There's something really amazing that happens when you settle down and have a big bowl of soup that you prepared yourself. Apart from thinking of yourself as a culinary god or goddess (because making soup can't be that easy for everyone, right?), you realize that home cooked food has to be better for you than almost anything you can purchase ready-made at the grocery store or take out from a restaurant.
Prepare to amaze yourself and the lucky folks that get to sup with you!
Veggie Goodness Stew
Serves 6-8 hungry diners Ingredients
4 stalks celery
4 large carrots, cleaned and peeled
1 large onion
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 parsnips, cleaned and peeled
4 turnips, peeled
4 rutabagas, peeled
3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled
3 sweet potatoes, peeled
6 cups veggie or chicken stock
1 T rubbed dry sage
2 bay leaves
Generous squirt of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
Couple good shakes of Pikapeppa Sauce
Grip of fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
To start off, dice every stinking veggie into large chunks and watch your fingers! In a large stockpot combine the onion, celery, and carrots in a generous squirt of the olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper to draw out some of the sugars in the onions and carrots. Saute over medium high heat until the onions are caramelized and the carrots and celery are softened.
Throw in all of the cut veggies and give them a toss in the oil. When things are sizzling again slowly add your stock, scraping up the flavored bits at the bottom of your pot as you go. Add the sage, bay leaves, Bragg's, and Pikapeppa. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to a simmer and let your stew stew!
After about thirty minutes to an hour, check to see if your veggies are tender if they are easily pierced with a knife. Add your fresh parsley, saving a little for garnish. Divvy up your portions, throw a little more parsley on top, as well as a squirt of olive oil, and a grind of pepper. Enjoy!
...to go and eat dinner with my uncle, aunt, and two cousins! They very well may be some of my most favorite people in the world! PLUS we get to eat at Red Iguana, pretty much the best Mexican food restaurant in Salt Lake City! I'll let you know how stinking good it is next week! Have a wonderful weekend!
Shug was so sweet to surprise me with this Filson bag for my birthday...! I've been coveting it for over a year to schlep my books around campus in high style. I think it will be perfect for our trip to Europe this summer, too! It's made of a super-thick waxed canvas that nary a pickpocketer's poky pocketknife could easily puncture. The zipper will keep access to the treasures I find in Paris difficult to grab up, too.
Honestly, I was skeptical about Jonathan Safran Foer. I just wasn't ready to accept that this twenty-five year-old kid could have written such a lovely AND tragic AND hopeful AND disjointed AND seamless tome.
Upon urgings from Supermodel and that our friendship would be rendered moot if I did not take the time to read this book, I took a Sunday to devote to Jonathan and Alex, two young men on the brink of, well, everything. The butchered prose that Alex, a Ukrainian translator, uses is hilarious and oftentimes even BETTER at emoting and describing than proper English grammar would allow. I found myself waiting for the chapters that were narrated by Alex and even more so for the letters he penned to Jonathan as he reads Jonathan's first draft of his book.
I would finish passages and seriously thank my lucky stars that I existed long enough to read Foer's description of sex viewed from outer space or the view of a small grandchild from underneath his grandmother's protective skirt. It is staggeringly beautiful as it is honest and raw. The human need to love, be close, rage, and protect...that is the thread, or umbilical cord rather, that connects progeny to progenitor in this book. We are taken far back to a shetl celebration in the 1700s and then fast forwarded to the 21st century where vegetarianism is being defended in a matter of pages. And, you know, it really works.
Sometimes it seems movies or books that are trying to "make a change" and shake things up are preaching to the choir. Oftentimes, these movies or books are distributed at health food stores, farmer's markets, or independent movie houses. The marketing can be edgy, youthful, or downright stand-offish to anyone even remotely leaning to the right. While I think it is important to educate those of us who already feel there is a need to change, I think it is really important to get people on the bandwagon that might have been alienated by the rhetoric, marketing, or political affiliation these marketing mediums tout.
Food, Inc. is a movie that everyone can watch and feel connected to. It provides scientific fact and heart wrenching personal anecdotes to drive home its very important point - our food is unsafe. Our food isn't only unsafe for us, but for the environment, the animals that we utilize to feed us, the individuals that process this food, and the people in other countries that are struggling to survive because of our oil-greedy farming techniques.
I highly recommend watching this movie and then recommending it to someone who may not be likely to watch it. I know I'm telling my parents to watch it this weekend. While they may not align themselves with the same political and ideological place I hail from, I know that they care about their health, my health, and the health of our family.
I love how Food, Inc. reiterated that we each have the power to make a change and it happens three times a day. Our dollars are votes. Even if we can't afford to eat locally-grown organic food all the time, just try doing it once or twice a week. If the demand begins to grow, the market will be forced to meet those demands.
I've been on a quest since my celiac spruediagnosis to find a biscuit that could hold up to the rigors of my biscuit expectations. These expectations include flakiness, a perfect medium for sweet and/or savory sauces/gravies/honey/jam/butters/jellies, and to be the antithesis of tough.
