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Posts Tagged ‘Dinner’

“Ahmaga!  AHMAGAHH!”  The Boy was clearly trying to tell me something.

“What?” I asked, half-afraid he didn’t like the kitchari.  I knew I liked it, but he’d never tried it before.  Probably because I’d made him a steak out of misplaced guilt or something.  I do that.

Oh, God, I AM turning into my mother!

Anyway.  The Boy was making frantic fanning gestures at his mouth.

“HAAAHT!  Is haht! ::cough cough swallow::”

What’s that, The Boy?  You’re trying to tell me I’m hot?  Well, way to point out the obvious, but thanks, nonetheless, my good man!

“I was trying to say, the kitchari is really hot.  But oh, man, I could eat this every day!”

Oh.  Right.  Well, that’s still complimentary.  I guess.

But kitchari isn’t exactly pretty or elegant–in fact, it’s best described as, well, gruel.  But he’s right–kitchari kicks all kinds of ass.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with kitchari, it’s a dish that’s very popular among those who live according to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine.  Ayurveda is a philosophy and healing art designed to restore the harmony and balance of the body.  The main premise is that people can generally be classified as having one of four main body types, and that this type determines how you should eat, sleep, and exercise for the best health and longevity.

Whatever, man.  I just think it’s really good.

So what is it? Well, it’s a thick, stew-y dish of split yellow peas, rice, vegetables, and easily-digested spices, with a texture that I can best liken to a very thick, starchy oatmeal.  Because it’s low in fiber, non-challenging for compromised digestive systems, and extremely nutritious, it’s often used as the sole means of sustenance for ill people trying to get their bodies back into balance.

READ: I eat it when I’m hung over.

But that doesn’t mean kitchari is bland–the spice blend of fresh fennel and mustard seeds, along with crushed cumin, coriander, and turmeric makes this savory, warm, and not boring at all.  Try kitchari if you’re recovering from digestive upset and feel you may not be getting the nutrition you need.  Ulcer-sufferers, IBS patients, vegetarians, those poor, poor people making unkeepable promises to never, ever drink again, and even just healthy people who want a big, warm bowl of something primitively nourishing can all benefit from a big, warm bowl of this MAGICAL STUFF THAT TOTALLY BROUGHT ME BACK TO THE LAND OF THE LIVING OH GOD.

What’s that you say?  You’re horribly hung over, you say?  You feel sick as a dog, you say?

FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!  Let’s eat!

Kitchari Recipe
Makes, like, a whole bunch

Go Get:
1 cup Brown Jasmine Rice (traditional recipes recommend white/basmati rice…I love the scent and texture of brown jasmine so that’s what I use.  You use what you like.)
2 cups Mung Dal (split yellow peas); I’ve also used half yellow split and half green split with great results
7 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tbs. Ghee (I just use regular melted butter, unclarified; use oil to make this vegan)
1Tbsp Fennel Seeds
3 tsp. Mustard Seeds
2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
2 tsp. Turmeric Powder
2 tsp. Coriander Powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Generous pinch ginger
1 heaping cup frozen peas
2 medium yellow potatoes
Large handful baby carrots, sliced into wheels
Large handful chopped cilantro leaves

Go Do:
Rinse and sort mug dal thoroughly.  Heat the butter/ghee/oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot, like a Dutch Oven.  Sauté the seeds in the fat until they start to pop.   Then add the other spices.   Add the mung dal and salt, and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Add water, bring to boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the dal is about 2/3 cooked.

Add rice and these vegetables. Stir to mix, adding extra water if the mixture is too thick.  Bring back to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is fully cooked.  Keep checking to see if you need to add more water.  You want to achieve as little remaining water as possible, so make sure you leave the lid on the pot when you’re not stirring or checking it.  You’re not making a soup, or even a stew–remember my thick oatmeal analogy.  When the rice is cooked through, taste the mixture to see if it needs additional salt.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro.

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Seriously, though, guys. The Boy told a large assemblage of people at a dinner out recently that he can’t order meatloaf out anymore. Because my meatloaf has ruined him for all other meatloaves. Yeah. I mean, your Bad Mama Genny blushed. ‘Cause how do you accept praise like that gracefully? I did my best. No promises, though. In the immortal (and somewhat paraphrased) words of Bart Simpson, “I can’t promise I tried. But I tried to try.”

