week sessions are June 20, and July 11, 18, and 25.
Savor the moment.This is a busy time of year for me. So busy, in fact that when I looked at the blog I was a bit embarrassed (April?! Really?!!) Better late than never...and this one is a repeat from my newsletter. Join the list to read it first, or follow the Facebook page. I've been thinking about how I can slow down, especially as Thanksgiving leads into Hanukkah, Christmas, school holidays, New Years' and both of my kids' birthdays.
One trick I've been using is to work a little harder on small pleasures, like brewing my favorite spiced mint tea that I learned from a local Mediterranean restaurant.
Spiced Mint Tea (makes one cup)
8 oz water
1 black tea bag (*or make it herbal only and just leave the black tea out)
1 mint tea bag or one handful mint leaves
1 cinnamon stick
5 fresh sage leaves or 1 t dried sage
1 t sugar (optional)
Heat water to just boiling, then add all ingredients. Steep for 4 minutes, remove tea bags and herbs, add sugar if desired, and enjoy. I've made it in a glass pyrex in the microwave, or just in a mug with water heated from my tea kettle.
Another seasonal strategy is making time for things I love, like finding new vegetables to throw in soup (Bac Ha anyone?) or new cookbooks to try like Kristy Turner's But I Could Never Go Vegan. And planning for overindulgence by thinking of ways to add more vegetables, fruits, soups and teas to my daily intake.
Oh, and lest I forget, I am also offering exciting winter break kids cooking classes and a new course for adults called Meatless Monday Lunch. Plus a couple of evening courses this winter at the Palo Alto Adult School. Come cook with me in the next few months, and bring a friend!
With warmest regards for your holiday season,
PS Tried roasting brussels sprouts yet? You'll need about a pound of sprouts and a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 500. Then halve the sprouts and place them in a bowl with a tablespoon each of oil and water and a teaspoon of salt. Toss to combine and put them cut side down on the baking sheet. Cover with foil, then roast for 5 minutes, remove the cover, and roast for 5 minutes more. My kids can't get enough.
My neighbor has a loquat tree and kindly invited me to come pick fruits. The best ones were 12 feet (and higher!) off the ground, but my husband gamely brought our lopper and we trucked down the street with a box to catch them. Some cracked in their journey to the box, so I made a fruit salad. I peeled and halved them with my fingers, squeezed on some Meyer lemon juice and fresh cracked black pepper and added a few torn basil leaves. Voila! A grown up fruit salad.
Meanwhile, in my kids classes, the big fruit salad hit, still, is pears with lime juice. I've also been experimenting with eating more salads. Who says they're just for dinner? The mizuna in the farm box was plentiful and tasty and reminded me of one of my favorite salad dressings (featuring shallot, ketchup & grated ginger) from Wagamama. Mostly I wash and dry, then sprinkle with a little salt and lemon juice.
Each day I consider a couple of questions - how will I feed my body today? What fruits and vegetables? And how will I move my body today? On days when it doesn't happen (road trips, schedules), I try to breathe mindfully and remember the journey has ups and downs.
My friend Carolyn bought a stovetop pressure cooker, eager to make healthy meals as she endures the (everlasting!) east coast winter. Here's a split pea soup recipe and my top choices for pressure cooked meals (soup, stew, risotto, beans). My spattered copy of Lorna Sass's Cooking Under Pressure has a risotto recipe that's worth the price of the book alone.
Split Pea Soup Adapted from Lorna Sass's Pressure Perfect (I took out the ham & butter)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
If you feel like being fancy, saute the carrots, onion, celery and garlic in the pot first. Then add the peas, water, bay leaves, cumin & salt to the pot.
Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to come down naturally. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.
Remove the bay leaves. Stir well, taking care to blend in the peas that have sunk to the bottom. Add additional salt to taste, as much as 1 teaspoon, if needed. Add more water or broth if it feels too thick. Sprinkle with cilantro and cracked fresh pepper just before serving.
Sometimes you just need a little help. It's hard to walk into your favorite coffee shop, or a splurge like Blue Bottle that I had two weeks ago, and not buy something "yummy" like a scone, muffin, donut, piece of cake, brownie, croissant. Clearly I could go on and on.
Do they sell fruit? Sure, if you want to spend $5+ and also get some cheese & crackers. It's hard to walk in hungry and walk out with an unsweetened iced tea. But I'm here to tell you it can be done - easier if I stop at the grocery store for some snacking fruit like grapes first. (damn, I mean praise those Chileans who send their grapes to my supermarket in March!)
Some "greener" choices at Starbucks that feel like a treat? Iced passion tea. A fancy Clover brew with a little milk. And maybe some grapes from down the street.
Last week's Soups and Salads class was terrific. And fun! The easiest soup I made was the pressure cooker minestrone I prepped at home and brought in a ziplock bag. Added the water (used bouillon) and the cooked pasta, canned beans, canned tomatoes and prepared pesto (I used the vegan Bolani brand that's almond based).
Now I'm home with a sick kid and the sniffles- but hey, I've got some parsnips in the vegetable drawer- I see a minestrone soup in my future. I add parsnips on addition to the carrots.
Let me know how the recipe works for you- and what you add! - if you're hunkering down under the weather.
Sometimes I run a vegetable helpline (try it! Use the contact form or just shoot an email to Julie (at) findjoyinfood (dot) com.)
The most recent panicked call came from my friend whose beets were mocking her from the bottom of the weekly vegetable delivery box. She got hers to the oven and roasted them, peeled them and looked at them in the fridge for a day or two.
Besides tossing the beets in a green salad, what could she do? Did she have some cooked grains, I asked. Turns out she had leftover quinoa. What about greens? She had some baby spinach in the crisper. Some balsamic vinegar, salt and a little lemon infused olive oil and she had a pack lunch she was looking forward to eating.
The formula I was using was starch vegetable + grain + green + sauce. By the same logic, the butternut squash on your counter could get peeled and cubed and sprayed with olive oil, sprinkled with cumin and salt, then roasted at 425 until tender- probably about 20 minutes. Then you could mix it with leftover brown rice from last night's Thai takeout, some massaged kale and a lemon tahini dressing like this one. Try it and let me know how it goes!
When the week starts, I'm frantic. To make it easier come dinnertime, I like a plan. Today's Meatless Monday idea is rice bowls with tofu & a teriyaki sauce similar to the recipe below. I'll steam carrots & broccoli, pan fry mushrooms & tofu, and serve the meal like a salad bar so each kid can choose what she wants, with the sauce on the side.
Easy Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari.
1/4 cup + 1 T mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
1 1/2 T maple syrup
Grated juice of 1/2" ginger (I use a ceramic grater for this)
1/2 clove grated garlic
1/2 T arrowroot (this is used as a thickening agent.)
Combine all ingredients and heat over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
Add to steamed vegetables on rice - yum!
The image is from http://www.besthealthmag.ca/blog/post/tofu-and-roasted-vegetable-rice-bowl-with-spicy-peanut-sauce, a good looking recipe too!
It's time to share my (chocolate optional) amazing pancake recipe. Happy Winter Solstice holiday giving season!
1c barley flour
1 c oat flour
1T baking powder
12 oz nondairy milk of choice
2 T veg oil
2 T maple syrup
1 t vanilla extract
Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Heat griddle to 375, ladle away.
This week I made 'em plain, with frozen blueberries, with chocolate chips and with applesauce or shredded apple on the side.
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