Shug and I have endured many a hockey puck pretending to be an edible biscuit. I've tried tapioca, rice flour, garbanzo bean flour concoctions. I've tried biscuits from mixes and from scratch. I've tried promising my firstborn to the gluten free gods, but nobody fell for that one.
Best Gluten Free Biscuits Ever Makes 9-12 biscuits Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Biscuit and Pancake Mix 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into small chunks 3/4 cup milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put the biscuit mix in a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. If you don't have a pastry cutter, remove your bling and massage the butter into the flour.
Add the milk to your bowl and using your hands, knead the butter-flour mixture and the milk together. Make sure all of the flour is moistened, but not soupy.
Grab a piece of dough about the size of a ping pong ball, shape it a little in your hands and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Continue until you use up all of the dough. Make sure you leave a couple inches space between the biscuits.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bottoms are a golden brown. The tops won't change color too much, so you'll have to check by lifting up one of the biscuits to see if they're done.
Remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheet for another 5 minutes if you can wait that long! Serve with whatever your heart desires and send an air-kiss to Bob's Red Mill.
It's pretty difficult to find a restaurant, actually ANY restaurant in Utah, that is delicious, has a liquor license, and won't cost your entire chunk of fun money for the month. It's even more difficult to find a menu that will cater to the needs of a very diverse crowd of dietary restrictions/diseases/lifestyles. So where can you go in good ol' Salt Lake, have a glass of wine, and choose from a menu that would make any gluten-freegan, vegan, or carnivore salivate like a Pavlovian German Shepherd?
Shug and I first went to Eva on Valentine's Day and sampled their special five course menu of the evening with oysters with a cranberry granita, mesclun greens with some dressing made from unicorns and rainbows, foie gras, a lobster and scallop saute with truffle mashed potatoes, and vanilla bean panna cotta with a blackberry reduction. I KNOW. It took so much strength to eat every morsel placed in front of us, but we managed...!
A few weekends ago, we met up at Eva with a large group of friends that are as diverse in their food habits as they are in their taste is music. We had me (the resident gluten-free debacle), a vegan, a flexitarian, a low carbie, a salad-only eater, and a few meat lovers. Suffice it to say, the chefs at Eva were able to serve every single one of us without any deviation from the menu and everyone had a meal they enjoyed.
Eva's wine list and drink menus are also worth mentioning and if you're looking for a "designer" martini or just a glass of locally brewed beer, Eva can handle that, too. If you haven't noticed, Eva is pretty accommodating.
I've been getting a little freaked out for a nanosecond for the past few mornings the moment I exit my house and rush to my car on my way to work. The sky will be light and glowing, not the pitch black frigidness I've been stumbling through to my car all winter. I get anxious because my circadian rhythm says, "Great. You are so totally late! Look how light it is outside!"
But as soon as I start my car, its little digital clock blinks comfortingly that I am actually on time. I get so excited about the thought of spring and warmth and sunshine and walks outside that my little heart does a somersault on the trampoline of my diaphragm...
I am so lucky to have my birthday on the cusp of spring (and spring break, for that matter)! It's really difficult to be a grump when spring is just around the corner!
I'd never even heard of Shepherd's Pie until I was in the middle of the 4th grade lunch line. Stepping out of the queue to see mounds of grayish ground beef speckled with the lonely carrot or pea and covered in instant mashed potatoes sail by on my classmates' lunch trays did not make me excited that I'd forgotten my lunch that day. I still curse that day, come to think of it...
This Shepherd's Pie is not comprised of instant anything or even leftovers. If you have a few more minutes to bake this, I highly recommend it! It's filling and if there's just two of you, the leftovers taste great for the next few days!
Shepherd's Pie with a Vegan Option Serves 6-8 Ingredients: 1/2 lb ground turkey breast OR tub of extra firm tofu*, crumbled 2 T extra virgin olive oil 4 stalks of celery, diced 4 large carrots, peeled and diced 1 large onion, peeled and diced Salt and pepper 1 t rubbed dry sage or 1 T fresh chopped sage 1 t crushed dried rosemary or 1 T fresh chopped rosemary 2 pounds new or red potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into large chunks Healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup of milk or soy milk 1 can cream of mushroom soup, gluten free Hungarian paprika for garnish
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Get a pot of generously salted boiling water going with the chunked potatoes in them. While your potatoes are boiling, brown the ground turkey breast in a dry skillet, breaking up the meat as you go. Cook until there isn't any pink left and set aside.
*If using tofu, let the crumbles sit in a marinade of 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 3 T soy sauce, 1 t hot chili sauce, 1 crushed piece of ginger, and 2 T extra virgin olive oil. Let this sit until ready to assemble your pie.