Back to business: meatloaf, folks. Meatloaf. The stuff that used to make the guys cringe, ’cause, you know, they can’t understand why you would do anything to meat beyond beheading it and giving it a brief pass over an open flame.

So any meatloaf recipe that has men REQUESTING it by name? Well, that’s kind of a big deal. And when you make this, you’ll be kind of a big deal. You were already a big deal and all. But now you’ll be a BIGGER deal. No, I’m not saying you’re fat.

“Honey, does this meatloaf recipe make me look fat?”

This recipe is actually loosely based on the “Vitality Meat Loaf” recipe in the American Girl Molly Cookbook (do they still make those cookbooks?). When I was a kid, I wanted an American Girl doll SO BADLY. It was kind of strange, actually. I was pretty unimpressed with dolls in general, preferring stuffed animals and things. (Actually, when pressed about it, I would tell people that the reason I liked stuffed animals better than dolls was that animals were easier to forgive than people, but I can laugh about it now and all and THAT IS A WHOLE OTHER THERAPY SESSION).

Anyway. I always wanted this doll. Desperately. But my mother, being practical and hardworking and sane and NO FAIR AT ALL, went, “Sixty dollars?! For a doll?!?! Hahahahahhahahahhah hahahahahahahahha!”

And I went, “So, does that mean yes?”

And she was all, go play with your brother.

And I was all, he is NOT as cool as an American Girl doll!

But you know what, Johnny? You are as cool as an American Girl doll. In fact, you are way cooler. But I digress.

Make this meatloaf! Men will fall at your feet! Or at least be brought to your yard. Which, I suppose, could become problematic. Which is where a good hose comes in handy. Or you could call that milkshake girl and then all the boys will leave to go to her yard.

The Only Meatloaf Recipe You Will Ever Need

Go Get:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon dried parsley (you can be all fancy and use 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley instead, if you feel like showing me up. Don’t feel bad, I like to show myself up sometimes, too.)
1/2 lb. ground pork (or, pork sausage, casings removed)
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup wheat germ (Note: I often replace both the oatmeal and the wheat germ with 1 sleeve of crushed saltines. Don’t give me that look. My mom used to do it, and if it’s good enough for the BMG’S MOM, well you can just take that Miss THANG attitude and find some other meatloaf recipe! But you won’t. ‘Cause, oh, baby. This is THE meatloaf recipe. I told YOU, all right.)
1 egg
1 cup milk (I use almond milk or occasionally, whole milk yogurt)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground sage
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup ketchup

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Mix everything thoroughly with your hands until it’s a smooth, evenly mixed mass. Form it into a vaguely convincing loaf shape. Put it in the oven and bake for an hour (or until your meat thermometer registers 165). And that’s it! Who knew pleasing your men would be so easy? Let this thing rest for 5 minutes or so before cutting it into slices. Serve. Sit back and wait for people to show up in your yard.

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Mmmmmmmm…..

And just in time for grilling season!  That is, if you push grilling season the way we push grilling season around here.  Which is to say, you consider it warm enough to grill as long as scarves and earmuffs aren’t required.

And even when they are.

I’ve been using this recipe for a long time now, and my favorite thing about it is that it gives me another excuse to drag out Ye Olde BMG Crockpot.  But now, if it’s even possible, I love this recipe more.

‘Cause, HELlo.  One more way to use up leftover whey!

If you’re no stranger ’round these parts, you know that I like to make homemade ricotta cheese out of extra milk that’s just sitting around, waiting to sour on me.  And if you’re like me, you’ve done this before and ended up with jars upon jars upon jars of whey taking up valuable refrigerator real estate.  And, if you’re even more like me, which is starting to get a little creepy, honestly, you’ve Googled “uses for leftover whey” and discovered that acidic, yellowish whey, like the non-probiotic kind you get after you’ve made ricotta cheese, can’t be turned into more cheese or very many other appetizing things.  But.  BUT.

BUT!

You CAN use that whey part-for-part instead of water for soaking beans, and my, oh, my, that’s what you’ll always do with your whey from now on, because it boosts the recipe’s protein and nutrition and makes the house smell rich and cheesy while it cooks!  Just make sure to leave a little extra cooking time, since acid can impact bean-softening time.

Really, so many things can impact bean softening time.  El Nino impacts bean-softening time.  Ladies, your cycle can impact bean-softening time.

