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Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

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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Now, you may think that because I’m a self-employed freelance writer, I stumble into bed at 3 AM, yawn and stretch my sleepy limbs at noon, and then talk to my plants for an hour while eating a sumptuous breakfast involving at least three bacon courses.

That’s what I would do if I were smart.

Instead, I have my love to keep me warm…and groggy. 

The Boy works a bizarre schedule which has him up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning for about half of every week, and like the devoted sucker I am, I get up with him.  But breakfast?  BREAKFAST?  That, I simply cannot do.  He’s lucky if I manage to make it past the couch, where I typically wrap myself in a blanket and rock gently until I’m no longer praying for death.

Hey, I said I was devoted, not superhuman.

But still, The Boy’s gotta eat.  And–despite the fact that food is, oh, THE LAST THING ON MY MIND while I’m doing my level best to maintain sanity and comprehend the fact that the sun is not up and yet I am I SAID THE SUN IS NOT UP AND THERE IS NO REASON ON EARTH WE SHOULD BE EITHER NO I DO NOT WANT YOU TO GET FIRED I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO SEE REASON AND REALIZE THAT THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR ANYTHING TO BE HAPPENING BEFORE 10AM–I should eat, too.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing that even requires electricity.  Just something The Boy can grab on his way to the bus stop.  Something that I can figure out how to unwrap, masticate, and swallow until everything makes sense again.  Enter, the granola bar.

I used this recipe for inspiration–it’s based on the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe.  Then I changed a bunch of stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Still, though, credit where it’s due.  It’s a great foundation recipe, just perfect for switching your favorite fruits, nuts, and favorite delicious bits in and out.  It’s vegetarian and can even be made vegan by changing the kind of fat you use.  And friends, does it ever smell (and look) good when you pull it out of the oven.

And hello, this is the post that keeps on giving, because the photo below makes the most maaaaahvelous computer desktop wallpaper:

My last version was as I’ve listed it below–full of plump dried cherries, toasted almonds, and oat-y goodness.  I’ll be making another batch tonight, this time subbing in some peanut butter and chocolate chunks (oh, just a few…BACK OFF, I SAID JUST A FEW AND IF I CAN’T HAVE SLEEP I WILL HAVE MY CHOCOLATE).  Oh, yes.  I will have my chocolate.

Besides.  It makes me feel good to know that somewhere, out there in the darkness, The Boy is riding some cold, bumpy bus to work, just as tired as I am, but perhaps with the hint of a smile on his face as he chows down on a breakfast in his number one favorite flavor combination, made by the BMG who loves him.

A BMG who is still at that moment incoherent and slightly out of her mind, yes.  But still–a BMG who loves him.

Homemade Granola Bars

Makes 12 squares

Go Get:

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit

Go Do:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a glass 9 x 13.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and sunflower seeds together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned–I actually usually need 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ and fruit.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚F.

Place the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into 12 squares. Serve at room temperature. (I like to wrap them individually for easy, on-the-go snacks or breakfasts.)

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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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In the world of vegetables, eggplants are the fugly, forgotten sisters of more beautiful, glamorous, and promiscuous produce such as the cherry tomato (such luscious color!) or the cucumber (so tall!  so slender!).  It’s not that there’s anything quite so unlikable about eggplant.  It’s just that collective unfamiliarity breeds ignorant attempts at preparing eggplant, rendering her mushy, spongy, greasy, slimy, and just plain not-in-the-mood.  This wins her no admirers.

But you can believe what you’ve heard about neglected ladies making eager bedfellows!  For treat eggplant right, make your approach firm, yet gentle, and she will truly come into her own, yielding to your touch, trying her best to please you in new and exotic ways, teasing you, causing your eyes to roll in ecstasy.  Oh, why did you ever doubt her, why did you ever think it strange to coat one another with miso paste and honey, how could you have not seen this strange and beautiful thing unfolding before your very eyes this whole time?!?!

Okay.  But seriously.  Let’s talk about the eggplant’s virtues:

1) Low-maintenance

2) Excellent child-bearing hips

3) Sophisticated purple hue

4) Absorbs flavors well

There are recipes that would have you mix your miso with vinegar, sugar, water, oil, blah-di-freakin’-blah, before you can even lay hands on your eggplant.  So unnecessary here!  Eggplant enjoys a good quickie, and this baby is hot and ready for you in twenty minutes tops.

Hey, I didn’t say NO foreplay.

Try this big girl on for size, and you won’t find her anything but luscious, oh-so-sweet, yet punchy, and totally kissable–I mean, lickable.  I mean…I would never bring miso into the bedroom.  At least, I’d never admit to it.

**Wanna try a similar salty-sweet approach to salmon?  Check it out.**

Sexy Yet Unassuming Miso Honey Eggplant
Serves 2-3

Go Get:
1/4 cup mellow miso paste
1/4 cup raw honey
2 cloves minced garlic
1 heaping tablespoon minced onion
few grinds fresh pepper
2 medium eggplants

Go Do:
Preheat oven to 425F degrees.  Rinse and dry eggplants.  Cut off top and slice lengthwise, from top to bottom, into 3/4 inch thick slices.  Lay on parchment-lined cookie sheets (I needed two).  In small bowl, cream together miso, honey, garlic, onion, and pepper.  Spread evenly on eggplant slices.  Bake until eggplant is just tender, then switch to the broiler until the tops are browned and bubbly (optional, but pretty–the eggplant, she will like it).  Serve over steamed brown rice and, if you’re craving an extra indulgence, a fried egg with a still-runny yolk.

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Sometimes you’re in the mood to impress everyone with a big show.  You’re willing to caramelize the onions, braise the roast, thinly slice the prosciutto, neatly fan the tomato slices, massage the chicken until it feels good and ready, sweet-talk the turnips until they’re almost there, and commit other forms of foodie foreplay, all in the name of a meal that makes a name for you.

But sometimes, you want to throw some stuff in a pot, heat it ’til it’s done, slosh it in a bowl, swig straight from the bottle, chuck a roll at your loved one’s face, and call it dinner.  You don’t care if it doesn’t make a name for you.  Hell, it could give you a reputation for all you care.

This recipe falls into that second category, and it deserves to be posted here because it will, despite your lack of emotional attachment and the damage inflicted by a day-old roll, earn you praise and adulation.  Or something.

Which naturally makes me think about the concept of “good enough.”  Naturally.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”  Something about that phrase always bothered Bad Mama Genny, even when she was WBMG (Wee Bad Mama Genny).  There I sat with my BMGC’s (Bad Mama Genny Crayons) wondering if the BMGF (Bad Mama Genny Flower) I had drawn was “well” enough to please the proverbial taskmasters.

Oh, how many pursuits I would have dropped, how much fun I would have lost out on, if I’d waited alongside the well-behaved girls for everything to be perfect (risotto, for one).

The Boy and I ate this soup, enjoyed it thoroughly, and then, because we weren’t trying to be all exact about things, ended up with an extra hour to sit on the couch and cuddle while I massaged the dent that roll made in his head.  I wouldn’t have traded that extra hour for anything–not even a soup that would make my good name.

An interesting reputation is good enough for me.

Spinach Lentil Soup
Makes 4 main-dish servings

Go Get:
16 oz. package frozen, chopped spinach
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cups broth or stock (any kind)
2 1/2 cups cooked lentils (Trader Joe’s has a great vacuum-sealed lentils pack that provides just that amount; canned beans will work, too)
2 generous pinches nutmeg
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

Go Do:
In a Dutch Oven, heat the stock over medium-high heat until it’s about to boil. Add in all the other ingredients and stir well to incorporate. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is cooked through and translucent. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
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