In a large saucepan covered in extra virgin olive oil, saute the onions, carrots, and celery. Add a little salt to help the onions caramelize a bit. Add the sage, rosemary, and pepper to taste. Once the veggies have softened, add the cooked turkey or the drained tofu crumbles. Once well combined, add the can of condensed mushroom soup. Stir well and turn off heat after the mixture is heated trough.
Your potatoes should be done, check to see if they are easily pierced with a knife. Drain and mash with the 1/4 cup of milk or soy milk, healthy drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
In a large baking dish that's been drizzled with a little olive oil, cover the bottom with your turkey or tofu mixture, making sure it's level. Add the mashed potatoes on top, sealing the edges. Sprinkle some Hungarian paprika on top, cover with tin foil, and bake for 30 minutes until piping hot in the center. Remove the foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking to crisp up the potatoes. Remove from oven and let sit for another 10 minutes and then serve! This is the furthest away from a school lunch you can get!
P.S. For all you vegan kids, I found a great mushroom soup that you can use in this recipe! It's Imagine Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup. It's gluten free, too! You won't have to use the entire carton for this recipe, but the soup is so great on it's own. Since this isn't a concentrated soup, you may have to simmer your tofu/veggie/soup mixture a little longer to thicken up the sauce!
I have religiously watched the Oscars every year since I was a little girl. I couldn't give one fig about the actual winners or losers, it was ALL about the red carpet and the dresses. Oh lord, the dresses.
I plan on watching for some of my "anchors," as I'd like to call them: women (and a few men) that are always impeccably, elegantly, and amazingly dressed. Kate Blanchett never fails me. Neither does Penelope Cruz. I can't wait to see what Gabourey Sidibe will be wearing, either. She was so lovely at the Golden Globes!
I'm going to try and focus on awesome and amazing things because I had a venom-filled day yesterday.
I'm going to be excited for my birthday candle necklace Anthropologie sent in the mail. (And the 15% off coupon!) I'm going to be grateful for our treadmill in which I stomped the metaphorical brains out of people I dislike veryveryvery much. I'm going to have a glass of wine with a glass of wine because I can and I'm a grown-up. I'm going to watch a few episodes of Pushing Daisies because I think it's the most romantic thing since love letters in cursive. I'm going to give Ruby a bellyscratch just because I like the snorts of contentedness she makes. Hell, maybe Shug will get a bellyscratch, too.
What do you do when you've had a less than spectacular day with less than spectacular news?
Tofu gets a bad rap in most culinary circles for being bland and blase. In our fridge, it often languishes in its little plastic tub next to the prosciutto and fancy-schmancy cheeses. I'm sure the cheeses are the mean girls of the fridge, making every other resident feel ugly and unoriginal. I can just see them making fun of the celery for being flat as a board, the ketchup for being sooooo obvious, and the eggs for being scaredy-cats. But I'm positive tofu gets the brunt of it all with its plain looks and sometimes spineless attitude.
Well, tofu can give that shi-shi-la-la cheese a run for it's money with this recipe. The turmeric gives the tofu's plain complexion a healthy tan and the spices add a kick in the pants. It may not be the prettiest dish, but nobody's gonna push tofu around after this dance with broccoli and sweet potatoes!
Tofu Scramble with Broccoli and Sweet Potatoes Serves 2 with leftover tofu stuffing and broccoli for lunch tomorrow Ingredients: 2 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean, pricked all over with a fork, and wrapped in tinfoil 1 large crown of fresh broccoli 1 tub of firm or extra firm tofu, drained 2 T extra virgin olive oil 1 onion, peeled and finely minced 1 T turmeric Freshly ground black pepper to taste Bragg's Liquid Amino's to taste 1 T Pickapeppa Sauce 1 t hot chili sauce (or more if you like it spicy!) 1 T Worcestershire Sauce or up the Pickapeppa dosage if vegan! 1 1/2 T Hungarian paprika Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to garnish
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and throw in the sweet potatoes. They'll take around an hour to an hour and a half to bake, so do this right when you get home from work or school! Also, put a cookie sheet underneath the potatoes, since they like to ooze and spit more than regular bakers, this will save you some serious elbow grease when it comes to oven-cleaning time!
When the potatoes are close to being finished, set a small saucepan on the stove with about a cup and a half of salted water. Bring to a simmer and add the cleaned and roughly chopped broccoli crowns. Cover and keep an eye on them until they turn bright green and are still tender crisp.
In a large saute pan, add your olive oil and onions and saute until the onions are translucent. Crumble in the tofu with your hands. Add the Bragg's, pepper, turmeric, Pickapeppa, chili sauce, Worcestershire, and paprika. Stir until well combined and the tofu dries out and starts to brown in places. You may need to add a little more olive oil to keep the pan moving.
Remove your sweet potatoes from the oven and remove tin foil. Add your broccoli to the saute pan full of tofu and stir well until the broccoli is seasoned. Plate your potatoes and cut in half. Spoon your tofu-broccoli mixture over the tops of the potatoes. Be generous!
Garnish with a little sour cream (if not vegan)! Enjoy!