The time you spend watching the pot and waiting for it to boil will impact bean-softening time.  Whether or not you’ve filled out your 2010 Census form also probably impacts bean-softening time.

I think you get the picture.  Basically, you should just set this sucker up to go in the morning, press “START,” and forget about it for a while.  Like, ten hours.  Toodles.  No, seriously, just walk away.  Keep walking.  Don’t turn back.  Don’t fret.  Stop biting your nails about the bean-softening time thing.  I made half that stuff up.  The beans want you to have a life.  Very good off you go thank you.

Long story short, these beans will change your life and you will henceforth never part from them, so look for the recipe below.  It’s vegetarian.  Vegan if you use water instead of whey.  But.  BUT.

BUT!

Before that, a garden update!

Peas are (finally) sprouting, as are my lettuces, radishes, and baby greens.  I’ve even crafted some eco-chic (read: very cheap) seed markers out of popsicle sticks and a little protective packing tape:

But.  BUT.

BUT!

What’s most exciting to me are these babies, which recently arrived in the mail from Northern Brewer:

Oh, yes.  You got it.  They’re HOP RHIZOMES!  The Boy will now be able to brew his beer with homegrown hops, which will help us all to breathe a little easier at night.

To the bean pot!

Crockpot Vegetarian Baked Beans
Makes about 8 servings (The Boy and I always have enough for leftovers, freezing, and Irish Breakfasts the next morning)

Go Get:
1 lb. dried navy beans
2 quarts water or whey from cheesemaking
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
5 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. black pepper
1 T. kosher salt
2 T. soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar

Go Do:
Sort and rinse the beans, and toss ’em in the crockpot. Then toss on the other ingredients. Then toss in a spoon and toss it all around. Then toss on the lid, and…start the slow cooker on low heat (sorry–couldn’t figure out a way to use “toss” there. I know, I’m disappointed, too.) And, uh, hey, guess what? That’s it! Stir ’em around every now and then, and otherwise just allow for 10 hours of prime bean-softening time. You can always speed this up somewhat (I said “somewhat,” don’t get greedy now, the beans will not be rushed), by cooking on the high setting. I’d say that would probably clock in at around 6 hours. Enjoy!

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When very little else last night was coming together with minimal effort, at least dinner was–this soup took ten minutes, and the hardest thing about it was cooking the brown rice I served alongside it.  Quick as a flash!

Which, of course, makes me think of The Flash.

In my ignorance of such important details, I’d always assumed The Flash’s superpower was his ability to intimidate and disgust by getting naked really quickly. 

Whatever, the name’s really ambiguous, all right?  

APPARENTLY, The Flash is actually more about doing important things super speedily.  Here I would just like to interject that under the right circumstances, getting naked to intimidate and disgust could be considered an important activity.

Look, I’m not saying The Flash went around flashing people to get his jollies.  I’m just saying he could have, if he’d wanted to.  And his wanting to is not that far-fetched a concept.  I mean, what if The Evil Doctor Whatshisface, turned psychotic by his disfiguring childhood accident while doing…whatever…, decided to hold the Mayor Blahington III of Somewheresville hostage, and if people didn’t turn over X natural resource, which was the only missing component to Doctor Whatshisface’s new mind-control thingy that runs on insert obscure crystal here, Doctor Whatshisface would kill the Mayor Blahington III, who’d been the only man capable of cleaning up the effed up streets of Somewheresville when they’d been overrun by violent gangsters and warlords who it turns out–GASP!–were actually henchmen of Doctor Whatshisface, and OMG, this comic just got soooo deep!?  The Flash could’ve probably zoomed in on Doctor Whathisface’s ass and been all, Hey, check this out, and Doctor Whatshisface would’ve been all, Lol, The Flash, you think you’re so cool, well not even you can save–OH SWEET GOD IN HEAVEN PUT THAT AWAY!!–and he’d be so intimidated and disgusted that The Flash would have time to zip up his little pleather suit and make off with Mayor Blahington III.

So about that recipe! 

Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Shrimp

Go Get:
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I had the frozen, ready to go kind on hand…YES!)
1 can coconut milk
3 cups fish stock or chicken broth
2 Tablespoons red curry paste (The Boy and I like it hot, but you might want to start with 1 and work up from there if you’re not sure)
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup carrot slices
1 cup snow pea pods or green bean segments
healthy handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Go Do:
Cook your rice or whatever you’re serving alongside, as the soup will come together quickly.  Put stock, ginger, and lime juice into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add the coconut milk, oyster sauce, fish sauce, curry paste, and vegetables.  Cook, covered, until vegetables are crisp-tender (keep an eye on this–it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes).  Throw in the shrimp and continue to simmer until the shrimp is just cooked through, around 3 to 4 minutes.  Toss in the cilantro.  No joke, you’re done.  Taste it to make sure the heat level is up your alley, and then ladle it up, serve alongside a healthy scoop of rice, and ponder the power of nakedness.

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It struck me this week that I use food to mark time.  Take this exchange between The Boy and me, for instance:

BMG: “When did we mail that package to my family…was it before or after the beef stew?”
TB: “Hmm…don’t know about the beef stew…but it was after the Greek Pizza…and before the latkes…”

After a bit more of the same, we both became COMPLETELY AND INEXPLICABLY ravenous.

Ten minutes later, as I contemplatively chewed my High-Fiber Steel-Cut Oats with Extra Flax (ahaha, just kidding, it was a pot sticker), I thought about what that means, this condition whereby people mark the events of their lives by what they ate for dinner that night.   I realized that it’s really not just the final product that imprints itself on our minds and memories–it’s how we got there.

For example, I remember with alarming accuracy the sploosh that my last goat cheese pizza made when it hit the kitchen floor, even though I shouldn’t have been making dinner at all since I’d had an awful day at work but I was just trying to make things nice for us I WAS JUST TRYING TO MAKE THINGS NICE SO SHOOT ME FOR TRYING TO MAKE THINGS NICE.  I don’t remember how the pizza tasted because I don’t eat food that’s touched the floor because I have standards and people with standards don’t–okay, that was a fun game of pretend, anyhoo, the pizza was still pretty good.

Food is pretty consistent for me–it winds itself throughout my day as a kind of soundtrack.   Defrosting, marinating, chopping, steeping, wrapping…these are the activities that pepper my day at least as often as checking email, mending fishnets, engaging in primal screaming, and sending harassing and objectifying text messages to The Boy.

So really, it’s never just Beef Stew night…it’s more like Beef Stew day.  Which means two things about the cooking you do:

One, it had damn well better be fun (we always have fun when we cook, don’t we, misfits?)

And two, the emotional risk and reward have gone way up.  That pizza damaged my ego far more than if I had poorly reheated a can of…whatever comes in cans.  Right now all I can come up with is corned beef hash.  That comes in cans, right?  But if feels like it shouldn’t.

Well, anyway, you get what I’m saying.  So the joy that comes from a phenomenal success–well, that’s heightened as well.  So as exaggerated as it may sound, the life of one who cooks is full of highs and lows, isn’t it?  The lows often looking something like your Bad Mama Genny kneeling on the floor sobbing over a pizza puddle with her mouth full, intermittently screeching, “IT HASN’T BEEN TEN SECONDS YET!  IT HASN’T BEEN TEN SECONDS!”

So how about a recipe for Dairy-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes?  Comforting food for those times when you need comfort.  Like when you’re a cheesy mess throwing a temper tantrum on the kitchen floor.  Just, uh, maybe let someone else handle the sharp knives and open flames, ‘kay?

Dairy-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Makes 2-3 generous servings

Go Gather:
4 large potatoes
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cup almond milk (or soy, or rice, or moo…whatever works for you)
2 T. dairy-free spread of your choice, or butter (despite being a lactard, I can tolerate butter.  When you can tolerate butter, you should go for it)
2-3 teaspoons olive oil

Go Do:
Wash the potatoes and cut into small chunks (I don’t peel mine-I usually leave the skin in for flavor and nutrition). Put them in a saucepot with enough water to cover them by an inch, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Let them boil until they’re tender; remove from heat, drain, and cover.

Add the minced garlic, “milk,” and “butter” to the hot potato cubes. Use a large spoon or potato masher to smash the potatoes and incorporate the other ingredients. When it’s at the desired level of chunkiness (my desired level of chunkiness is CHUNKY), determine whether or not you’d like extra milk, and add salt and pepper to taste. When you’ve done this, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the potatoes and gently whip it in.

Now wipe away those tears, take a spoon to those potatoes, and get trashed.  You’ve earned it.

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